Changing the rule

Warnings/notes : Kaiba/Joey, slight fluff, focus on Joey and Yugi (not as a couple!)

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.

written at 18th may 2003, by Misura

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Something had changed.

Joey couldn't quite put his finger on it or find the words to describe his feelings to Yugi or any of his other friends, but he was sure *something* was different.

Only what?

What's the difference between now and next week?

"Trying to think, puppy? Don't bother ; your head might explode from the effort." Kaiba sneered, shoving Joey out of his way.

Oh yeah, Mr. I'm-cool-and-you're-stupid is back.

A pity that ; I just got used to the pleasantness of his absence.

"Joey! Are you all right?" Yugi looked at him worriedly.

"Oh sure. 'Cause A LOSER LIKE KAIBA CAN'T INSULT ME!" Joey grinned as Kaiba froze and turned around, murder in his eyes.

It's fun to bait Kaiba.

Maybe that's why I missed him a little.

I mean ; it's not as if I *like* him or anything.

"Would you care to repeat that, Wheeler?" Kaiba informed coolly.

"Something wrong with your hearing? What a pity!" Joey replied, ignoring the uncomfortable look at Yugi's face. That kid's just too nice for his own good.

Sometimes you have to speak up for yourself.

"I had thought that even a brainless mutt like you would know better than to call me a loser. So naturally I offered you a chance to correct me."

I really wonder how Mokuba puts up with him all the time and even *loves* him.

"Well, that just goes to show how smart you *really* are, doesn't it?" Joey spoke heatedly.

The entrance of the teacher prevented Kaiba replying to that. Yugi was glad of it ; even though Joey was one of his best friends, he had managed to establish something of a peace with Kaiba as well. It made him uneasy to see them fight as much as they did.

Because ...

~flashback~

"What do you mean 'so basically you're in love with Joey only you're afraid to tell him'?!?" Kaiba roared. "I'm *not* afraid of telling that puppy anything!"

"So ... when are you going to ask him out on a date then?" Yugi asked, smiling sweetly.

"Uhm ... next week?" Kaiba tried.

Yugi sighed. "Listen, Seto ... if you want my advise in this - "

"I don't! I can solve this just fine on my own!" Kaiba snapped. "I shouldn't have told you, forget I mentioned it! Just forget it, okay? Please?"

It was that last word that had made him agree, against his better judgment.

"All right then, if that's what you want ... " he let his voice trail off.

Kaiba nodded eagerly. "It is!"

" ... then I won't tell anyone about this. But I think you should - "

"Thanks Yugi. I have to go now ; see you tomorrow at school!" Kaiba sprinted away, not looking back. Yugi shook his head and wondered if he could give Joey some subtle hints.

Hmmmm, no matter how much I like him, I don't think 'subtle' and 'Joey' go well together.

~end flashback~

And also because ...

~flashback~

"Yug, buddy, you gotta help me! I'm desperate!" Joey pleaded.

"You know I'm your friend ; of course I'll help you! What with?" Yugi replied, slightly alarmed by Joey's tone. He sounds seriously worried.

"I know it sounds stupid, but you're my last hope! Please!"

"Tell me what's wrong and I'll see if I can think of a solution." Yugi offered again.

"You're probably going to laugh at me. It's so stupid! I'm such an idiot!"

"Joey, could you tell me what exactly is wrong?"

"I'm a loser! I'm a fool! I'm - "

"JOEY!"

Brown eyes looked up confused. "Huh?"

"What *is* this thing I need to help you with?" Yugi asked patiently.

"Oh, well, you see, it's kinda personal, and I really don't want to bother you with - "

Yugi sighed. "Just spit it out, Joey. I swear I won't laugh or embarrass you."

Joey hesitated. "Uhm .... IthinkI'minlovewithKaiba."

"But you call him names all the time!" Yugi exclaimed. "I thought you hated him!"

Joey shook his head miserably. "Those things just flap out. I can't help it. Oh, Yug, what am I gonna do? The guy despises me!"

"Because *he* calls *you* names all the time too?" Yugi guessed.

"Yeah. Kinda obvious, don't you think?"

"Maybe he does it for the same reason you do it. Maybe he secretly loves you too." Yugi speculated aloud. Alright, I'm not breaking my word to Kaiba here.

Just working with what Joey tells me. Let's hope it's enough.

"Nah. That's a silly idea. Why would he do that? He's cool, you know, not like me. It's kind of you to try to cheer me up, Yug, but don't give me false hope. I'm doomed if he ever finds out."

Yugi wondered why two of his best friends were such idiots.

Bakas. Both too convinced of their own right. Too uncertain.

~end flashback~

~to be concluded in the second chapter~