A/N: Oh, wow. I have never ever written anything this long in one go. Geez. This was loads of fun to write. Written for my friend Urpo, who was generous enough to give me some Yugioh-prompts when I asked. One of them was Seto Kaiba and fake dating, and since fake dating is like my favorite trope ever, I was more than happy to fill this one. Didn't really expect it to become quite this long... The premise is a bit ludicrous, but it's fake-dating and Yugioh, what do you expect.
Anyway, without further ado, I hope sincerely you enjoy this little ficlet of mine.
Summer Love Never Lasts
Seto Kaiba was not as easy prey as some thought he was. True, he was young and being young and in charge of a multimillion company should have been more than he could take. That's what people thought. They were wrong.
Seto Kaiba treated his position as the CEO of Kaiba Corp as a long-winded and particularly complicated game. A challenge. There was something to be said about Seto Kaiba, he never backed down from a challenge. That made him a bold and just a bit scary opponent, but it also made him just a bit of a fool. To balance his occasional foolishness, he was also insanely smart and resourceful. People seemed to forget that. That was usually their last mistake. No, Kaiba didn't kill them, he merely fired them. And sometimes ruined their reputations if their offence was grave enough.
There were people trying to take over the company. There always was. They never learned. The thought of a teen running a company made some people's blood boil with rage. Especially since Seto Kaiba just happened to be extremely good at it. Still, he had to say this was something he had not heard before.
"I am to do what?" he repeated.
"You must be in a relationship." A nervous man explained. He was one of the Kaiba Corp's younger lawyers, clearly trying to get himself in a good position by ratting on his co-workers. Kaiba couldn't fault him for that, especially since it worked to his advantage. The lawyer continued: "As I said, there is talk of using your status as a single man to take over the company. Of course no one expects you to marry your high-school sweetheart, but it looks good to show a bit of a humane side."
"My father believed in no such thing as humanity," Kaiba said, his brow furrowing. "It was not expected of him. And certainly, having some woman in my arms could not do much. This is ridiculous."
"You are trying to build Kaiba Corporation as a place for families," the lawyer said. "Or that's the reasoning, as I understood."
"Mokuba is all I need," Kaiba said.
"Certainly, sir. But publicity is everything. If you do not show that you have had at least one serious relationship before you've turned 18, they could have probable cause to get the board members to vote you off the presidency."
"Tsk. You better be right about this. If you're pulling my leg, I'll make sure you regret it to the end of your days." Kaiba paused for effect, looked at the papers on his desk and then said: "I want names by the end of the week."
"O-Of course," the lawyer stuttered. "I'll give them to you as soon as I can. Although."
"Out with it."
The man swallowed heavily.
"Even if you get rid off the culprits now, I fear there might be some other people in the future who may use this same tactic."
"I appreciate your concern. I'm sure I can handle this. Dismissed."
The man nodded, smiled hopefully, and left.
After the door had closed behind the man Kaiba sat down heavily on his chair. Well. He'd have to get a girlfriend. Not a real one, of course. He wouldn't have the time to go on multiple dates with multiple people just to find someone he could have a serious relationship with. And it would have to look serious. No, he'd have to find someone to pretend to be his girlfriend and then the rest would be easy. Few public displays of affection, maybe having someone move in for a while. It wasn't even hard.
He would have to talk to Mokuba about it of course.
The lawyer had been as good as his word. He had forwarded all of the information he had to Kaiba. There was indeed plans of taking over the company using a legal loophole. Again. Something about concerns for the public image. Where people found these Kaiba had no idea.
On the same afternoon as he received the emails, Kaiba took his brother out to get ice cream. He waited until Mokuba was happily slurping on his portion before he brought the topic up.
"Mokuba," he said. Mokuba looked at him, curiously tilting his head. Mokuba had always been very good at picking up his brother's emotions from what even the kindest people called a rather expressionless face. So of course he would know that Kaiba had something important to say.
"Kaiba Corp is in danger again.
Mokuba nodded solemnly. He knew to expect this already. He always had the corporation's best interests in his heart, because it was something that they had built together.
"What do you want me to do?" Mokuba asked, and a very rare smile graced Kaiba's lips.
"You don't have to do anything, Mokuba. It's something I need to do, and I don't want you to be confused. And of course if you got any suggestions I would take them gladly." Here Kaiba paused, sighed, long and heavy and then said: "I need to get a girlfriend."
"A girlfriend?" Mokuba asked, confused, so Kaiba did his best to explain the situation. Credit had to be given to Mokuba, he had been part of Kaiba Corp for so long that he knew a lot more of legal and economical lingo than a child his age probably should have, so Kaiba didn't even have to simplify it that much.
"So it wouldn't be forever?" Mokuba asked, after Kaiba was done.
"No, just for enough time that people think it's real. After I've dealt them with a crushing defeat I will drop the act."
"And you will tell the other person this too?"
"The girl, you're going to date. You'll tell her it's not real? Because she might get hurt."
"Of course Mokuba. I was thinking of hiring an actor anyway."
"Wouldn't they know that? I mean surely they'd expect you to go get an actor as a girlfriend. And they'd run background checks, and you'd get found out. That's no good." Mokuba shook his head.
"I suppose you're right. So it would have to be someone that I trust and I know."
"Knowing them is a plus as well, big brother. Makes it easier to say you've always liked them."
"Good thinking," Kaiba said and Mokuba beamed as he always did when his brother parted even a slight compliment.
"Big brother?" Mokuba said.
"You don't know that many girls though."
"I... Well, that just narrows the people to choose from."
"It narrows it quite a bit," Mokuba answered with his ice cream spoon in his mouth. "There's some girls working for us. But dating them might look like you've paid them off. Then there's your classmates. Most of which you never spend any time with. And you don't trust them."
"There's Anzu," Kaiba pointed out. Mokuba snorted. Where had that boy picked that up?
"You only know him through Yugi. Have you ever talked to her?"
Kaiba considered this. He had certainly seen Anzu plenty of times, but they did go to the same school. In most of his memories Anzu was standing in the background, behind Yugi. Usually she was smiling. But he couldn't remember ever talking directly to her.
"No, I don't think so," Kaiba had to admit.
"What's her last name?"
"What's knowing her last name got to do anything with dating her?"
"Well, when you date someone people sort of expect you to know few things about the other person," Mokuba said. "Like her last name."
"Why do you know so much about dating?"
"I watch a lot of telly," Mokuba said.
"Well, okay, yes Anzu is not going to work, I admit. How about Mai Kujaku? She's a respectable duelist and I actually know her last name."
"She is certainly pretty. But I don't know if she would be willing to be your date. She has her eyes set elsewhere."
"Jounouchi," Mokuba answered simply.
"Again, how do you know this stuff?"
"I chat with Yugi occasionally."
Kaiba let out a deep sigh. They paused. Kaiba poked the remains of his ice creams with his spoon. It had turned into milky mess. It was not nice to have his plans poked through so thoroughly, but Kaiba had it rather Mokuba be the one doing that. Mokuba telling him the flaws in his plans did not cause him to lose his company. He looked around in the ice cream place they were at. There were some families there, parents with their kids, and some couples, holding hands, giggling and feeding each other ice cream. Kaiba frowned. He really had hard time picturing himself in that situation. It just wasn't him. But he had to do what he had to do.
Kaiba became aware of Mokuba squirming in his seat.
"What is it, Mokuba?"
"I, uh. May have had an idea," Mokuba answered.
"Yes? Tell me."
"You won't like it," Mokuba said.
"Well, you never know. Try me."
"Did, did the deal specify that it had to be a girlfriend?
That caused Kaiba to pause for a while. He frowned.
"No I think they did not."
"And you wouldn't mind... being with a boy?" Mokuba asked.
"It's all the same isn't it? It's only for show anyway. Might cause some more publicity than intended, but then that could be just a good thing. It might persuade the board that I really do like him, because I'd go to extra-lengths to pick someone unconventional."
"You had a suggestion, Mokuba. Please tell me it's not Jounouchi Katsuya."
"I don't think you could pay enough money in the world to get him to date you, big brother." Again Mokuba paused awkwardly, and now Kaiba was starting to feel a bit of dread creeping up to him. It had to be someone very unthinkable to cause his brother not to tell him.
"Spit it out Mokuba, the sooner we get this started the better."
Mokuba spoke, finally, keeping his eyes on the emptied ice cream cup.
"I was thinking maybe you could pretend date Yugi Mutou."
"It makes sense big brother."
"Like hell it does," Kaiba said, a rare curse word making its way into his speech.
"Hear me out, big brother. You and Yugi have a past."
"Yes, a past of bitter rivalry."
"If TV has taught me anything, is that bitter rivals can become quite good lovers."
"I have NO interest in becoming Yugi's boyfriend."
"But do you have any other option? Think about it. It would look good. The story would hold. You've known each other for quite a while. You've actually talked to each other."
Mokuba looked at him with his big eyes. Kaiba closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. He didn't like where this thing was going. He had hoped it would have been as easy as to snatch some woman off the street to play house with for couple of months, and then let her go with a sack of money and a promise to not tell anyone. But here he was, actually considering asking Yugi Mutou to be his date.
And the most annoying part was that Mokuba was right. This was an easy story to spin, even a child could do it. Even a person with no romantic bone in his body like Kaiba could imagine it. The bitter rivals turned friends with hardships faced together only to realize that there was something more there, something that ran deeper.
"Urgh," Kaiba said, opening his eyes.
"So you agree?" Mokuba asked. While Kaiba's eyes had been closed he had grabbed his ice cream cup and was now spooning the melted ice cream into his mouth with great delight.
"You are getting far too much enjoyment out of this, Mokuba," Kaiba said.
"It's the ice cream, Seto," Mokuba answered, which Kaiba didn't believe for a moment.
"Fine. Yugi would be my best option for dating. But. How on Earth I'm supposed to get him to work with me. Though he is a friendly person to a fault, I doubt dating me would really be something he'd want to do."
"Remember what you always taught me? Just sweeten the deal. And for another ice cream I will tell you just what to say."
Kaiba felt a sudden surge of pride rise in him. Mokuba would become a great business man once he grew up a bit.
It was a Friday evening and Yugi Mutou had a visitor. Two in fact. A limousine had parked in front of the Game Shop and Seto and Mokuba Kaiba had came for a visit. Yugi had put them in the living room, before rushing to turn the Game Shop's open sign around to show closed. Yugi's grandpa was gone for few weeks, to meet some old friends at Osaka, so Yugi was in charge of the Game Shop. It was summer. Yugi would have liked to be outside, spending time with his friends, but at least he earned some extra spending money this way.
He smiled at Kaiba brothers as he rushed past them to make tea. Only Mokuba smiled back. Kaiba himself looked very impatient, and it was as if Yugi could detect a hint of embarrassment on his face. But then again, this was Kaiba so it was almost impossible to tell.
Yugi picked the cups with the least cracks off the shelves and poured the tea. He also picked some cookies from a jar and arranged them to a plate. It wasn't much, but served with a cheery smile it would have to do.
When he had placed his offerings to the living room table Mokuba immediately dove for the cookies, while Kaiba picked one of the cups and held it in both of his hands. The silence that ensued was only broken by Mokuba munching on a sugar cookie.
Finally, since it looked like Kaiba was not going to talk, Yugi spoke:
"Not that I don't appreciate you visiting, it's been a bit quiet here without grandpa, but I do have to note this is rather unusual of you."
"This is not a mere social call, Mu-, Yugi."
"Ah," Yugi nodded. "How can I help?"
"I'm glad you have that attitude." Kaiba sighed. "You don't happen to know anything about law?"
Yugi let out a nervous laughter.
"I'm afraid I don't. Wouldn't you be better off asking that from someone else. Like a lawyer?"
"I am not here for law assistance. I just wondered how small words I should be using, when explaining."
"So legal trouble. With Kaiba Corp, I assume?"
Yugi reached for a cookie from the table and bit off a piece.
"I don't know how I could possibly help you with any legal trouble," he said waving the cookie in air in an explanatory manner before taking another bite.
"I know," Kaiba said, setting his tea cup down and leaning forward in his chair. "I need you to date me."
Yugi's chewing mouth paused in a half-open state of shock. Then he leaned over and started coughing up piece of a cookie stuck in his throat. Mokuba hurried over and started to pound Yugi's back. He gave a half-hearted glare at his brother who was following the situation with keen interest.
"You could have put it a bit less dramatically, big brother."
Finally the coughing ceased. Yugi straightened, reaching for his tea cup and he gulped the whole thing down in one go.
"Excuse me," Yugi said and coughed a couple more times. Mokuba, after making sure that Yugi was no longer in mortal danger returned to his seat next to his brother.
"There are people who want to use the fact that I have never dated as an excuse to overthrow me from my seat as the President of the company. I need to have a serious romantic relationship or I'll lose the company." Kaiba paused, grinding his teeth. When he continued he spoke between teeth tightly shut together like he had to force each and every word out separately. "You are my best option."
"Wow, this is. A bit sudden."
"You wouldn't be without compensation of course," Kaiba said. "I would not take up your time out of only the goodness of your heart. You would get paid of course. I would pay for the dates if there would be those. And, ah, as I understand your grandpa's shop has fallen on bit of hard times, yes?"
Yugi's cheeks reddened slightly. He stared into his tea cup when he answered.
"Well, it's been a bit slow, yes. Though I can't."
"Money goes a long way, and so does being a president of a multimillion dollar company. I could and will give you money as compensation, but I can offer something more. I can give you some exclusive Kaiba Corp merchandize to sell, and also some new stuff few weeks before anyone else gets them in the whole wide world. That should be enough to help keep your grandpa's Game Shop afloat."
"That's... That's actually a really generous offer. So... What would this deal include from my side?"
"To all intents and purposes, you should look like my boyfriend, just long enough to convince few people that we are indeed dating. It shouldn't take longer than two months, less if we both play our parts well. This would include you spending time at my place and me spending time here. A few public dates. Should be enough." Kaiba grimaced. "The things might of course change, but I won't do anything you are too uncomfortable with."
"But wouldn't it be odd if the relationship broke up too quickly? Wouldn't it cause suspicion, that just when these people you need to convince are convinced you and me break up?"
"I figured we'd part on good terms. So it might take some time for them to realize. Besides summer love never lasts."
"And it would perhaps be best that your loud-mouthed friends didn't know that this was all a fake. They might be interviewed, and I rather not leave my company's future on the lying abilities of Jounouchi Katsuya."
"Ah. Well. Sounds reasonable I guess." Yugi fumbled with his cup. "May I think about it a moment, in private?"
Yugi put the cup down, and wandered upstairs to his room. He sat down on his bed, his hands already reaching for the Millenium Puzzle around his neck. He wasn't going to think about it, like he had said. He was going to talk about it.
He closed his eyes, and entered his heart, in search of his other half. Yami was waiting for him in his heart room sitting on one of the brightly colored beanbags that we're scattered around. It was funny seeing him there, lounging on a beanbag as he usually was the one with straight back and prideful eyes.
Yugi sat down on the floor next to him.
"Did you listen in?" Yugi asked.
"I did," Yami said.
"It's not my decision to make. It's yours."
"No. The decision should come from us both. Besides I was rather thinking. Maybe you... Maybe you could take over in those kind of situations."
Yami was clearly taken aback. He physically recoiled at the words, leaning back, almost falling off the beanbag, but regaining the balance at the last moment. He swayed in place for a while, before finally getting words out:
"You see, I've never had a girlfriend, nor a boyfriend for that matter. You seem much more, experienced in those matters."
"I am experienced in card games, not romances," Yami said.
"Then think of it as a game. I don't think, I could do this. But we really do need the money."
"There's other options than being a romantic accessory to Kaiba for the summer."
"And Kaiba needs us too. He's our friend, isn't he?"
"I guess so," Yami muttered. "I'm still not really sure about this whole thing. He's expecting to be dating you, and would get me instead."
"Explain it to him, if it starts bothering you. I don't mind." Yugi paused. "Besides, it would make things easier if it were you. Like, it would be easier for me to explain to our friends that it's you who's dating Kaiba, and not me. I doubt I could hold the lie.
"Ah, yes and I would have to tell them that I love Kaiba for the whole summer?"
"You can explain it after it's over. It's few months at worst. Besides, think of all the card games you'll get to play with Kaiba. Maybe you can finally figure out who's actually better with it. Please, Yami, please?"
"Fine. Let's talk to him. But we do have to tell him about us being different."
Yugi exited his heart, returned to his body, and opened his eyes. He was still there, still sitting on the cool bedsheets, and he was about to go out and tell Kaiba that no, he wouldn't be his boyfriend for the summer. But his other half would be.
It took some explaining, Kaiba was nothing if a suspicious person. Finally Yugi resorted with changing in front of Kaiba and Yami pointing out all the differences in the way they sat, and spoke and more importantly the difference in their eyes. Kaiba was obviously confused, Mokuba even more so. This was not what they had expected to face when they came here to ask Yugi to be Kaiba's fake boyfriend, but finally they took it in.
Kaiba wasn't sure what Yami exactly was, but it was enough to know that this was the boy, man, spirit, who he had been dueling all those times and that this was the same person who would be his boyfriend for the following summer.
They made some plans. They decided it would be best for Yami to come to the Kaiba mansion for the weekend. They had after all just started to date, and people in the honeymoon phase liked to spent a lot of time together. Or that was what Mokuba claimed. Besides this would be a good time to start planting rumors about the new relationship blossoming between the two top Duelists in the world.
So Yugi and Yami made plans of their own. Their friends would have to be notified, probably not immediately, because suddenness would cause suspicion. None of them would probably need them this weekend, so it would be easy to settle in. And grandpa had to be notified. Yugi had no heart to lie to his grandpa, especially since he was doing this to save his shop.
Grandpa Mutou didn't like the idea, but Yugi persuaded him that it would just be a favor to a friend that would help them as well. Finally grandpa agreed to it, reminding that Yugi was still expected to keep the Game Shop during weekdays for the few next weeks. Yugi assured that neither he nor Yami was that interested in spending that much time with Kaiba to begin with.
Then came the Friday when this whole relationship was about to start. Yugi packed a small pack of clothes and other things for Yami. He himself probably would not make that much of an appearance this weekend, as it was better to just get Kaiba and Yami settle in and get their stories straight. Yugi would of course, be listening in on the important bits.
He was rather looking forward to having a bit of a vacation in his own mind. Usually it was Yami who spent most of the time inside their mind. It was an unspoken rule between them, since Yami was lending Yugi's body. But it was nice, to get a bit of a break. And it was not like he was trapped or anything, Yami would let him take over whenever he started feeling claustrophobic. Unless it was in the middle of a date of course.
"How many shirts do you think we need?" Yugi asked, aloud, alone in his room. Yami answered through the Mind Link.
"We're there for a weekend. No need to pack everything."
"Well yes but we will also spent some time here later, so I figured maybe we could leave some of our stuff there. Less hauling stuff about."
There was a distinctively uncomfortable silence from the other end of the Link. When it came clear that Yami was not answering, Yugi sighed.
"It's not too late to back out. I won't hold it against you."
"No, no, I just... Need some time to get used to this."
"Me too. So hey, at least you're not alone."
"I'm never alone with you."
"Well, except if things start getting feisty with Kaiba. Then I'll happily back out."
Yugi laughed at Yami's shocked voice.
"I kid, I kid. But try to have some fun, yeah?"
"Knowing me and Kaiba, I give it about five minutes before we're shouting in the middle of the card game."
"But that's good, isn't it? I mean, couples who enjoy same things, stay together longer."
"I wish you wouldn't say it like that. I'll never be able to look at Kaiba in the face after this is done."
"If it's any comfort, I doubt he'll be able to look at you either."
"Makes dueling a bit hard. It's all in the face. If you can read your opponents expressions, then you can predict his moves and then you can win... Why are you giggling again, Yugi?" The last sentence was an exasperated sigh.
"I'm sorry, Yami. It's just that the first thing you go to is dueling and how this might affect it."
"I don't see how it's funny," came a grunt through the link.
Yugi wiped his eyes to his shirt sleeve.
"Ah, yes, I guess it's the nerves."
"Finish the packing, Kaiba should be here soon."
As soon as Yugi had managed to get the rest of the stuff inside the bag and the bag closed, from the open window he heard sound of a car stopping in front of the Game Shop.
"Your turn, Yami. Good luck."
Yugi retreated into his mind, while Yami slipped in control of the body. It had felt odd at first, retreating as a spectator into his own mind, especially since couple of first times Yami had taken over when Yugi had been unconscious so he had had no idea what he had been doing. But now, since they never switched without agreement, it just felt like another thing one occasionally had to do. Let go of ones body, and let someone use it.
Yami straightened his clothes, filled his lungs to the brim with air and let out a huge deep sigh. Nervous habits. He made it to the open window and peeked out. A limousine was parked outside the Game Shop and Kaiba was leaning against it, waiting. When he noticed Yami looking at him, he raised his hand in a greeting. Yami waved back, but rolled his eyes when he turned away from the window.
"He just had to take the limo, didn't he?" He muttered through the Mind Link.
"I'm sure he wanted to impress his date," Yugi answered.
"And I'm sure he doesn't own any other cars. And you are taking far too much enjoyment out of this."
"Sorry. Will try to keep my amusement down."
Yami finally grabbed the duffel bag from the bed and hoisted it over his shoulder. When descending through the house he made sure all the windows were closed. He exited through the Game Shop, making sure he had his keys in his pocket. Then he returned back to kitchen to make sure the oven wasn't on. He was stalling and they both knew it. Yugi made no comment. Yami just had to hope Kaiba thought it as an acceptable nervousness for their current relationship.
Finally there was no more avoiding it, so Yami left the shop. Kaiba was still leaning against the limousine. When Yami exited the house he straightened and offered Yami a smile as a greeting. It looked very rehearsed, but then again, Kaiba never did smile without a cause. And hardly ever with a cause even. Maybe the fact he was even trying counted as something.
"Just a moment," Yami said. "I need to lock the doors."
"I can take your bag," Kaiba said, extending his hand towards Yami.
"Ah, thank you."
Yami handed the bag to Kaiba, Kaiba took the bag, and watched awkwardly as Yami turned to lock the secure locking on the Game Shop's door.
"You have everything?"
"I think so, Yu-," Yami paused his sentence just in the nick of the time. Great, he had been a pretend boyfriend for maybe 3 minutes and he almost already slipped by bringing Yugi packing his bag into the mix. "I think so."
Kaiba nodded, and then led him towards the car. And held a door open for him. Now this was something to be expected, but Yami still stiffened. Kaiba frowned slightly, looked at his hand, like he wasn't quite sure what it was doing anymore and he wasn't sure if it was offending or not.
Yami slid inside the car. If at all possible, it looked like it was bigger from the inside than from the outside, like some sort of a magical box that held whole universes in it. One could hold an entire rave party in that car and still have room enough for the snack table. Yami couldn't figure out who in their right minds needed such a big car. What did Kaiba even do in here? He wasn't the type for rave parties, so perhaps shady business meetings would suit him better.
A sudden hand pressing against his back made Yami jump.
"I need to get into the car as well, Yami," Kaiba said, his voice low.
"Sorry, you startled me."
Yami took a seat in the limousine, watched as Kaiba climbed in after him and took a seat next to him. It wouldn't have been as bad if there hadn't been room for an entire choir in there besides them.
"Who needs a limousine anyway?"
"It was my father's."
Without a noticeable prompt from Kaiba the limousine started to move. Yami turned his attention to watch the city passing by from the window. They had agreed they could afford to be a bit more silent and less handsy with each other in the first couple of days. It would be chalked down as nervousness or secrecy. But at some point they would have to start looking like a couple.
Yami glanced at Kaiba from the corner of his eye. Kaiba was looking straight forward, at the opposite wall of the limousine. His expression was unreadable, telling of years of practice in careful blank neutrality. His features were hard, sharp. Nothing in them spoke of any emotions, not to mention something so huge as love, or even infatuation.
Having to act as a partner opposite a man like that, well. It would be an effort. Yami had never wanted to be an actor.
"As I said, think of it as a game," Yugi whispered in his mind.
"This game doesn't even have any cards," Yami answered. Kaiba must have noticed something as he tilted his head towards Yami, who immediately turned back to stare out of the window. Kaiba said nothing.
They were entering the richer parts of the city, littered with parks for fancy people and their fancy dogs. The apartments had turned from small blocks to huge houses made from brick, made specifically to look like they were far older than they seemed. And every single house was fenced off from the others. Rich people preferred their privacy. They could afford it.
There were people walking down the streets, looking annoyed. Probably at the reporter hurrying after them, trying to get them to talk.
"It will take some time for the magazines to catch on," Kaiba said. He had turned to look out of the window as well. "But they will find out... about us."
"Hm? Well, yes, I expected that," Yami said. Expected because Kaiba had told him that this would happen. In fact it was part of his plan. Kaiba didn't usually throw the press a bone in regards of his personal life, rather keeping it under tight locks. But this time it was essential that the rumors would fly. Kaiba had assured that the press would have a short memory, and after the break up would leave the Mutou family alone, and if they didn't Kaiba had few lawyers he could lend to them. Yami had pointed that this would perhaps look suspicious, to which Kaiba had said: "I was thinking we could part on warm terms. No need to make it dramatic. And I can still look after your privacy that way."
Yami had agreed. A tearful break-up would be something he wasn't really willing to act out.
The rest of the drive was silent. Finally they stopped at the gates of the Kaiba mansion, just for a moment, until whoever was driving the limousine opened the gate. They were driven along a finely paved road towards the mansion, which Yami could not see from the window. All he could see were some trees and flowers planted on the mansion's yard. There appeared to be a tennis court, and a small natural looking pond surrounded by blue flowers. Kaiba didn't strike him as much of a nature-person, so he figured that the garden was mostly kept for show.
The limousine parked in front of the mansion, and soon a man dressed in black came to open the door. Kaiba motioned for Yami to exit. Yami wasn't exactly sure how to act towards the servant, so he offered him an awkward smile and a nod. It was hard to tell, what with the man hiding behind his sunglasses, what his reaction was.
Soon the thoughts of how the man might be thinking about him completely vanished from his mind, when Yami finally looked up and at Kaiba's mansion. He couldn't help it, his mouth dropped open with what was surely an audible clack. Yugi had shown a pic of Kaiba's mansion from the paper once. Pictures didn't quite do the mansion justice. It was positively huge. It was built like an ancient Roman house, white marble and pillars. If Kaiba's limousine could hold an entire choir, the house could probably house at least three schools and have still room for that rave party.
"I see you are impressed."
Kaiba stepped next to him.
"Impressed? More worried that I'll get lost and someone will find my corpse three weeks from now, after I've eaten all the wallpaper in a desperate attempt to get out, and when that haven't worked out, I have had to resort chewing off one my legs."
"I hope not. I would be rather upset," Kaiba said. He nodded to the man still waiting on them, who took the hint, left the duffel bag between them and rushed to drive the limousine to somewhere, probably an underground garage or something equally ludicrously luxurious. "It won't take long to learn. There's plenty of rooms we no longer use. Our actual living space is a bit more smaller than what it looks to outside."
Yami, still wordless with wonder and the sheer size and pointlessness of it all, followed Kaiba inside. There were steps, made with stone, though not white, instead a sandy brown, that led to the huge front doors. They had barely gotten up the steps when a woman opened the doors from the outside. She smiled to both of them.
"Afternoon, Mister Kaiba, Mister Mutou. Is there anything you'd need?"
Kaiba waved her off. She nodded politely and retreated inside. Kaiba led him in himself. The entrance room was huge and empty. The ceiling was high, and sunlight poured in from the windows above the front door. From there Yami could see hallways, doors and staircases leading to various other parts of the house. Kaiba started at the stairway on the right. It took them to a huge hallway.
"Me and Mokuba mostly use the rooms in this hallway, unless there's a party or something," Kaiba said. "You shouldn't need to go farther away either."
"Good. I was afraid this would get confusing," Yami said. If Kaiba heard the sarcasm in his voice, he made no indication. Instead he pointed at various rooms, as they walked past them.
"This is our game room, I'll show it to you tomorrow. This is our library, there's kitchen, first bathroom, lounge," Kaiba listed off. He then paused in front of one of the doors. "This is Mokuba's." He knocked on the door.
There was a sound of scurrying feet and then Mokuba opened the door. Behind him Yami caught glimpses of the room, it was mostly mess of various pieces of clothes and comic books and toys. Either the cleaners didn't touch Mokuba's room, or he was extremely efficient in getting it messy again.
"Oh hi Yami!" Mokuba said brightly.
"Hi," Yami said with an awkward wave.
"You want dinner?" Kaiba asked, both him and Mokuba.
"Then go put the oven on. Show Yami the kitchen. I'll drop of his bag in my room."
"Yup. Follow me."
Mokuba led him to a surprisingly small kitchen area. The room had been something else probably, before it had been turned to a kitchen for the two brothers. There was a fridge, and counters and a small table fitting of four people.
"We really only use the big kitchen and the dining room for big quests. Usually we eat here. Or I eat here and Seto eats on the go. Sometimes we like to cook for ourselves," Mokuba told. "When we have the time. Other times the cook makes us stuff and we just warm it ourselves. I hope you like chicken."
Chicken was an understatement of the century. Sure, there was chicken in it, and vegetables, and some sauce, but it looked like it had been carefully put together by someone with years of training. And Mokuba threw it in the oven like it was nothing. Kaiba joined them at some point with few board games under his arm, for after the dinner.
The dinner tasted so amazing, that Yami had to let Yugi take over for a while just so he could taste it too. This seemed to amuse the Kaiba brothers.
After dinner they pulled out a board game, one of those co-operation ones. They played it until the sun outside had disappeared from the sky and they had to turn on the ceiling light. When finally Mokuba could not hold in his yawns anymore, Kaiba stopped the game, and ordered his younger brother to go to bed.
They were left alone in the kitchen for the first time since their car ride. Kaiba started to put the board game away, while Yami stared out of the window.
"This has not been that bad," Yugi said inside his mind.
"I guess it would look better if you slept with me," Kaiba said just then, and then quickly corrected. "In the same room I mean. There might be a maid wandering in in the morning. That's a good way to get the rumors started."
"Yes, I suppose it will," Yami muttered.
"I like it just as little as you do," Kaiba said. "Come, I'll show my bedroom."
Kaiba's bedroom was not far away, yet Yami still tried to make sure he remembered each turn they had taken (one left instead of a right) so that he could possibly maybe find his way back if needed. The door was wooden, another one that looked like some poor ancient tree had had to been cut for it. It opened with a soft click.
"Make yourself at home. I'll go say goodnight to Mokuba."
Kaiba didn't wait for Yami to answer, walking briskly past him, and disappearing back to the hallway to get to Mokuba's room, which was around the corner. Yami stepped into the room. Red carpet covered floor, it was soft, very nice to walk on. It was a rather desolate bedroom, clearly only used for sleep, and nothing else. It was dominated on one side by huge windows, now covered with thick dark curtains. The biggest object in the room was the bed, and how magnificent it was indeed.
It was huge and covered from side to side with huge amount of pillows and sheets. There was a ceiling and pillars. A bed fit to a king.
"I wanna try it," Yugi's voice piped through the Mind Link.
"The bed, let me take over. It looks soft."
"Fine," Yami said, and let Yugi take over. Yugi immediately flopped down onto the bed, on his face, his hair floofing up, as he practically sunk into the sheets. Yugi let out a muffled giggle, which only Yami could hear, before getting back up. It took a few tries, because Yugi's hands kept sinking into the bed. Finally he was sitting on the bed, on his knees. He rose, a bit wobbly, and tried few hops on the bed. The bed made no sound, not a squeak. It was wonderful for pouncing, like jumping on a cloud.
Yugi turned around, slipped on the bed and fell backwards into the mattress, almost disappearing inside it completely. He peeked through the sheets at Kaiba and offered a smile.
"I was just testing."
"Yup. I'll change back now."
"No, wait, you can," Yami started through the Link, but Yugi had already retreated, and it was not polite to leave a vacant body in anyone's bed.
Grumbling to himself, Yami took over.
"For a moment there, I thought you had keeled over from heart attack," Kaiba muttered.
"We usually do this a bit more seamlessly."
"There's a bathroom behind that door. It's connected with Mokuba's room, so don't be surprised if you ever bump into him. You can go brush your teeth and change there."
Kaiba himself had started to unbutton his shirt, walking towards another set of high doors on the other end of the room, no doubt his wardrobes. Yami slunk off into the bathroom.
The bathroom was bigger than Yugi's room in their home and everything gleamed, clean and unused. At this point Yami was not even surprised, he just headed to the sink. Someone had left a mug for his toothbrush there. It was dark purple and had a picture of the Black-Eyes Red Dragon on it. Next to it were two other mugs, one white with Blue-Eyes White Dragon, no doubt Kaiba's, which left Mokuba's mug to be the green one with the picture of a Minotaur warrior. Again, the only hints of actual people living there.
Yami brushed his teeth, then quickly climbed into his well-worn pajamas. Kaiba had also changed into pajamas, dark blue.
"Um, where do you want me to sleep?" Yami asked, as he didn't see a mattress put out to him.
"The bed is big enough for two," Kaiba simply answered, before retreating into the bathroom.
"It's comfortable, Yami," Yugi said.
"I know, I tried it too. That's not the point."
"It'll look good. It's pretty hard for you to try pretend that you're a couple if some servant finds Kaiba in his bed and you huddled on a mattress in the corner. You don't have to be close, people do move while sleeping."
"Fine, fine, I'll get in."
Yami lifted the sheets and dived into the bed. It was rather like going deep-sea diving. The bed was clearly made for someone bigger, maybe for someone the size of a small house. After some struggling, Yami finally found a pillow for himself. He nested at the edge of the bed. He had just found a relatively comfortable position, when he heard the bathroom door open.
He was too tired for any talk now.
"Good night Kaiba," he said. Kaiba made a clicking sound with his tongue, a small tsk, before answering:
"Good night, Yami."
Yami slipped inside his mind, leaving the body vacant, and to all outsiders looking like he was sleeping. Yugi was waiting for him in his soulroom, sitting on one of the beanbags. Yami didn't even bother to find one for himself, rather collapsing down next to Yugi, making him almost fall off.
"You are doing okay in here?" Yami asked.
"No complaining so far," Yugi said, looking about. "There's lot to do." It was true, Yugi's room was spacious, a wide array of different colored platforms going up and extending out to eternity.
"Don't get lost."
"I won't be leaving you for long. Yami, we're not here to talk about me. I promised I would talk with you about this, and so we are going to do that."
"It's all very... awkward, isn't it?" Yami asked.
"Only times me and Kaiba have ever really spoken is when we have been dueling, so it's difficult. Trying to act natural, not to mention in love."
"It'll come with time, Yami. I trust you both. You just have to stop thinking about it like you are dating Kaiba, and more like really complicated chess, where you two have to work together and not get separated. I'm sure you can do it, once you get over the first few days."
"If you're sure."
"Besides. It's not that bad. Did you see how Kaiba acted? He used Mokuba as a buffer for the whole evening, just so he didn't have to spend time alone with you. He has no clue how to act either. I mean, this is his first relationship."
"What a nice relationship to have as a first, a fake one."
Yugi turned to pat Yami on the shoulder.
"Tomorrow, try to do something together. Something fun. Maybe not card games, I know how easily those devolve into hostilities, but something else."
"I was rather hoping Kaiba had some ideas, it's his plan."
"Yup, and you're gonna help him make it perfect."
When Yami woke up in the morning the bed was empty aside from him. At least it looked like it, though no one could be certain what monsters might lurk among those sheets. Kaiba's side of the bed however was clearly empty and looked also untouched, but Yami was going to assume Kaiba had slept in it and had not indeed spent a night staring at him, or most likely playing video games in some other room.
Yami got up and wandered to the bathroom to change. He had luckily just managed to get his pants on, when Mokuba burst into the room through the other door.
"Knock next time," Yami told him.
"Sorry Yami. I heard you moving inside, and thought I'd ask if you'd want to get breakfast."
"Sure. Where's Ka-, Seto?" It was better to start practicing on the use of Kaiba's first name, even if it tasted odd in his mouth.
"He most likely got up for some business calls."
"You don't mind if Yugi takes my place for a bit? I would like to take some time off."
"Nope," Mokuba answered.
"Your turn, Yugi, hope you're awake."
Yugi was awake, but barely. He had always been slower of the two to get up, and would have probably still stayed hidden inside the massive bed, if Yami hadn't dragged their shared body from it. Yugi yawned loudly.
"Did someone say breakfast?"
"I did. Follow me."
Mokuba led him to the kitchen, telling Yugi to take whatever he wished. He himself grabbed a box of cereal and a carton of milk and sat down by the table. He poured milk to his cereal, and started eating while Yugi was making toast for himself.
"Your brother gets called away a lot then? I mean it's Saturday morning, shouldn't it be a day off?" Yugi asked.
"Seto wants to know what's going on in his company at all times. And since it's quite a big company it takes a lot of work. Especially once we had to fire our whole of board of directors after Duelist Kingdom since they had conspired with Pegasus to take over the company."
"Yup." Mokuba gulped down another spoonful of cereal. "The company wouldn't be where it is today without big brother."
"Kaiba Corp has not always produced children's games, as far as I recall," Yugi said. Mokuba didn't answer, probably because Kaiba Corp used to be a weapon manufacturer before Kaiba took over. It didn't sound like a past one would much care to dwell on, so Yugi quickly continued, before the situation could veer into uncomfortable territory: "You must be very proud of him."
"Of course I am. He's my big brother." Mokuba said the words big brother with a big smile and a tone that implied that everything should be clear after that, and it kind of was. Mokuba's love for his brother shone through, and it made Yugi smile too. He concentrated on his toast.
Mokuba finished his cereal then tilting his head, curiously regarded Yugi.
"So you and Yami?" he said.
"What about us?"
"What are you to each other?"
"Technically he is my other half, the dark to my light. But that sounds way too fancy. Besides Yami isn't evil, just focused." Yugi paused to think. "I guess he is sort of a big brother and a best friend at the same time."
Mokuba nodded seriously and then grinned again.
"So just like me and big brother!"
"I'm sure there's some differences. We share a body after all, but other than that, yes I suppose it would be a lot like you and your brother."
"Can Yami hear us?"
"If he's listening, he isn't always." Yugi probed his Mind Link: "Mokuba wants to hear from you."
Yami took over.
"You are a lot like my big brother," Mokuba said. "I think you make a good pair."
"I, uh, thanks?"
"Did you listen in on our conversation?" Yugi asked.
"No, I did not."
"He just means that our relationship is a lot like theirs, so that's why you two go well together."
"Because we're both brotherly?"
When Yami focused again to the outside world, Mokuba was staring at him intently.
"You went glassy eyes there for a while," Mokuba said, a hint of worry seeping into his voice.
"Sorry, I was talking with Yugi."
Yami finished the toast Yugi had started. He was aware of how Mokuba followed this progress with curious eyes. A raised eyebrow prompted no response from the boy however, so Yami thought it best to assume he was simply wondering on how sharing a body with another might work, and if there were any question he would ask them. Mokuba Kaiba didn't shy away from people.
The door opened just as Yami had stuffed the final piece of his toast into his mouth and was munching on it happily.
"Morning Mokuba, morning..." Kaiba actually walked across the table so he could peer at Yami's face. He frowned, while Yami just kept on chewing on the piece of bread.
"Yami?" Kaiba guessed. Yami gave him thumbs up, which seemed to satisfy Kaiba.
"Morning big brother," Mokuba said. Kaiba rounded the table to him, pressed quickly his hand on Mokuba's shoulder, then seemed to realize that Yami was indeed present, and still chewing. So he quickly straightened and turned to get himself an iced coffee from the fridge.
"The deal in France went through," Kaiba told.
"Yay," Mokuba said.
"So that's why you left early," Yami said.
"I'm an early riser. If I were you I wouldn't expect to ever find me in the bed when you wake up."
"Any plans for today?"
"Some. It would look good if we did things together. Not necessarily couple things yet. That can come once we figure what would look best. Ever played tennis, Mutou?"
"Yugi has played in PE," Yami answered. "I took over once, but that's about it."
"How about a match? I'll go easy on you."
"How romantic," Yami said rolling his eyes.
"Fine, I'll teach you?"
They did play a game of tennis. Kaiba showed him few techniques and pretty soon Yami could already keep up, if Kaiba didn't focus. Kaiba would never admit to a such thing as natural talent, so he didn't tell this to Yami. After tennis they had lunch, just the two of them, as Mokuba had gone to see his friends, which Kaiba admitted was also to make it clear Yami was not there to see both of them.
After lunch Kaiba introduced Yami to his game room which was the first time in this whole relationship so far that had made Yami's heart skipped a beat. It was a large room, once a lounge that had been transformed into every duelist's dream. Not only was there every kind of game console imaginable, there were also shelves toppled with board games and even few arcade games, currently turned off stacked in the corner.
Kaiba had a knowing smile on his face when he led Yami in.
"Guests get to pick the first game."
In the end Yami picked one of the boardgames. Then it was Kaiba's turn and he chose chess. Then Yami picked one of the ancient arcade machines and finally they ended up playing Mario Kart, not sure who had picked that one. By the time Mokuba came back, they were on their 18th round, which had dissolved into mostly incoherent screaming whenever a red shell was used.
They had dinner together and then retreated to Kaiba's room for planning and cookies. Mokuba insisted on the cookies. They all gathered on Kaiba's bed, and Yami had ever thought he would see Kaiba sitting cross-legged on a bed balancing a cup of coffee in his hands while the bed shook from Mokuba's excited gestures, well there it was.
"Yugi and I will have to look after the store during weekdays," Yami said, sipping on his own coffee. Yugi disliked coffee, but Yami had acquired a taste for it. They weren't quite sure how, as their taste buds were exactly the same, but it was not like there was much research done on the subject.
"Would it be okay if I visited your store during the time?"
"There isn't much to do."
"Well the cover is that I'm not there to really do anything but to be with you."
Yami tilted his head, listened to his Mind Link for a moment.
"Yugi says it's okay as long as you don't disturb the customers."
"I will try not to." Kaiba said. "And weekends you can spend here."
"At the moment yes. If our friends happen to need us, we might have to compromise."
"We'll look into it."
After that Kaiba turned to Mokuba, who was just in between cookies.
"Mokuba, status-report on the staff's rumor levels."
To Yami's surprise Mokuba finished the cookie and then pulled out a notepad from his pocket and started leafing through it.
"Drivers are talking of you taking an unscheduled visit to a small Game Shop. At first they figured you want something from the owner, like a rare card or something, but then you brought him to visit, so now they are mostly confused. Our butler has already asked if we would expect to see Yami more often in the house to which I answered probably. One of the cleaners saw you two sleeping in the same bed, completely on accident, of course. The rumors have not started to go around yet, but there's a seed."
Kaiba nodded. He looked satisfied.
"How do you know all this again?" Yami asked, looking between the two of them. It hadn't seem that there was much contact between the Kaiba brothers and their staff. They had seemed to be doing well without them for the most part in the household aside from driving. Yami wasn't even sure how big the staff in the Kaiba household was. Sure the house was huge, but the family wasn't.
"We know everyone in our hire," Mokuba said.
"Indeed," Kaiba said. He tapped his finger against his chin. "Any idea how we could make the rumors go around a little faster?"
"These people know you at least somewhat, don't they? Perhaps something that's out of character for you before I leave," Yami said. "A goodbye gesture."
"Hmm, we'll have to see. Then we need to start to work on getting the rumors out of this house. Of course people talk, but we need to make it fast. "
"I think I have an idea for that," Yami said. "You take me on a date, on a secret date, but let a few people know on accident. Or let Mokuba slip it out to someone. So it appears we wouldn't want anyone think we were going out, thus making people less suspect that we are actually doing this on purpose."
"Double bluff, I like it. Would you be free on Wednesday evening, if I take you on a dinner?"
"Good. I think it is all settled then."
Kaiba left once again to take Mokuba to bed. Yami was left alone in the bedroom. He licked his thumb and picked cookie crumbs off the plate one by one, deep in thought. When Yugi spoke to him, he was startled.
"You're really getting into this planning."
"No, I think it's good. It all sounds good. I do have to wonder is all you're going to do together involve games?"
"It's Seto Kaiba, I think no one would think he'd like anyone who couldn't hold their own in a game."
"Fair point," Yugi said, and Yami could almost hear the shrugging off his shoulders in his voice. "I just rather think it still a bit funny."
Yami suddenly became aware that someone was snapping their fingers in front of his face. He looked up to see Kaiba, leaning against the bed and staring at him.
"You didn't react to me speaking your name. Is this to be a common thing or should I be worried?"
"Was talking to Yugi," Yami mumbled. He should be more careful when or where he'd take time to actually converse with Yugi. It didn't look good, this constant absent-mindedness.
"Well," and with that Kaiba clambered back from the bed. "It's not that late yet. Would you two be interested in a movie?"
"Sure," Yami said.
They ended up watching two movies, some European fantasy movies Yami had not even heard about. They were good, though during the second one Yami's eyes kept slipping close. If someone would later ask him how the movie had ended he wouldn't be able to tell. Kaiba didn't appear tired at all, even if he had got up way earlier than Yami had.
Despite missing the end of the movie, Yami did manage to make his way to the bed on his own. He skipped speaking with Yugi tonight, because his side of the Link sounded so silent, that he might already be asleep. Yami himself fell asleep as soon as he had managed to find his spot from the last night.
Sunday started with Kaiba actually being around. He was up and in the shower, when Yami finally woke up. They had a long breakfast, the three of them. And then Kaiba took Yami out to see the greenery area. He fully admitted he did not spend much time in it, and there was parts he had not seen since last summer. So it was an adventure for the both of them. Mostly they made the walk, so people could potentially see them together.
After that they decided to return to the Mario Kart, since while outside air was no doubt good for both of them, it didn't really beat the satisfaction of beating the other on Mario Kart by mere inches.
They played that until Mokuba found them there and complained that he was hungry and wanted lunch.
After lunch it was time for Yami to leave. Kaiba let Yami to outside. There was a car waiting.
"It will take you home," Kaiba said. Yami nodded. He looked at Kaiba, they had talked about this, a goodbye, something someone might see, something affectionate. Kaiba raised his eyebrows at him.
"I'll see you later," Yami said. His whole body was feeling tense since they had not managed to decide what this gesture was going to be. It was a bit too soon for a kiss.
Kaiba pressed his hand on Yami's shoulder, twisted him so they were facing each other. Kaiba was much taller than Yami, Yami really hadn't paid much attention to the fact, because usually they only met each other at the opposite end sides of a Duel Ring. Not this close. Kaiba didn't look like he was having much fun either, Yami could see him visibly bracing for what he was about to do, whatever that was.
He leaned down, slowly, so Yami wasn't startled, like he was some panicked animal and not just a person who was trying his best to look like he was dating him. A hand cupped his face upwards, the hand was cold, and it's touch the lightest, afraid to use any force, Yami recognized what was wanted off him and turned his face upwards. For a brief moment Kaiba pressed their foreheads together. Their noses bumped against each other. Kaiba's eyes were half closed. Yami could feel his breath uneven, but warm against his skin.
Kaiba retreated hastily, his arms falling limp to his sides. Yami could feel his face burning, and Kaiba was looking a little pinkish around the ears as well. He looked like he hadn't quite realized what just happened. Luckily if anyone saw that, they were probably so far away that they couldn't read their expressions. Kaiba straightened himself, looked like he was having a mental struggle with himself to get his composure back. Soon his eyes returned to the normal coldness they usually displayed. He nodded at Yami, a gesture that felt out of place after what just happened.
"I might stop by the Game Shop at some point," he said. Yami nodded, he wasn't sure if he ever did say good-bye to Kaiba, as he waddled to the car and was taken away.
The car was the same that he had arrived in on Friday, and it felt even more empty now. Yami hardly noticed however. He was staring very intently at the padded wall of the car.
"This is not going to work," he muttered to Yugi through their Link.
"Don't be such a pessimist," Yugi answered. "Yes it was a bit awkward."
"A bit? Were you even present?"
"It doesn't matter now, because there was no one close to us watching but we'll be going to a date on Wednesday and we are to supposed to look like an actual couple by then."
"Well, everyone is allowed a bit of nervousness."
"Yes, but we should probably look a bit more like we're excited about the prospect of touching each other."
"Maybe you can be one of those couples that doesn't like touching."
"Yes, well explain that to the people who are supposed to believe we are a couple."
"I'm sorry, Yami."
"I asked you to do this. We can still change places."
"And have Kaiba re-adjust to the idea of dating you? No, Yugi." Yami sighed. "I'm fine. The whole thing just caught me a bit off-guard. I knew it was coming, but I hadn't really thought about what it was going to entail."
"Well," Yugi said. "You will have to kiss on Wednesday, right? Now you have three days to get used to that idea, I suggest you do. It will make it easier."
It was Monday, and Kaiba had said he would not visit, so Yami took a deserved day off, lulling inside their mind, asleep, while Yugi took care of the Game Shop. There weren't many customers that day, so mostly Yugi organized the shelves, and put on the display cases some new stuff that had arrived. Nothing that Kaiba had promised, yet, but they really hadn't had time to talk about it either.
In the afternoon, the bell above the shop's door started ringing, but it was not any ordinary customers. Yugi's friends Jounouchi, Honda and Anzu walked in.
"Oh, hey guys!" Yugi greeted.
"Hey, Yugi," Jounouchi said, leaning against the counter in a casual manner. "Would you be up to going to the Arcade today?"
"You bet I am!"
"I came by in the weekend, but you weren't in," Anzu said.
"Oh, if you needed me, you should have called. Although I was not in the whole weekend."
"It wasn't very important," Anzu answered, and then with sudden curiosity: "Where were you?"
"Well, uh." Yugi looked at his friends, their honest open faces. He knew this moment would be coming, the moment he had to lie to his friends. He had hoped Yami would have been the one that would have been done the explaining. They would be hurt, after all this was over, but they would understand. It was best to keep the lies to the minimum. "We were at Kaiba's."
"Kaiba's?" Jounouchi exclaimed. "What were you doing at Kaiba's? He challenged you to a card game, or something?"
"Not really. You see. Hmm, how do I put this. Yami and him are kind of, involved?"
There was a haunting silence. Yugi shut his eyes, and waited for things to blow. Yami stirred inside him, sensing danger.
"What is it?"
"I told our friends about you and Kaiba."
"Oh. I'm going to stay out of this one."
"Probably for the best."
Yami slunk back. Yugi cracked one of his eyes open. The Game Shop was still quiet. His friends were staring at him, their mouths hanging open.
"Say, say that again, will you?" Honda finally managed.
"I spent a weekend at Kaiba's mansion, because Yami and Kaiba are an item. They're dating, alright?"
"...Dating Kaiba? That's insane," Jounouchi said. He was gripping onto the edge of the table, and looked like he was about to fall over. Jounouchi had always been very prone to dramatics.
"Well, maybe, but that's what's happening right now." Yugi straightened and met each of his friend eyes with his gaze. "It was Yami's choice and I'd appreciate if you wouldn't judge him for that decision."
"We apologize," Anzu said, and when Jounouchi looked like he was about to say something probably unwise, she pinched his arm, which caused him to yelp out in pain. "This was just a rather sudden turn of events."
"You tell me," Yugi said. "Anyway. It shouldn't affect things much. There'll be few weekends I'll be spending at the mansion because of this. But nothing has changed, not between us and not between Yami and you. Right?"
"May we talk with him?" Anzu said.
"He's feeling a bit embarrassed at the moment, to be perfectly frank. He was dreading your reaction. He cares about you guys a lot. So maybe give him a bit of time."
Jounouchi was was still standing, frozen stiff, his mouth hanging open. It was reasonable, since he had always been most at odds with Kaiba. Yugi hoped this whole stunt wouldn't cause any permanent damage. True they had been through worse together, but there had never been a reason to lie, not after Yugi had explained who and what Yami was anyway. They would just have to tell the whole truth once this was over. And hope that they would understand.
Honda elbowed Jounouchi to his side, which made him let out a small sound, and not much else.
"You may have broken him," Honda said, waving his hand in front of Jounouchi's face.
"That's all it took?" Yugi asked, trying to let a little laugh into his voice. "In that case Yami should have started dating Kaiba sooner."
"Hey, don't say that!" Jounouchi explained. "It just man..." He was about to say something less than nice, but Anzu glared him down. "It's just, a bit weird," he finished lamely.
"You're the one speaking," Yugi said. "You don't have to share a body with him."
"Oh. Oh. Shit, Yugi, I'm sorry," Honda said. "That's rough, buddy."
"Don't worry they haven't done anything bad yet," Yugi said, glancing at the clock on the wall. It was closing time. "Will you guys wait outside? I'll close the shop and then we can go to the Arcade."
"Sure," Anzu said and practically dragged the two boys outside. After the door closed, Yugi could hear Anzu starting to talk, no doubt having a speech about being a supportive friend no matter who people decided to date.
"Yugi, that was horrible," Yami's voice piped from inside his mind.
"I didn't think it went that bad."
"I can't ever look at them in the face again."
"Now, now. Anzu's on our side, always. She'll keep the boys in line. Honda really doesn't care. It might take Jounouchi some time to get used to this, but before you even know it, the whole dating thing will be over and we can stop living a lie. You can tell them yourself if you want to. They might be a bit disappointed, but they'll understand."
But Yami didn't come out during that night. Yugi decided to give him time, though he did feel bad that he had asked Yami to do this, when he could have done it just as well himself. But it was too late to change it. Yugi was distracted with troubles, which is why he lost at the games more often than usually.
His friends relaxed into the new state of things. At some point, when they were waiting their turn on one of the more popular games of the Arcade, they even got a bit curious. It was Honda who brought the subject up, breaking the silence on it that had lasted since they had left the Game Shop.
"What do Yami and Kaiba even do together?" Honda asked, turning towards Yugi in the queue.
"Don't talk about me like I'm not present," Yami said, but only in Yugi's mind. This was the first time he spoke too, but clearly he had no desire to come out.
"Mostly they seem to play games. They have a very elaborate counter set up," Yugi answered shrugging. "If they do anything else, I usually get bored, and drift off."
"How am I not surprised," Anzu said. "I'm sure that's the exact reason they got together."
"How was it, by the way? You were there then, weren't you?"
"I know you're curious," Yugi said. "But I'm gonna keep my mouth shut on that one."
"Ooh, it must have been super-romantic," Anzu said with a sigh.
"Yes, how very romantic all that hey I need you to help save my company," Yami replied, again, only in Yugi's mind.
"Behave, Yami," Yugi answered. "I'd rather let them think what they want than lie to them."
"Hey, are we gonna play games, or are we gonna talk about dating?" Jounouchi asked, pointing at the machine that had freed. The topic was dropped. By the end of the evening even Jounouchi seemed to have forgotten all his discomfort on the new turn of events and they were laughing as much as any other day. They made plans to hang out on Thursday.
As he had promised, Kaiba came visit during the week. He picked an early afternoon and just popped into the Game Shop. He spent the next few hours sitting on a chair Yugi had brought him, and talking with Yugi about various things, mostly Duel Monsters and his grandpa's business. He was rather curious on Yugi's grandpa, seeing that he had had led quite an active and interesting life, visiting Egypt every now and then on archeological digs, and being a rather good duelist back in the day. Yugi was more than happy to talk about his grandpa, as it was the best way to keep the silence from becoming awkward. Kaiba in turn talked a bit about Mokuba, though it was clear he wasn't used to sharing any details on their personal lives.
Occasionally a customer would come in and Yugi would go and meet them. Sometimes they, being too preoccupied by whatever they wanted to buy, ignored Kaiba, sitting in the corner, and Kaiba preferred it that way, pulling out his phone and texting Mokuba whenever a customer did appear.
Sometimes the customers did recognize him, especially if they were at all familiar with Duel Monsters. They would turn to Yugi, and mouth: "is that..?" to which Yugi would shrug and nod. They would then finish their shopping, awkwardly glancing at Kaiba in the corner every now and then, hoping he would not notice, or maybe hoping he would. Kaiba made no indication that he noticed anything going on in the store.
Then they would leave and Yugi would return to his seat, making some comment about those customers and Kaiba's popularity which Kaiba tactfully ignored. He was not fond of people paying attention to him just because they had seen his face on their TVs or in a magazine. Yugi didn't push on the matter further, and they continued their conversation.
Kaiba would have liked to bring Mokuba with him, to make things less awkward, but it would not have looked good to the people, that instead of choosing to spend time alone with his new boyfriend, he would have chosen to bring his brother with him. Besides, if he wasn't on business, he usually did bring Mokuba with him everywhere, so this kind of behavior was hopefully the kind that would make some people suspect that there was something going on between Yami and him. And there was of course their date on Wednesday, the one Kaiba rather not think about just yet. He had plans, but he would not think of their actual execution until Wednesday.
He was grateful Yami had decided to not make an appearance. Maybe it was just for practical reasons, as it was clear that Yugi was way more familiar with the Game Shop and working with customers. He smiled politely and instantly as soon as a person set a foot in, and spoke with familiarity and kindness to both regular and new customers whether they were just little kids or parents looking for things to play as a family. It was very much like Yugi.
Perhaps there was other reasons for Yami's absence, he might have not been that into spending time with Kaiba after the weekend. But it suited Kaiba, so he made no inquiries. If there was something seriously wrong, Yugi would let him know. He seemed the type, who would.
The day was mostly uneventful, spent mostly just listening to Yugi chatter away. After he had exhausted the topic of his grandfather, he just talked about whatever seemed to come to mind, not much checking if Kaiba was listening. Kaiba had learned to listen with his other ear while thinking about other things. He had attended far too many boring business meetings not to.
At some point during the day a little boy, perhaps nine, entered with his father. Kaiba took the bell ringing as his cue to take out his phone. He needed to let Mokuba know, he would indeed be home for dinner and if he could spread some rumors to the kitchen staff while he was at it, that would be neat.
Yugi raised from his seat and went to greet the two. Soon he was deeply explaining to the slightly confused father what Duel Monsters was and what he should buy next for his son, while the boy himself was leaning against the glass on one of the display cases, admiring a Red-Eyes Black Dragon figurine.
Then he noticed Kaiba. Kaiba could see the movement from the corner of his eyes, so he looked up from his phone and at the boy, who's face lit up in recognition. He approached the desk, placing his hands on it, and raising on his tip toes so he could look at Kaiba more properly, being short as he was.
"Hey," the boy said.
"I know you."
The boy thumped back to his feet, and started rummaging through his pockets. He produced a deck of cards and slid it on the table.
"Can you look at them?"
At this point the boy's father looked up from his conversation he was having. He looked at his son, who had his back turned so he had no idea that his behavior had raised attention. Yugi had also turned to look at them, mostly at Kaiba.
Kaiba looked at the deck in front of him, and at the boy and his eager eyes.
"Sure," he said with a sigh and took the deck. He was not a teacher, had no patience for it usually. But the boy had similar eyes to Mokuba. So he looked over the deck. It was something he'd expect from a kid this young, mostly filled with monsters that looked cool, rather than those that would compliment each other, lacking on both traps and magic cards. It would be no winning deck. But everyone had to start somewhere. So Kaiba gave some pointers, and Yugi helped the boy pick some magic card packs to make his deck a bit more balanced. The father smiled at Kaiba nervously when he was paying.
"Thank you," he said. Kaiba only nodded.
"Thank you, mister Kaiba!" said the boy. When they left, Kaiba could hear the boy explaining to his father who Kaiba was.
"That was very kind of you," Yugi said. Kaiba only shrugged.
"He asked my opinion, of course I gave it."
"Of course, I mean you could have been a lot meaner about it."
"You seem to forget that I have a little brother about that boy's age."
"I'm not forgetting it, what a lucky kid Mokuba is," Yugi answered brightly. For a moment Kaiba was at loss of words, he coughed into his fist to hide it. Yugi either didn't notice, or chose to ignore it, as he turned to pull some papers from under the desk and made some markings with a look of great concentration on his face.
"Yugi, may I ask you a question?" Kaiba said.
"Why did you choose Yami to date me and not you? It was you I asked for originally."
Yugi's writing hand paused, the pen hovering over the paper, making a small circle in the air. Finally Yugi put a mark on the page and set the pen aside. He wiped his hands on his pant sleeves.
"Well you didn't know Yami existed at the time."
"A fact you probably could have kept from me very easily."
"Oh that wouldn't have been fair at all," Yugi said off-handedly. He gazed at the ceiling for a time, either choosing his words or consulting with Yami, Kaiba wasn't sure. "I've never had a relationship before," he finally started.
"Neither have I," Kaiba answered with a shrug. "Are you saying Yami is very experienced? I find that odd to believe considering you inhabit the same body."
"Nah, it's just the way he deals with things. He's a lot more sure about these things than I would have been. I think he works better for you. And this way it has been easier to talk about it with my friends, since Yami is not always present. Besides, even if you didn't know it, you and him have indeed spent a lot of time together. He's the one that has mostly played against you." Yugi smiled. "He has a competitive streak, much like you."
"I hope it hasn't bothered you that you got him instead of him."
"Well, we can't know for sure how it works, since we've been only doing this for such a short time. But I have high hopes."
"And we will both do our best to live up to those hopes."
"It's always pleasure doing business with you," Kaiba said. "But I do believe I need to go, Mokuba is waiting for me for dinner."
"Tell Yami, I'm picking him up at six tomorrow."
Yami had put Yugi in charge of the wardrobe, since it was his clothes anyway. He probably shouldn't have. Yugi's date attire appeared to be mostly black: black pants, a bit too tight for comfort and a black tank top and some black belts added to the mix.
"We're not going to a funeral," Yami said as he and Yugi both stared at their body in the mirror.
"It looks cool, trust me."
"Can I get something to pull over that's a bit warmer. I don't know how long we'll be saying."
"If you don't like the outfit, just say so," Yugi sighed, running his hand through his hair.
"No, no, it'll do. Don't mess the hair."
"You're nervous, aren't you?" Yugi asked.
"Well, I'm about to go on a pretend date with Seto Kaiba, because he needs to convince people that he has a love life," Yami answered. "And if it doesn't go according to the plan, it'll be a lot of trouble. If anyone had asked this was not how I was planning on spending my summer."
"Me neither, honestly," Yugi answered. "Anyway. I'll let you take over now. Grab a hoodie from the wardrobe before you leave, if you're worried about the cold. I'll be keeping an eye on you, unless you don't want that."
"I'm not going to do anything with Kaiba."
"Aside from going on a date with him and kissing him." Yugi then added, after Yami was silent for a worrying time. "Wasn't that the plan?"
"Yes, that was indeed this plan. Yugi, if this didn't help grandpa and his shop, I would not be doing this."
"I know. And I wouldn't ask you to."
"Don't feel bad about asking me to do this, consider it paying a rent for the body or something."
"Geez, you do need some fresh air." Yugi glanced at the clock behind him. "He should be here soon, take over."
Yami complied. The clothes were a bit too tight, so the first thing he did was go to the wardrobe and pull out one of their hoodies. Maybe it would get cold enough for him to wear it. He spent the next five minutes checking his pockets for keys and his cellphone. He wouldn't need anything else.
Kaiba had told that he would pay for the whole date. It was only fair after all. Not only was Yami the one doing Kaiba a favor, but Kaiba had way more money to spend on dates. After grandpa had found out about Yami he had started paying him allowance as well, after making him promise that he would not spend it all on candy, which apparently had been a trouble with Yugi. Still even with two of their allowances combined it was not a very big sum, and Kaiba had definitely some to spare, if one even looked at Kaiba Corps stock report.
In essence, Yami was only expected to go along, with whatever Kaiba had planned, maybe hold hands and share a kiss at some point or other. It was not his place to worry on how those things went. It was Kaiba's plan. He had to wonder if Kaiba was feeling any nervousness. Knowing him he would approach this with the cold-hearted calculation he approached other things as well.
The door bell rang and, Yami hurried downstairs, pulling his hoodie on as he went.
Kaiba certainly didn't look nervous. But that was the thing about him, he had a face that was hard to read in best of times, unless you happened to be Mokuba Kaiba of course. That was at least partly the reason he was so good at card games: a great poker face. Yami had one too, he hoped it would be enough to get them both through the night. Kaiba was dressed pretty much like he always was, into a button up shirt and jacket and straight pants. He looked like he was just as ready to go to a date as to a business meeting.
There was no limousine waiting this time, a smaller car instead. When Kaiba noticed he was looking, he said:
"I'd rather not draw too much attention to us on our first date. Didn't we plan on this being a secret date anyway?"
"Fair enough," Yami said, not having the heart to point out that by simply the virtue of having a car and a driver, they would be gathering at least some attention. Rest would come from Kaiba's face and Yami's hair. "May I ask where you're taking me, or is it a secret too?"
"Not a secret. I was planning movies and then food."
"Sounds good to me."
"Then let's go, or we'll miss the movie."
The movie turned out to be a sci-fi thriller. Not really what immediately came to mind as one thought of a date. Although Yami couldn't imagine either of them really enjoying a romantic movie. There were few couples in there, though. Mostly they looked like people who had been together for a long time, walking hand in hand and talking with a lot of familiarity. Luckily both of Yami's and Kaiba's hands were filled with popcorn and other such stuff so that they didn't have to wonder if it was necessary for them to hold hands too.
And in the movie theater no one really looked at what other people were doing, which probably had been Kaiba's plan all along.
One of the other couples, a pair of 20-somethings sat in front of them and Yami watched carefully what they did during the trailers. Their bodies were slightly turned towards each other, and they shared glances, smiles, few hushed words at a particularly interesting looking trailer. The man kissed the woman once, very quickly. He then noticed Yami looking, and smiled, though clearly embarrassed. He turned back towards the screen. The woman was still turned towards him, but when the movie started, she too shifted her body back towards the screen. She leaned her head against the man's shoulder.
Yami focused back onto the movie, and didn't see what the couple did. Though the woman did not move her head from his shoulder.
"Should I do that too?" he asked Yugi from inside his head.
"What? I'm trying to watch a movie here, Yami."
Yugi sighed in his head. There was a lull in the movie, an establishing shot of a bright orange planet the crew of the starship had just encountered.
"I guess it would look all proper and dating-like. You haven't talked about movie behavior?"
"Hasn't come up yet."
"I'm sure Kaiba will adapt. Ooh, hey, what's that..."
And with that Yugi shut off the link between them, to focus more on the sudden appearance of an enemy ship. Yami leaned his head against Kaiba's shoulder. It was actually rather nice, since Kaiba was quite a bit taller than he was, so he was leaning more against his arm than his shoulder. Kaiba stiffened at the contact, and based on the sound of clothes rustling, turned to look at Yami. He did relax eventually, and returned back to the movie.
When the movie was over the couple in front of them still stayed in their seats, the woman still leaning against the man, talking throughout the credits in low voices. Yami instead straightened as soon as the lights came on, rubbing his neck which was feeling rather stiff from all that leaning. How anyone could do that for a whole movie, Yami wasn't sure. Kaiba had gotten up and was waiting for him, before leading them both out of the theater.
They stood outside the theater for a while, waiting for Kaiba's car to come pick them up. They were in complete silence, Kaiba had stuffed his hands in his pockets, and was apparently glaring at the stores on the other side of the street. The couple from the theater finally came out, their arm linked and deep in a heated conversation, laughing. The man noticed Yami, and winked at him, before the woman led him away. Yami turned to Kaiba, who was now glaring at a lamppost. They had a long way to go, before they'd look like that couple.
Kaiba had been so adsorbed with the movie that he had almost forgotten that he was supposedly on a date. Then there was a sudden weight against his arm. He stiffened, as he turned to look at Yami, who had leaned his head against him. He noticed for the first time the couple on the row in front of them, and how he and Yami were now a mimicry of them.
He returned to the movie, forcing himself to relax back onto his seat, trying to ignore the weight against him. He supposed he was glad that Yami took his part as seriously. He should focus too, even if he wasn't big on the physical contact. This was his boyfriend, he reminded himself, it had to look like it to everyone.
When the movie was over, Yami thankfully didn't linger, straightening almost immediately, rubbing his neck in pain. Kaiba led him outside and took his phone to call the driver.
"It might take him a while," he said.
"That's okay," Yami said.
Kaiba stuffed his hands in his pockets. The movie had been a success, but it had been the easiest part of their date. It was unlikely anyone would have recognized or cared about the two of them going to a movie together. Although if there had been anyone curious in the theater, Yami leaning against him might have set some tongues wagging. But no, the dinner was more important. It was odd for Kaiba take anyone to a dinner, so it would be easily read as a date. The most important part of the whole evening was going to be the kiss they had agreed would have to come at some point tonight. There was no need for them to be physically close when they visited each other, it was enough if people knew they spent unusually long amounts of time together. Their imagination would fill in the blanks far better than their acting would. It would still do good for them to show physical affection to the outside world. And what better to signal that they were not just normal friends, but indeed romantically involved, than a kiss.
He wondered if he should kiss Yami now, here when they were waiting for their ride to the restaurant. To get it over with. But he thought better off it, it would look better as a parting. And then he wouldn't have to try and spend the rest of the evening with Yami afterward.
He hated to admit it even to himself, but the thought made him somewhat nervous. Kaiba wasn't an actor, he usually didn't spend time pretending. He had far better things to do. And no he was roped into this whole thing. While Yami's company wasn't bad by any means, they had enough things in common to keep their time spent together interesting, Kaiba would have rather not done this at all. This was time and effort wasted.
And completely ridiculous.
As were his own reactions to this. This was nothing but a game, but his fingers kept twitching on their own, so he had stuffed them in his pockets for their misbehavior. This was nothing but a game, but he liked games with more clear-cut rules and opponents he could know were watching and waiting for his move. At the moment, the game was just placing baits and seeing which ones got results. It had to go perfectly, it had to go according to the plan.
Finally the car arrived. Normally Kaiba would have scolded the driver for making him wait, but today he had no heart for it.
The restaurant he had decided was a sushi place. It was rather expensive, but not too fancy. Something he basically felt would not make Yami feel too out of place or under-dressed, since he had not specified on a dress code. Yami probably didn't even own a suit.
After they had ordered and gotten their food, they turned the discussion on the movie they had just seen. Kaiba made a long rant about the technology in the movie, and how things just didn't work that way. He was aware that he was rambling, he hated himself for it. Yami at least seemed interested. He nodded between mouthfuls.
"I didn't even think about that," he admitted once Kaiba had to stop to breathe. "I was mostly focusing on the action." Yami shrugged. "I guess I just don't have the eye for technology."
"Well it's not your job. Do tell if I'm boring you."
"Not at all. Go on."
So Kaiba did. After he had exhausted the topic of fictional technologies and how they could have been made more believable, Yami took his turn to point out some of the character motivations that he had thought sketchy at best, while Kaiba could finally focus on his food. It was apparent that at least some of those thoughts that Yami shared were in fact Yugi's, but Yami kept sure that he didn't mention his name. It would have been odd.
It was already quite late, when they had finally finished their dinner. Kaiba paid the bill. They walked outside the restaurant, and paused on the sidewalk. The night air was somewhat chilly and the wind was picking up. There were still bars and restaurants open and full of people spending time. Few people were walking on the streets as well, some people shivering and clearly hoping they would have brought more clothes with them. Yami pulled his hoodie tighter around him, zipping it up. He looked at Kaiba.
"Was there something else?" he asked.
"Ah, no this was it, unless there's something else you want to do."
"I'm good. Maybe a ride to home."
"That can be arranged." Kaiba was resisting to urge to put his hands in his pockets.
"Good. I had fun."
"Good." It was now or never. It would be better to do it here than in front of the Game Shop. There were more people here. "Can I kiss you?"
"Sure," he said, trying his hardest to sound casual about it. It was lucky that no one would hear them talk. They turned awkwardly to face each other. Kaiba hesitated, he put his hand on Yami's face, again with just the softest touch. Yami's face was warm under his, and definitely heating up from embarrassment. Kaiba really had no idea what he was doing at this point, and neither, it looked like, did Yami. He had seen people kiss on TV and occasionally in real life, though he usually paid no attention. There had in fact been a kiss in the movie they just finished watching. It had involved far more tongue than Kaiba was honestly ready for now or ever.
It probably looked off, that moment of hesitation when Kaiba tried to find the best way to approach the kiss. Although you really couldn't approach it like chess or like Duel Monsters. There was no turns, they had to move at the same time. Shame really. Luckily Yami was waiting for him, so when Kaiba leaned closer, he raised to his tip-toes to meet him.
Usually in TV-shows people closed their eyes when they kissed. But that was probably after they had found each other lips. Oh and they angled their heads too, so they wouldn't bump into each other.
Kaiba was very aware that he was getting cross-eyed, trying to keep Yami's mouth in sight, and really he shouldn't be spending this much time staring at Yami's lips. His nose was also starting to get in the way in the last inches, so those were mostly spend on hoping that he was on the right course.
When their lips finally met, Kaiba's calculation had been slightly off on the distance, and their teeth clanked together. Not painfully, but enough to remind that it looked so much prettier on television. Kaiba's nose poked on Yami's cheek. Yami's hands came up and held onto the lapels of Kaiba's jacket. He was swaying a bit, as it was a bit hard to stay on balance standing on tiptoes with someone pushing against him.
Their parting was far quicker than the approach. They both took a half step backwards. Yami's hands were held in front of him like he was still holding onto Kaiba's jacket. They looked away at the same time, Yami at the sushi restaurant they had been in, trying to see if there was anyone in there. His hands went to the pockets of his hoodie, and very much stayed there. Kaiba crossed his arms across his chest, twisting his body away and turned to look at the street behind him. His car should be here any second soon.
It took about two minutes for the car to get there. Two minutes that they spent, frozen in the spot. Kaiba wondered if he should have waited for the car to arrive first, and then done the kissing. But then he would have had to kiss in front of his driver and he had no desire to put either him or the driver through that.
Finally the car arrived and they got in, in silence. They drove on in silence, both looking out of their windows at the darkening city.
When they dropped Yami off at the Game Shop, there was a moment where Kaiba wasn't sure what to say.
"I'll see you later," he ended up saying.
"Yes," said Yami, after a brief struggle as well.
Kaiba didn't wait to see Yami go back into the Game Shop, before ordering the driver to take him away. The driver gave him a curious look, but didn't ask anything, luckily, because Kaiba didn't pay him for that.
The effects of their date lingered onto the next weekend. Kaiba did come pick Yami and Yugi up on Friday, again in his limousine. He was cold, but polite. Stiff. Yami could honestly not blame him for it. It was all part of the plan, and plan had to be followed, even if they found themselves in lulls of very awkward silence during the whole ride. Kaiba looked very blankly in front of him the whole time, and Yami occasionally tried to come up something to say, but he found he got nothing.
"Maybe you should take over this weekend?" he asked Yugi.
"And this would make it any less awkward, how?" Yugi asked.
"You're right." Yami said.
"Just shoulder through it. I'm here for support."
Yami had not realized he had sighed out loud until he noticed that Kaiba was watching him with raised eyebrows. Yami shook his head at him, and pointed at his head. He hoped that Kaiba understood it meant he had been talking to Yugi. He wasn't entirely sure if the limousine driver could hear what they were talking back in the car, but he rather not risk the possibility of sounding like he was in a habit of talking to himself. Which he was, the difference just being that there was someone in there to answer him. Kaiba made no indication in any way or other, just turned his head to continue stare into the emptiness.
The silence stretched through the whole car ride. But Yami supposed it was better than having to force the conversation. Although, the whole weekend would probably be a pain, if they were going to spend it like this.
"Can I just, lay on his bed and spend time with you?" he asked Yugi.
"Oh, that would look just fantastic. Nothing screams romance like a corpse in your bed."
"No need to be sarcastic."
"Fine, I'll take over, but only if it becomes unbearable for you. Try at least? Maybe Kaiba has something planned just in case things got awkward between you two. He does like planning."
Just then the limousine stopped driving, they had arrived at Kaiba's mansion. As soon as they had stepped out of it, the door opened and Mokuba ran outside. He stopped at the edge of the stone stairs just in the nick of time, since he was not wearing any shoes, nor any socks for the matter. He enthusiastically waved at his brother to come to him, which Kaiba did after offering Yami an apologetic smile.
Apparently some new video game Mokuba had been looking forward to very much had finally came and he demanded that they would play it. Yami could come too.
Yami wasn't sure if this was part of Kaiba's plan to use Mokuba as a buffer or if it really had been just a coincidence, but Yami spent the weekend playing a game with the Kaiba brothers. The three of them took turns with the controller. They sat inside their gaming room, Yami on an armchair that was far more comfortable than it had any right to be. Kaiba and Mokuba were sitting on the couch, Mokuba next to Kaiba, although at some point he did just put his legs on his brother's lap, curling against his brother. Kaiba made no comment, either because he was trying to defeat a boss that had been proven too difficult for Mokuba and which Yami had not been able to defeat either with the few tries he had gotten or because he had nothing to say.
It was the best way the weekend could have gone, honestly. Mokuba did most of the talking, and most of the talking anyway was on the game they played. Kaiba was noticeably more relaxed with Mokuba too.
They only stopped playing when Kaiba insisted on them eating something. Mokuba of course complained, at which point Kaiba noted how rude it was to keep Yami in hunger. They both turned to Yami, who took Kaiba's side, very dramatically acting like he was dying of hunger.
"Of course, you'd take Seto's side," Mokuba complained.
"Fine, fine, we'll order pizza," Kaiba said, which made Mokuba cling to him in a hug.
Saturday and Sunday went pretty much the same way, although as the hours passed by their limbs became more stiff and their eyes more bloodshot. By Sunday evening Yami was pretty sure he had never seen Kaiba so out of his normal look. His hair was a mess, and his shirt was full of wrinkles, he had even unbuttoned the top few buttons on it. Mokuba didn't seem affected at all, if possible he was even more enthusiastic.
They didn't manage to finish the game before it was time for Yami to leave home, and Mokuba promised that he would save the rest of it until Yami came by again.
Yami got up from his chair, stretched and yawned and smiled at Mokuba.
"I'd like that."
"Then it's a promise."
Kaiba got up as well, his back making an audible crunch, as he straightened himself. His hands came to his hair, decided there was nothing to do with them at the moment, so in vain he tried to make his shirt appear a bit less rumbled.
"You need a bath," he told Mokuba, ruffling his hair. Mokuba nodded.
"Goodbye Yami, and Yugi."
And with that Mokuba was out of the room.
"I'll take you to the car," Kaiba said. And with that the old awkwardness was back. Not as strong, but both were aware that some kind of a goodbye was in order as they descended the stairs to the front yard. The car was waiting, but before going to it, Yami turned to look at Kaiba, with his hair sticking out in weird angles and his shirt untugged and wrinkled beyond all belief.
"I had fun this weekend," Yami said.
"Glad to hear that," Kaiba said, and before he could say anything else, Yami reached out and grabbed his shoulders to bring him down so he could kiss him. It was barely a touch on the lips, and their noses bumped together, again. Still needed work on the angles.
"It's better if we don't dwell on it," Yami muttered. Kaiba nodded mutely. He didn't say anything more as Yami climbed to the car and drove away.
In hindsight he should have checked if there was anyone in the Game Store before he visited. There had been customers before, but those either payed no attention to Kaiba, or gawked if they recognized him. But that day, that Tuesday, it was raining. The skies were heavy with clouds and looked like the weather would not be changing anytime soon. Because of that there were not many people outside.
These were the summer days one could spent inside without a fear of appearing lazy or somehow reclusive. These were the summer days one was allowed to spent whole day playing video games. Kaiba had done so for the most of the day; he and Mokuba had held a Super Mario Kart tournament between the two of them. But he had figured that this would also be the kind of a day he would have liked to spent with his boyfriend, or at least people who were watching his dating with Yugi Mutou with raising concerns, would feel that way.
So he put on his long jacket to shield from the wind, and took his umbrella, even though he had to walk only few steps from the front door to the car and then again from the car to the Game Shop's door. He wouldn't get wet if he could absolutely avoid it. Last time had probably been when he had misguidedly agreed to go to one of those water roller coasters when he and Mokuba had gone to an amusement park together. Rain was just rain though, and an umbrella should shield him just as well.
He didn't take the limousine, as it was hard to navigate even in good weather, not to mention on wet pavement. He took one the smaller cars, and one of his trusted drivers, who only smiled knowingly when he asked him to take him to the Mutou's Game Shop. They didn't speak during the ride, it was one of the reasons Kaiba considered him one of his trusted drivers. It was not that he didn't appreciate everyone in his employ, or at least the people that didn't try to use legal loopholes to get a hold of his company, it just that he didn't talk for fun. Unless with Mokuba. He showed his appreciation in different ways, and as far as he recalled, this driver had taken his husband and niece to a cruise on his vacation. Probably explained why he was so giddy about the prospect of the relationship Kaiba was supposedly having.
The streets were empty, as the rain pounded on the concrete. Kaiba leaned towards the window, stared outside. The plan had been in works less than a week, and apparently already some people had taken the bait. Most of his staff at hand had started gossiping after the first weekend they had spent together. Mokuba had been partly the blame, helping to spread the rumors. He was a child, so they thought he spoke the truth.
Apparently, or so Mokuba had told, lots of the people in his employ had been happy about the news, and not at all surprised. There had been talk of them being a good match. Kaiba himself couldn't quite see it, but if people thought that spark was there, then it was just all better for his plans. They would be heartbroken once the break-up happened, but they would survive.
Most important was the fact that clearly he and Yami were on a right path in regards of making them appear to be dating. He would have to make sure that other people than his staff heard it too. He had hopes on the so called journalists that sometimes liked to try dig dirt or something other that was supposedly very interesting to someone, would latch on to the relationship story. They were usually pretty shy around Kaiba, as he had more than few times cracked down on them for bothering Mokuba. This had nothing to do with Mokuba, so maybe they'd regain their courage.
He would also have to make his relationship known in the business world: maybe canceling a meeting in favor of spending time with his boyfriend would do the trick. Some of his competitors might even think a relationship would soften him down, not realizing that there was no softening Kaiba, when it came to business. In fact, this whole fake dating thing might just turn out far more profitable than he had ever expected. All awkwardness aside, he should have done this sooner.
"We're here, mister Kaiba," the driver said, waking him up from his musings.
"Thank you," Kaiba said. "I might be a while, go take a coffee or something."
"Thank you, sir."
Kaiba stepped out of the car, opening his umbrella and being careful not to step in any of the puddles that dotted the sidewalk in front of the Shop. It would be rude to bring water in.
The little bell on top of the door chimed, as he stepped in, stopping to shake the water off his umbrella before entering completely. That gave him few seconds to assess the situation as well. He had expected the Shop to be empty, with possibly one or two customers taking shelter from the rain. What he had not expected was whole of Yugi's friend group, gathered around the counter: Jounouchi, Honda and Anzu, and Yugi, who was completely blocked from his view aside from few strands of spiky hair, poking into view behind Anzu's shoulder.
They had clearly been in the middle of a intense conversation, as they all looked up in surprise. Kaiba could see Jounouchi's jaw tightening, and Anzu setting a hand on his shoulder, a clear warning.
"Am I interrupting something?" He feared his voice might have come off as cocky, it often happened when he saw Jounouchi Katsuya. The next words he directed at Yugi, who appeared from behind the counter: "I can leave if I am a bother."
To his credit, Yugi hesitated, he glanced at his friends.
"No need to leave," it was not Yugi, but Anzu. She smiled at Kaiba politely. "You came a long way, and in this weather too."
"Besides, we were just about to leave anyway," Jounouchi said.
"I do not wish to force you out in the rain either," Kaiba said stiffly.
"It's no trouble," Anzu said, waving her hand.
"If you're not going far," Kaiba said. "I can ask my driver to take you home."
Jounouchi was about to say something, but Honda spoke first:
"Really? That would be neat."
Kaiba's lips twitched upwards at the dismayed face Jounouchi made at Honda, not even bothering to hide it.
"I'll call him, then."
Yugi watched awkwardly as his friends, after few quiet words with him, and even some winks and nudges from Anzu, who seemed to sense nothing wrong with the atmosphere, took their clothes and raincoats, got dressed and then entered the car that Kaiba had called for them. Kaiba exchanged few words with his driver, and he could distinctly hear Honda going: "This isn't even the limousine, what's up with that" from the backseat. Anzu, from the front seat quickly tried to cover Honda's saying with a quick and loud "thank you!"
After the car had drove away with Yugi's friends inside, Kaiba returned to the store. Yami was waiting for him, his arms crossed across his chest and his eyes set to a glare. In times like these, it was clear to see the difference between Yami and Yugi, Yugi had no strength in his glare, he was never upset, or at least not in an angry way, only sad, and disappointed. There was something about Yami, though, Kaiba sometimes caught a glimpse of it in the corner of his eye, like an aura. It was something ancient, something powerful. It was pride and it was anger. He could believe Yami capable of murder if necessary. It was now strange to even think he could have thought it was all Yugi. It would have been slightly worrying if it had been all Yugi.
"I do have other friends outside of you," Yami said, carefully, keeping his eyes squarely on Kaiba's, as Kaiba set his umbrella aside. Outside the rain came harder, drumming on the roof and almost droning out Yami's words.
"I apologize. I will let you know in advantage next time," he said. Yami relaxed visibly at the words, either because of the apology or the promise, Kaiba couldn't tell. He walked up to the counter. "I take it your friends do not know of our deal."
"You said we were not to tell," Yami answered with a shrug. "So we didn't."
"And I take it they are not too happy?" Kaiba asked, amusement tugging at his lips.
"They are... Confused mostly. Anzu supports everything we decide to do, just this short of killing people. Honda has better things to worry about than us two dating. Just don't ask Jounouchi to be the best man at the wedding anytime soon."
"I didn't know there was going to be a wedding."
"Well this is clearly where we're heading, oh mister Kaiba. Although I do expect you to be the one who proposes. And with an expensive ring too."
Kaiba scoffed. Yami grinned, turned and sat on the chair besides the counter. Just then Kaiba noticed the magazine on the counter, the one Yugi and his friends had been no doubt reading before Kaiba had interrupted. It was one of those niche magazines meant for card gaming enthusiasts. The page was open was speculation on the possibility of new cards being published this summer, and, noticing this one pleased Kaiba, possibility of Kaiba Corp's Duel Disk System getting a new version out. It was good to see that it was anticipated.
Yami noticed Kaiba tilting his head to read the article.
"Any chance we might get some inside info if any of this is true?"
"I am normally not in the habit of discussing potential and unpublished ideas with people."
"I bet Mokuba knows."
"Mokuba owns part of the company."
He was pretty sure Yami pouted. He sighed.
"I am definitely working on the Duel Disk System constantly. The first one launched was good but there's lot to improve. I doubt I can get anything out this summer, we're still looking into getting the original Duel Disks to European and American markets at the moment. Besides I don't as much time to spent trying to cobble something together now that I spent a lot of time trying to get people to believe I have a boyfriend."
"You invent those things yourself? I'm impressed."
"Of course they are looked over and tested and mass-produced by other people, but the basic design and prototypes are from my hands. But these kind of magazines always like to speculate, even with no basis on their rumors. Don't expect anything any time soon."
"And the cards?"
"In my experience of dealing with Pegasus and his company they are always working on new cards. There's always a market for them, people want to try new strategies."
"There is indeed new cards coming. In few weeks, I think. Fairy-themed or along those lines, Pegasus is a fan of taking his inspiration from the mythology."
"Now this is interesting. You've seen those cards?"
"I have a copy of the pack, yes."
Yami leaned on the table, really close, his eyes shining.
"Anything interesting in there?"
Kaiba raised his eyebrows.
"And you give no credit to my vows of silence?"
"I am your boyfriend," Yami said.
"If I had known you'd abuse that position so much, I would have picked someone else."
Yami stared at him in silence.
"It was a joke," Kaiba told.
"Maybe try cracking a smile next time or something. So I know."
"I make no promises. I had actually came here to ask if you'd want your Shop to get those cards few days in advance, as it was part of the deal. But it seems that I got my answer."
The look of pure, hardly concealed excitement that crossed Yami's face then made all thoughts of him being a person being capable of murder disappear. He was very much like Yugi then, and Kaiba wasn't even sure if he had changed for a second there. He thought it better to assume it was Yami, until told otherwise. He reached into his coat pocket, and pulled out small pack of cards, Yami was now leaning forward on his chair so much that Kaiba was scared he might fall off.
"Patience," Kaiba said, holding the card pack slightly above his head, way out of Yami's reach. It looked like it was taking all of Yami's self-restraint not to try and grab it.
They spent the evening going over the card pack, talking about their potential strength and if they would be useful in their own decks. Yugi piped out every now and then, but most of the time it was just Yami and Kaiba. It seemed that they were most at home when talking about Duel Monsters, it was the topic they always returned to. Neither of them minded.
They had their second date that Wednesday. Kaiba was the first to admit that he had little to no imagination when it came to dating ideas, so he had asked Yami what he would want to do. That's how they ended up at Domino City's museum, which had an exhibit on Siberia at the moment. They walked through it hand-in-hand. It was not the first time Kaiba had walked hand-in-hand in a public place, although he had only ever did that with Mokuba when he was younger. And they hadn't had their fingers intertwined. Yami was clearly less accustomed to it, so Kaiba let him set the pace. They received few smiles as they went through the exhibits.
After the museum they went to eat again. And after they had eaten, they kissed outside again. Kaiba had taken Yami's advice, and kissed without too much warning, which caused their noses to bump together painfully, but all things considered, it probably looked better. And it felt a bit less awkward, a bit more like something they had done before.
It was close to closing time, that Thursday when Kaiba waltzed in. Yugi offered him a smile and a nod as a greeting and continued to tell on the upcoming expansions to a board game to a customer. Kaiba crossed his arms, but didn't interrupt. Instead he turned his attention to scour the shelves, though Yugi doubted there was anything there that Kaiba didn't already own. When the customer left, Yugi turned his attention to Kaiba.
"Hey," he said.
"Hello. May I talk to Yami, we have made the news." Only then Yugi noticed a folded up newspaper tugged under Kaiba's arm.
"Turn the sign around," Yugi said. "I'll get him." Kaiba turned to turn the sign on the door to show closed, while Yugi poked Yami, until he finally took over. If Yami would have had to characterize the look on Kaiba's face he would have called it pleased.
"You said something about the news?" Yami said, skipping the greetings. Kaiba marched to the counter and slammed the magazine on top of it. It was one of those glossy gossip magazines with bright colors on the cover and lot of exclamation points. The sort that made you feel yucky that you had even touched it. There was a woman on the cover, some reality TV-show star, which Yami ignored. Besides it was a picture of Kaiba, an older picture of him wearing a suit and glaring daggers into whoever was taking the picture. Under it in bold letters "TEEN CEO CAUGHT WITH A BOYFRIEND".
Yami leafed the magazine through until he came to the page where the article was. He could feel Yugi peering through his eyes, curious too. There was a blurry picture of them sitting together at the table at the restaurant. It wasn't a very good picture, clearly taken with a camera phone. They were recognizable, but not very detailed.
Under the picture was a short text: "One of our readers caught this scandalizing sight last Wednesday night. Seto Kaiba, the young CEO of Kaiba Corp was caught having a dinner with the Duelist Kingdom winner Yugi Mutou. Nature of this dinner was made evident when the reports state these two of were seen kissing each other tenderly" At this Yami had to pause to grimace, he remembered the kiss. It had not been a tender kiss, more like a bit painful and somewhat awkward than anything else. "outside the restaurant. it seems that these two duelists have built a romantic relationship. Neither of them had made an announcement on the relationship nor any comment on their sexualities."
"No one has asked me for an announcement. Nor Yugi."
" I've been keeping them off you. It's me they're more interested in anyway, since I'm the one people are more familiar with. But do tell me if they start bothering you. Or any of your friends."
"I will..." Yami stared at the picture on the magazine. If the people didn't know the actual situation which they obviously didn't, it was clear to him how they could have been mistaken for lovers. Which had of course been the aim. It hadn't felt like it at the time. It had felt... mostly silly.
"Are you gonna make a statement?" Yami wondered. Kaiba shrugged.
"Maybe if it looks like it would be a good move."
Of course Kaiba would think of it in terms of strategical moves. Yami had to wonder if he didn't want to make any announcements because he wasn't actually into men. Although in this case the damage would be already done, this relationship would be part of both of their dating histories forever.
"I just want to act like we're keeping it down-low for now."
"I see," Yami said. "Maybe you could, I don't know, threaten to sue or try to get a hold on the person who took the picture. Make it look like we didn't want to get caught."
"I like the sound of that." Kaiba pulled out his phone, leaned against the desk with his hands, and typed fervently for few minutes. Yami still looked at the magazine, fiddling with the page's corner. He was looking at the picture. It felt out of place, to be there in that picture. He remembered that night very well, and he hadn't really felt like they were been acting like a couple, just two people very very hard trying to act like a couple. But it had gone through, and on one hand Yami was glad. Hadn't this always been the goal? They had wanted to make the news with the relationship status, because it would signal to the people watching that things were happening. On the other hand, it was just very weird, to see himself printed out and not in regards of anything relating to the Dueling tournaments. To think, that for some people the prospect of their potential relationship was so important.
Kaiba had stopped typing.
"I need to make few calls. How long I have been here?" he asked.
"Long enough for a short visit. You can use the backroom if you wish to stay longer."
Kaiba nodded. He retreated to the backroom, and spent close to 15 minutes there. Yami could hear him talking, but couldn't make out the words.
"I'm going now," Kaiba said with a nod, as he emerged from the backroom finally. "This should look good. I'm picking you up tomorrow for the weekend."
"Sure. What about the magazine?"
"You can keep it if you want."
Yami threw it away when Kaiba was gone.
The third weekend spent at Kaiba's mansion felt entirely familiar by now. Mokuba was with them on Friday night, and they finished the game they had started last weekend, but on Saturday and Sunday it was just Kaiba and Yami, as Mokuba had gone to spend some time with his friends from school. It wasn't awkward anymore, they retreated into Kaiba's game room, the place that had quickly became most familiar to Yami.
They started to systemically go through games there, mostly focusing on the board games. There was a score they kept on who won what. It was slightly to Kaiba's advantage for most of the weekend, because he was more familiar with the games, but Yami did manage to get the first place few times. They had wordlessly decided to leave Duel Monsters for the last: Kaiba's place had enough games to keep them occupied for the whole summer if so needed.
They were both most relaxed when they played together, even though by this time even sleeping in the same bed was just something they did.
Yami was not entirely sure what had woken him up. It certainly had not been a noise, he thought, since the whole room was as silent as a grave. Yugi in his mind was sleeping as well, so Yami tried to keep his thoughts silent. He rolled slowly to his side, so he could check the time on his phone. It was almost four in the morning on Sunday. He sighed and rolled back to his side, sinking back into the hole he had made for himself in the mattress.
All sleep had escaped his mind, and that was annoying. Normally he probably would have gotten up and wandered about, maybe read something until he had fallen asleep again. But. He was a visitor here, and he really didn't feel like going for a walk in the huge mansion without Kaiba. Not only would he get lost, but he rather suspected there was quite a bit of security going on in this house. And if he wanted to get tackled by a burly security guard, he would become a bank robber.
So he had nothing to do but lay in the bed, hoping he wasn't disturbing anyone. At length, with sleep still alluding him, he became aware of thirst bothering his throat. With a deep sigh he got up, and jumped out of the bed.
The night air was cool, except for the soft carpet under his bare feet. He made his way silently to the bathroom.
The glaring light against the white ceramic tiles in the bathroom made Yami's eyes ache. He fumbled to the sink, almost gonking his knee to its edge. After getting some water, he wondered why he should do now. He could stay in the bathroom, but its harsh light and cold tiles weren't really a good place to spend the night, even if he couldn't fall asleep. Besides, he had just as much to do here as he did in the bedroom. And there was warmth and softness there at least.
He had to stand outside the bathroom door for a good few minutes until his eyes adjusted to the darkness. Kaiba's room didn't really help in that as there was not many pieces of furniture to focus on, and it was a very wide space to begin with. But since the room was clearly just for sleeping and for keeping clothes, nothing more could be expected.
When he finally felt like he could at least navigate the dark bedroom he made his way to the bed. He checked the phone, now it really was 4 in the morning. Now there was nothing to do but try to get back to sleep.
He sat on the bed, not yet laying down, and closed his eyes, tried to find the tiredness that was missing. He could hear his own heartbeat and somewhere in the back of his mind he could hear, or perhaps sense Yugi dreaming. Yami dared not to intrude. He also heard his own even breathing, and then another, deeper breathing beside him. He had completely forgotten that he was sharing a bed with Kaiba, how he managed that he had no idea.
It was after all, Kaiba's bed that he was currently sleeping in. Kaiba usually slept as far away from Yami as possible, or so he had assumed. He had never seen the man asleep, until now.
Kaiba had rolled over at some point during the night, and was now laying on his stomach, his face turned towards Yami. The blanket was falling off him, leaving most of his back exposed. His hair was tousled, and his face was lax, like Yami had never seen it before. Kaiba's features were still sharp but with his eyes closed and his mouth relaxed, he didn't look so cold, not as proud.
Yami was suddenly feeling rather creepy about watching Kaiba sleep. It was clear this was not a state Kaiba liked to show himself in, so really it was not Yami's place to stare. He reached over and pulled the blanket a bit better over Kaiba's back and then hurriedly laying down, he turned his back on Kaiba.
Sleep was still nowhere in sight. So Yami retreated inside himself, quietly slipping to his Soul Room to spend his time in solitude. He preferred not to spent time there, if he had the chance to be in charge of the body, since he usually spend so much time there anyway. But now the desolate stone blocks were better than having to watch Kaiba sleep and wonder about just what kind of a man he was under the cold and focused demeanor.
Yami still wondered.
Sunday morning rolled around, and Yami must have fallen asleep at some point, because when he awoke it was close to midday and Kaiba was nowhere in sight. He found him at the kitchen, reading a book. Yami skipped the breakfast in favor of lunch, and after lunch they set up a game of chess.
"I will have to go to France," Kaiba said, at some point. "Duty calls unfortunately."
"Ah, I see. How long will you be away?" Yami asked, poking his knight forward on the board.
"Few days only. We've been doing our part very well, so this shouldn't affect the image of our relationship negatively. It'd do good to look a bit like you were missing me."
"You better do the same."
"I'll try to text you as often as I can," Kaiba said, using his tower to kill Yami's bishop. Yami couldn't read the tone, was he being joking or serious. Certainly it sounded like something someone who was in a relationship would say. He decided to drop the matter, as he was quickly losing the chess game, much to his charging. It was clear that Kaiba had much more experience with chess. Kaiba didn't say anything more on the trip either, and Yami still lost the chess game, although he put up quite of a fight, which at least pleased Kaiba.
When Yami was leaving, and they were saying their goodbyes (the kiss came almost naturally to them, neither of them had to signal and there was no awkward bumping), Kaiba mentioned France once more.
"I'll let you know as soon as I get back," he said.
"I'm looking forward to it," Yami answered.
"I'll miss you," Kaiba said. But his expression was completely blank.
Kaiba left on Monday, he let Yami know in a text. The week was weirdly absent without him. Especially when Wednesday came and Kaiba didn't come to pick him up for their weekly date. He sent a text that night, simply saying that he would be home early Thursday and that he hoped Yami would have a pleasant evening without him.
Yugi and Yami had not planned anything, they had always kept their Wednesday purposefully free of anything else, for they had no idea how long the dates might take. So they spent the evening together, Yugi cleaned the house while he and Yami talked, avoiding the subject of Kaiba.
After a fifth visit, France wasn't exactly exiting anymore.
Kaiba had never been one for sight-seeing, much preferring to get the deal done with so that he would get back home to Mokuba as soon as he could. Leaving Mokuba behind caused some bangs of guilt in him, but he couldn't take him everywhere. Not only were most business meeting incredibly boring for an 11-year-old, Mokuba deserved to have a childhood rather than having to work. This business trip had come in an unfortunate time in other sense as well, although it probably wouldn't do much harm. The people had taken the hook so deep it would be difficult to make them not think Kaiba had a boyfriend unless he told them of course, which he certainly wasn't going to do.
Still it wouldn't hurt to keep the deception going even this far away. He was pretty sure at least one of his bodyguards would report on whoever was trying to cause this pathetic coup.
So each free moment, Kaiba spent typing out text messages. About half of them went to Mokuba, and the other half went to Yugi's and Yami's phone. He kept his head low and hid the phone's screen with his hand, so he didn't have to worry about someone reading his texts and noticing that they weren't full of hearts or whatever people with actual relationships used in their communication. He mostly talked about the European market for Duel Monsters, asked if they would like to have some European Duel Monsters merchandise for their store, since it would be easily arranged and lastly since there was a tournament going at the time, he basically texted the entirety of it. The time difference was of course plenty, so Kaiba had to do most of his texting during early morning, when the meetings were in full swing, so he wouldn't wake them up.
The people around him seemed mostly amused. That was a usual reaction to people first meeting with Kaiba. They looked at him and saw a teenager. And they were amused that this was someone they would have to do business with. Many had tried to cheat on him, and Kaiba had made sure that their reputations would never be the same. People learned pretty quickly that there was no messing around with Seto Kaiba, you either did business with him like he wanted or you didn't do business at all.
Most of the people here were familiar to him already, his European representatives, an CEO of a large French company who's expertises were in making and distributing various card games. So their amusement was a little odd.
They were at a business dinner, when Kaiba could feel his phone vibrating in his pocket. He excused himself from the conversation and checked on it, something he would never do, unless there was doubt that Mokuba was in danger. But Mokuba was doing fine, at least had been based on the last text he had sent. This one was from either Yugi or Yami, it was even harder to tell with texts than face-to-face, though Kaiba had become a lot better on picking the two apart. Kaiba typed a quick reply and left the phone on the table to wait for the answer.
"Your boyfriend texting?" the man next to him asked, amused. Kaiba offered him a cold blank stare before replying:
"Yes. I apologize, if it's bothering you."
Just then the man from the other side of the table, chimed in:
"Leave monsieur Kaiba be, Jacq. Haven't you been young and in love?"
Kaiba scoffed, just then his phone buzzed again, and without even thinking he grabbed it. There was laughing around the table. But it was not malicious, only happy. This was not what Kaiba was used to.
To his amazement, people didn't treat him like he had gone soft. They mostly seemed to be genuinely happy for him. Otherwise it was business as usual.
Since Kaiba was away, Yugi and Yami took time to see their friends during the evenings. On Monday they went shopping, since Honda needed new sneakers and a new burger place had opened at the mall, they all wanted to test out. It was nice to hang out, and Yami took over few times. There was no mention of Kaiba, even when Yugi's and Yami's phone buzzed with messages in the middle of their dinner. Jounouchi and Honda only shared glances, while Anzu tried to peek at the phone.
It was a fun evening, especially when most of the weirdness going on in their personal life was forgotten. Unfortunately the evening came to a screeching halt, when they've all decided to go home. Yugi's Game Shop was the first stop, but when they approached it they saw a bunch of people with cameras surrounding the place.
"Reporters," Yami provided helpfully in Yugi's mind, while Yugi pulled his friends backwards into a nearby alley before the reporters could catch a sight of them.
"Who are those people?"
"I think they might reporters. Kaiba warned that this might happen. He's been keeping them off our back, but I guess now that he's off to France, they've decided that they want to speak to me." Yugi peeked from the alley at the people standing in front of the Game Shop. "I wonder how long they've been there. And if they're going to leave anytime soon."
"You know, just say the word, Yug, and me and Honda's going to go give them a good talking to," Jounouchi said, while Honda next to him nodded gravely and cracked his knuckles.
"No, no, I think beating up reporters is the last thing we need."
"Well, we can just shout at them a bit. Maybe wave our arms all threatening and stuff?"
"I'd rather like if no one made a scene," Yugi said. He leaned against the stone wall behind him. He was glad that grandpa wasn't home, because he couldn't even imagine how they would bother the old man.
"Do you suppose they're going any time soon?" Anzu wondered.
"I don't know, I guess it depends on how long they have been there in the first place," Jounouchi answered. He sat on top of a garbage can, leaning his head against his hands and made a face.
"You don't have to wait with me, you guys go home," Yugi said. "It's getting late and it's getting cold."
"And leave you here for unknown time in case they're not leaving ever?" Honda said. "No way, Yugi. We'll make sure that you get somewhere for the night."
"Fine, then," Yugi said, but a smile tugged at his lips. They waited for about 10 minutes, Honda peeking every now and then to see if the reporters were still there, since he was far less easily recognizable than Yugi would be.
"One of them just took out a sandwich. It seems to me that they'll be camping there a long time," Honda huffed. "Too bad Kaiba is out of the country, or you'd be able to call him down on them like a bloodhound."
"I'll need to let him know about this eventually. But he's probably still asleep."
"Okay, that's it," Jounouchi said. "My butt's cold."
"Well you shouldn't have sat on the garbage can," Anzu pointed out.
"That's beside the point," Jounouchi said. "Yugi, I'll let my dad know, you're staying the night with me."
"You sure it's okay?"
"It's better than all of us freezing our butts off in some alleyway just because some nosy folk want to know about Yami and Kaiba holding hands or something."
Jounouchi jumped down from the garbage can, but the edge of his jacket got caught and pulled the lid off. It dropped to the concrete below with an audible, hollow clank. Everyone stared at it in horror. It was Honda's voice that woke them all up.
"They heard it! Shit, they're coming this way," Honda shouted, not even bothering to keep his voice low anymore. "Run!"
He started running, taking Yugi's shoulder and dragging him along.
Yugi's legs were shorter so he stumbled, but Honda steadied him by the elbow and they sprinted off. Anzu and Jounouchi were close behind them.
They could hear someone shout: "It's him! Yugi Mutou!"
"This is not much of an advantage," Honda said. Yugi couldn't answer, as his lungs were already burning from barely a sprint. There was a reason he spent his days inside playing card games and not doing sport-stuff.
"We only want to ask a few questions!" Came a shout, sounding a bit out of breath, as Honda steered Yugi around the corner, almost lifting him up in the progress.
"And he clearly doesn't want to speak to you!" Jounouchi shouted in return.
"Leave us alone, please!" Anzu shouted.
In the end, Honda hid with Yugi in a doorway, while Anzu and Jounouchi led the reporters elsewhere. When they came back after 15 minutes, they couldn't talk from all the huffing and their clothes were covered in sweat.
"That was just like in a movie!" Jounouchi exclaimed, after he had regained his breath, though how he had the energy for that, Yugi had no idea.
"That was horrible," Anzu said between heavy breaths. "If Kaiba has to do this every day I feel really sorry for the guy."
"I'm sure he has better resources on dealing with reporters than we do."
"Speaking of which, you should probably contact him," Anzu said. Yugi nodded.
"He's in France now, so I better contact Mokuba first, he'd know what to do."
"Not for nothing, but isn't Mokuba like ten?" Jounouchi said.
"Eleven, actually. And he's also a Kaiba. He's been dealing with stuff like this for years."
"First things first," Honda said. "We need to get off the street. I don't know how far you guys ran, but if the reporters come back, I'm not sure Yugi can handle another sprint."
"I mostly certainly can't. And I need a shower," Anzu proclaimed, fanning her face with her hand in vain.
"I live only few blocks from here," Honda pointed out. "I think it's best if you all crashed at my place tonight. The reporters saw us all, and if they catch any of us they might want to ask questions."
"Your parents okay with that?" Jounouchi asked.
"I'll explain to them."
Honda's parents let the kids stay, even lending some clean night clothes in replacement of the ones they were wearing, covered in sweat.
While Anzu was taking a shower, Yugi took out his phone and texted Mokuba about the situation. Mokuba soon answered back, telling that both Kaiba and the people in charge of security were notified. For a few days after that there was a security person standing outside the Game Shop. But no reporters, so either Kaiba or some representative of his had pulled on some strings hard enough to make them lose interest.
Kaiba came back on Thursday. He appeared into the Game Shop, right from the airport. As there were customers in the present, customers who by the look on their faces, recognized who Kaiba was indeed very well, Yugi nodded for him to go to the back to wait.
After Kaiba had disappeared to the living space in the store, the customer turned to Yugi.
"Huh. So I guess the rumors are true."
"That I'm dating him? Yeah."
"What's it like?"
"I'd imagine nothing different from dating anyone. He's just another person," Yugi answered with a shrug. "The items you ordered will be here in about a week. We'll send you a text so you can come pick them up. Does that sound good?"
"Uh, yeah sure," the customer answered, though he still sounded a bit distracted, and his eyes kept darting at the door where Kaiba had disappeared.
"Great. I'll see you then."
"Yeah, um. Congrats on your relationship."
"Thank you," Yugi answered.
After the customer had practically slunk off, Yugi left a note on the door saying he was on lunch-break before he went to find Kaiba. He found him at their living room, looking out of the window.
"Would you like some tea?" Yugi asked, moving some dirty cups away from the living room table. Kaiba nodded, so Yugi retreated into the kitchen only to return a few moments later with two steaming cups of tea, which he set down on the table.
"I hope you had a nice trip," Yugi said conversely. Yami made no move in the direction of taking over, as the situation didn't require it, so Yugi decided to do the talking himself.
"It wasn't for pleasure," Kaiba said, sitting down next to him, and taking the offered cup.
"Well then I hope your business went well."
"Yeah." And then with an awkward pause. "I brought souvenirs." He handed Yugi a plastic bag. Yugi peeked inside, there was quite a bit of candy: fancy looking chocolate mostly. Aside from it there was some Duel Monsters merchandise.
"Oh, you shouldn't have."
"It felt appropriate," Kaiba said with an awkward shrug. "What kind of a boyfriend would I be if I didn't bring stuff to my boyfriend from Paris?"
"Thank you, I don't know how we could repay you."
"I think Yami playing my boyfriend is quite enough." Kaiba frowned. "Don't sweat it."
"Oh, wow," Yugi said, poking at various things in the bag. He could sense that Kaiba was somewhat embarrassed by the attention, so he set the bag aside, to go through it later.
"Would Yami be okay if I came to pick him up on Saturday instead of Friday? I think I need to spend some time with Mokuba."
"That's preferable actually. Grandpa's coming home tomorrow anyway, so we would like to be here when he does."
"Then it is settled."
Kaiba didn't stay long after that. Only long enough to finish his tea. It was clear he was in a hurry to get home and see Mokuba. Yugi couldn't fault him.
Yugi had missed his grandfather terribly. He wouldn't say it out loud, especially since they had other things to worry about. But Yami didn't need to hear it said or even thought in the privacy of their mind, to know it.
And one had to only look at the force and excitement of the hug that Yugi gave his grandpa when he finally returned to know it to be true. Yami listened in on grandpa Sugoroku rambling about his trip and the old friends he had met. It was all very familiar. This was his family after all.
After dinner the mood suddenly got a bit more serious, as Sugoroku fixed his eyes on Yugi and said:
"I need to talk to Yami."
Yugi nodded. Yami took over. He was feeling he was being scolded, as grandpa studied his face. He wasn't used to it, but all things considered grandpa had taken him in as part of the family. Scolding was probably part of the family experience, too. Just not something he was used to.
"So you're dating this Kaiba," grandpa said finally. Yami wasn't even surprised that this was the topic he was wanted for.
"Yes I am." Yami thought if he should mention that he was doing this to help the Game Shop, but grandpa knew that already.
"Are you having fun?"
Yami opened his mouth to answer. It had not been the question he had expected. He had to close his mouth and actually think about it. He hadn't really thought about it after the first week when everything had been pretty much awful. Now it just felt like a thing he did. Of course he had gained more than few free meals, excellent meals, and he got to see a movie for free and go to the museum, and he got to spend some time with Kaiba. For the few instances of horrible soul-crushing awkwardness it had mostly been kind of pleasant. Yami had not even realized that. Based on the faint aura of smugness inside his mind Yugi had realized that long ago.
"I am," Yami said. "I am having fun."
"Good. That's all I needed to know."
And that was the end of the conversation for the day. Yami was confused, but neither Yugi nor Sugoroku said anything.
The fourth weekend came and went, despite being slightly shorter than usual. There was a moment when Kaiba met with grandpa when he came to pick Yami up. Grandpa thanked Kaiba, which he appeared to find slightly confusing.
Other than that there was nothing special, although one of the servants gave Yami a knowing smile on Sunday morning, he couldn't quite comprehend.
This was a habit already.
Kaiba was a light sleeper during the mornings, so that Sunday he woke up with the sound of the door being opened. There was probably something that needed his attention, something business related. Normally Kaiba would have been up immediately, but this Sunday he didn't feel like it. He kept his eyes closed, laying on his side in his bed, and waited. If it was really important he would be woken up.
He became aware of a weight against his back, a weight that could not have been a blanket because it moved with a steady rhythm of breathing. Yami.
At some point during the night both or either of them had rolled over. They had been very good at sleeping on their own sides of the bed so far. It hadn't been hard, since the bed was huge. But tonight had been particularly restless, it seemed.
Kaiba also found that he didn't mind. Yami was a warm, steady weight against his back. He would have fallen back asleep, if he hadn't heard someone walking besides the bed and quietly clearing their throat.
Kaiba opened his eyes. By the bedside stood one of the servants, one of the few who had the permission to enter Kaiba's bedroom. She was holding a cell phone.
"A phone call for you, mister Kaiba."
"Fine," Kaiba grumbled. He got up, carefully, so as to not to wake up Yami. Yami made a small noise, but otherwise did not stir.
The servant smiled very brightly as she handed over the phone. Kaiba made no comment.
The third date started feel like it was something normal, something they had already done before a million times. They went to the movies again. If there was someone following them, they must think either Yami or Kaiba was a huge film-buff.
This week's film was a horror movie about a haunted computer. It had its moment, but mostly it was ridiculously obvious in its attempts to scare. There were a lot of couples in the theaters, holding hands and sometimes hiding in each others' shirts when a really scary part came on. Neither Kaiba nor Yami really felt a need for that, though they leaned towards each other, their shoulders brushing together, so at least it was clear they had came to the theater together. Occasionally they shared glances, just to check if the other was just as unimpressed with the movie as the other. They seemed to be on a same wave-length on it.
They left the theater their shoulders brushing together, making mocking comments about the movie in low voices to each other.
"The food place is not far," Kaiba told. "We can walk."
Yami nodded, and offered his arm to Kaiba. Kaiba looked at it like he wasn't exactly sure what to do with. But then he sighed, sounding more exasperated than anything, and hooked their arms together. It wasn't the most comfortable way to walk, especially since Kaiba was so much taller than Yami. But at least it looked good. Yami had decided that since Kaiba had been away for a while, it was best to make it seem like they were really and truly a couple, just in case anyone had gotten any bright ideas that they weren't.
They received few glances from people walking by, especially from some that recognized either or both of them. Kaiba looked straight forward as he always did when he was walking, figuring it best to ignore just about everyone, even Yami hanging onto his arm.
The restaurant was a small Italian place, cozy and dimly lit. One that was basically made for dates. They were seated in a small private booth in the corner, the waiter winking at Kaiba like they personally knew each other. It was probably not the case, but familiarity was part of the place's charm.
They ordered food and spent the meal in heated discussion. During his visit in France, Kaiba had noticed that the tournaments there had banned some cards based on power levels and accessibility. As such, Kaiba himself wouldn't be able to partake in the tournament with his Blue-Eyes White Dragons since they were one of a kind, and far outmatched most cards in people's deck, unless they were prepared to face such a dragon.
Kaiba argued that of course he should have the right to take whichever card he pleased into his deck, since the original rules did not make any mention that such things would be disallowed. Yami was quick to point out that it would be a better test of people's actual playing skills if their decks were approximately on the same level. To which Kaiba wondered what might be the point of strong cards in the first place, if one was not allowed to use them at all.
At this point the conversation turned heated, Yami claiming that Kaiba was purposefully missing the point of the whole rule, and that just because he happened to own some of the most powerful cards it didn't mean that he should be able to use them in every tournament, especially those that allowed small children and amateurs to participate, while Kaiba said that Yami was trying to off-handedly imply that Kaiba was not a good duelist that all the talent he had on the field was solely based on his deck and that if people didn't want to get surprised by things their opponents had in their decks they probably shouldn't be playing Duel Monsters in the first place.
The argument involved a lot of hand movements on both sides, forks waved around in large arcs to demonstrate some point or other and Yugi was a concerned voice in Yami's head going: "Watch where you wave that thing, you'll hurt someone" and "I can't believe you guys are fighting about this". The other people at the restaurant had noticed too, pausing their own meals to listen in on the two fighting, not quite sure what to make of what sounded like two young men in a way too passionate argument about a card game tournament and its rules. Which it was.
No conclusion was reached in the end, although both had gotten some fairly nasty jabs through the other's defenses and both were satisfied with the middle-ground reached. By that time they had finished their meals, taking bites in between heated sentences, and had at some point acquired cups of strong Italian coffee in front of them, although neither couldn't recall the waiter coming by their table, let alone leaving something behind, they had calmed down.
They drank the coffees in silence, both lost in thought, going over the conversation they had just had. It had probably not sounded like it to outsiders, but it had been... fun.
When they had finished and Kaiba had payed the bill, Kaiba took Yami's hand as they exited, a very familiar gesture already and almost tender.
"Arcade now?" he asked.
Yami nodded, absentmindedly hooking his fingers around Kaiba's. The night was already turning dark, but the air around them was warm still, it was summer after all. The arcade was still open and there were few people's around. Yami headed for an interesting looking pinball machine.
"You don't mind if I go see what else is in there?" Kaiba asked.
"Not at all," Yami answered, and Kaiba pressed his lips against his cheek.
"For good luck," he answered.
"I don't need luck," Yami answered, giving a glare to Kaiba's direction. Kaiba let out a huff of laughter, crossing his arms across his chest. Yami, very deliberately rolled his eyes, before turning to the pinball machine. Kaiba wandered off, though at what point Yami didn't notice, he was too busy focusing on the game.
After some time, he became conscious of someone standing behind him. He assumed it to be Kaiba, though he wasn't sure why he didn't say anything. The game was more important to him to really start bothering himself about it. Only, it was not Kaiba at all, it turned out when unfamiliar voice behind him asked:
"Hey shortie, why don't you ask your boyfriend to get you a box so you can see the screen?"
Short jokes, of course. Yami stole a glance behind him, he could make a big burly man, not much older than he, looking at him with faint amusement and clearly drunk off his ass. He then returned to his game. Then a hand landed on his shoulder.
"Hey shortie, I was talking to you."
"I don't like talking to people when I don't see them, please come stand nearer if you have things to say," Yami said, his eyes following the ball inside the machine intently. From the corner of his vision, he could see the guy moving closer. "Ah you were saying?"
"About your boyfriend," the guy replied, with a snide grin.
"He's busy at the moment," Yami replied casually. "But so am I. If you don't mind, I can give you dating advice after I am done with this game."
He had barely finished the sentence, when a pair of hands pushed on his shoulder. He almost lost his balance, and the ball in the machine rolled between the gates and the machine blinked three balls down to two. Yami took a small step back, turning towards the man.
"No need to get aggressive, I was merely answering your jab with mine," Yami said.
"I'm no fag," the man said, looking offended.
"Neither am I, but thanks for asking," Yami said rubbing his shoulder. "It seems that you might have some aggression that needs letting out. Might I interest you in a game?"
"Are you for real?" the man said, laughing. "I don't want anything to do with you, let alone playing games."
"And here you are still bothering me," Yami said, glancing longingly at his pinball machine. Yugi in his mind, said: "Don't do anything stupid." to which Yami replied "I am starting to get to the point, where I make no guarantees."
"What did you just say? I couldn't hear you over you being so short."
Yami didn't even pause. He swung his arm, hitting the man's jaw. The man, caught by surprise, staggered backwards, looking at him in surprise.
"I suggest you leave, mister," Yami said. "I take no bad mouthing from people about my loved ones."
For a moment the man looked like he was about to argue, about to fight back. But then he seemed to sober up. He shrugged, and with a jovial laugh said:
"I guess I deserved that. Good night, sir."
And with that he was off. Yami watched him leave, so as to make sure he wasn't going to come back and attack while he wasn't looking. When he turned towards the pinball machine, Kaiba was standing next to it, looking at his curiously. Yami shrugged at him, and returned to his game.
"Did you find anything interesting?"
"More interesting than my boyfriend punching people? Not really."
Yami made no comment. He had lost his temper there. Usually he would have just beat the man in air hockey or something, but some people weren't to be argued with. He stole a glance at Kaiba, and almost lost his second ball. Kaiba's shoulders were shaking, his lips twitching up, and he was biting at his lips, clearly holding in laughter.
"I didn't know you were capable of violence."
"I usually am not," Yami said. " Though don't mistake me for Yugi. But Yugi is... Yugi sometimes need a bit..." Yami faltered, not sure how to find a the right words. The pinball machine caught his attention again.
"Yugi used to get bullied a lot," Kaiba said.
"I always assumed that him becoming friends with Jounouchi and Honda had an effect on it stopping, but now I suspect you had something to do with it."
Yami gave a hard glare at Kaiba, though it wasn't as long he had hoped it would be, because the game demanded his attention.
"I protect the ones I love," he said.
"As do I," Kaiba answered with a shrug, and then with completely straight face. "You pack quite a punch."
Yami wasn't sure if it was a joke, so he said nothing. He finished his game and Kaiba was still standing there, with a blank look on his face. He was still as hard man to read as ever, even after they had been spending so much time together.
"Anything here we could play together?" Yami asked.
"There's a co-op shooter over in the corner there," Kaiba said, pointing at the far end corner.
"Let's do this."
They spent the rest of the evening playing the game, until the owner of the Arcade had to point out that they were closing in a bit, and while she would be interested in seeing how far they would get, she just had to close the place.
They kissed their goodbyes outside the Arcade and it felt natural.
Kaiba broke up with him through the phone. Although, a break up was too much of an emotional term. Terminated their contract was better said.
It was Friday, some hours before Kaiba would normally come pick him up for the weekend. Today had been an incredibly hot day, the type that truly reminded that it was summer. The pavement outside was almost boiling, the air above it shimmering with heat. Everyone was either outside, at the beach or inside where there was air conditioning, so there was basically no customers in the Game Shop.
Grandpa had gone to the cellar to make inventory that was long over-due. Yugi himself had propped an old mechanical fan on the counter, had turned it to full speed and was now sitting in front of it, reading comics and occasionally texting with his friends. He was just typing a message to Honda, who had found a part-time job as an ice-cream seller on busy warm days, when his phone rang.
"It's Kaiba," he said aloud, which didn't matter, since there was no one to hear him except Yami inside him. "Should I take it or do you want to?"
"I'll take it," Yami answered, quickly slipping in control of their body. "Yami speaking."
"Yami, good. I needed to talk to you."
"I've been talking with my people, and it seems that our plan had worked better than expected. In the eyes of everyone concerned, I have now had the first serious relationship in my life."
"Glad to hear it worked, so this means...?"
"I won't be needing to pretend anymore," Kaiba said, an odd tone in his voice. Before Yami could really catch it, it was back to the business. "The money will be transferred to your bank account in small bits, so that there won't be suspicions, but don't worry it'll get there. And the merchandise I promised to your shop will be arriving in few weeks as well."
"I have no fears that you'd go back on your word," Yami said.
"That's nice to hear."
There was a silence at the both ends of the line, neither not sure what to say at this point. The decision was made for them as the door of the Game Shop opened and a small boy peeked inside.
"I need to go, there's a customer," Yami told.
"Wait, Yami. Thank you. For doing this," Kaiba said.
"You're welcome," Yami said, closing the phone. He felt rude cutting Kaiba off, but it would have been ruder to just let the kid stand there. He quickly pocketed his phone, and turned to smile politely at the boy. It was usually Yugi, who took care of the customers, since he had more experience and didn't have the other-worldly aura Yami sometimes acquired, especially when he was angry. It didn't mean he didn't know a thing or two about customer-service.
Yami stepped down from the chair he had been sitting on, smiling at the boy:
"Hey there, can I help you?"
After selling the boy few packs of cards, Yami returned back to the chair.
"I was in the middle of a text message, y'know," Yugi said.
"Ah, sorry go ahead."
Yugi finished the text message to Honda, and probed around his own mind. If he concentrated, he could feel Yami's feelings aside from his own. Yami appeared quiet.
"So not going to Kaiba's this weekend?" Yugi asked.
"It doesn't look like it, no," Yami answered.
"And how do you feel about that?"
"Mm, we never did finish our gaming competition," Yami said.
"What was the score?"
"55 to 54 to him at the moment. Personally I blame the fact they were his games, so of course he would know them more."
"Anyway I had left some of those I'm really good at to the last weekend, and then he goes and cancels on me.
"At least you don't have to go around hand-in-hand with him anymore."
"And besides, it's not like you won't ever meet him again. We'll text him later and see if you can arrange the butt-kicking I'm sure he's got a long-time coming."
"First thing we need to arrange is to meet with our friends, they deserve to know the truth."
"I am a bit confused," Anzu admitted, sitting cross-legged on the couch. She was swirling a spoon in her tea, it making a slight metallic sound against the edge of her cup. "It's Friday, aren't you supposed to be at Kaiba's?"
"Well, about that," Yugi sighed. He looked at his friends, friends he loved, and really this was the moment he had dreaded the most. But he couldn't pretend anymore.
So he told everything about Kaiba's visit, and the deal and how they had decided it would be better if Yami was the one dating him, or pretending to, and how they hadn't been allowed to tell their friends anything about it. Their friends listened in complete silence, Anzu stopped swirling her spoon. A cup was raised, and then forgotten there on its way to Honda's mouth. Jounouchi was scratching his head like he had at some point completely lost the plot of the story. When Yugi finished, he bowed his head, not daring to see his friends' reaction.
First sound after the silence was of Anzu sighing deeply, and the clicking of her teaspoon against the cup returning.
"So, Yami never dated Kaiba?" Jounouchi asked.
"Not really no. As I said just pretending," Yugi said, looking up.
"You shouldn't scare me like that," Jounouchi said, pressing his hand against his heart. Honda nodded. Anzu sipped from her cup, her eyes half-closed, as she mused on what to say.
"Yugi," she said finally. "I am a little disappointed that you two didn't trust us."
"Yes, well, we didn't want you to have to lie if someone asked you about it. And Kaiba was pretty adamant about not telling you." It sounded lame even to him. Anzu only nodded.
"I am also happy to hear that you helped someone in need. That was very nice of you, considering how much time this has taken from you."
"Oh, we didn't do it completely out of kindness. He did pay us."
"You helped each other, then. I wish you would have told us. But I realize it was not in your hand wholly."
"So we're okay?"
"Of course," Honda said.
"Definitely," Jounouchi said.
"Sure, although I will bring this up later as blackmail material if I ever need anything from you or Yami," Anzu answered with a sly grin. Yugi laughed nervously.
But it hadn't been that bad. Yami made his appearance later as well, making his own apologies on their deceit.
They spent the weekend together having a movie marathon. Yugi noticed that Yami was mostly silent, but chalked it up to him still getting used to the fact that he did not need to spend time with Kaiba anymore.
It was Wednesday, and Kaiba felt like he should be somewhere else than the meeting he was attending right now. He listened to the speaker drone on and on about the numbers, important numbers, yet his mind kept on poking at the strange feeling of displacement. He should be somewhere else, doing something else. Then it occurred to him. He was supposed to pick up Yami for their date today. Except, the thing had gone through well. They had passed. There was no need to pick up Yami for their date ever again. They weren't dating anymore.
Kaiba noticed that people were staring at him. He realized he had been tapping an uneven, impatient rhythm against the table's surface.
"You have something to say Mister Kaiba?"
"No, do continue," Kaiba said, his fingers stopping just off the surface of the table. The presenter did, though he sounded much more nervous than before and he kept shooting glances towards Kaiba. Kaiba tried to shake the feeling from his mind, instead focusing on the papers in front of him. He would have to contact his American representative at some point, he thought, and that was as far as he got, before he went back to wondering about the dates.
This couldn't stand. They had gone out, three times, and it had become a habit? Kaiba tried not to make habits, since habits made one predictable, and Kaiba was never predictable, not in games nor in life.
He excused himself quickly after the meeting. He went back home. The call to the American representative could wait. All papers he needed to sign he went over and signed in the car.
He found Mokuba in his room, reading a comic. The room was in chaos as it always was, so Kaiba simply moved a pile of dirty socks and pants off one of the chairs and sat down on it heavily. Mokuba slipped the comic aside, under his bed there were boxes full of those stuff, some old, some new, and sat up on his bed.
"What's the matter, big brother?"
"I am restless," Kaiba told. He felt no need to lie, not to his brother. And then since Mokuba said nothing, he added, as an explanation: "It's Wednesday."
"Wednesdays are the days when you'd take Yami out."
"But you're not dating anymore."
"We never were."
Mokuba shifted on his bed, pulling at a loose thread on his blanket.
"Would you like to?"
For the first time in a long time, Kaiba was at a complete loss of words. Mokuba shrugged.
"It's something to consider."
He then pulled his comic back from under the bed, flopped back to his bed and continued reading. Kaiba sat there, but Mokuba ignored him, until he finally got up and walked to the door. When Kaiba had his hand on the doorknob, Mokuba called out, not looking up from his comic: "Have fun!"
It was Wednesday and Yami was very quiet. Yugi tried not to think too much about it, especially since he suspected he knew what exactly was wrong, but knew his comments would not be appreciated at the time. Luckily the day was very busy, so Yugi couldn't stop very often to think about it, since he had his hands full with customers. Grandpa was still working on the invetory in the cellar, though Yugi would have liked his help on a day like this. There had been many busy days since Kaiba had used his influence to help the shop. He had really more than filled his end of the bargain, as Yugi and grandpa wouldn't have to worry about money the coming winter.
Yami had filled his side of the bargain as well, of course. And their lives would go back to normal. But he had been real quiet, Yugi would go as far as characterizing it sulking. He would have to see if Yami would return back to normal, and if not he would have to take some measures.
Yugi knew what had gotten Yami so quiet. It was Wednesday and on Wednesdays he and Kaiba had gone out. Yami was probably just missing the tradition. And the food. Possibly even the company. Yugi would have to talk about it with Yami.
At various points during the day, when the flow of customers was at a lull, Yugi gently poked the link between him and Yami, but he received no answer. Yami might have been asleep, but Yugi couldn't check, as coming into a Game Shop to find the owner in a coma-like state was not the best kind of advertisement.
The day went thus, with no particularly interesting customers and no word from Yami. The evening rolled by and Yugi started to clean up the store.
There was a sound of car stopping in front of the store. Late customers, probably. Yugi hated those, they traipsed in minutes before closing time and then spent 20 minutes trying to pick one pack of card.
So when the door opened, Yugi simply called:
"Excuse me, we're closing right now."
But the voice that answered made Yugi almost drop his broom.
"I'm not here to buy anything."
Yugi whirled around. Kaiba stood in the doorway, looking frankly quite more visibly nervous than Yugi had ever seen him.
"Ah I didn't expect to see you," Yugi said.
"It's Wednesday isn't it?"
"It sure is, wait a moment."
Yugi retreated into his mind. He tried calling out to Yami again but got no response. So he hurried through his Soul Room to Yami's Soul Room. The door to it was closed. Yugi pushed it open and ran inside. Yami didn't take long to locate. He was sitting on a ledge, staring at an infinite darkness below it, looking mostly bored. He looked up, when Yugi approached.
"Yugi, what are you doing here?"
"No time to explain, come."
And Yugi pulled Yami to his feet, and practically pushed him out of the Soul room and in control of the body. Yami opened his eyes, real physical eyes. He hadn't been really paying attention to what had happened in their body and around it this day. he was happy to notice that he was at least still in the Game Shop. He was holding a broom, so it must have been closing time.
Someone cleared his throat. Yami looked up.
"Seto." It simply, slipped from his tongue, the familiar name.
"I was simply wondering if you were going to stare at your shoes all day or if we were going to our date."
Yami raised his eyebrows in surprise, and Kaiba visibly faltered.
"If you want to, of course," he added.
Yami's lips twitched to a smile. He set aside the broom and walked to Kaiba.
"One question before we do that."
"Which would be?"
"May I kiss you?"
Kaiba smiled too, one of those rare smiles, with a hint of relief. He didn't answer, instead taking a step forward so they were standing directly in front of each other. There was no hesitation, no measuring distances like in their first kiss. They were familiar with this already. They leaned in at the same time, Yami raising to his tip toes so he could lean more into the kiss, more against Kaiba's body, wrapping his hands around Kaiba's neck as he did so. He could feel Kaiba's heartbeat against his chest. The kiss was warm, and far longer than any they had ever shared before. The ones before had been for show, and this one was for them only. When they finally parted it was the warmth they felt the absence of the most. But then, after barely seconds apart, Kaiba wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into a hug, just a normal hug, and the warmth was there as was Kaiba's still rabidly beating heart. Yami laughed against Kaiba's shoulder.
"Weren't you supposed to take me out?" Yami asked after a while.
"Ah, yes, let's go."
They stayed like that for a while more, though.
"So guys what are we gonna do?" Honda asked, throwing a ball in the air and catching it. It was an incredibly hot and incredibly boring Monday.
"Maybe we could go to the beach tomorrow," Jounouchi suggested. "We haven't been to the beach once this summer, that must be illegal or something."
"Great idea," Anzu said. "Honda? Yugi? You in?"
"Sure," Honda said.
"Ah I can't tomorrow," Yugi said.
"Huh? You got something more important than a day at the beach?" Jounouchi demanded.
"Well, I don't, but Yami does. Uh, he has a date with Kaiba."
There was a silence. It stretched. Honda and Anzu turned to look at each other in wonder, while Jounouchi was staring straight forward, his mouth agape in confusion.
"Um, wasn't the deal over already? I mean, wasn't the whole point that you couldn't tell that they were pretend-dating until they actually stopped pretend-dating?" Honda said and then with a sigh: "This whole thing just keeps on getting more confusing by the minute."
"Well, yes they did pretend to be dating for a month and then they pretended to break up and then they kind of realized that they actually quite liked spending time with each other."
"So. They're together now? For real this time?"
"I should know."
"This is mortifying," Yami said inside his head. "Even worse than the last time."
"Can we talk to Yami?" Anzu asked.
"He's pretty embarrassed actually. Again. Maybe in a bit." Yugi threw a worried glance towards Jounouchi who was still staring. "Should someone pinch him or something? Check if he's breathing."
Honda waved his hand in front of Jounouchi's face, and when that emitted no reaction, he elbowed his side. Jounouchi keeled over dramatically and flopped down onto the ground.
"Oh don't be like that," Anzu said, giving a slight kick to Jounouchi with the point of her shoe. She sighed. "That boy is impossible. Anyway, let Yami know that I, at least, am happy for him."
"I'm sure he appreciates that."
"We'll just have to postpone the going to the beach then," Anzu continued. "Maybe Yami can ask if Kaiba wants to come with us to the beach some of these days."
"No way is Kaiba coming..." Jounouchi started from the floor but Anzu kicked him quiet.
"You sure you're okay with this Jounouchi? I can arrange a talk with you and Yami."
"Oh don't pay him any attention, he got used to those two dating once, he'll get used to it again. Unless those two are going to break-up again and then get back together again. Once is okay, but twice might be stretching it."
"It doesn't look like it. They've still haven't determined which of them is the better at games." Yugi laughed. "They're going to stay together until the score is clear."
"Boys are impossible," Anzu said rolling her eyes.
Summer became suddenly far more busy than it already had been, when Yugi and Yami had to balance both their friends and Yami's sudden love life that was for real, instead of faked this time. Somehow they had managed. They had no idea how they would get everything to work out once the school started again. They'd have to figure something out.
Yugi was laying on his bed, half-asleep when his phone buzzed with a message. He reached for his phone. Upon noticing that the message was from Kaiba, Yami quickly took over, before Yugi could read the message.
"We seriously need to get you your own phone, if you're going to continue dating Kaiba," Yugi said, while Yami was typing the answer. "I fear I'm going to someday read a text meant for you and see something I'd never want to see."
"Here I thought you'd suggest we'd get me my own body if I was going to continue dating Kaiba," Yami said.
"Well, you really can't buy a body at the mall, now can you." There was a pause and then a laugh. "I'll put it on the bucket list."