Chapter 18: Tell me what you know….

Scene One: So tell me….

The following morning began with Joey having decided that he and his sister go out for breakfast…with company, of course. It had crossed his mind to invite both Yami and Yugi along, but he thought better of it, considering the tense situation that they were in. Even though he was optimistic about them making up, for some reason he didn't think it would happen in one evening.

He had called his buddy Tristan to join them, but he was too lazy and too tired to go anywhere with them that morning. "Maybe next time.", he said, barely stifling a yawn over the phone.

For obvious reasons, Mai was a definite wild card, so the next and last logical choice was inviting Tea. When he gave her a ring, she was still snuggling cozily in her bed- but not surprisingly, she had readily agreed to the idea.

"Is Tristan going to pick us all up?", Tea said, her words slurred with tiredness after being awakened from her slumber.

"Unfortunately, he said he didn't feel like it, so we're stuck having to pay our way to get there. Why don't you take a cab over here to meet up with me and 'Ren so we can leave together as a group?" he had suggested.

"Wait. Does that even make sense? Why waste perfectly good cab fare when we could all just meet up there at a certain time - and whoever reaches there first, reserve the seats for all of us?"

Joey rolled his eyes with an exasperated smile, thinking 'Why hadn't I thought of that?'

Leave it to the "Voice of Reason" to always come up with a "better" suggestion or solution to everything. He sometimes wondered whether she conscientiously tried to live up to her undisputed title.

"A'right, whatever you say, Tea. How about we reach there say…..ninish?

Now, duz dat time sound purty gudd foyuh, dear missus'?", he said in his best imitation of a 'slavery days' accent to her take-charge attitude.

No doubt hearing the mockery in his voice, she played along, replying in mock 'good ole days' sweetness of her own. "Why ceeeeertainly, boi! Off with you!"

"Yessum, missus!", Joey quipped, before she ended the call. When he had turned around he saw that his sister had been standing there at a distance, with a look of humorous wonder on her face. "What was that about?"

Joey gave her a goofy smile before he told her, "Er…Nothing. Me and Tea were just actin' stupid."

"So she's coming with us?", Serenity asked, coming towards him after freshening up in the bathroom minutes ago.

"Yep. But unfortunately Tristan said he won't come because he needs to catch up on his beauty sleep."

Serenity kissed her teeth before saying:

"I should have been the one to call him, not you. He wouldn't have said 'no' to me.", she said confidently walking pass him to get to the phone.

"Well EXCUSE me! First Tea comes off with this you're-a-dumb-ass tone, now you! Go ahead, go CALL your big head boyfriend and go see if he doesn't tell you what he told me.", he said in a half-joking, half-serious manner.

And when she did call….he told her exactly what he told Joey…well almost:

"………. No! I am not haulin' my ass out of bed this early in the damn morning just to get breakfast at some restaurant. You'll have to find your way there on your own, sweetums."

"But, Tristan, PLEEASSE! I don't feel like taking a cab!", she begged while trying to block out the gloating smiles her brother was dishing her way.

"Well….. pfft. Sorry, not this time! Do you realize that the more mileage I put my car, the more it depreciates with the constant wear and tear? You can't expect me to drive you and your brother around wherever you want, WHENEVER you want at a drop of a hat, here. I'm taking a break on this whole 'personal chauffer' business for today, okay?"

"Ooooh, Alright. Bye, then!" she grumbled before hanging up, displeased that she wasn't able to wrap him around her little finger like usual.

At Joey's smug I-told-you-so look, she stuck her tongue out at him and rushed away when he did a fake charge on her, giving her a big head start. She had dashed into her room and shut it before he closed in on her, then popped her head out of her door a minute later shouting, "When should we leave?"

"By 8:35 the latest.", he called out when he had given up his mock pursuit of her, strolling in the direction of his own room.

"Okay, so you're in charge of calling the cab for us." she said in finality before she shut the door once more.

Joey shook his head ruefully before he added loud enough for her to hear through her room door.

"I'll do that, but PLEASE don't overindulge yourself. I know how you chicks get when you get caught up in yourselves when getting dressed - like if your hair doesn't look like it came straight out of the hair salon that very minute, you'd never leave the house."

Hearing him, she rolled her eyes at that generalized statement about her gender and went about getting herself in order.

An hour later when they arrived, the restaurant was still relatively empty. They sat in a leather cushioned four-seater , which was located at the right end of the restaurant, next to the windows.

Tea and Serenity had finished giving their breakfast selections, but when it was time for Joey to give his order, they soon found out that theirs would compare measly to what he was having.

"Yeah, I'll have the four-stack blue berry pancake supreme with lots of syrup, with a side order of bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, French Toast, and hash browns. Oh…and make sure to bring a jug of orange juice, thank you…."

Tea and Serenity both looked at him as if he'd grown horns on the top of his forehead.

"That's a pretty greedy looking order to me.", Serenity said with arched eyebrows, thinking Joey's eyes were definitely bigger than his stomach.

"Hey, sometimes it's good to be greedy, okay? Besides, I'm hungry and if there's any left-overs, I could always share.", he replied defensively, ignoring Tea's We'll-believe-that-when-we-see-it look.

In the mean time while they waited for their orders to arrive, the group began to engage in deep conversation.

"Mai dragged you along one of her nightmare shopping sprees?", Serenity said in near awe, as if she was impressed to see Tea come out of it so well: alive and with her mind in tact.

Tea nodded. "Yes and I was dumb enough to let her take me along with her which

TRUST me- I WON'T be doing everagain. I mean it this time.

I swear the girl has some severe obsessive-compulsive disorder shit going on. No, seriously….."

Joey shook his head with a reluctant, but sill knowing chuckle while Serenity laughed-out-loud at that because they knew EXACTLY what Tea had experienced yesterday, having their own "horror" sprees to relate to.

And God only knew how many times they'd both said the same thing, but Mai somehow always found a way to manipulate the situation to her advantage. Before you knew it, you were in so deep, there was no turning back.

So it was official: Only Mai knew how to turn any casual outing into complete spending splendor……..

Or TORTURE…. depending on how one experienced it.

Serenity caught Joey's countenance and knowing her brother so well, could tell he was a little uncomfortable with the mentioning of his former beau.

Tea, who was in tune enough with her friend's nuances and body language, realized her unintentional mistake even though it occurred within the casual flow of their conversation. Consciously aware of it now, she'd changed the subject rather smoothly for his sake.

"Oh, but that wasn't even the HALF of it. Guess who I talked to while Mai was away when he showed up?"

"Who?" Serenity wanted to know, her elbows on the table while she propped her chin up expectantly.

"Tygris."

"The STRIPPER?", both Serenity and Joey said a little too loudly in unison.

"Shhh…Yes. The very one. He approached me about Yugi and I have to tell you - we had a very interesting discussion about him, among otherthings."

"Well, why would he want to talk to you about Yugi in the first place?", Serenity questioned. Then she gasped and said right away, "Oh my god! By any chance, did he recognize you from seeing you at the club the other evening? But how would he know that you're friends with Yugi if…. ?"

She trailed off trying to figure it out, when Tea jumped in to clarify it for her.

"At first, that's exactly what I had suspected myself, Serenity, but he recognized me based on the description Yugi had given him. He'd known about my existence before I even knew about his."

Joey added his opinion. "Well, I'm not surprised by that at all, considering when Tris' and I saw them at the movies together, he acted as if we were familiar faces or something."

"So what did he say, Tea?", Serenity prodded, curious to hear what the stripper had to say about his involvement with their friend.

Joey, sitting across the table from Tea, sat there just as interested to hear what dirt Tea had to dish out about him.

"Well, like I mentioned earlier….he mainly wanted to find out about Yugi. I had played it off like I didn't know who he was at first , thinking it would give me a better advantage at gleaning information from him."

The siblings sat silently as she elaborated the depths of their discussion, everything from how Yugi and he met, to the how's and why's of his getting involved to the short history of his past and present life….. Everything, except you know what…..

After taking it all in, Joey finally responded with:

"And you believe his explanation? You take his word that he was only helping Yugi out with the whole Grandpa situation?"

"Well, I do. He seemed very sincere in his concern for Yugi and you know me- I don't let anything slide until I know the entire truth. He was very honest and revealing about himself, which – I can honestly say - was something I'd never expected from a guy like him. I'm pretty good at smelling phonies from a distance and to me, he was no phony.", Tea finished conclusively.

The dirty-blonde shook his head in disagreement, almost looking absurd that Tea of all people could be so accepting of the man's story so easily.

"Tea, how can you be so sure about him not being a phony? You're forgetting that this guy is a notorious smooth-talker, a playboy even. He's used to bending minds, not to mention female minds, at shear will."

"What are you saying, Joey? That I just allowed him to sweet talk me into submission?", Tea replied a bit defensively at his reply, not wanting to admit that he could be hitting dangerously close to the truth with that assertion.

She wasn't about to reveal that she had experienced firsthand how devastating the "smooth-talker" was at turning mere words into casual sex on the beach…..

OBVIOUSLY, they didn't call him "Mr. Sinz" for nothing……..

"I'm sayin' that he could be trying to sway you to see him in a good light, when it could very well be the opposite. I mean, what did you really expect him to say? 'Oh, I'm just involved with the young buck so I can get my big whacker in him. No, really!'

"Joey!", exclaimed Tea in blush of outrage at his sarcastic cynicism.

"I mean, I'm just sayin' that as an example! We still don't know what this guy is like when we're not around, so it could all still be an act. Who knows if he has something to hide?

Wait ... before you say anything else, just listen to this possibility for a second:

After Yami had found Yugz out, it would seem perfectly predictable that he'd portray the role of innocence and say anything to cover his ass, juuust in case Yami was angry enough to take action and press charges against him for child abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor. We ALL saw how heated Yami was when he felt dis'ed by Tygris, so it's not that hard to believe.

I'm not sayin' or even implyin' that all this DID happen.

I'm just sayin' that this could be what he was thinking when he'd decided to tell you about himself.", Joey claimed, reminding them that even though Yugi would turn 18 this year, he was still technically considered a pre-adult in the eyes of the law; and with Tygris being an adult, he could get into a lot of trouble with the right amount of proof.

After hearing Joey's outlook on it, Tea did see he had a very valid point. Even if his reasoning did sound logical enough, she still refused to see Ty in a negative light - not when her instincts were telling her otherwise.

Serenity, who hadn't spoken for a little while, finally injected her thoughts on what she'd heard so far, agreed with Tea's opinion for the moment.

"But that doesn't quite wash, Joey.

If he had so much to hide to begin with, then why approach Tea at all? Despite never meeting her in person until that day at the mall, he still knew who she was and what she looked like - so he could have easily acted like he didn't recognize her and went about his business as if nothing was amiss.

Why draw himself out by telling a close friend of Yugi's about the personal aspects of his life, his profession and his supposed involvement by offering a job he knows is generally frowned upon in society, especially if it's being offered to a minor?

Wouldn't he be much better off if less people knew about it?"

'And why give me a business card so I could easily find and contact him if he WAS shady?', Tea added mentally. He certainly wouldn't want anyone knowing where he lived, worked, or where he caroused out.

That was another piece of evidence towards Tygris' proclaimed innocence in her mind. But she wouldn't mention it to them, of course, so instead she said:

"Exactly! Well said, Serenity. And from what I evaluated, he's pretty wealthy and he can have any girl…"

"….or guy.", Joey interrupted, not letting Tea forget that other possibility, especially after his connection with Yugi.

"OR GUY….." , Tea said through clenched teeth, "so why would he choose to be with someone like – no offense to him - Yugi? ……… Desperation?

Look, I'm not saying let the guy totally off the hook here. All I'm saying is consider his side of the story. Furthermore, it was Yugi's decision to get involved with him in the first place. We can't just focus on the one possibility that Yugi was forced or tricked into it somehow.

It certainly looked like he did this all on his own free will, so I refuse to think of Yugi as some mindless, defenseless child who's easily manipulated. And considering that we have a better glimpse at the circumstances that could have led him to do it, it doesn't seem THAT far fetched to me anymore.

I think we'd be doing both he and Tygris a great disservice if we didn't give them the benefit of the doubt."

He agreed with just about everything with her little "speech", except for one part.

"Both? I can understand Yugz, but Tygris? Why should we give him the benefit of the doubt, especially since most of us here don't even know him…REALLY know him? Because of ONE out-of-the-blue conversation you had with him, you dub yourself competent enough at assessing his true character? Bullshit! I don't know if it's just me here, but it seems to me like this guy has gotten more than just your sympathy, Tea."

She wanted to deny it, but she couldn't quite hide it when her faint blush becoming more visible.

"Okay… maybe he DID make an impression on me.", she admitted with her blue eyes a little lowered. "I just feel like we shouldn't jump to anymore conclusions about this until we get all the facts sorted out.", she said a bit stubbornly.

"And if you don'tlike the facts when they eventually do, then what?", Joey voiced reasonably.

For some reason, Tea had looked so affronted by his statement that she exclaimed rather passionately, "Joey, I'm a bit disappointed that you of all people would begin to judge someone without due cause. I admit it - he may come off as someone with a shady reputation at first, but after meeting and talking with him, I truly believe he's as decent a person he says he is and that he really did have Yugi's best interests at heart. If Yugi was able to see the good inside of him, then I don't see why we all can't do the same thing."

Not wanting to be painted as the 'bad apple' in this conversation now turned argument

especially when he felt Tea still misunderstood his stance on the whole issue - Joey replied with a show of resolve:

"Fine, but keep in mind that before I go believin' that this dude is some 'Knight-In-Shining-Armor', I'd much prefer to base my final conclusions on the word of someone I DO know and trust – Yugi. That's just me. So I'm sorry if you don't like it, but the lime-haired one stays on the chopping block until I hear it directly from the horse's mouth, which I will soon when I engage him at school tomorrow."

Having nothing to reply to that conversation-ending retort, Tea sat there tight-lipped with grudging admiration. Joey actually had the final word on the subject – which was a feat in it of itself when it came to debating with the likes of her.

As if on cue, the waiter had finally arrived with their BIG breakfast (thanks to Joey's outrageous order), and they sat there in companionable silence…….. until Serenity broke it by chiming, "Well, since we're all in such a talking mood this morning, we might as well let you know what happened yesterday on our visit to see Yami……"

And so they struck a whole new, in-depth conversation about that, which practically left one person feeling as shocked and burned as a lightning bolt striking a tree …….

Scene Two: Pupil To Master: 'How Do I Seduce A Pharaoh?' Part One

It was 12:13 in the afternoon, and Yugi was determined to make a call to the one person he knew could possibly help him with his new dilemma. He knew he was taking a chance, but he didn't care.

He became convinced more than ever after he and Yami had breakfast together, doing more eating than talking.

When he had brought up their little 'incident' out-of-the-blue, Yami nearly choked on a mouthful of scrambled eggs. Obviously he was still uncomfortable about talking about it and that surprised Yugi.

When Yami did manage to say something, he was adamant that they "start from the beginning and take things slowly" and "build back their friendship first, before they delve into physical intimacy." It was clear from that moment on that - as usual - it had to be on his terms, his pace….

'Bullshit!', Yugi thought to himself. He was hardly patient enough as it was to "start from the beginning". He wanted to head straight into the "physical intimacy" part - everything else be damned!

Based on their little talk, Yami still tugged the reigns, which would make it difficult for him to control this new situation to his liking all on his own.

So now, when Yami had asked if he would like to come with him to visit Grandpa, he feigned nausea and a headache so he wouldn't have to go.

At that, Yami arched a skeptical left eyebrow, saying, "Are you sure? Because you seemed pretty fine to me minutes ago."

"I really want to come but I'm really not feeling well at the moment.", he said at Yami's suspicious glance. He felt a twinge of guilt because he really did want to see Grandpa, but tamped it down knowing that this was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

It looked like he bought the lie when he said, "Okay, suit yourself. I'll just tell Grandpa you were too ill to come visit this time. Take care, alright?" he advised before heading through the door.

"I will. And tell Grandpa that I love him, okay?"

"Yes, I will. Bye.", as Yugi closed the door after him.

He stood there peeping through the small door window, watching Yami get into the cab and drive away. That's when he walked briskly towards the telephone in the living room, but halted still for a minute.

It had only been a week since he'd last spoken to his friend, but it felt more like MONTHS to him. 'What if he had already moved on?', Yugi thought.

'What if he doesn't want to get caught up with me and my problems again, especially after what happened before?'

No, he would call and let him tell him otherwise. Yugi just prayed that the phone would pick up, though.

On the fifth ring, the familiar voice was heard over the other line.

"Yugi? Is that you?"

Yugi heaved a big sigh of relief and a mental, 'Thank you, God!' to the heavens.

"Yes, Ty. It's me."

Then came a light chuckle. "Well, well, well. I wasn't expecting to hear from you ever again. Man! How are you doing, sweety?"

"Oh…well enough, I guess. It could be better, though." Yugi expressed while making himself comfortable on the couch.

"Oh. If you don't mind me asking, has your situation gotten any better or worse?", Tygris

asked with that trademark huskiness of his.

Yugi answered honestly. "Well, it depends on which part you're asking. In regards to Grandpa, he's getting better and our financial situation wasn't as gloomy as we had originally thought it was. But the other part…."

At Yugi's pause, Tygris inquired, "Yes, go on…..the other part? Don't tell me you mean you and Yami are still…"

"…. Well not so much anymore, but trust me, it's gotten a lot more complicated than that. In fact, it's because of that 'part' why I had even called you in the first place."

Tygris' ears perked up at that. "Really, now? So, what's up then?"

Yugi summarized what happened as best as could in between Ty's comments:

"Uh-huh, I don't blame you…."

To his "WHAT? You actually hit him? Remind me not to get you angry…."

To "He was jealous? He thought you and I were…Oh shit! Shew…Not that I can blame him now that I think about it - but it's much clearer now as to why he was actin' so stupid…"

To "Whoa, you two were prrre-tty horny there….."

Finally to "Oh my god ! You SAID that?"

Yugi grinned devilishly after hearing Ty's guffaw of laughter.

"Yo, I'd paya million bucks just to see and hear that shit over and over again! Lil' Yugi gave the "KING" a boner he would never forget! Oh-hoo-hooo, SHIT!", he said still bowled over with laughter.

"Well, unfortunately he didn't take the hint, so he just left me there all horny and unsatisfied. I'm still pissed off about it.", Yugi griped candidly with an irritated shake of the head.

"What a turn of events! Boy, I knew you had a lil' something in you, Yugi, but DAMN! I'm beginning to think I was a really bad influence on you, after all.", Tygris remarked while wiping the tears of mirth from his golden eyes.

"Well, if you believe that, then, I'll have to tell you that I'm not ready to put an end to this little game juuuuust yet.", Yugi said with such loaded implication that it got the sides of Tygris' mouth twitching again.

Being the part-time playa that he was, he had no trouble reading between the lines.

"Hold up…. Do you mean, what I think you mean? ….That you'd goas far as seducing him into your bed somehow?"

Dead silence when the hammer visited the nail: WHAM!

"ARE YOU FREAKIN' SERIOUS? Ooh-hoooooo, shit!", he exclaimed, dying with another round of laughter.

"You know….I'm glad you find this all entertaining, Tygris, because I seriously need your help with this." Yugi said as tersely as he could manage with his mouth twitching uncontrollably with humor.

"Whoa, Yugi you've gotten from bad to worse. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were MORE of a playa than I had ever imagined you could be. Come, my son!", he giggled with mock paternal joy.

"So you'll help me after all?", Yugi said, his voice alight with hope after hearing what he thought was stark approval from his "mentor".

"Help you? Sounds tempting, but unfortunately - due to conflict with the party involved, you're gonna have to fuck him all by yourself, sweety. Sorry, but no threesome in sight, my son!", he continued in jest, even though he knew exactly what Yugi wanted from him.

"No, not like tha…." Yugi trailed off before bowling over with laughter at the joke.

He realized that by asking for "help", it had sounded like he wanted Tygris to "help" him screw Yami. (And if for some reason you don't know what "screw" impliesGOD help you. MOVING ON!)

"Okay, already. Will you please get your mind out of the gutter, Tygris? You know I want you to give me some advice on how I can 'do' Yami.", he said a little annoyed after their shared humor, wanting Tygris to finally take him seriously …..

Author: Holy shit….

"Yooo, talk about the pot calling the kettle black, here! You're the one who called me to get some kinky advice on how to – in your words- 'do' your best friend who by the way, would rather see me hang and get pecked away slowly by a bunch of hungry vultures!", Tygris exclaimed tartly, even though he knew damn well his mind was more-than-halfway made up already.

Hell, he lives for this kind of stuff!

"Alright, alright ! I get your point………..

So does that mean you'll still help me anyway?", Yugi exclaimed excitedly, despite coming off crude when he was getting what he wanted at his friend's expense.

Tygris' eyes lowered with tear-drop dryness and pursed his lips at that. Then an idea struck him……

"You know what? This is more than what 'his freakin' highness' deserves, but I'm going to do it, okay? But this time around, it'll have to be worth my while. There's gonna be somethingin it for me."

"Oh, you name it! …… But, what could I possibly give you that you'd actually want?

I mean considering that you're rich, handsome, and talented ……"

"First….before I give you ANY freaky-deakyadvice -

You're gonna have to tell me more about your friend Tea……"

End of Chapter: Okay, you know the deal. What are your thoughts on each scene?