Hello hello! I am back again with another chapter! Please enjoy!

P.S. I don't own YGO.

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17. Tea Time & Girl Talk

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Serenity looked up from her cup of tea and glanced at Mai, wondering how the blond woman was going to take everything that she had just heard. Serenity had just spilled it all—everything she was feeling, everything that had happened between her and Kaiba and everything that she was so unsure of now…although Serenity didn't know if this was a wise decision or not on her part, telling someone about everything that had been bothering her and getting it off of her chest definitely seemed well worth it.

Now all she was waiting for were Mai's thoughts, Mai's advice, Mai's…reply. Had she done the right thing?

Mai's face was solemn and thoughtful as she looked down at the tablecloth. She and Serenity had come to this little café about an hour ago…after they had ordered their tea, Serenity had basically spilled her guts to Mai.

Now Mai was trying to find the words to answer Serenity in a way that would both convey her feelings while not sounding insensitive to the situation. 'Messing with Kaiba is bad news no matter who you are…' Mai thought, finally raising her violet eyes to look into Serenity's hazel ones, 'Especially if you have someone like Joey who cares about you.'

She didn't say this out loud though. She was a girl first before she was Joey's girlfriend, and she knew that in situations like this, encouragement and understanding were the best methods.

"Serenity…" Mai finally began, "What exactly do you feel towards Kaiba?"

Serenity seemed startled at the question, but quickly recovered and then responded to Mai's question. "What do you mean?" she asked.

"Well…" Mai drew out, "It seems pretty clear to me how you feel towards him, but…how clear is it to you?"

Serenity thought for a moment over what Mai had just told her. "Well…when he…kissed…me, I…I guess I liked it." She could feel her cheeks heat up while she continued. "But…even before…that…happened, I still wanted to be around him. He's not that bad, Mai, Joey just doesn't know him."

"Yes, but we're not talking about Joey here, now are we?" Mai asked, "We both know that Joey doesn't like him…but Joey doesn't dictate how you feel, now does he?"

Serenity slowly shook her head and then smiled. "No," she answered, "He doesn't. I love my brother, but I am my own person too. And I…I really care about Kaiba. Even if Joey doesn't. I do. I want to be around him more. I want to learn why he is the way he is…and try to help him found out what he can be. You know Mai, when Kaiba smiled—"

"Woah woah woah!" Mai interrupted, "Kaiba smiled?"

Serenity's face lit up at Mai's incredulity. "Yup," she confirmed, "only a few times, but when he did…it was…indescribable, I guess…Everyone is so used to seeing him frown that when he does smile, he seems like a whole other person. Mai. I want to be with that person."

Mai stared into Serenity's eyes for a few seconds before replying, seeing only the sincerity that occupied those orbs. 'The girl is serious!' Mai thought. She took a deep breath and smiled at Serenity, ready to tell her what she thought about the situation.

"Serenity," Mai began, "you do realize that Kaiba frowns a whole lot more then he smiles. Now I know that you two may have had a few fun times together and everything, but are you sure that you can handle all the times when Kaiba isn't this person that you enjoy seeing the bright side of, the one that you are sure you want to be with? If you have some preconceived idea about who he is, or even about what you think you can make him be, and then he doesn't live up to those expectations when you two are finally together…Serenity, hon…that might just be a recipe for heartbreak."

Serenity sighed. This wasn't what she wanted to hear, but she knew that it was the truth. "Mai, you're right," Serenity agreed, nodding her head, "but I still want to try…I just can't…give up. Mai…I think I love him."

Mai's eyes went wide at those words. "Love him?" she repeated, shocked. 'Who knew someone would ever freely love Kaiba?' she thought to herself, staring at Serenity's red-flushed face. 'And especially Serenity…' Mai marveled to herself. 'Who would have ever thought it?'

Serenity slowly nodded, affirming Mai's words. "Yes…" she whispered, looking down into her cup of tea again, "I think I do."

"And what about Joey?" Mai asked.

Serenity licked her lips and looked back up at Mai. A sly grin slowly crossed her face. "What about Joey?" she answered.

Mai began to grin. "Well…I think it will be a little hard for him to accept this…but then again…who says that he has to accept it right now? There's always…tomorrow." Mai winked at Serenity. "Besides, you and Kaiba aren't even an official couple yet."

At this last part, Serenity's face fell. "Oh yeah…" she murmured, "about that…"

Mai's smile left her face, replaced by a look of concern at Serenity's sudden change of character. "What?" she questioned.

"Well…how am I supposed to even get near Kaiba, I mean, he made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to see me again." Serenity tried to fight off the tears that were threatening to well up in her eyes. "Mai…what am I supposed to do?"

"Serenity…" Mai reached across the table and took one of Serenity's pale hands in her own. The poor girl looked like she was about to cry, which made Mai, in turn, feel absolutely miserable.

"Serenity…" Mai said again, softly, "Don't you know how Kaiba is by now? He pushes everyone away…but that doesn't mean that that is what he really wants. I've seen him be rude to even Mokuba, and that's his own flesh and blood. Serenity…Kaiba is just…well…the man has these walls around him for protection. He's afraid of being hurt. That's all it is."

"But I'm not going to hurt him, Mai." Serenity responded softly, "I just want to help him."

"I know, hon," Mai said, "I know that you would never hurt him. It's just…he doesn't know that. He'd never admit to any of this, but I know that the truth is that he's just scared. If you want to help him Serenity…you've got to help him realize that he has nothing to be scared of." Mai smiled encouragingly at Serenity. "I think that once he realizes that not everyone is out to get him, or," Mai stated pointedly, making sure Serenity got the message, "intimidated by him, well…I think maybe then he'll start showing more of this side of him that you love so much."

Serenity nodded, agreeing with what Mai was telling her. She felt much calmer now thanks to Mai's kind words.

"But…" Mai continued, "There's still something that I want to say. Serenity, in all relationships, you have the good and the bad. Kaiba is never going to fully turn into this lighter side of himself…I think he has too many past issues to deal with for that…but I do believe that he can change for the better if you help him. That may be hard sometimes Serenity, especially since it's Kaiba we're talking about, but you can do it if you believe, and love, him enough."

"Thanks Mai." Serenity smiled. "I know that Kaiba will always be somewhat cold and aloof with the world…I just don't want him to be that way with me. He started opening himself up to me, just a little maybe, but it was there. Mai," Serenity said softly, "I'll take care of him. I'll love him. The good and the bad."

"Good." Mai commented, "Because with Kaiba, I think that is the best you can hope for." Mai smirked, then looked back at Serenity in alarm. "Uh, what I mean is, don't get discouraged by what I say! What do I know anyway?" Mai rolled her eyes and then smiled at Serenity. "I'm dating your brother. I think that speaks for itself."

Serenity giggled and then agreed. "Yeah, I think so." It made her smile that, although Mai teased Joey mercilessly, she really did care for him. "I'm glad that you are, though, Mai."

Mai smiled and then released Serenity's hand, leaning back into her own chair again. "Yeah…" she confessed, "Me too."

The two women were interrupted for a brief moment while the waitress came and brought them their check. After she left, Serenity resumed talking to Mai. "So…" she said, "Now that I've made up my mind to not leave Kaiba alone, what should I do? I mean…" Serenity finished nervously, "I don't want to seem like some crazy stalker or anything!"

"Yeah…" Mai agreed, taking out her wallet to pay for the bill. "That would definintly hinder our plan…" After placing the amount owed into the check cover and closing it, she continued, "Well, I guess the best and most logical thing to do would to be to go and see him."

"You mean…face to face?" Serenity asked.

Mai smiled. "Well what else did you have in mind, hon? Of course go and see him face to face! That, I believe, will be the only thing to make you look non-stalkery." Mai thought for a moment. "Hmmm, I don't think that's a word, but oh well. You know what I mean. You can't just hide out in the bushes and wait for him to walk by you know."

Serenity giggled at the image that conjured. "Yeah, I know. But I'm so…nervous! I mean, I wonder what he'll say when he sees that it's me again…" Serenity's face took on a solemn look. "He probably won't be too thrilled."

"Oh, you never know." Mai told her, while the waitress picked up their tab and left to bring Mai back change, "Kaiba's probably been worried sick about why you haven't been around him lately!"

"You think so?" Serenity asked, doubtful.

"Well…maybe not worried sick…" Mai admitted honestly, "but I bet he's missed seeing your little face around. Trust me on that one. What guy wouldn't? I mean there's obviously Tristan…and Duke…"

"Oh Mai, stop!" Serenity laughed, "Not any of them! They're nice but…but…they won't leave me alone! Duke has been bugging me about some dance coming up and I try to avoid Tristan whenever I see him…"

Mai laughed. "Yeah, well I can see why. The boy just doesn't have what it takes to make your knees quiver. Not like Kaiba…" she added mischievously, watching amused as Serenity's cheeks started to flame up again.

"Hey!" Serenity said, "Don't tease me! He does not make my knees quiver…"

"Sure…" Mai replied. Just then the waitress brought back her change and thanked them for coming to the café. Mai nodded and then stuffed her change back in her purse, after leaving a generous tip for the lady.

"So…" Mai said, picking her car keys out of her purse and swinging them around her index finger, "What do you say we stop by KaibaCorp real fast before I head out on my date with Joey?" She gave Serenity a coy look. "What do you say?"

Serenity took a deep breath and then nodded. "Ok. I think I'm ready."

"Good!" Mai exclaimed, standing up. Serenity followed suit. "Now that is what I wanna hear! Go and get your man!"

"Mai…" Serenity whispered, embarrassed at the woman's loud outburst. She quickly glanced around and noticed that several heads in the café had turned their way. "Let's go…"

Ushering the blond woman out the door, Serenity couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and friendship. 'Yeah…' she thought to herself, 'I'm glad that I told Mai…'

Opening the car door and then plopping herself down on the seat, Serenity turned to Mai. "Mai…I don't know how to thank you enough for everything…thank you for listening to me…"

Mai smiled at Serenity and then pushed her key into the ignition. "No problem, Kiddo." With that said, she pushed her foot down on the accelerator and they quickly were on their way to KaibaCorp.

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Trying to do his paperwork for what seemed like hours now; Kaiba finally sighed to himself and put the sheets down. He turned towards his computer, hoping to get a start on some charts for KaibaCorps' growth spurt, but quickly found that he couldn't focus on that either. Glancing at the computers clock, he noted that it had been only about an hour since Mokuba had left him.

"That kid…" Kaiba muttered to himself, thinking about Mokuba and the conversation that they had had...

That was it. He couldn't get the conversation out of his head. He couldn't get her out of his head. "Serenity…"

What was he going to do about her? He had to do something he felt, if only to ease his guilt about yelling at her to get lost. 'Yeah…' he thought, 'it's only guilt. It's probably because of that stupid kiss. I should just apologize and get it over with. Apologize…' Kaiba was stunned at his own thoughts. That would make twice that he would have apologized to this girl…something that the great Seto Kaiba never did.

Eventually shaking his thoughts away, Kaiba stood up and reached towards where he had laid his briefcase. 'I'll just go the mutt's house and demand to see her…what can he say anyway? Then I'll…I'll…" Kaiba stopped putting his papers in his briefcase and simply stood still, thinking. 'I'll what?' For once in his life, Kaiba didn't know his next move. He didn't have a plan. It was an unpleasant feeling…

Frowning at this new development, he resumed quickly stuffing his work back into his briefcase.

'I'll just take care of this and then I'll never have to deal with it again. It will be through. And that Mutt better not get in my way…' he thought darkly, walking towards the door of his office so he could exit, 'or he'll live to regret it…'

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Alright everybody! That will be the end of chapter 17! I hope that that first scene between Mai and Serenity wasn't too long or boring…it does take up most of this chapter. But to make up for it I left a bit of a cliffhanger! Will Serenity reach KaibaCorp in time or will she miss Kaiba as he heads for her house…and her brother! haha, I feel like I'm doing a commercial or something! Well anyway, I hope that you enjoyed the reading AND the faster update! PLEASE REVIEW and let me know what you thought of it!


P.S. For this chapter I'm giving you all a weird present! It's a bottle of aspirin, specifically, the one that Kaiba used last chapter! Just think of it as a memento of him, I guess…yeah, I'm weird! Plus, I had a headache earlier this morning. Almost couldn't go to class, darn!

Until next time, bye bye my lovely readers!