Takes place on the first New Years after Joey ends


For many years, Jounouchi was unable to take part in the traditional New Years festivities. They were some of the most vivid memories of his early childhood before his parents' divorce. So as the very eventful year of his first movie release, his father's death, his reconciliation with his friends and family, and the beginning of his relationship with Kaiba Seto drew to a close, it only seemed right to go home for the holiday.

Jounouchi, still jet-lagged and running on LA time, was the only bright-eyed individual as he herded his mother, Shizuka, and Honda into Honda's truck. The sky overhead was a muted gray, gradually transforming into purple and blue when they left the city limits. In the backseat, Shizuka and Honda had fallen back asleep against each other. His mother similarly drifted in and out of sleep in the passenger seat next to him. Jounouchi tried his best to not think about who was missing from this picture. They stopped at the beach an hour outside of Domino City, just one of dozens of families there to witness the first sunrise of the year.

The cold air was brisk, but the sky was clear. They couldn't have asked for better weather conditions.

Jounouchi excused himself and walked further away to a more deserted stretch of sand. He took out his phone and pulled up his camera app. After snapping several photos of the rising sun, he switched it over to video mode. He lingered on the horizon for several moments before twirling around to place his back to the sunrise. There was a swift beat of hesitation, but Jounouchi gave his best smile and said, "Oi, you're really missing out. Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu [1]."

He attached the clip to a SMS asking, "Will I see you for the first shrine visit?" and sent it off into the ether.

Honda drove on the way back, leaving Jounouchi free to contemplate his stubbornly silent phone. Back at the apartment, his mother and Shizuka took their time changing into their kimonos. Jounouchi also changed, donning a wool beret and sunglasses for good measure.

"Look at you, trying to pretend as if you're stylish." Honda teased.

Jounouchi replied with a friendly punch to Honda's arm.

Yuugi with his Millennium Puzzle, Anzu in a peach blossom-patterned kimono, and Mana waited for them at the foot of the steps to their local shrine. Everyone exchanged a hearty round of New Years greeting. Mana giggled when Jounouchi laid a big wet kiss over her tiny forehead. Though it was only eight in the morning, there was already a small line of worshippers queuing up. Jounouchi surreptitiously scanned the crowd as he washed his hands in the water fountain. But seeing no sign of Kaiba, Jounouchi's good mood sunk a little.

The Mutous went ahead of them. Mana squealed as her father rang the bell. But even she quieted as her parents bowed, clapped, and started praying. They were followed by Jounouchi's mom, then Shizuka and Honda, and Jounouchi by himself brought up the end of the line.

As if a shroud had fallen, the world fell quiet as he stepped up to the offering box. He threw in a fistful of yen coins. The metal clanged as the coins bounced against the wood container and the other offerings inside. Another hand shot out from the edge of vision and deposited several bills in the box. Jounouchi knew who it was before looking over.

Jounouchi reached for the string and pulled. He allowed the clear peals of the bell to empty his mind of every distraction except for Kaiba's warm presence. He bowed and clapped twice, silently thanking the kami housed within for reuniting him with his family and all the good things that had come to him. Next to him, Kaiba went through the same routine.

Jounouchi wondered what Kaiba was grateful for.

"Onii-chan, we're going to get our fortunes!" Shizuka called from the rest of the group, who seemed to be maintaining a respectful distance.

He nodded and moved to follow them. Kaiba fell into a leisurely pace at his side. Out of the corner of his eyes, Jounouchi admired his boyfriend's well-fitted suit. This was the first time in about three months they were on the same continent together.

"I wasn't sure you'd come." Jounouchi drawled. He knew Kaiba's views on ceremony.

"I was going to sleep in, but someone woke me up at the crack of dawn."

Jounouchi snorted. He was sure Kaiba was physically incapable of sleeping past 7AM. But the fact the Kaiba had watched his silly little message made his heart soar a bit.

They stopped under a grove of trees several meters away from the shrine's shop. Mindful of the fact that they were in public (even if it had been months since they were this close to each other!), Jounouchi and Kaiba stood as close as possible without actually touching.

"I'm glad you came though."

Kaiba answered with a small, almost hesitant smile.

"Aren't you going to get your fortune with the others?" he asked.

The courtyard was clear of prying eyes and ears. Darting forward, the brim of his hat bumped Kaiba's forehead as Jounouchi pressed his lips to Kaiba's. The contact lasted mere seconds. As he pulled back, Jounouchi lifted his sunglasses and winked, "I got all the luck I need here."


[1] The traditional New Years greeting that's exchanged.