Summary: Valentine's Day. Love is in the air... and what kind of big brother would Joey be if he didn't keep an eye on his sweet, innocent sister? Of course, he'll need help. Seto/Joey... eventually. Follow-up to "To Seto, From Joey". Post Dungeon Dice Monsters AU in which Serenity recovered her eyesight earlier than expected.

Author's notes: Yes, I've finally finished another chapter. The end is in sight! I'm taking forever, I know. All I can say is... um... sorry?

I got a job. Yay! Being a cashier is much better than I thought it would be :) It's the main reason why I'm in a good enough mood to start writing again.

Chibi Kai Lover: It won't be sad for long. Well, maybe sad in a "this fic's gone off the deep end" kind of way.

ChibiSmiles: Greetings, fellow Canadian! Erm, I think I've left everybody hanging about three times longer than before. Whoops.

darkmus: I love that pic :)

Dogmatrix: Nope, begging won't help. My desire to write something comes and goes, and there's no telling when it happens...

EvilCriticOfDoom: Yes, they're very spazzy in this fic. I'm just playing around with them here. If their reactions vaguely resemble those of normal people, then it's probably coincidental.

innominate: Doughnut logic is yours if you want it. I think I just made it up, but maybe I heard it somewhere and just forgot. It happens :P And all I know about Chaos Theory is that bit from Jurassic Park (cough). I tried for a library job once. Haven't heard from them since, but that's A-OK because I'm a cashier now. Yippee!

Kage Miko: Hm, there might be some in this chapter ;)

Kioee Manioso: According to Joey: 1) Well, eh, heh heh heh, maybe he thought that I wouldn't go in there? I dunno. Kaiba's weird like that. How should I know if he's crazy enough to run into the womens' washroom? Better to check, right? 2) Yeah, I went in. Ran out pretty quick, though. Whoever said girls can't throw never got nailed by five of 'em.

Madyamisam: I've never been hailed before. Thanks :)

radiany: Yeah, I just needed to break their truce and get Joey into the car. That seemed the fastest way :P

Tuulikki: Thanks! And... squirrels?

Yami Jazz: Mmmm, cookies! (proceeds to stuff face)

Yugi-Redwall-fan: It seems that wisdom teeth removal is worse for some people than for others. Have lots of Tylenol and liquidy food on hand or else you'll get hungry and snarly because you can't eat.

Warnings: Occasional language. Occasional shounen-ai. SHOUNEN-AI ALERT! SHOUNEN-AI ALERT!

Disclaimers: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. And remember, kids, drive safely. No car upholstery was harmed in the making of this fic.

Operation: Valentine

Chapter Nine: The Truth Comes Out, Sort Of

There's your awkward silences, and there's your really awkward silences, and then there's Kaiba and me. Kaiba and me, speeding off into the night to who knows where 'cause he's the one driving and I'm not about to ask him.

It's pretty late and the streets are too quiet. Yeah, we lost the reporters after about an hour of Kaiba's crazed driving. I guess they gave up when they figured out that the man's fucking insane. Speed limits? Stop signs? Pedestrians? Screw 'em all, he's the great Seto Kaiba and you'd better get outta his way or else! Maybe that's what owning the whole damn city does to you. I said it once and I'll say it again: Seto Kaiba should not be allowed to drive.

Now it's too quiet. No cars. No people. Just us, not saying anything. Thing is, we don't do awkward silences, we've never done the awkward silence thing, ever. He'd spit something snobby at me, I'd snarl something snappy and a billion times wittier back at him, and then we'd keep at it until something broke us up. We can't go five minutes without pissing each other off. That's what we do. Kaiba goes outta his way to mouth off at me, and I can't just stand there and take it, so I have to say something back, right? So, yeah, maybe things would be easier if we both just shut the hell up, but... well, he can't and I can't. Don't know why. We just don't do silence. What we have is... is anti-silence.

Maybe I'm crazy, but that's the way I like it.


No answer.


Still no answer.


"WHAT?!" he snarls at me.

"We need to," I wince, "talk." Damn, I sound like a girl.

He stops the car. "No need. We're back at your apartment." I finally notice where we are, and, yeah, he's right. He pops open the trunk. "Remove your belongings and go home, since I'm quite sure that's what you'd prefer to do. I trust you don't need me to walk you to the door."


"Just... just get out, Wheeler. Forget the whole miserable, pointless evening and leave me alone." He gives me a weak glare until I open the car door and walk around to the trunk to get my stuff. I don't want to leave it like this, but he doesn't wanna talk, hell, I don't really wanna talk, either. We just... need to. Having him this kind of mad at me is just wrong. We get mad at each other all the time but this... It twists something deep inside. It makes me want to choke.

I open up my bag to check if everything's there, but it's too dark to really see. I end up sticking my hand in to feel around, taking my time, wracking my brains.

Hmmm. Something bendy... that'd be the rope. Maybe I could tie Kaiba down and make him talk? Pfft, yeah, right. Okay, what else? Hard with glass on both ends... binoculars? Some more bendy things... dunno. Smooth square-y balloon thing... I squeeze it and hear a crunch. Well, more like lotsa little crunches. I guess I found the chips.

That gives me an idea. Not a great idea, maybe, but still...

I run back to the passenger side and hop in before Kaiba can lock the door on me.

Kaiba's Not Happy to see me. I hear his knuckles crack from clenching his fists too hard. "What do you think you're-"

Fuck fuck stupid bag can't open- I finally tear a big hole in the bag of potato chips with my teeth, sending chips flying, and shove it in Kaiba's direction, hoping I can hold him off with the power of the Mighty Spud. It worked once, a long, long time ago, so maybe it'll work again. I just gotta believe.

He just stares at me, so I shake the bag a little. Bad idea, since crumbly chips spill out the sides and onto the floor of Kaiba's fancy schmancy car. He doesn't notice. "Have some?" An offering to the angry god of Kaiba Corp. It's either this or a human sacrifice made up of me roastin' over an open fire. I eat a chip just to show him they're not poisoned or anything. "I bought 'em and all, so it's a shame not to eat 'em, right?"

He stares at me.

God damn it, Kaiba, work with me here. "What, my chips not good enough for ya? Don't like barbeque? What?"

He stares at me, then at the bag, then back at me. I can almost see the gears spinning in his head as he measures this and that and whatever the hell else he's thinking about in that overblown brain of his. The problem with Kaiba, well, one of the problems with Kaiba, is that he makes things way more complicated than they have to be. Chip or no chip. Come on, how hard is that?

He stares at me, I stare at him. And he takes one.


So here we are, sitting in his car, munching on potato chips. Something tells me that the second the food's gone, I'm gone. He's taking his time eating them, though, and so am I, so maybe…

"Hey, Kaiba?"

"Hn." Oh well, better than nothing. And least he made some noise.

"Sorry about the, uh, gay thing."

"I'll deal with it."

I stare at him. "You'll deal with it. Just like that."


Okay. If I know my Kaiba glares, that one means "You're stupid", though most of 'em say that, so it's not like I narrowed it down any. Still, it's pretty clear that, surprise surprise, the gay thing's not what's pissing him off. So he's boiling over in that icy way of his, though not as bad as before, and I don't know why.

"And, um, about that movie..."

"Hn." That's not it, either.

Okay. Time to do some fishing. "Things didn't go the way you wanted, huh." I toss out. A no-brainer, but I need a hint, here.

A grunt. "How observant of you."

I keep waiting for him to say something else, but he just leaves it at that. There's dead silence in the car except for the sound of crunching as Kaiba eats all my chips while I hold the stupid bag up for him. I'm missing something huge and obvious, or at least huge and obvious to somebody like Kaiba. Okay, so I'll have to work it out myself. What did I do to set him off if it wasn't the make-everybody-think-he's-gay thing or the bad movie? How did I fuck up?

I go over the day in my head:

He picked me up at my apartment and we drove to Serenity's. Then, he did lotsa property damage. He was fine then, except for being a little weird.

We went to a nice restaurant, where he bribed the staff to get us a good table. Then, he tried to choke me to death with ice cream when I tried to spy on my sister. And then he paid for dinner. Weird.

Then, he choked on 'chihuahua' when he was arguing with me. And he wasn't an alien in disguise. And he smiled at me. Weird.

And then we saw a movie so I could keep an eye on Duke and Tristan. And, uh, stuff happened. Really weird.

How weird has he been? Well, first off, he actually went with my plan and that should've tipped me off right then. He smiled at me, and Kaiba never smiles at anyone who's not Mokuba. He was kinda nice to me the whole time, except for now. He only went into bastard mode after 'I woke up' while he was still, uh, touching me. After his freak-out when I asked him what he was doing, that is. And that set off the whole gay thing.

So to sum up, he picked me up in a flashy car, we went to a nice restaurant and had a quality meal, and he hand-fed me ice cream, and then we saw a make-out movie. Like a da...

...I've never been smacked in the face with a dead fish, but I'm guessing this is what it feels like.

Kaiba leans back against his seat, staring straight ahead. "Have you figured it out yet, or was I too subtle for you?"

I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. I try again. "Guh." I stuff a potato chip in my mouth. Better than trying to talk. I chew on it for a while, force it down, and try one more time. "Guh. Date?" I choke out. Holy shit, we were on a date. He must've thought I knew right up until I point-blank asked him what was going on. Hell, maybe he thought I was asking him out at school and just using the Serenity-Duke-Tristan thing as an excuse. He must've been throwing himself at me, in his own wacky bastard Kaiba way, the whole damn time. And I was totally clueless. No wonder he was so pissed.

Kaiba turns and looks at me for what feels like forever. It's those eyes of his. They're just so... so... I can't say what it is. They're cold, but there's something about them that just sucks me in sometimes. Something that makes the world just him and me. Just him against me, I mean.

He keeps his blue, blue eyes locked on mine. "Of course not. I don't date. It's frivolous, a waste of my time."

Wait. Huh? "So that was..."

He tilts his head to the side, not breaking eye contact. "An experiment. To see if your company was less repulsive than I originally surmised when we first met." He shrugs one shoulder. "A simple experiment and nothing more." He throws me a challenging look.

Uh huh. His whole body language is screaming 'Bull. Shit.' To me, anyway. He's just trying to save his pride. "An experiment?"

He shrugs again. "Or a test. I... Mokuba thought you were... interesting, and wanted you to visit again." And there's another steaming pile of BS. Mokuba, my ass, but I'll play along for now. I think I see where this is going. Kaiba narrows his eyes. "I wanted to see if you were worth his time."

Yeah, I know where this is going. Still, I better make sure or else we'll have to do the whole talking thing all over again. "So am I?" I say carefully.

Kaiba looks at me, thinking. "I don't know. The results were inconclusive." And then he gets this glint in his eye, and that one-sided smirk on his lips, and that always spells trouble for me, always. "Perhaps a different, more... direct, approach is called for. And then you can tell me." I'm still trying to figure out what the hell he's talking about when, still keeping the eye contact going, he brings his imitation barbeque sauce-stained fingers up to his mouth and... and... sucks them clean, one at a time. Uh, yeah, he's done with being subtle, boy, is he done, and I keep watching and my eyes go wide, and my mouth goes dry, and my heart's pumping away, and he keeps doing it, and I can't breathe, and I don't know what the hell's wrong with me but the car's too damn small and too damn hot. He finishes sucking off- I mean lick- I mean cleaning his fingers, yanks the chip bag outta my hand, and tosses it into the backseat. He leans in close and there's nowhere for me to go. "You tell me, Joseph Wheeler. Are you?" he breathes in my ear.

Kaiba's totally fried my brain, but even I can figure out what's going on here. That's about as not-subtle as a guy can get while still keepin' it sorta legal. He. Is. Hitting. On. Me. And my body must've forgot I'm straight 'cause it's not minding at all. Man, what should I do? I should just get outta the car, go home, and forget about this whole mess, or...

He leans in even closer and hot damn his body's pressing down on mine and there's just not enough room in the passenger seat and damn damn damn I can't think like this! All the blood's going down instead of up and this does not happen around guys, honest, okay, except for that one time, okay, two times, and why couldn't it be anyone, anyone else, but no, it just had to be Kaiba, didn't it. And he's smirking at me, and he can tell, and, dammit, he's doin' it on purpose, the prick. And the way he's looking at me…

It clicks.

He's serious. It's in his eyes and I can just tell that he's not just playin' around with me. Me. Me no think too good now, um, yeah, snap out of it, Joey...

...Yeah, yeah, we'll see where this goes. Or doesn't go. And if it doesn't work, we can pretend it was about Mokuba all along. Good idea, great idea, the best ever. That's about all I can squeeze outta what's left of my brains before it melts and I move to pull him closer. What've I got to lose? "Mmm yeah. Oh, yeah..."

He smiles at that, all satisfied with himself, and goes back to his side of the car, leaving me sweaty and gasping and hanging in the passenger seat. I guess you could say I'm kinda disappointed and really, really PISSED OFF. I was expecting... I want to... I don't know what the hell I want from him, but what the fuck is he playing at?!

I'm about to let loose with the swearing, but then Kaiba suddenly pins me down with his gaze and I'm frozen just like that. "Are you in a rush to get home, Wheeler?" he asks me.

I get my breathing back under control, murder goes onto the back burner, and my brain is back in the 'on' position. Oh. Oh, he's asking if I'm gonna run out and call the cops on him. The horny haze goes bye-bye and I'm left with real life, complete with messy hair, a food-stained shirt, a lap full of crumbs, and potato chips everywhere. "Uh, no. No rush. I... I'm okay." It'll probably hit me later, but right now I'm okay. We're okay. "Why?"

He taps the monitor by the steering wheel. Info scrolls across the screen. "It seems that our trio has gone to the park." He watches me, fake casual. "Stargazing, perhaps. The weather is decent enough for it."

Trio? Who... oh, right. Serenity, Duke, Tristan... Whole other world. My great plan to save my little sister is on an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii courtesy of Kaiba Corp Airlines. For Kaiba, the plan was never about them in the first place, but I was just too busy playing Big Brother to see it. And Kaiba was being all sneaky about it and not telling me we were on a da... date. Experiment-test thing. I swallow. The ball's in my court. If we go after them, then our not-date's still on. If I drop the plan, it's over. I think. Damn, I wish Kaiba'd go back to being as subtle as a brick to the head. Am I reading between the lines right?

What the hell. "It'd be a shame to let'em get away now, right? We could go to the park, you and me." I look away and try to find something to do. My fingers still have potato chip gunk on them. "If you want to, I mean." No tissue in sight, so I just stick them in my mouth like I always do. I'm still sucking on them when I suddenly realize that maybe that wasn't such a great thing to do, what with Kaiba still staring at me and probably getting the wrong idea and all. I can feel myself going red and I wipe my hand off on my shirt. It's ruined, anyway.

"I think I'd enjoy that." A slow smirk creeps across his face. "Don't stop on my account."

"Shut up and drive, Kaiba."