No snow at Christmas

Warnings/notes : Seto/Joey, Otogi/Honda, Christmas-songfic, focus shifts after each song-fragment.

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. The song 'It doesn't often snow at Christmas' belongs to The Pet Shop Boys.

written at 14th december 2003, by Misura

Chapter warning : hints of alcohol-abuse (Joey's father), slightly messed-up family (Honda). Sorry ;_;

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//Christmas is not all it's cracked up to be

Families fighting around a plastic tree// [Joey]

"Yeah, I'm sorry too. Bye." His sister was trying to say something, but he didn't want to hear it. She had *promised*! Promised that this year, he could come celebrate Christmas with her and Mother, instead of having to evade broken glass bottles whenever he walked through the living room.

"What's the matter, son?" Great. *Now* of all times his father had to get interested in his feelings.

"Nothing. I'm going to Yugi's, watch a movie or something." He grabbed his jacket, not paying any attention to his father's mutterings.

"You know, Christmas is supposed to be a *family* occasion." A hand fell on his shoulder. He brushed it off easily. As easily as his father's words.

"Well, then maybe you should stop drinking and tell Mom you're sorry for hurting her." He was being cruel and he knew it, but he didn't care. What did it matter who had left whom? Or why? The end-result was the same.

"Don't talk to me like that, you ... you *brat*!" Joey almost laughed. Was that supposed to insult him? Move him in some way to stay? Perhaps he ought to thank Kaiba one day for making him immune to petty words like that. If only to see the look on Kaiba's face ...

"Bye, Dad." The door fell shut behind him, drowning out the sounds behind it. "Merry Christmas."

//Nothing on the TV that you'd want to see

And it's hardly ever snowing// [Honda]

"Boring, boring, boring ... oh, and did I mention boring?" Honda sighed, staring at the clock with something of desperation.

"Stop whining so much! And don't you *dare* ruin our family-dinner again!" His mother glowered at him, folding napkins and making some final changes to the table-arrangements. "If I hear from your aunt you've been scaring her again with horror-stories about how we're treating you, I swear you'll have the coming year to regret it."

Honda snorted, barely keeping from making a sarcastic reply to that. Instead, he opted for a more tactical "Yes, Mom". She seemed reasonably satisfied with that.

"Now, where did I put the candles?" She stalked out of the room again, leaving Honda to stare at the dreary world outside. It was snowing, kind of. The sort of snow that melted into a grey puddle when it touched the ground, making the streets slippery.

For a moment he wished his unbeloved aunt and uncle would call to say they wouldn't be able to come this year, because the roads were simply too dangerous. His mother would be crushed though, and it was true she only exposed him to them once a year.

"One time too often." He murmured, too soft to be overheard.

//The way it's meant to be

Like in White Christmas year after year// [Seto]

"Would you mind turning off that blasted thing?" Seto snapped annoyedly, as Mokuba's radio launched into another disgustingly cheerful Christmas-tune.

"Yes, big brother. Sorry." Mokuba sounded a little hurt, but his face showed nothing of it as he obeyed Seto's order. "I didn't know it was bothering you."

Seto managed a half-apologetic smile. Mokuba was right ; he had been keeping his tongue in the hope Mokuba would grow tired of the music on his own. Until he burst out because he couldn't take it any more. If anyone should offer excuses, it was him, not Mokuba.

"It's just been a bit busy this past week." Seto had promised to keep Christmas free of all work, which meant he'd had to do more in the days before. Considering he was already doing the work of four people, that hadn't done much to relieve his stress.

"Only a bit?" Mokuba grinned. "That's not what a little birdie told me."

Seto glared at him, cursing whomever it was that kept Mokuba informed of his working-hours. Somehow, Mokuba always seemed to know if he'd broken his promise not to stay up all night again.

"Shall I make us some hot chocolate? With marshmallows and whipped cream?" The prospect of that particular winter-treat usually succeeded in distracting Mokuba.

//Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby,

Are you listening to me?// [Otogi]

After the seventh phone-call, he had put on the answering-machine to deal with them. Now he sat here, in his favorite seat, listening to his own voice purring and declaring how sorry he was not to be able to pick up the phone right now. How delighted he would be if they'd left their number for him to call them back as soon as possible.

What a bunch of lies. What a totally horrid way to celebrate Christmas, sitting alone in his living-room, too weary to fend off yet another fangirl who wanted to invite him to her family's Christmas-party.

Still, it was better than to actually *be* at one of those so-called 'parties'. The thought was of small comfort, but it was at least *something* to hold on to. To keep him from slipping into an all-out depression.

He wondered what was wrong with him. Wasn't Christmas supposed to be a joyful occasion, instead of two days of misery, with pizza for dinner? Perhaps that was just what commercials wanted people to believe though.

Or maybe it was the company. Otogi was at his best when there were other people around, people he wanted to impress or cheer up. People he really cared about. But Yugi and Yami were out of town and Shizuka spent the holidays with her mother.

There were still Joey and Honda, of course. And it wasn't as if he had anything better to do ...

//It doesn't often snow at Christmas

the way it's meant to do// [Honda]

"You could at least *pretend* you're looking forward to this." His mother sounded accusing.

Honda sighed. "But I'm not! And they're not even there yet." Why did *he* have to have such an annoying family? Sure, he didn't envy Joey or Yugi for hardly having a family at all, yet ... wasn't there something in between?

"That doesn't matter! I've looking forward to this all year and now you're spoiling it for me!" He worriedly wondered if she was going to cry. Rationally he *knew* she wasn't, that this was all just an act to blackmail him into behaving like she wanted him to.

"Please, Mom." His father wasn't any help either, hiding behind his newspaper like it was a wall between him and the rest of the living-room. Honda suspected his father wasn't too fond of his sister either sometimes, but kept his opinion carefully hidden to keep the peace.

"If you're only going to make a nuisance of yourself you might as well leave!" She was yelling at him now, meaning her little performance was almost over. He was supposed to say sorry, apologize and promise to be a good boy, thus ending the annual pre-Christmas-dinner ritual.

And all of a sudden, he didn't feel like playing the role of repentant son anymore. "Fine then." He rose quickly, feeling the reassuring weight of the keys of his bike in his pocket. "I will."

It was as easy as that in the end. He was gone before she even realized he hadn't said what she had expected him to say. It was, however, also very cold outside, without his jacket. Still, he refused to give up his freedom for the sake of being warm. He could do without.

~to be concluded in the second part~