The Art of Love is a real document that I found in my history textbook. We were commenting on how incredibly wrong it was, and I just thought it would be cool if Joey actually tried what it said.
Disclaimer: I own nothing that appears in this fic. Not Yu-Gi-Oh!, that belongs to Kazuki Takahashi. Not The Art of Love, that belongs to some guy named Ovid who wrote it in ancient Roman times and the title of this fic also belongs to him. The introduction to the book came from my history textbook, World History, Comprehensive Volume, Third Edition, so I don't own that either. Hikage Kitsune owns herself. All I own is myself, and unfortunately, I'm not in this fic. So nyah, you can't sue me.The Art of Love
Joey Wheeler grumbled as he searched the shelves of the library for books on ancient Rome. Yugi, Tea, and Tristan had made him come along while they did research for the group project that was due in a week. He pulled out random books from the section labeled "Rome," complaining all the while.
"Why'd they have to drag me along? They could've done the research themselves and I could do the pictures! There's so many other things to do on a Saturday! Right now I could be playing video games, or eating at Burger World, or – ow!"
A book fell from the shelf above him, due to the fact that he had been pulling out all the others around it. Joey bent to pick it up, still grumbling – until he noticed the title. "The Art of Love? What is this? It looks like it should be in the fiction section!" He flipped it over to the first page, titled Foreword, and began to read.
" 'Ovid has been called the last great poet of the Augustan golden age of literature. One of his most famous works was The Art of Love, a guidebook on the seduction of women." Here Joey stopped, blinked, reread the sentence, and sweatdropped. He shrugged and continued, " 'Unfortunately for Ovid, the work appeared at a time when Augustus was anxious to improve the morals of the Roman upper class. Augustus considered the poem offensive, and Ovid soon found himself in exile.' " Hmm… seduction of women… and the spring dance was coming up. Joey grinned slightly. Here was one sure way to win Mai over! He quickly stuffed it at the bottom of his pile of books and rejoined the others at their table.
That night, as soon as he got home, Joey threw his bag on the kitchen table and raced upstairs to his room, book in hand. He locked the door, flopped down on his bed, and began reading.
" 'Now I'll teach you how to captivate and hold the woman of your choice. This is the most important part of all my lessons. Lovers of every land, lend an attentive ear to my discourse; let goodwill warm your hearts, for I am going to fulfill the promises I made you.
" 'First of all, be quite sure that there isn't a woman who cannot be won, and make up your mind that you will win her. Only you must prepare the ground. Sooner would the birds cease their song in the springtime, or the grasshopper be silent in the summer… than a woman resist the tender wooing of a youthful lover.' "
Joey smiled to himself. "Well, Mai can obviously be won… and I know I'm gonna win her! Hmm… prepare the ground… sounds easy enough!"
Mai Valentine stood by her locker, taking out her math and physics books while stuffing the rest in her locker. Someone cleared his throat behind her, and she sighed and turned around to face Joey.
"What is it now?" she asked, hoping silently that he would finally ask her to the dance. Oh, if wishes were dollars, she'd be even richer than Kaiba.
"Hey Mai," Joey said, grinning cheesily. "You look great today. Did you do something with your hair?"
Mai sweatdropped slightly. As usual, she was wearing her school uniform, and she'd almost been late. She'd done her hair and makeup in a hurry, and now Joey was complimenting her on it? Was he trying to flirt with her? Didn't he even notice the difference?!? "Yeah, Joey, I did something with my hair. I spent ten minutes less on it than I usually do, and you're so observant that you don't even notice it!" She stormed off in a hurry to her calculus class.
"Mai-" Joey began, but just then, the bell rang. He shook his head in puzzlement and turned toward his English class, which was halfway across the campus, leaving him no time to chase Mai.
English. A spelling test today. Oh goody. Joey finished it with fifteen minutes left to spare, and, feeling sure that he'd fail it, he turned once again to Ovid for help with his love life.
"Now the first thing you have to do is to get on good terms with the fair one's maid. She can make things easy for you. Find out whether she is fully in her mistress's confidence, and if she knows all about her secret dissipations. Leave no stone unturned to win her over. Once you have her on your side, the rest is easy."
Well, this part was simple enough. Joey knew that Mai lived in a mansion on the edge of town and also that she had something else to do after school. Time to pay a visit to her maids, then.
Gulping slightly, Joey went up the steps leading to the huge mansion. The place was a LOT bigger up close, and he'd never actually visited before… Oh well. If Ovid said he should… Joey rang the doorbell.
A few minutes passed before he was greeted with the sound of footsteps, and a cheerful-looking girl around his age answered. "Hello!" she chirped happily. "I'm sorry, but Miss Mai isn't home right now. I'm really sorry that I took so long to answer the door, but I was doing my homework on the other side, and you know how long it takes to cross houses this big. They're gigantic, you know, and it didn't really help that I was on the third floor, and I would have gotten one of the others to answer it except they're not here right now, they're out shopping for whatever…"
Joey interrupted as soon as she took a breath, not wanting to stand outside all day listening to her. "Well, it's not really Mai that I wanted to talk to, since I see her all the time at school. You're her maid, right? Can I talk to you?"
The girl blinked, caught off guard. "You're a school friend of Mai's? And you want to talk to me? Do I know you?"
"Well, no, probably not, since I've never been here before…"
"I thought so. I would've recognized you otherwise." The girl cocked her head. "But I go to Mai's school too, so I've probably seen you around. Come in." She opened the door fully and stepped out of the way.
Walking inside, Joey was awestruck at everything that he saw. He knew Mai was rich, but not that she was this rich… The girl closed the door behind him and grabbed his arm, dragging him toward the living room. "C'mon!"
Joey sat down on one of the many couches, still looking around. "I could get used to this…"
The maid giggled. "I know. I certainly did. So," she leaned forward, "What's your name and why'd you want to talk to me?"
Joey glanced at her. "I'm Joey Wheeler. And you are…?"
"Hikage Kitsune. Everyone calls me HK, though."
"Right…" Joey muttered slowly. "…anyway. About Mai…"
"What is it?"
"Well, umm… does she tell you things?"
An evil grin slowly spread over HK's face. "What kind of things?"
"Uh…" Joey was obviously getting uncomfortable. "Nothing in particular. Just… things."
"Hmm…" HK was obviously deep in thought. "Things. Things she wouldn't tell anyone else? Her deepest, darkest secrets that she'd never share with anyone else? Her loves, her passions, and her dislikes?"
"Umm… yeah!" 'Now we're getting somewhere!'
"Do you want to know the truth?" HK asked. Joey nodded. "Well… no."
Joey facefaulted. "You can't be serious!"
"I am," HK answered, looking to be perfectly serious. "But before you leave, let me guess. You wanted to know what she thinks about you?"
"Yes!" Joey cried out before he could stop himself.
"Alright then… Joey Wheeler… hmm… aha!"
"What is it?" Joey asked, excited.
HK grinned again. "Well, she always says you're the best friend she's ever had. Loyal, determined, sweet, a great duelist, and…"
"What?" Joey asked, leaning forward slightly.
"The most idiotic person she's ever known. Other than that, you're great."
Joey facefaulted again. "Okaay…"
"Is that all you wanted?" HK asked.
"Umm… yeah, thanks." Joey answered. "Alright then. I'll be going now. See you at school."
"Bye!" HK called, waving as Joey left.
As he was walking out the door, a car pulled up into the driveway and none other than Mai Valentine exited. Upon seeing Joey, she raised an eyebrow. "Joey, what do you think you're doing here?
Joey sweatdropped. "Umm… leaving!"
Mai shook her head and walked to the front door, where HK was waiting. "Did he talk to you?"
HK nodded. "Yeah. He had some questions for me."
"What did you tell him?"
The familiar evil grin spread over HK's face. "Oh, nothing in particular. Just… things."
Joey sighed, shaking his head. That could've gone better. So the answer to that question was no, HK was most definitely not in her mistress's confidence. It didn't surprise him, really; who would put their confidence in THAT girl? So for the second time that day, Joey called on Ovid for the next step of his romance.
" 'In the first place, it's best to send her a letter, just to pave the way. In it you should tell her how you dote on her; pay her pretty compliments and say all the nice things lovers always say… Even the gods are moved by the voice of entreaty. And promise, promise, promise. Promises will cost you nothing. Everyone's a millionaire where promises are concerned.' "'A letter, hmm? Not a bad idea… not exactly original, but if it'll help…'
The next day, Mai was once again at her locker, exchanging her books. This time, however, there was no Joey Wheeler in sight, trying to flirt with her using compliments that weren't true anyway. As she withdrew her math book, however, a letter fell from her locker to the floor. Mai bent to pick it up and groaned as she saw that it was in an envelope patterned with roses. 'Oh, no, don't tell me…'
It was. Mai opened it to see a pink piece of paper, the roses on it matching those on the envelope. And, of course, the letter on it was in Joey's messy handwriting.
I'm really sorry about what happened yesterday. I didn't mean for it to go that way. It's just that I've had my eye on you for some time and I really think you're beautiful. Your eyes are like beautiful sparkling amethysts, the most beautiful I've ever seen. Your hair is like waves of gold. You have completely captivated my heart, so would you please go out to the dance with me?
Mai sweatdropped slightly. That was the cheesiest thing she had ever read. Joey really needed to learn how to write more original letters.
"So, what do you say?" a hopeful voice asked from behind her. Mai turned around and looked directly at Joey.
"Sorry Joseph, but if you want to go out with me, you'll have to do better than that." She tossed the letter at him and walked away.
"Well, that didn't work too well," Joey muttered, turning away. He grinned to himself as he remembered the next part of the book, and recited, " 'If she refuses your letter and sends it back unread, don't give up; hope for the best and try again.' Well, whatever you say, Ovid…"
Yugi, Tristan, and Tea were standing nearby and heard his last comment. Glancing at the other two, Tristan asked, "Who do you think Ovid is?"
"His imaginary friend, maybe?" Tea answered.
As one, all three of them shook their heads and said, "Nah," walking off in different directions toward their first classes.
The same thing happened the next day. And the next. And the one after that. Finally, Mai got so tired of it that she just reached into her locker, pulled out the letter, and threw it into the trash bin without even looking.
"So Mai," the familiar voice began, and she sighed.
"Get lost, Joseph," Mai answered, walking away. Joey looked slightly crestfallen.
"Oh well, might as well give up on that. I wonder what else Ovid has to say?"
" 'Don't let your hair stick up in tufts on your head; see that your hair and your beard are decently trimmed. See also that your nails are clean and nicely filed; don't have any hair growing out of your nostrils; take care that your breath is sweet, and don't go about reeking like a billy goat. All other toilet refinements leave to the women or to perverts…
" 'By subtle flatteries you may be able to steal into her heart, even as the river insensibly overflows the banks which fringe it. Never cease to sing the praises of her face, her hair, her taper fingers and her dainty foot…' "
The next day, when Mai opened her locker and reflexively reached in to pull out a letter, there was nothing there. She raised an eyebrow and turned around to see Joey, hand poised to tap her on the shoulder.
"And just when I thought you had given up," Mai sighed, shaking her head. "So what's your new approach?"
"I don't have one," Joey said simply. "I decided to give up on the love letters. I'm not that great at writing, and Serenity wouldn't help me anyway…"
"You even asked your sister to help you?" Mai asked, amazed. She also noted that Joey seemed to have actually taken some steps to try and make himself look more presentable; his hair was combed back neatly and the shirt of his uniform was actually tucked in. "Well, it looks like you're trying to impress someone today…"
"Do you like it?" Joey asked anxiously, tugging at his shirt and untucking it in the process. "Because I wanted to ask you again, will you go with me to the dance?"
Mai smiled. The guy never gave up, did he? She'd go with him eventually, of course, but for now she felt like playing hard to get. "Tell me why you want to go with me, and not some other woman."
Joey twitched nervously under her gaze. "Well, it's just that you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," he said, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. "You're a great duelist, and I've known you for a really long time. I just wanted to say that I like you a lot."
Mai started blushing slightly, but she wasn't ready to give in just yet. "Sorry Joseph, but you'll need a little more style than that to impress me." She walked off to class, laughing to herself a little as she went.
Joey was left behind her, crestfallen. "Aw, man, what'd I do wrong this time?" He headed off to his class, grumbling as he went. When he arrived at his desk, he pulled out The Art of Love and started reading, trying to see if there was any more useful information.
"Tears, too, are a mighty useful resource in the matter of love. They would melt a diamond. Make a point, therefore, of letting your mistress see your face all wet with tears. Howbeit, if you can't manage to squeeze out any tears-and they won't always flow just when you want them to-put your finger in your eyes." Joey sweatdropped. "Cry? Put my finger in my eye? What the heck?" He shrugged and sighed. "Oh well. If it'll help me win Mai…"
A few minutes later, he left the classroom to go to the bathroom, still muttering about tears and fingers in eyes. As soon as he was gone, Tristan snuck a quick glance around and moved to Joey's desk, picking up the book that had been left behind. "The Art of Love? What the heck? …a guidebook on the seduction of women? So that's what Joey's been up to…" He flipped to a random page, started reading it, and laughed. "This'll never work. Hey Yugi! Tea! Look what Joey's been up to!"
"Joey, are you sure you want to do this?" Yugi asked, jogging along behind his best friend. "Tristan told us about that book, and it sure sounds ridiculous…"
"I've come this far, and I don't want to give up now," Joey protested. "Besides, the dance is tomorrow, and I really want to be able to go with her."
Yugi sighed, defeated. "Whatever you say. It's just that if she's turned you down all these times, she probably won't accept anymore."
"I at least want to try," Joey said, giving his friend a pleading look.
"I won't try to stop you. Just don't blame me if it doesn't work."
"Mai?" Joey asked, strolling up to where the girl was standing by her locker. Mai sighed and turned around.
"Hi Joey. Come to ask me out again?" Mai asked drolly.
"Well, yeah, but you know this'll probably be my last chance," Joey started, waiting to be denied. Mai just raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, so? Hurry it up already. I want to hear what you have to say."
Joey looked slightly surprised that she didn't turn him down immediately, but he quickly recovered. "Um, yeah, okay. Well, since this is my last chance, I just wanted to tell you that I really really like you and I just wish you'd go with me to the dance. Please?" He said the last part very fast, all the while trying to squeeze out some tears. None came.
Mai just stood there looking at him. "Try again, Joey."
"Um… well, I just want you to know that there's no one else in this school that I want to go with, and it's only you. I really do like you…" At this point, he turned away and poked his eyes with his fingers, hard. He let out a slight whimper of pain, and Yugi slapped himself on the forehead. No way was this going to work.
Mai sweatdropped slightly at hearing Joey's cry. "Um, Joey?"
"Uh, yeah, I'm fine." Joey turned back to her, this time with adequate tears flowing. "So, please please go with me, because there's no one else I like better than you and it would ruin my whole high school experience if I couldn't go out with you just once."
Mai paused for a moment. She had to admit, his words were sweet, but the tears? Totally overdone. "Sorry Joey, but no. I really don't think this is something worth crying over. Try again next year, okay?" She walked away, shaking her head. She'd really hoped he'd do it, but the poor guy had no idea how to ask someone out.
Joey stood still for a moment before tick marks started appearing on his forehead. "OVID!!! None of your ideas worked! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!"
"Um, Joey? He's already dead."
Joey watched the paper crumpling in the fireplace, a look of savage glee upon his face. "Burn, book… burn…"
"Um, Joey?" Yugi asked. "You do remember that that's a library book, don't you?"
"Yeah, so what?" Joey snapped, rounding on him. "It's an evil book! It deserves to die!"
Yugi sweatdropped. "Sure, fine, but you're the one that's paying for it." As Joey turned back to the flames, he muttered, "But I don't think that's what they meant by book burnings…"
A few minutes later, what was left of The Art of Love had been scattered to the winds. Joey had watched all this with delight, but Yugi complained that the poor book had been through enough already.
"So Joey, are you going to the dance?" Yugi asked, breaking the silence that had lasted since the last ashes floated away.
Joey sighed, turning to Yugi with his hands in his pockets. "What's the point? Mai's not going to go with me anyway."
"Well, she'll probably go alone. You could go with us, as a group, and you could ask Mai again if she's there…"
"You really think she'll show up?" Joey asked, looking thoughtful.
Yugi shrugged. "Probably. And I'll give you a word of advice, Joey: be yourself. No more taking advice from a book written by some weird ancient Roman guy."
"There's an idea," Joey muttered. "I'll remember that the next time I find a book labeled, 'a guidebook on the seduction of women.' "
Joey pulled at his tie, looking uncomfortable. He glanced around the dance floor, looking for Mai, but still he didn't see her. He looked at Yugi, who was standing next to him and drinking some punch from the refreshment table, and whispered to his best friend, "Are you sure she'll show?"
Yugi glanced at him before taking a sip of his punch. "Maybe. I only said she might come. She might have had other plans."
Joey sighed. "That's it, I'm outta here." Yugi shot him a questioning look, and Joey continued, "The only reason I came was 'cause I was hoping Mai would be here. Since she's not here and probably isn't coming, then I'm leaving."
"But Joey-" Yugi began, but he was too late. Joey had already walked out the door. Yugi sighed and shook his head. "He's got a good point, but where is Mai? She should've been here by now…"
Said Mai was currently wandering the streets of Domino City. She'd told Yugi that she'd go to the dance if Joey wanted her to, but she hadn't specified at what time. She wanted a few minutes of personal thinking time, and if Wheeler really wanted her, he'd stay at the dance the whole time to wait. Mai smiled slightly at the thought. Pretty romantic, but Joey wasn't exactly known to be the best at romantic stuff.
She shivered slightly, wrapping her coat around her more tightly. The chill night air still penetrated through her outer layer and dress, and her breath came out in a small cloud. Now was as good a time as any to head to the school, the dance, and… Joey. Mai drew in a small gasp at the thought of the boy, but she shook it off quickly. At least the auditorium had a heater. She turned around and started to head in the vague direction of the school when a voice caught her attention.
"Now what's a pretty lady like you doing out here on a cold night all alone?" a male voice drawled. Mai spun around quickly, caught by surprise, and spotted a man, half-shrouded in shadow and watching her.
"Nothing in particular," Mai answered in a bored tone. "I was going to go to the school dance, see if a certain someone was still there, but I'm sure I'll have so much more fun standing here chatting with you while I freeze to death in this dress."
"I'm sure you will," the man answered smoothly, obviously not catching the sarcastic tone in Mai's voice. "But this kid you're meeting… he can't be better-looking than me, can he?"
"He might be, and probably is, but I can't tell if you're going to stand there in the shadows all night," Mai retorted, wanting to get rid of this guy as soon as possible so she could get to the school quickly, hopefully before Joey left.
"All right then," the man said, stepping into the light so Mai could see him better. She studied him for a moment. He could be called handsome, but Mai privately thought she'd seen better. A certain Joey Wheeler came to mind, for instance.
"Great," Mai said, bored. "Now that that's over with, might as well tell you that I have a dance to go to and someone to dance else to dance with. If you really want me, tell me the next time you see me down here." 'Note to self: never come here again.'
Mai turned and walked away, signaling the end of their conversation. She glanced upwards, staring at the stars in the crystal-clear sky and the moonlight that cast a pale glow on the whole city and sighed. Now was a good night to be outdoors… come to think of it, she'd rather take a walk tonight than go to the dance. A walk with Joey would be even better.
There she went again. Stupid Wheeler. She couldn't get him off her mind… she started to sigh again, but it was changed to a gasp and quickly cut off when someone grabbed her from behind, slapped a hand over her mouth, and dragged her into a nearby alley.
Mai angrily tore her captor's hand off her mouth and turned slightly to face him, only to recognize the man from before. "You!" she gasped. "What do YOU want?"
The man sneered at her. "Only you," he answered. "You and me, we're going to have a little fun tonight."
Mai narrowed her eyes, guessing what exactly he meant by "fun." "And what if I don't want to come?"
A switchblade appeared in the man's hand, and it was at Mai's throat in a second. "I'm afraid you don't have much choice in the matter."
"Let her go," a familiar voice commanded, and both Mai and her captor spun towards the source. A certain blond teenager stepped into their line of sight, and Joey repeated, "I said, let her go."
"Joey!" Mai gasped, and he shot her a quick glance before returning his eyes to the man. She had never seen him so angry before. The coldness in his brown eyes was not something she was used to, and the effect was only slightly spoiled by the tuxedo he was wearing.
"And why should I?" Mai's captor demanded. Joey gave him a cold smile.
"Easy. The girl you've chosen is pretty feisty, and she'll no doubt try to hurt you if you try to kidnap her. If you fight me and win, then I promise she'll go without any complaint." Mai glared at him.
"I won't run away," she added, then smirked. "In fact, I think I'll actually enjoy watching Wheeler wipe the floor with you." Joey shot her a grateful smile.
"You can use any weapons you want," he told the other man. "I think we'll start now, if it's okay with you?"
"Fine!" The man charged at Joey with all the speed he could muster, aiming his knife at Joey's chest. Joey rolled his eyes and sidestepped easily, and the man was thrown off balance.
"Pathetic," the teenager spat, then glanced at Mai. "I suggest you close your eyes," he suggested.
Mai nodded and did as she was told. Five seconds later, when all the sounds of smacking and cries of pain had passed, she risked opening her eyes, to be met with the sight of the man out cold on the ground, with Joey standing unhurt above him.
"Really pathetic," Joey grumbled. "For all his talk, he was really weak anyway." He took a good look at Mia, concerned. "Hey, are you okay?"
"Fine," she answered, following Joey out of the alleyway. She glanced back at the man, who looked like he'd be out for at least a couple more hours. "Aren't you going to do anything about him?"
Joey shrugged. "Aw, he'll wake up soon enough." They walked in silence for a few minutes before he asked, "What were you doing down here, anyway? This isn't exactly known as the safest place in town…"
Mai laughed halfheartedly. "Just wandering. But what were you doing here?"
Joey sighed. "I live near here."
"Oh…" As they walked under a streetlamp, Mai noticed something and stopped in astonishment. "Joey, are you crying?"
Joey sniffled slightly. "Who, me? No, why would I be crying? I nearly had a heart attack when I saw that the guy had a knife to your throat, but why should I care?" He sniffled again. "I was worried about you. Don't do that again."
Mai turned to face him. "Joey…" She wiped away a single tear that had managed to find its way down his cheek and caught his eyes. She drew in a slight gasp, but once again it was cut off, this time as Joey's lips met hers. She paused for a moment, then kissed him back, all worries forgotten for that night.
They finally broke apart, still staring in each other's eyes. Finally, Mai sighed and looked away. "Joey?"
She smiled and glanced at him, noticing that all traces of tears were now gone from his face. She leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "Don't cry. You're cuter when you don't." She sauntered off, leaving Joey staring at her for a few moments.
He shook his head, sighed, and smiled. "Stupid Ovid," he muttered, before following Mai. Taking her hand, they walked together into the night, all thoughts of the school dance forgotten.
I want to know what you think! Like? No like? Review! Flames will be given to Joey to burn all copies of The Art of Love in existence!