Please read and review. I would especially like to know what you thought of the story – and how you think it fits with "I Guess it was in the Cards."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is Re-Uploaded, with minor corrections and revisions. It was formerly titled, "Jou's POV." Thanks to Kagemihari for the new title, and for her support.
This is a side-fic to "I Guess it was in the Cards," which is a Yami x Seto story. "Simply Complicated: A View from the Side," came about because people said that they wanted to hear more about Jou's take on Yami and Seto's relationship. And I wanted to try my hand at writing a Jou narrative. So here we are….JOU'S NARRATIVE
"Damn, Yugi. You should never have let him out of his puzzle, if the first thing he was going to do was shack up with Seto Kaiba."
I shouldn't have said it. I meant it all right – but that gave them a chance to laugh; gave them a chance to ignore what I was saying; to chalk it up to just my being Jou.
Not that it mattered. Yami had decided, for whatever reason, that he wanted to bring Kaiba to the Game Shop. That was enough for Yugi, and Anzu would support whatever Yugi wanted. And Honda was useless.
Which only left me and Sugoroku – but he was nodding and smiling.
We were like a weird conga line. I was Honda's best friend, Yugi was mine, and Yami was Yugi's. And I was afraid having Kaiba around would break the chain.
But I should have known something was up when Yami didn't come back home where he belonged, even after Kaiba recovered. That sick bastard is the only person I know who would provoke someone into breaking his rib because he had promised his little brother that he wouldn't hurt himself. I should have hit him harder.
What pissed me off even more was that I had thought it was pretty funny when Yugi had told Yami to stay and help out. I pictured Kaiba being reminded every time he looked at Yami of all those duels he had lost. I figured that would hurt worse than the rib. But trust Kaiba to land on his feet – or his back. It was probably all the same to him.
And I should have known something was up with Kaiba when I saw how he reacted to Mai – or rather how he didn't react. He had clearly never thought of her as anything other than a barely competent duelist – just one more person not good enough to give him a challenge. Now I love the game as much as the next guy, but cards were the last thing on my mind whenever I looked at Mai. (Untying that top was the first.)
I had been worried before they met. I mean, Kaiba had all the money and style that Mai usually went for in a guy. But when she swiveled past him, hips working, I could see – the ice water in his veins didn't melt a drop.
With most guys I would have figured – gay or stone cold dead. It's just that with Kaiba, stone cold dead seemed the better bet.
I admit, the thought of Kaiba being bent over was pretty funny. I longed to laugh in his face, and ask him how life was on the bottom. But one look at Yami convinced me that if Kaiba left any pieces after he was done tearing me limb from limb, Yami would happily finish the job.
Which bugged the hell out of me. I knew that look in Yami's eye. But I had only seen it directed at Yugi before. I could get the sex thing. If Yami had a thing for ice-cold, blue-eyed killers – and guys at that – it was his business. Fucking Kaiba was one thing. But why was Yami acting like he cared? Why the hell was he suddenly being so protective of Seto Kaiba of all people?
The funny thing is – Yugi didn't really need protecting any more than Kaiba did. I mean, I know who saved me at Domino Port – and it wasn't Yami. But that's not the point. You didn't protect Yugi because he needed it. You did it because he was worth protecting. And that's what drove me nuts; what made it so hard to keep my promise. How could Yami, after being part of Yugi for so long, see anything worth protecting in Kaiba?
Couldn't he see the difference?
Yami was a great guy to have at your back in a tight spot – but Yugi was my best friend. He saw the best in everyone. He looked at me, and didn't see a brain-dead loser who was going nowhere. He saw a resourceful, loyal friend. And that's what I felt like around him; what I wanted to be; what I was.
The Egyptians had a saying: 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend.' So what did it mean when my enemy was my friend's lover?
I bet you're surprised that I would know a classy saying like that. Actually I didn't learn it in school. I got it from Malik. When a guy sends you to the Shadow Realm, his words tend to stick in your head.
That was one thing Kaiba and me had in common; one more thing I didn't want to think about. I remembered my stay in the Shadow Realm, of course. It had almost killed me; had almost killed Mai. Kaiba had landed there three times. He'd come back hot for revenge the first time; wild to find Mokuba, the second. What was he after now?
I stayed behind to talk to Sugoroku. I was too pissed off at Honda for not backing me up to walk home with him. And Sugoroku hated Kaiba worse than any of us – and with more reason. Yet, he was going along with Yami's suggestion – was going to welcome Kaiba into his house.
And it wasn't like he was soft. Anyone who thought he was just a sweet, cuddly, old guy had never been taught Duel Monsters by him.
"Okay Gramps – shoot. Why are you letting the freak over the threshold? He tried to kill you – remember?"
"That boy – I want no part of. But is Kaiba still the same boy? The person he's become – that child I might welcome into my house. Yugi says that he's changed. Maybe I want to see for myself."
I wanted to yell that Kaiba hadn't changed; that he couldn't change; that people didn't change. (You know how many times my dad had promised to turn over a new leaf?) But I kept my mouth shut. After all, I had changed – at least I hoped I had. When we had first met, I had been Yugi's bully, not his friend. And I didn't need Sugoroku asking me why I was denying Kaiba the chance at redemption that I wanted for myself.
"Why does everyone keep harping on that?" I said, instead. "Even if he really is different now – does that wipe away everything he's done? Why are you willing to give him another chance?"
"Because he's my grandson's age. Your age."
"Don't fool yourself, Gramps. He may be our age, but Kaiba's no kid. He probably never was."
Sugoroku sighed. "Maybe when you're as old as I am, you'll find that sad. Besides, Yugi and Yami told me about Noa's world – and about his father. And I'm sure more went on than they knew. Kaibas are made, not born."
"Look at his house and his money. You think anything that bad ever happened to him? Even in Noa's World – he was his usual smug self the whole time. The only thing I learned there was that he had designed missiles and bombs. Which wasn't exactly a surprise – or a recommendation.
Sugoroku just smiled and let me drop the subject. Because he knew I was lying. Yeah, I knew if I stopped to think about it, I might find that Kaiba had paid a pretty steep price for his gadgets. I remember Gozaburo… still have nightmares about him… and I didn't even know him. But scary as Gozaburo was, Kaiba hadn't turned a hair. You could see – it was all just another day at the office to him. I knew Kaiba was dead inside – I just didn't want to think about what had gotten him that way. And I didn't want to admit that I recognized the anger in him – or its source.
I like things simple. I had started out bullying Yugi. I would gladly spend the rest of my life making it up to him. He was the best buddy a guy could have. That was simple. Having the hots for Mai; wanting to bang her – well, that was simple too. Actually liking her, caring about what happened to her, what she was thinking or feeling – well that was about as complicated as I wanted my life to get.
Let's face it – complicated feelings are usually a pain in the ass. Being a friend was simple. Loving a dad who sometimes got drunk and beat the crap out of me – that was complicated.
And Kaiba made my head spin. He was a walking complication factory. So, understanding, or worse, sympathizing, with a guy so full of blind rage that he tried to kill my best friend and his grandfather – now that was way over my head. He was a freak who deserved a psychopath father – I wanted to let it go at that.
Frankly, I was surprised that Kaiba had bothered to come to the Game Shop at all. With anyone else, I would have said that they were afraid to say 'no' to Yami. But as much as I hated him, I had to admit that Kaiba was the most insanely brave person I had ever met.
So I didn't have a good explanation for why he silently followed Yami into the shop, as if Darkness needed a shadow. Why he sat there, silently refusing all of Sugoroku's offers of food; staring at the walls, or floor, until we all forgot he was there. Maybe he looked on it as a trade – some kind of kinky business deal – an evening at the Game Shop in exchange for a blow job. With Kaiba, anything was possible. Not that I was worried about Yami. A guy who's 3,000 years old can look after himself.
I had thought the whole separate body thing was a great idea – still did, in spite of Kaiba complications. I was just getting to know my best friend when he ended up sharing his body with a 3,000 year old pharaoh. And I wanted him to have his life back – a normal life, with Anzu as his girlfriend, and me as his best bud.
At first, it had been worse for Yami. How long had it been since he'd been his own person? Did he even remember? And that bothered Yugi – feeling like he'd gotten the better of the deal. He had Anzu and Yami. And he wouldn't have been Yugi, if he hadn't put Yami's needs first. Just like Yami had always done for him.
And that's what stuck in my throat; even if I could force myself to choke down the rest – to swallow the murder attempts; the insults; the way the bastard had to force himself to be polite to Yugi, even after my friend had saved his and Mokuba's lives; the way he looked at the rest of us like we were cockroaches who had wandered into his mansion.
I had seen Yami's face when he had decided to become his own person. He had done it for Yugi. Yami had put Yugi first, last, and always. Until Seto Kaiba had come into the picture.
And that was my latest and best reasons for hating his guts.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I think that, more than the others, Jou sees Yami mostly as an extension of Yugi; as the guy who protects Yugi and comes out when he duels. I also think he has his own reasons for not wanting to acknowledge any similarities in their lives; or that Kaiba's life might have been more difficult. And I think that trying to change his own life might have left him with little energy to understand Kaiba's own efforts at redemption – he might even shy away from admitting that they're on the same journey. Also, I know KaiJou is dear to a lot of hearts, but as this is a side-fic; I decided to leave him firmly lusting after Mai.