The mutt and the butterfly

Warnings/notes : Joey/Mai, hints at Otogi + Shizuka and Honda + Shizuka, slight fluff

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

written at 29th october 2003, by Misura

For SillyJilly, who requested some Joey/Mai. I hope it's not too disappointing. ^^;


[the mutt]

His tie wasn't tied right. He simply knew it, felt it, even if Honda had assured him it was perfectly in order.

The fact that his friend had been staring at the door behind which Shizuka was getting ready for the ball, with a look in his eyes that could be described as puppy-ish didn't add much weight to his words either.

Honda had apologized of course, after Joey had whacked him. Rubbing his head at the exact moment Shizuka walked in, to have her scold her brother for hitting him.

He really ought to get over the fact that Shizuka wasn't his innocent little sister anymore, that she might actually enjoy boys gaping at her and following her around with flowers and gifts.

Honda was a nice guy, really. He wouldn't try anything with her beyond perhaps a few kisses or hugs. He ought to be glad Shizuka took an interest in him.

Too bad she also fancied Otogi. Otogi with his cheergirls who fell all over themselves to prove they were so much sweeter, nicer and prettier than Shizuka, with his handsome face and charming manners ... at least, most girls seemed to think so.

Shizuka, when he asked her, replied vaguely that she 'liked him'. And yes, she also 'liked' Honda. When he'd asked on, she'd snapped it wasn't any of his business.

He'd been smart enough not to mention the subject again after that.

"What's taking you so long, puppy? Having trouble with your suit?" Not even bothering to knock, the one person that didn't annoy Joey by chasing his sister but merely by existing in the same world, sauntered in. "Hmmm, I see that's not the case."

Blue eyes widened with a hint of surprise, while Joey braced for a load of insults regarding his clothes. None came.

"You look ... quite decent." Kaiba remarked finally. He seemed slightly galled by not being able to say something less nice, which gave Joey's confidence quite a boost. Surely he could trust Kaiba to notice anything amiss with his appearance ...

"Thanks." His voice croaked a little.

"So ... why are you still here?" Kaiba inquired. "The ball's already started, you know."

"Yeah." Single syllables seemed to be the only thing he could manage right now. Weird, especially considering how eloquent Kaiba had become all of a sudden.

"Nervous?" Kaiba smirked. With reason, Joey supposed. Kaiba had probably been to hundreds of occasions like this one, dressed up in suits. "Or simply too enraptured by your own look in the mirror to leave yet?"

"No!" His cheeks burned as he quickly turned away, to face Kaiba. The CEO grinned smugly.

"Shall we go then? I happen to know someone's awaiting your arrival quite eagerly." Kaiba's face still wore that half-amused expression. Joey wondered why, wondered if even Kaiba might be malicious enough to set up some kind of humiliation for him on this evening.

He wouldn't put it beyond the other. Not quite.

"Oh?" He had to regain his speech, talk back, not allow Kaiba to lead this odd conversation. "And who would that be?" He couldn't think of anyone, really. No one he'd *enjoy* seeing, at any rate.

Kaiba shook his head. "Telling you would be spoiling the surprise. The lady wouldn't thank me for that."

He blinked. What woman was scary enough for a person like Kaiba to act like that? Well, it might still be an elaborate prank, of course. Perhaps he should just get rid of Kaiba, enter on his own, to check things out a little without everyone noticing his entrance.

"Otogi seems quite taken with your sister by the way." Kaiba continued. "Hasn't danced with anyone else yet. They seemed to get quite cozy during the - "

"Let's go!" Joey stormed to the door, dragging Kaiba along.

Kaiba rolled his eyes and wondered why he could never say 'no' when his little brother asked him for something. "Take it easy, mutt. Last time I saw her she was sitting in a corner with Anzu and Yugi."

"Still ... I don't trust Dice-boy." Joey growled, though he did allow Kaiba to slow down their pace to a more dignified speed. "He's much too smooth."

"Jealous?" Kaiba snorted.

"Would *you* trust him with ... with Mokuba?" Joey demanded, wishing he'd been able to think of a better comparison. But he couldn't think of any females Kaiba truly cared about.

Kaiba sighed. "No. But that's just because I'm sure Otogi's mind is even more twisted than Mokuba's and I don't want them to exchange plans. The brat's manipulative enough as he is." Those last words were muttered barely loud enough for Joey to hear.

Joey chuckled. "Siblings can be a lot of fun, ne?"

Kaiba stared at him in mock-disgust. "Spoken like a true dog, loyal and stupid. Now, get in there, Wheeler, before I lose my patience with you. I don't want to spoil the occasion by starting another shouting-match with you."

Joey closed his mouth, nodded briskly and walked in, not looking back. Thus he missed the satisfied expression that appeared on Kaiba's face.

"Nicely done, big brother." Mokuba remarked, stepping out of the shadows. Kaiba had noticed him earlier but had thought it better not to alert Joey.

"Hunh." Kaiba scoffed. "Easy enough to push his buttons."

"So ... aren't you going in too?" Mokuba inquired. "I've heard quite some pretty girls who would simply *die* to claim a dance with you." He smiled winningly and winked.

Kaiba shivered. "Spare me."

Mokuba giggled. "Ah well, you know what you're missing I guess. But I'd better not find out you've been spending all night working again, tomorrow, big brother!"

"Yes, momma." Kaiba mumbled, striding off while a pair of dark purple eyes watched him go with a hint of sadness in them, before that expression was replaced by one of fierce determination.

"I *will* get you a girlfriend, Seto, just you wait!" Mokuba promised.

~to be concluded in the second chapter~