I would just like to mention that I don't own anyone or anything in this story (except Gishiro) which is such a shame , I would like to own nearly all anime in the world.

beep-beep, beep-beep.

Welcome to hell, day… she doesn't know how many days it's been since she'd arrived. Brain's too mushed up from last night.

A hiss escaped from her mouth as she slowly regained consciousness. Why would I use consciousness instead of waking up? Well, you would use that word too if the reason you went to 'sleep' in the first place is because your Uncle pounded you until you lost it. He had been really angry, she remembered. Just because she had hung out with her friends yesterday for dinner instead of coming home to him. Yugi's grandpa had made the most wonderful lasagne. A groan escaped her as she slowly sat up. She could feel it through her body. Bruises on her arms and legs only served to remind her of last night events. She slowly opened her eyes and turned off her alarm, even that was hard to do with all the pain. 'Time to do the morning check over.' Was dryly thought as she pulled off her blankets. 'Oh, He actually thought I might catch cold or something, how nice.' A small gasp escaped as she surveyed the damage he had brought upon her person. She would get in trouble for wearing black and blue stockings like these at school that magically stuck to her skin. Hey wait, that WAS her skin (Sorry, very sarcastic here). 'Then again, he was probably hoping to get this reaction from me.' She frowned 'Damn that asshole. I can't believe he did this to me. I just wanted to grab a burger with the guys. At least there isn't blood this time.' But that was the reason he was especially angry. After all, he had reasoned as he back handed her towards her desk, what kind of girl, except a whore, hung around boys she wasn't even dating? They must be desperate. Lord, how she had hated him right then and there. Insulting her was one thing, she was pathetic to let this bull happen to her, but her friends? She didn't regret the words that came out at him then. May not be able to remember them, with all the brain damage he caused, but she didn't regret them. NO ONE insulted Yugi and the gang while she was around, even if she did pay for it. Big time. A short friendship speech ran through her mind as she contemplated on wether she should go to school or not. She decided to go, because she didn't want to be at home with her uncle. She also focused her mind in order to block out the pain. Mind over matter, as Bakura would say.

So why was Tea Gardner living in a hell hole without any responsible, loving parents and instead was stuck with a cruel, unforgiving bastard like her Uncle Gishiro? Good question. The blunt answer is this: Tea's parents died in a car crash. Tea miraculously survived. She was shipped off to her only living relative, her father's cousin on HIS father's side. Which was funny, because Tea always thought that her grandpa was an only child. Not that she'd seen him since she was four, when she visited with her parents, so what would she know? Just trying to remember last night was hard enough.

'Well, time to get up and show this off to the rest of the world.' She smirked, and tried to clear her eyes. Was blurry vision a bad thing, or a really bad thing? Mr. and Mrs. Gardner would not be happy to see this, no matter what that relative that slept across the hall from her told her over and over again. He just wanted her to feel miserable, Tea concluded, while inspecting her face in her full length mirror 'My mother and father loved me. I am sure of it.' But it was getting harder and harder to keep herself from believing it. She found herself constantly repeating his 'sermons' everyday now. 'Damn, he did a number on me.' She frowned at the image that came back at her. A big, black shiner ranged over her right eye and down her cheek. Hesitant, she stroked it lightly. Even the barest stroke caused pain to singe through her 'Ugh, I don't have enough concealer for this'. Tea quickly tore off her dirty uniform and traded it for a new one. "I wish that the teachers gave us the option of wearing pants." She mumbled as she tugged at the skirt. "This is WAY too short. No wonder Uncle Gishiro says that stuff about me. At least they could let me wear stockings or something. Damn male chauvinist pigs." A dirty glare was aimed at her legs, because the skirt did nothing whatsoever to cover all the scars and such. Hey at least the top had long sleeves. It kept Yugi and the others from seeing the burns and cuts that were both inflicted and self-inflicted upon her person. In an attempt to minimize the damage, Tea quickly used all of her knowledge of make-up to make the dis-colouration on her face shrink until it seemed only her eye and a little around it was bruised. 'I wonder what pack of lies I shall deal to the guys today.' She mused darkly. Hastily, she packed her bag with schoolbooks and tiptoed out of her room quiet as a mouse. Uncle Gishiro was not known to be a happy morning person, even by his standards. If she woke him now…

It would mean more pain, more humiliation. Tea crept downstairs slowly, and made her way to the kitchen. The house itself was run-down and falling apart. Paint was peeling off the front, and it seemed like the rats were starting a mini version of the Hilton in the walls. Must be popular, judging by all the noise she heard at night. Gishiro never took care of it, and Tea never bothered to keep most of the house above the 'barely liveable' level of cleanliness. But there were three things she kept as clean as possible. Her room, her bathroom, and the kitchen. Why the kitchen, you ask?. Simple really.

You see, Tea wasn't giving up on her dream on dancing in New York. How would she be able to, after Yugi and Joey went to all that trouble to give her a place to practice? But there was one thing she loved to do almost as much. Baking and such really helped her to focus on other things, and distract her from her pathetic circumstances. Hey, when she couldn't cook to calm herself down, she cut and burned something else. I'll leave that to your imagination.

Quickly whipping up some French toast and a couple of pop-tarts, Tea wolfed them down. As usual, they were great. So she had a bit of talent when it came to cooking and such, but that bum wouldn't recognize that either. Since she didn't want him to ban her from cooking, she pretended that she hated it. A small smile came to her face as she thought up and excuse. "Some one accidentally tripped me up on the way to school. I took a roll down the hill by Yugi's house before he managed to catch up and stop me. The poor guy wouldn't stop apologizing, really." She tried it out. It sounded no better or worse than what she usually say, she supposed. Tea speedily washed her dishes, and fled the house. 'Ah, the sanctuary that I call school.'

Seto Kaiba was having a bad day. A VERY bad day. Well, at least a very bad morning. One of his new employees introduced a virus into the system by, weirdly enough, downloading solitaire off the internet. Between running around that he did, and the frantic calls coming in from his senior technicians, It was a wonder on how the guy managed to fire the idiot who started this whole thing. After that, he had a 'discussion' with someone on the board during the weekly meeting over how the man had gotten over into the system. This, and the fact that Seto had recently found him skiving off money for personal projects forced him to fire this guy as well. Not so much 'forced' I suppose, Seto just didn't like the guy. And well, the list of crap that he had to deal with just piled up. It seemed that every little problem in Kaiba corp had to be dealt with him personally. "I can't figure out how to turn my computer on", "I lost the back up plans for the new amusement park", and Seto's least favourite "Johnny blew up the new prototype for the duel disk". It took all he had to not punch the ignorant doofus right in the schnoz, And it wasn't even seven in the morning. 'Note to self: Coming to work without coffee is not good idea'. Kaiba grimaced. And to think that he had HIGH SCHOOL after this. A whole six or seven hours sitting around the geek patrol was, well, almost unbearable. Seto climbed into his limo. The driver only needed to hear one word "Go." It was not wise to reply back with: "Where?"

Seto frowned as he neared the school. It wasn't that Yugi and the rest were idiots. Except maybe Wheeler. It was just, they talked about those sort of things that he'd already experienced and their level of maturity was way down. They thought that the world was a rosy, bright, beautiful place and everything would fall into place for them. Didn't they realize that they had to work for it? Last week, he had heard Taylor complain about the quiz he had to study for overnight. Well, he had a holiday compared to him. HE had spent the night divided between dealing to Mokuba's sudden fever, drawing up the plans for Shinjuku Kaiba land, going through his bank accounts in order to find out that jackass employee of his, and remembering all he knew on the subject. And he still got a better grade than him. Seto smirked a little as he thought back on that. He felt a bit better now.

Of course, that didn't last long. Just down the street from the high school his chauffer had broken down first literally then emotionally when Seto fired him. He waved off any apologizes and begging. 'Is it just me, or are all of my employees trying to stuff up my day?.' He grimaced as he snatched the keys out of his drivers hands and told him to go home. 'I'll just have to drive myself.' For some reason, seeing a grown man blubber like that after he said so didn't faze him in the slightest. Seto called his mechanic, told him to pick it up, and walked the rest of the way to school. 'My day can't get much worse.' He thought.

Apparently it could. Well, sort of.

Seto found this out as he walked into the hallway on the way to homeroom. First thing that he noticed was a big crowd. People just milled around like they had nothing better to do. 'Did Wheeler try to set off the fire alarm again?.' He was famous for that. Seto knew that Joey had history first and he hated it with a passion. 'Come on, Mutt. Even YOU'D know that they'd know it was you.' As he neared the middle of the commotion, Seto saw that Joey was indeed part of the attraction, but the gang wasn't too far away. Yugi and Bakura's haircuts could be seen for miles, as well as the alfalfa sprout. But none of them were the centre of attention.

Tea Gardner stood in the middle, trying to keep her face down and walk right past Tristan, who wasn't budging. "Come on, Tristan, we need to get to class." She was getting increasingly agitated with the people staring at her legs and face. "Tea, what the hell happened?" He put a hand under her chin, forcing her to lift her face up to meet his gaze. Seto frowned at what he saw. 'It looks like someone has been using her as his own personal punching bag.' Her legs were covered in black marks, and there was a real shiner on the right eye. Tea flinched as Tristan poked a little too hard.

"Ah! Leggo you idiot! It still hurts!" She jerked her head out of his grasp. Yugi was not happy to see this.

"Tea, just tell us who did it, and we'll track them down." Her imagination ran wild on the thought of little Yugi busting into her home with a murderous look on his face. She didn't know whether to be laughing, or terrified for his safety. She decided on terrified.

"NO! I mean…um well, I kind of had an accident." Seto was disgusted to see that their faces started to relax. The crowd dispersed. 'Stupid blind sheltered people. They have no idea.' But at least one of those people was thinking along the same lines.

"What kind of 'accident' was it this time?" To Seto's surprise, Joey Wheeler came out sounding very flat and unconvinced, his eyes were sharp and accusing. Considering the fact that he was usually out of it, Seto had to admit that maybe there was more to the dog. No one else heard the hidden implications but him though. Yugi just carried on hanging on to Gardners every word. Tea sighed dramatically. "I totally wasn't watching where I was going." She began ashamedly. "And this cute guy tripped me up by accident. I must have gone rolling down that hill so fast that he couldn't stop me until he somehow jumped in front." She laughed slightly, eyes dancing with fake merriment. Of course, only Joey really noticed. "The poor guy wouldn't stop apologizing. I had to let him promise to buy me an ice-cream after school, so I won't be able to hang out at the arcade." She held her hands up in a 'what can you do' gesture. "Sorry, guys. I haven't got a bully for you to beat up."

"Well, I'm glad to hear that." Yugi said cheerfully. "Too bad you can't come to the arcade. Joey was going to beat me at that fighting game." Joey didn't appear to hear him, he was counting on his fingers for some reason. Tristan clapped him on the back. "No dude." He chuckled "We've got history first, not maths." He looked up at the clock over head. "Speaking of which, we've got ten minutes until homeroom starts."

"Let's go!." Yugi jumped around like one of Jack's magic beans. He bounded towards the classroom. Alfalfa and Bakura quickly followed. 'Well, you would have thought that Yugi's other half would have noticed at least . But I suppose anyone who thinks that he is a pharaoh in Egypt is especially delusional.' Seto thought as he watched Tea and the mutt about to follow. 'Anyone with common sense would realise that there would be scrapes and such.' he snorted. But then Joey Wheeler surprised him again. His eyes darted around for witnesses, and seeing none, his hand shot out. Joey quickly yanked Tea to the side of the hallway. 'Well, I guess that mutt suspects something after all.' Seto decided to hang around and wait to see what would happen next.

Tea smiled to herself, and imagined a pat on her back. She had pulled it off. It was a good thing that Yugi and the rest weren't more suspicious like Kaiba. Yugi, Tristan and Bakura walked away, eager to get to homeroom before Mr. Leonard could give them detention. He was okay, and also a good maths teacher, but really strict. 'Just the way they should be.' She thought to herself as she hitched up her bag, and made to follow.

But before she could get in two steps, a hand landed on her left arm, right over a recent cut, and pulled her back. She let out an involuntary grunt, and the hand immediately let go in apology.

"Sorry, Tea. I didn't know that you hurt your wrist too." Joey folded his arms and quickly glanced around. Seto Kaiba caught his attention. Joey gave an involuntary glare. What the hell was he doing here?. Kaiba returned his glare with a small smirk, leaned against a wall, and waved him on. Needless to say, Joey was surprised. Did Kaiba suspect what he did? He turned back to Tea, thinking up the best way to say this.

"Well, Joey. Did you think that my arms were waiting up at the top of the hill until I'd finished rolling down it?." Tea dryly giggled as she imagined the picture. It would be just like Joey to think so. He was a great friend, but oi. There was a real reason he hated school. Joey cocked his head to the side pretending to imagine it, but really wondering what to say next. Seto could have slapped a hand to his head. He was going to blow it.

"Well, I wonder sometimes Tea. This happened on the way to school right?" Tea nodded. "And I know that you're not the type to stack loads of make-up in your bag. You would rather put some on at home before leaving. And not take any at all" Where the heck had that come from? Seto thought. Tea nodded again. "So I figured that if you went rolling down a hill or something, your make-up would be scraped off, leaving you with the bruise or cut ."

"And just WHAT is your point Joey?." Tea folded her arms, getting annoyed. Seto echoed her mentally.

"How could you use your make-up to cover your bruise and make it seem smaller if you've left it at home? And don't tell me you decided to buy some on the way here. You always have a set amount of money in your wallet so that you don't spend more than you have to."

Well, If Seto had any less control of himself, his mouth would be hitting the floor. He quickly took a glance at Tea's face. The bruise, now that he thought of it, was too perfect and round. Wheeler was more perceptive than he gave him credit for. The world must be ending. Tea stumbled back, looking for a way to escape. 'Oh crap. The one time Joey decides to be perceptive, and it's the one thing I don't want anyone to notice.' He was right on the mark too. After all the expenses she racked up doing the food shopping and paying bills, she hardly had any left for herself, so preferred to only buy things she needed.

"What's going on Tea? I wonder about all the accidents you have lately." He looked almost smart. Very scary.

"What do you mean, I've always been klutzy!" 'I CANNOT believe that I just 'admitted' that!'.

"I'm just thinking that in the two or so years I've known you, not one of those 'accidents' have been dance-related or kitchen-related."

"So what? I'm more focused when I do that kind of stuff. Only a fool wouldn't be." The thought of herself failing an arabesque and falling out of a window or something really pissed Tea off. She had studied dancing since she was THREE, and cooking came naturally to her. But now, Tea could see her mistake. 'I should have used a more likely story on the guys this morning.' She groaned mentally. It was turning out to be a very bad day indeed. And to top it off, she wasn't feeling to good. Joey was looking more and more blurry by the second. She leaned against the lockers for support. Joey decided to wrap this up, she looked terrible.

"Tea, I'm going to say this, and I hope you'll listen. I don't know what or who is giving you trouble, but I know what could happen if you don't tell someone." She looked up at him, emotions flitting across her face. The three dominant ones were: interest, indignation and an indescribable one that left you feeling concerned. Seto could guess what the first two were for, but the last one had him…uneasy. Judging by Wheeler's eyebrow, which had gone way up, he felt something similar. He moved in closer, leaning against the lockers himself to her right, in plain sight, but neither noticed.

"You may think that asking for help is weak, but it's not. You also may think that you're 'protecting' us from a cold, hard reality, but you're only delaying the inevitable. Yugi and the others will find out about that reality another way, and you might like that way even less." He smiled sadly.

It was getting harder to focus on where she was. Tea closed her eyes a little and sighed. It felt as if she was slipping, slowly but surely. Oh boy, this was not going to go well at all. She tiredly opened her eyes again. Joey looked surprised at the unfocused gaze she held.

"Well, I don't know if what you're saying really applies to me, but…" Her knees buckled, and Tea's body kind of slithered down the wall. Joey's eyes widened in shock. "Shit!" He quickly got down on one knee and felt for a pulse. Pleased at finding one, he moved to lift her. As he heaved himself up, Joey met ice-blue eyes. Kaiba didn't say anything, just opened a door that led towards the nurses office.

Now tell me, is that better than what I had before? REVIEW!!!!