Author's Notes:  Though the rating may not be obvious immediately, this fic is PG-13 for language, sexual humor, and eventual sexual situations.  It will also have shounen-ai implications in later chapters.  You have been warned in case this bothers you.  For those it doesn't, thank you for reading, and reviews would also be greatly appreciated.  ^^

I would like to thank Ideseth and Spruceton Spook for their support in the pre-reading process, as well as Pachelbel, who also let me borrow the observation about Kaiba's hair.  At least I think she did...I can't remember if I asked or just assumed.  O.o  Uh, in any case, thanks?

Disclaimer:   Yu-Gi-Oh! belongs to Kazuki Takahashi. I'd better not be him, or my parents would have a lot of explaining to do.


One Week - Prologue

            It all started with those three little words every student loves to hear.

            I'll give ya a hint. They're not "Detention is canceled"—though those are pretty nice too. They're not, "Time for lunch," though my stomach tends to disagree. And they're definitely not "Here's your A." Never heard those.

            No, the three little words I'm talkin' about are printed on posters all throughout the sophomore hall corridor: Mandatory Ski Trip.

            Now there's three words ya don't normally see together. At least not followed by the words "Sponsored by Domino High School Parent-Teacher Association." But it's true. Our school's newest crazy lady, Ms. "Don't Think of Me as Guidance Counselor, Think of Me as Your Special Friend"—is it me, or does that just sound wrong? Anyway, Ms. Freak—no I'm not joking this time—decided our student body needed more "integration."

            All ribald jokes aside. Contrary to popular belief, I'm pretty smart, see? I even know what the word "ribald" means. 'Course I also know all the jokes, but that's another story. "Integration" is fancy psycho-babble for saying we don't get along too well. Which is an understatement in itself. Just look at me, I got a black eye for every month of the year. Not that I keep 'em all to myself. I'm a generous kinda guy—I give 'em twice as often as I receive 'em.

            Though little things like that is probably how Ms. Freak somehow convinced an enthusiastic parent-teacher's association to raise and donate money, and a reluctant school board to match the donations, for a special bonding retreat at the Mountaintop Ski Resort. Must be some sort of new reverse psychology, "Reward Bad Behavior." Because ya know, if we students can't get along on a structured class schedule while wearing uniforms brand name "CONFORMITY," then we'll do so much better when we're all free to form cliques and run around in our designer duds or bargain-bin rags on a posh ski resort.

            Ms. Freak did have to compromise with the school board by saying she'll take us on our spring break. Now I gotta ask, does that sound fair? Force us to go on a mandatory school field trip during the one time we actually get to escape from school? But I got news for ya—no one's complaining. There's just something about the words "All Expenses Paid" before "Mandatory Ski Trip" that makes ya feel all good inside, nice and tingly.

            Not that it's completely true. The school's covering lodging, food, and ski rentals, though we still gotta provide the cute lil' ski outfits. Still, close enough to "all expenses paid" to count, especially for me, since my mom sprang for the clothes. It's her way of making amends for missing seven years of my life. Materialism substituted for maternal guidance, ya know. But hey. As long as she doesn't buy me anything hot pink, I'm cool with that.

            So let's see what we got now. Paid spring break vacation with friends? Check. Food provided by someone other than the cafeteria? Check. Spending money and stylish duds provided by mom with guilty conscience? Check. Freedom to choose our own roommates among our best buds?

            No check. Seeing as the whole point of this excursion is for us to "integrate," our roomies were randomly assigned so we could meet new people. Actually, too randomly assigned at first—the administrators forgot to separate the sexes and we ended up with one big ole' co-ed dorm. The students didn't mind, of course, but the admins felt the need to rearrange things to keep the parents happy.

            Anyway. Of course we protested the whole "random selection" thing, but unfortunately the admins weren't about to override that little rule. And personally, while it would have been great to room with one of my buds, I've seen the schedule for the rest of the trip, and it's basically—"Have fun and be careful!" So it's not like I'm not gonna hang out with them the rest of the time. To tell the truth, I'm so psyched, my roomie could grow fungus in his spare time and I wouldn't care. There's hardly anything that can ruin this trip for me.

            And we just so happen to be finding out our rooming assignments today. This has gotta be the only time in my entire school career that I've wanted to get there early, to give me a little time by myself to study the list. Yugi couldn't walk with me—it was his turn to clean the classroom before school, so he got there even earlier. He was kind enough to give me a wake-up call, which was sorely repaid by my bitchin' in his ear about the hour. So that was another part of my motivation for hurrying along, to apologize to the lil' guy.

            He was at entrance of the school when I arrived. What a great friend. I yell at him for doing what I ask and he still waits for me to arrive. He must have finished all his duties already.

            "Hey, Yugi!" I wave at him.

            He looks distinctly nervous to see me. "Um, hi Joey," he says, and looks like he wants to say more, but is at a loss for words. Man. Yugi's a pretty easygoing guy, normally. Was I really that harsh?

            No sense beating around the bush. "Listen, bud, I'm sorry about this morning. You know how I am when I first wake up. Though that's no excuse..." I scratch my head self-consciously as he turns toward me, puzzled. No pun intended. "What I mean is, I shouldn't have yelled at ya."

            "What?" Yugi says, giving me a vague look. The lil' guy's really out of it. He's not exactly a morning person either, but I expected more than this.

            "This morning. On the phone." He's still not responding to me. Suppose I deserve it. "Geez, you're making it hard on me. Listen, I'm sorry for tellin' ya only dwarves get up at the crack of dawn. I didn't mean it. It was the sleepy seeds talkin'."

            "Oh, that." He shakes his head dismissively. "I don't care about that. I put up with a lot worse at Duelist Kingdom, didn't I?"

            Thanks, bud. I think. I pat him on the shoulder and then change the subject. "So, have the rooming assignments been posted yet?"

            Was it something I said? Yugi looks even more anxious now. "Um, yeah. Joey, there's something I should tell you about that..."

            "Really? I gotta check this out." The list is supposed to be posted outside Ms. Freak's office, so I start walking into the school and Yugi's forced to follow. "What's the problem? Hey, you an' I didn't get the same room, did we?"

            "No," he says, "unfortunately not." He looks honestly regretful. Maybe that's what's got him down. Not like the odds were for it, but still sweet of him to hope.

            "Well, that's okay. We'll still be able to hang around each other all the rest of the time. Might even want a break at the end of the day, huh?" I laugh to make him feel better. He just looks queasy.

            Something occurs to me and I go all protective. I'm like that around Yugi, me and Tristan both. "You didn't get a bad roommate, did you? Because you just let me know. Tristan an' I will make sure he knows that he'd better not say one thing out of line..." I punch my palm for emphasis.

            "No, it's not that!" Yugi assures me. "Actually, Bakura and I are rooming together."

            Well, that oughta be interesting. One the one hand, two of the smartest and nicest guys in the grade are rooming together. On the other hand, they both own millennium items possessed by spirits who hate each other. Not sure why, but it probably has something to do with Yami Bakura always tryin' to steal the millennium puzzle and Yami Yugi always sendin' Yami Bakura to the shadow realm because of it.

            But anyway. At least superficially, Yugi got a good roommate. "Cool! Did ya see who me or Tristan got?" We're getting closer. I can hear the chatter of students up ahead of me at the sophomore bulletin board. Sounds like everyone else had the same idea I did. So much for a little time to myself.

            Yugi looks like he's got something distasteful in his mouth, like Friday's leftover mystery meat. "Um...Tristan got Duke Devlin, actually."

            Ouch. That's gotta hurt. "Duke? Man, better him than me. I know you like him well enough, but I've never forgiven him for that dog outfit." I frown just thinking of it. Tristan's not all that fond of the guy either, but at least he was spared the humiliation.

            "But Joey..." Yugi tries to say.

            "I know, I know, he apologized. You call him your friend." Come to think of it, I should be insulted to be in the same category as Duke Devlin. Then again maybe I should be grateful Yugi is so forgiving, considering some of the stuff I did to him in the past. But I do know—Yugi can keep the forgive and forget stuff to himself. Me, I'm more of an eye for an eye kinda guy.

            And so I tell Yugi. "But remember, Yug. No one makes Joey Wheeler dress like a dog and gets away with it. No one even calls me a dog and gets away with it. And you know who I'm talkin' about." Though I do growl like a dog. Like now, for example. Grr.

            Yugi looks close to frantic now. He's dancing around like he has to go to the bathroom, but I don't think that's it. He pulls at my sleeve, forcing me to stop in my tracks. "Joey, I really have to tell you something about the ski trip. I think you should know who your roommate is before you look at the list."

            This sounds urgent. And not good. But I'm kinda relieved, at least it saves me the trouble. Like I said before, what a great friend—breakin' the news to me so I don't have to. Err, or something like that.

            "What's the problem, bud?" I put on my most winning smile, trying to stop him from worrying.

            But Yugi doesn't look like he wants to be the one telling me the news. He's giving me a look of—is that pity? Yugi's pitying me? Man, if even Yugi hates him, it's gotta be bad. It's gotta be...


            Some kid is yelling down the hall. I recognize the voice. Man, I got a bad feeling about this. I gotta really bad feeling about this.

            The guy's screaming at Ms. Freak. Ain't that cute. Two freaks for the price of one. "Look, I'll make my own arrangements. I'll pay for my room. I'll pay you for my own room. But I am not rooming with him!"

            Ms. Freak is flustered. She keeps pushing her huge glasses up her nose and they keep sliding back down. Up, down, up, down. She looks like a bug with a bad perm. "I'm sorry, but the arrangements have already been decided on. You'll have to abide by them to maintain your position in the class."

            "What kinda sh—" He stops himself at Ms. Freak's gasp, unable to bring himself to curse in front of a teacher. Amazing. Some things are too low even for pond scum. But the pond scum is still talkin'. "That's a stupid academic stipulation. You just wait until my lawyers get ahold of that clause."

            I can't help myself anymore. I already gotta clue to what's going on and I can't resist the opportunity. "Whatsa matter, moneybags?" I call out, parting the masses with my voice. I leave Yugi at the edge of the crowd, gaping at me, as I saunter up to the guy. "Finally find something you can't buy your way out of?"

            He glares at me. "You shouldn't laugh, mutt. I'm sleeping with you."

            Why did I know he was going to say that.

            I'll have to punch him for sexual innuendo in a public setting later. For now and for once, I'm in agreement with Seto Kaiba. Somebody mark the calendar, this is as rare as Exodia. But me rooming with Kaiba? Remember how I said there's hardly anything that can ruin this trip for me?

            This is anything.

            I turn to Ms. Freak. "Whaddya mean, he can't buy his way out? I don't mind."

            Seeing as I'm not some rich CEO with a bad-ass legal department—I'm just a generic bad-ass with borderline grades—Ms. Freak is more annoyed with me than Kaiba. "I told you, the assignments have already been determined. There will be NO changes. NO exceptions." She glares at me and her glasses fall down again. She pushes them up. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have things to do, and it's time for you to be in class."

            And so it is. Suddenly it's noise overload as the bell rings, she walks back into her office and shuts the door, and Kaiba starts to pound on it. The rest of the crowd starts chattering again and I decide to get away before Kaiba realizes that pounding a door is undignified and starts pounding me instead.

            I work my way to the fringes of the crowd to meet Yugi. Sometime during the commotion Téa and Tristan have arrived. Téa looks sympathetic. Tristan looks murderous.

            "Heard the news, huh?" I ask him.

            "Yeah. I can't believe I got stuck with Duke!" he says. Gee, thanks bud. I see where your priorities lie.

            Téa's a good friend. "I'm sorry, Joey," she says. "At least it's only for a week."

            "Only a week." I snort. "Yeah, and the Blue-Eyes is only a dragon."

            Yugi giggles in spite of himself. "I tried to tell you, Joey," he says apologetically. "You're taking it better than I thought."

            "You thought I'd be ranting and raving and pitching a hissy fit?"

            "Yeah," he admitted.

            "It's on the inside."

            He laughs again, though I'm not exactly joking. Is this some kinda cruel cosmic joke? Me and Kaiba, roommates for a week? The only reason I'm not freakin' out is because of something Tristan once said—that's exactly how Kaiba would want me to react. So I'm going to do the opposite. Mr. Cool and Collected at your service. And as a bonus, it makes Kaiba's lil' conniption look stupid in comparison.

            Yugi catches on, though, and apologizes again. Don't know why he keeps doing that—it's not like it's his fault. And so I tell him. "Hey, at least you got Bakura. Someone got a good roommate. 'Course I don't know Téa's yet."

            At this Téa tries to blush modestly, but can't hide her smugness at the fact that her fortune is apparently better than mine. She ends up looking like a smirking tomato. "Well, um, you see, there were an odd number of girls in the grade...somebody had to be left over, you know, and...Igotaprivateroom." She mumbles the last bit. I still catch it and glare at her.

            "I gotta put up with the freak of the month, and you get a private room?"

            Téa's not that good a friend. "I guess that's life," she says. Always thought that girl was more callous than she let on. She waves good-bye. "I gotta get to class. See ya!" I'm still ticked and growl at her back.

            "Oops, me too! Bye, Joey! See you after school!" Yugi rushes off. Tristan and I have got homeroom together, so we start meandering our way down the corridor. Neither of us can believe our luck and each think we got the raw end of the deal.

            "Mine wears dice from his ears," Tristan says.

            "Mine's hairline changes according to the weather," I retort. Tristan and I once tried to figure out Kaiba's ebb-and-flow hairline. We finally blamed it on hair gel inexperience.

            "Mine has an obsession with a long-haired pillock," he says. A valid point. Any guy who worships Pegasus has gotta be cracked, and Duke doesn't just hero-worship him. He's a one-man religion. The priest and parish of the Church of Pegasus. Make that cult.

            But I gotta say—"Speaking of pillocks, mine is one." Tristan snorts in concession.

            "Mine invented a game with heart points," he says. "Sparkling heart points." I open my mouth to protest. "And he sells rhinestone heart earrings as a tie-in at his game shop," he adds.

            Wow. I never knew. Come to think of it—I probably shouldn't ask how Tristan knows, either. So I just state the obvious. "At least yours has a heart!"

            We reach homeroom. Guess who's in the doorway. The heartless ebb-and-flow-hairline pillock himself. He glares at me.

            "You're sleeping on the floor, mutt."

            And then he walks away. Tristan and I exchange a look.

            This is going to be a long week.



Review responses (for reviews posted between 11/6/03 and 11/19/03):

hyper katana 49737: Not particularly evil...just regularly so. :) We'll see how Joey copes...

Spruceton Spook: Am I any closer to subverting you to Yu-Gi-Oh! yet? Mwahahaha...or wait, funky lettering deserves a funky lettering response. MwAhAhAhA...and now that looks like an amalgam of an Irish name. Anyway. I'm halfway through revising the next chapter, and so then you'll see what else happens on this "innocent" ski trip... *coughcough* What?

ideseth: Thanks! Right back at you with "Closer to Fine." ^.~

Erisu_Chan: Thanks! Hope you keep liking it.

Ryan-Ookami: I love writing in Joey's voice, so I'm glad you could "hear" it!

QueenAllie: Heh, I am going to have a little fun with the Tristan/Duke rooming situation. Not specifically chaseshipping, but the opportunity for some jokes is too good to pass up...

D. Draggy: You know you're entirely to blame for this fic. I've probably told you this a million times, but I never would have considered it had it not been for "Being Dead Ain't Easy". It's also my model for Joey-humor. Pardon my idolizing... :p

Riah-chan: Thanks so much! I checked your profile, you've lived in Japan? I'm so jealous. ;)

Icy Flame: Never been called a 'god' before. You're sweet! *blushes* Thanks for mentioning the Ryou fic, I can always use a recommendation. And as for Bakura, he does have a role in the story of sorts...mostly as a source of concern for Joey, but I can't exactly leave him out... ^^

Random Reader: I like your name--it's alliterative and has the word 'random' in it. Yes, I am that weird. ^^; Thanks for the review!

Sheron: It's a privilege to meet your criteria. I hope I can update every two weeks myself... i. ^^

QueenV: Actually, the comment on Seto's hair can be blamed on Pachelbel. She also called his "gravity-defying trench coat" a "hoop skirt, circa 1890." *lol* Came from "Yami Yugi's Diaries," if you're interested. As for shounen-ai...well, there will be something juicy, though I'm not exactly sure what to call it, but hopefully it will please the Joey/Seto fans! They are an amusing couple. :D

Tuulikki: I'm glad you realized it was me--I was worried someone from the message board would notice it and report to me that I'd plagiarized myself. ^O^; Btw, I saw your profile--I didn't know you were 24! Me too, but everyone thinks I'm younger...

Ryo0oki: Thanks for a spot on your favorites listing--I hope I can live up to the standard. And yes, I love Jou-POV, so much so I usually even like the dub's jokes. He's just so likable in any language. ^^

AkaVertigo: Thanks so much!