Disclaimer: Yugioh is the property of Kazuki Takahashi. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Warnings: shonen-ai/slash, male/male relationship; some sexual themes; Jounouchi/Kaiba

Preliminary notes: None, except that this story has no redeeming social value.

Subtle Signs

"Jounouchi, what are you doing??"

Jounouchi Katsuya was only dimly aware of the voice which penetrated the serene darkness of his slumber and pulled him awake. As groggy as he was -- and as unwilling as he was to wake further -- he couldn't place the juvenile voice which was questioning him, although he was certain he knew its owner. Not bothering to stifle a yawn, he muttered under his breath as his name was repeated emphatically, a small but forceful nudge on his shoulder punctuating the demanding tone.

"Jounouchi! Wake up!"

Now more awake than asleep, he slit open one eye only to find that something heavy and slick was draped over his face, blocking out all but a thin line of light. Momentarily panicked by the irrational sensation of being smothered in his sleep, Jounouchi sprang up, his arms and legs flailing as he pulled himself into a sitting position.

"Hey, watch it! You almost hit me!"

Jounouchi's brown eyes were slowly adjusting to the sudden flood of bright sunlight which his panicked action had brought into his face. He blinked as his eyes came into focus and a frowning young face framed by riotous black hair appeared in his line of vision.

"Mokuba?" He couldn't stop the yawn which lengthened the last syllable in the boy's name.

Kaiba Mokuba rolled his eyes. "What are you doing asleep on a park bench in the middle of the day? Somebody might think you were a hobo or something."

Jounouchi yawned again, running a hand through his messy hair. "I was catching up on some rest," he grumbled. Now that he was fully awake, the details were becoming sharper in his mind and his confusion at why Mokuba was able to wake him at all began to dissipate. He remembered -- it was Saturday and he'd come to the park with Yuugi and Anzu. When they'd decided to do the frolicking-lovers-shtick, he'd found himself a nice comfy wooden bench and had decided to make full use of the lack of attention which was paid the best-friend-slash-third-wheel in these kind of situations, which was why he'd been snoozing quite peacefully before the pint-size Kaiba had so rudely interrupted him.

"Got ditched by Yuugi and Anzu so they could get all lovey-dovey."

Mokuba made the sour face which all boys his age made at the mention of romance. "Eww. No wonder you went to sleep," he said sympathetically. Then, he eyed the ground warily. "Just don't tell you were reading that, though."

Jounouchi followed Mokuba's gaze to a glossy-covered magazine tossed absently on the ground near his feet. "Why would you think I was reading that thing?"

Mokuba retrieved it, holding it out gingerly for Jounouchi to take. He acted as if it made him ill to look at it. "Because you had it over your face."

"Oh," he replied, taking the magazine and glancing down at its cover. It was one of those teenaged girl fashion magazines, filled with nothing but make-up tips and mindless babble about tricking guys into spending money on them. "Naw, it's Anzu's. She picked it up on the way over here and asked me to hold it for her while she -- well, ya know." He made a lazy gesture. "I was usin' it to keep the light outta my eyes."

"Right," Mokuba nodded, plopping down next to where Jounouchi was sprawled on the park bench. "Don't mind if I sit, right?"

"Knock yourself out, kid. I'm going back to sleep," he answered, tipping his head to rest against the curved back of the bench. "I'm still a few hours short."

"Hmph. People don't come to the park on a great day like this and sleep, Jounouchi," the boy protested, watching in disapproval as Jounouchi's eyes slid closed and his body relaxed.

"That's what you say," he mumbled, already slipping back into slumber until ---

"If Yuugi must to bring his mutt to the park with him and Mazaki, the least he could do is tie him up."

Until a smooth and utterly distasteful voice sliced through his comfortable mood, pushing all thoughts of a lazy nap out of his mind. He came up sputtering as if someone had poured a glass of ice water over his head. "Better get your pasty ass under a tree," Jounouchi growled as he opened his eyes to find Mokuba's older brother glaring down at him with that I'm-so-damn-superior smirk on his face. "Or its gonna be fried. I know I'd hate to see that delicate lily-white hide of yours lookin' like a lobster from a sunburn. You're already goin' pink in the face."

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at the sarcasm in the syrupy words. "Or maybe Yuugi ought to simply invest in a muzzle. It'd be far more effective."

"Why don't you just shut the fuc---"

"Hey! Jounouchi!" Mokuba interrupted whatever colorful expletive the blond might have had planned. He cast an uneasy glance over at his brother. "Why don't you two just try and play nice for a few minutes, okay?"

Before Jounouchi could properly respond to that ridiculous request, Kaiba did. "There's no reason for me to do anything with him for a few minutes, Mokuba. We're leaving."

"Nope," Mokuba shook his head, jumping to his feet. "Not until I get me some ice cream."

"But you have ice cream at home. Gallons of it."

Mokuba sighed and looked at his brother as if he were the most pitiful creature in the world. "It's just not the same as when you buy it at the park in a cone. How can you not know that?" Although the condenscending note of pity in his voice was exaggerated for comic effect, Jounouchi thought he could detect the faintest hint of real sympathy in Mokuba's statement.

He had little time to wonder, however, because Mokuba was collecting a handful of currency with a smugly triumphant look on his face. Kaiba simply looked resigned. "Get your ice cream quickly," he ordered. "Then we can leave."

"Sure thing, whatever you say, niisama," Mokuba chimed, a deceptive picture of innocence. "Now you just wait here and I'll be right back okay? And play nice!" With that last teasingly delivered line, Mokuba raced off in the direction of the ice cream vender.

Jounouchi sighed and glared up at his unwilling companion. "Might as well sit down and stop lordin' over me," he grudgingly offered as he grabbed Anzu's magazine and twisted until his legs were no longer thrown over the seat.

"Hmph." Kaiba answered, saying everything with nothing but a noise and a baleful expression. He ignored Jounouchi's offer and continued to stand, arms crossed tightly over his lean frame.

Jounouchi -- not at all bothered -- rolled his eyes at Kaiba's childish defiance. He wondered why he was the only one who ever noticed that Kaiba could act as much like a five-year-old as he could. But no one ever called Kaiba infantile the way Anzu and Honda called him, a double standard which irritated him greatly.

Determined to pointedly ignore the young man who was pointedly ignoring him, Jounouchi snapped open Anzu's magazine and began to flip through the pages. He glossed over the scantily-clad American models and half-heartedly noted the titles of the articles, although he couldn't understand some of the English used in them.

"Why does Anzu have to read these imported ones?" he muttered to himself as he gave up on trying to decipher a brightly-colored English word. He turned the page and skimmed the columns with feigned interest. Half-way down the page, he noticed one little paragraph was about body language and how to give someone subtle signals.

Crossing one's arms and being unnaturally stiff are two very good examples of "closed" language. These practically scream LEAVE ME ALONE!

Jounouchi glanced over at the tensed and stiff posture Kaiba held and nodded sagely at the page he'd been reading. Apparently, Dr. Mayim Goldstein had met Kaiba when she was doing her research because she'd described him perfectly.

He turned the page a few more times, not sparing a glance at the thick section on the newest summer trends in fashion. The artsy photographs of models were bypassed in favor of the written articles which followed -- at least if he were staring at words, he could pretend to be absorbed in them and that he actually wasn't silently seething about the injustice of the fact that his Saturday and his sleep was ruined by Kaiba and his stupid insults about dogs and leashes and muzzles.

Jounouchi grew only marginally interested when he noticed that the next article also featured some commentary by Dr. Goldstein. It was called Subtle Signs of Attraction.

Jounouchi looked up and noticed that Kaiba was still staring off into the distance, the upturn of his chin a clear indication that he was still trying to ignore him. Obviously, it was the only way the two of them could actually play nice, as Mokuba had so teasingly expressed it. He rolled his eyes again before returning to the article.

If a sexy stranger makes eye-contact with you, the article began, that's a sure sign that he's interested -- but there are other, more subtle signs says Dr. Mayim Goldstein, professor of psychology at the University of California. And, the more subtle the signs he gives, the more likely he's interested. These signs are:

While some part of Jounouchi was slightly aghast that he was so engrossed in the cheesy American magazine article, another part of him was just very, very curious. So, he read on.

1. His pupils are dilated. This is a physiological indication of a man's heightened interest. He--

"Don't tell me that the mutt reads?"

Obviously, Kaiba had grown tired to staring off into space and whatever truce had existed was over. Jounouchi growled low in his throat and glowered at him with little disguised dislike. Of course, his reaction only caused the smirk on Kaiba's face to expand into a tiny satisfied grin. "Of course, he would read trash."

"Why you --!" Jounouchi was about to jump up and throttle Kaiba, despite Mokuba's wish that he'd "play nice," when Kaiba arched an eyebrow at him in amusement. That action, however, called Jounouchi's attention to something peculiar about the businessman's very-blue eyes.

They were dilated.

If they'd been inside or in a darker atmosphere, Jounouchi might have paid little attention to this little tidbit, even if he had read the note in the article about dilated eyes. But they were outside, in very bright daylight…

"Forget what you were saying? I guess this proves you really can't hold a thought in your head," Kaiba sneered. Jounouchi could only look at him blankly for a moment before a curious expression swept over his face. It was a mixture of puzzlement, interest and a pinch of the detached look which a scientist might have given his lab rat. Kaiba noticed the change in expression and looked mildly wary for a moment.

Without answering any of Kaiba's taunts, Jounouchi quickly scanned the next few lines of the article.

2. His muscles are tense.

That was certainly true of Kaiba, Jounouchi nodded to himself, raking a critical eye from Kaiba's dark hair to the toe of his boot. Of course, Kaiba always struck him as tense. But, then again...

"What are you reading?"

Kaiba had noticed the glimmer of devilishness in Jounouchi's eyes only a moment before he was so blatantly ogled -- a scenario which made him unreasonably uncomfortable. While he was accustomed to being gawked at by strangers, there was something unnerving in the way Jounouchi looked him over, something much more personal than any passing glance from a star-struck teenager or Duel Monsters enthusiast. Despite himself, Kaiba shifted his weight from one foot to another, a gesture which went unnoticed since Jounouchi was reading again.

3. His cheeks are slightly red. Blood flow is very closely tied to physical attraction, Dr. Goldstein explains, especially in males. Many...

Now, hadn't he already noticed that Kaiba was red in the face? Of course, he'd thought it was because his pasty office-geek ass never was exposed to the sun, but...blood flow.

It made sense to Jounouchi.

He narrowed his eyes suspiciously as he raised them from the magazine clutched in his hand. Kaiba was staring at him as if he'd suddenly grown another head.

Suddenly it was as if someone had flipped a switch because the probing suspicious look on Jounouchi's face evaporated, instantly replaced by a knowing feral grin. Kaiba was still glaring and still as confused as he'd been a few moments earlier. He was not at all certain of how to react to the strange turn of events: Jounouchi refusing to take the bait of his insults and, instead, staring at him in an unusually direct and flinty manner. Something wasn't right about the whole situation.

Inside of Jounouchi's head, alarm bells were jangling.

Number one? Check. Number Two? Yup. Number Three? Oh, yeah. Numbers Four, Five, Six and Seven? Yes, uh-huh, yes and yes.

One very coherent thought floated to the surface of Jounouchi's mind, rising above the bells and whistles --

I think Kaiba has the hots for me.

As soon as he processed that one thought, another one followed.

Well, I am a one sexy beast.

In situations such as these, there was only one appropriate action for Jounouchi to take: he burst into laughter so forceful that it bordered one psychotic cackling.

For his part, Kaiba was not only thoroughly confused, but he was also growing concerned. He knew that the mutt was an idiot, but now he felt that serious inquiries into Jounouchi's mental health would not be remiss. It was obvious -- to his eyes, at least -- that there was something deeply wrong with him, given his current uncharacteristic behavior.

But before Kaiba could call the asylum in which Kaiba Corporation held considerable stock -- after all, he had to send his suicidal employees somewhere when he was finished with them -- Mokuba appeared with three large cones filled with scoops of green tea ice cream. When Jounouchi noticed the younger Kaiba, he stopped his stream of laughter, clamping it into a few light chuckles as he asked, "Plannin' on eatin' enough ice cream, kid?"

"One's for niisama," he explained, gallantly handing one of the cones to Kaiba who took it with a nod of thanks. "And this one for you is for you, Jounouchi."

"Hey, thanks, Mokuba," he told him honestly as he accepted the ice cream. He slurped greedily at it, his mood very jovial. "It sure hits the spot."

The boy nodded. "As long as they don't melt all over you first," he added. Then, he looked from one teenager to the other. "So, did you play nice while I was gone?"

"As nice as can be," Jounouchi assured him, again on the verge of laughter. "In fact, your brother was downright affectionate."

"Really?" Mokuba joined in the laughter, having interrupted Jounouchi's comment as a joke on his brother's unfriendliness. "It wasn't so hard, was it? Eh, niisama?"

Kaiba grunted and lowered his eyes in exasperation. If there was anything which Kaiba disliked, it was confusion. And Jounouchi had done nothing but confuse him all afternoon. "You've got your ice cream. Now, let's go, Mokuba."

With a wave goodbye which his brother did not mimic, Mokuba followed after Kaiba, leaving Jounouchi alone with his ice cream and Anzu's magazine. It only took a few seconds for him to start laughing again, so hard that his sides began to ache.

It was so true -- Kaiba did have the hots for him. It was also so damned weird that it was funny.

And now Jounouchi felt a little less concerned by those strangely erotic dreams he'd had about himself, Kaiba, a dog suit and the phrase "bow down to your master, mutt."

He settled again against the bench, tea-flavored ice cream melting down his hand as it dripped from the cone. However, he paid no attention to the mess as he flipped through the article once more.

For once, Jounouchi was looking forward to a school day.

Because there was one more article left for him to read ---

How to drive a man wild: flirtatious tips for catching -- and holding -- his attention.

Oh, yeah. He was going to have a-whole-lotta much fun come Monday.

Perhaps if Jounouchi had paid a little more attention, he might have noticed that Kaiba wasn't the only one who exhibited several signs of subtle -- not so subtle -- attraction.

Somewhere, Mokuba was grinning in his own secret knowledge that teenagers, even ones as smart as his brother or as street-wise as Jounouchi, were really idiots.

It was no wonder that they had to read magazines to figure out what he could see with his own two eyes.

Play nice, indeed.

The End.

Author's notes: This story has no redeeming social value; it was just an idea which struck me when I was cleaning out some old papers of mine. One of the papers was an old note a friend had written me in high school where she'd hand-copied over an article almost identical to the one written by "Dr. Goldstein" in this story. In fact, the good doctor's name is a nod to my friend, Mayim. But the signs are the ones from the actual article, which I think was from an issue of Fitness from about 1996. The magazine of Anzu's which I figure Jounouchi to be reading is the Japanese edition of ELLE, which was a huge distribution rate in Japan among older teens and women in their 20s. Plus, I think Anzu to be very interested in America because she wants to study dance in New York.

Too smart!Mokuba. I love that kid. XD

As always, feel free to review because it will make me happy.

(02/08/2003 -- Revised agained, thanks to Tuulikki's helpful review!)