Title: At The End Of The Day
Author: Svelte Rose
Date Published: March 25th, 2004
Notes: My god, I don't believe I have ever written a chapter or a part of a story this large and this many words! It's over 9K in words alone, 16 pages counting – man am I proud of this baby. Alright, I had always wanted to write a Seto/Tea fanfic because out of all the pairings in YGO, I've always liked them the most. Sorry if I got a few of the facts wrong in this story but I didn't watch it very closely when it was on and I did add some of my own material. Characters are OOC sometimes so that's a warning just so you know. This story fits is my take as to why Kaiba is so obsessed with Yugi's group. Don't forget to review – constructive criticism is highly welcomed whereas flames are not. Happy reading! Don't forget, I do not own YGO but I do own this particular storyline. Thank you! (Also, when a whole section is in italics, it's because it's a flashback.)
"Tell us Kaiba, what do you have to go to at the end of the day?" Hollered the brunette female whose blue eyes were currently sparkling with tears. Stated more than asked, rhetorical more than a question, she watched the handsome billionaire pack up his dueling gear. "What is it you have against Yugi? I sure as hell don't think it's just because he beat you in a simple little game. God, I could call you many names Kaiba but shallow would never be one of them,"
Turning his icy blue gaze towards her, Seto Kaiba picked up his metal briefcase before inserting all the stars into his competition bracelet.
"Answer me!" She demanded, the tears now falling freely down her face.
Yugi, who was in a state of shock, barely noticed his best friend state. Tristan and Joey tried as hard as they could to console the spiky haired kid but even they couldn't snap him out of his zone.
"At the end of the day, I have all that I need," Kaiba finally answered before walking off towards the dueling castle.
Time had past, more duels were battled but their relationship with Kaiba had always been frosty. They would try to ignore him and at times, Joey would start fights. It never escalated beyond words thankfully, however, Kaiba, born with his eloquence, always won. Otherwise, neither side tried nor even wanted to initiate a conversation.
Tea wondered why he didn't make contact with anyone, period. While stuffing her face with chicken curry and rice, she glanced over at the big table only Kaiba and his computer gear occupied. As horrible as he was to Yugi and the rest of them, she couldn't hate him. In fact, she never did. She was disappointed in him because of the things he had done, but never disliked him, hated him, or anything of that sort.
Maybe it was because of the fact she used to be the best of friends with him when she was 5 years old. All throughout elementary school, she and Seto Kaiba were stuck to each other like super glue. Then she noticed that the older Kaiba had grown more and more reserved in middle school. Somehow, in a short amount of time, they had grown far apart – it was as if they were never friends. Perhaps it was because at that time, she'd been forging a friendship with Yugi, Tristan and Joey, so she had distraction. She had tried to stay friends with him but he was so unresponsive. He was changing, she was changing – and Tea accepted that.
But now, she wondered what would have happened were she to have tried harder.
Always, the 'what ifs'.
"Class, you've probably seen her around this school but I would like you to welcome Tea Gardner warmly into Class A," The teacher smiled gently as she guided Tea to her seat.
"Hello," Tea greeted to the class before taking her seat.
"Gosh, I didn't know they did class transfers like that," whispered her seat partner. "Aren't you from Class B?"
Tea blinked in surprise. He knew who she was yet she had never even set eyes upon him, "Yes…I am," She answered quietly before setting her bad to the ground and taking out her pencil case and notebook.
He grinned and offered his hand, "The name's Ken Oshikawa,"
Tea took it and shook it heartily. If there was one thing she didn't approve of, it was a handshake without character. Because of this, she'd always made sure her handshakes were firm and strong – much unlike how she was feeling right now.
Apparently, she'd been sailing through her courses in Class B. After administration received reports of her first semester grades, they quickly worked to move her up one level into more advanced classes. If it was one thing their school did not tolerate, it was students not being challenged. Feeling a bit lonely and introverted at the moment, Tea hadn't even begun to realize what she would need to do in order to catch up with the class until…
"Hey, I've got a couple of notebooks filled with class notes, you can borrow them if you want, they'll really helpful on the exams," Ken offered as he pulled out his own pencil and notebook.
"Yeah sure," She answered instantly. She always loved to take down notes just because it was a reason to practice her penmanship. Heck, penmanship was one of the many things Seto had taught her when they were still friends.
As she was scoping the room with her eyes, she felt as though she were being watched. Turning around, Tea failed to recognize anything too weird but rather, she realized something much more interesting.
Turned out her and Seto would be spending the whole of second semester…together…in the same room, for nine periods each day…
God, when did she get on first-name basis with the elder Kaiba brother?
"Kaiba's in your class!? That's gotta be painful," Joey grumbled to the brunette cheerleader as he slumped down in his seat for effect. Jerking back up, he grinned feral-like, "I could take him out if ya want!"
Tea sighed and tousled his hair affectionately, "That's alright Joey but thanks for the offer regardless."
Their short friend cleared his throat which caught all of their attention, "So how is it being in class with him?"
Tea shrugged, "It's just like being in any other class; he isn't all that strange or bad you know,"
Tristan waved his hand, "Oh pheesh! He's so obsessed with Yugi, he stalks him!"
By that time, Joey had taken Tea's garlic chicken from her and was currently gulping it down like air.
The brunette girl just stared with her chopsticks in the air, a shocked expression on her face, "I said you could have a little bit Joey!" She finally choked out, all past conversations previously forgotten.
Too late. Joey showed her the empty food container.
Groaning, Tea laid her head upon the cafeteria table, "Where am I supposed to get food?" She asked no one in particular.
Joey bowed apologetically, "I'm sorry Tea, I guess I got carried away…I'll bring you lunch next time!"
Tea shook her head, "It's alright Joey, I'll figure something out,"
"Class, take your break and afterwards we will get back to work on these chemical formulas!" The teacher exclaimed while clapping her dainty hands together.
Students got up and stretched; many even got out their little mobile phones to cell others outside of school.
What the hell was she supposed to do with 20 minutes while other students lollied around and did nothing? They ate lunch, they had a good, generous meal and also, their stomachs weren't making weird and embarrassing sounds like Tea's was at the moment. Therefore, they could relax all they want, do nothing for the next 20 minutes, and still feel rejuvenated for the 2nd half of this class.
"Uuuuugggh," Tea groaned as she licked her dry lips. She was thirsty too but felt much too lazy to get from her seat to get some. Another protest from her stomach and hunger pains finally got her moving towards the fountain.
Water made Tea even more hungry.
For the next ten minutes, Tea shifted unhappily in her seat and tried to not think about food but she couldn't help it. She was also curious as to what Kaiba was doing at this moment, but in order to find out, she would have to turn around – Tea liked subtleness. That…was not subtle.
But she turned around anyways and made it seem as if she were scanning the whole back of the room while stretching her back muscles. When her eyes met the same icy blue ones, she barely registered that fact, as she turned back around.
Seto had been staring at her. Otherwise, how would her eyes have met his dead on?
That didn't matter, Tea felt like chewing someone's leg.
"Eeewww…" She wailed quietly to herself. Her hunger had become desperate to the point where she was considering going cannibalistic. Laying her head down, Tea closed her eyes and tried to imagine the pain away.
Noooo such luck.
Something was placed upon her desk and so occupied with her hunger pains, her nose didn't even register the smell until…
"Whazzat?!" She groggily exclaimed as she sat upright. First, she looked around the room and then finally, it was disclosed that this delicious smell was coming from her own desk. Looking down, she could hardly believe that there was half a chicken sandwich sitting on her desk.
Wow…this has mayo, mustard, lettuce…WAI! At that moment, Tea could have bust out dancing.
Hell screw dancing, she would perform a whole ballet.
Now if she could only figure out who gave it to her and thank them properly, all would be good.
At home, Tea made the same sandwich but could not get the taste of it down. The sandwich had filled her up, no doubt about that. But the taste still lingered and she had wanted more ever since she finished the half sandwich she was offered.
What was it that she was missing in this sandwich? Tea loved to cook, she loved to make weird combinations and they usually tasted good. This taught her a few things around kitchen and she was pretty handy around meal times. But for the life of her, she just could not figure out what gave the sandwich its kick.
"Put some Tabasco sauce on the sandwich! I love Tabasco sauce!" The little brown-haired boy exclaimed excitedly as he waved around a small bottle of red sauce. He gave his companion a toothy grin as he quickly went to unscrew it.
His campanion protested quickly with her arms across her chest, "But Setho! That'll taste yucky!" Her arms moved down to her waist.
'Setho' or rather, Seto, scratched his head, "Have you ever tried it, Tea?"
The little brunette girl shook her head, "Nope," She answered.
Seto frowned, "Then you can't say that it tastes bad! Try some! You'll like it!"
A few moments passed as Seto shook the bottle in front of her face.
Finally, the girl consigned and nodded determinedly, "I'll try it!"
"Mom! Where's our Tabasco sauce?" Tea hollered as she searched each and ever cabinet. Going over to the refrigerator, Tea searched in vain for the familiar, little red bottle. "Mom!"
"I'm right here sweetie," A voice came from one side of Tea.
Tea winced, "Sorry…do we have any Tabasco sauce in the house?"
Mrs. Gardner shook her head and handed Tea a list, "I'll give you money for it if you go out shopping for dinner tonight,"
Looking over the list, the teenage girl's eyes bugged out, "God mom, are we throwing a party tonight or something!?"
The older brunette rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, "No, but your father has company coming over, we need to make a good impression,"
Tea nodded and pecked her mother on the cheek, "Alright, I'll be back in an hour," She responded throwing on a black raincoat.
"Don't forget your umbrella and be careful!"
This was uncomfortable. Tea shifted in her seat, trying not to look to her right, where you-know-who was sitting. Sighing, she started to ponder the irony that placed her in the situation which she currently attended now.
Seriously, who would've guessed her father was an associate of Seto Kaiba's? Or vice versa? She knew her father owned his own business and it had done moderately well. Her mother worked as a children's psychologist and was doing just as well. But to be an associate of Seto Kaiba's, teenage millionaire extraordinaire? How she underestimated her parents.
Thank god they didn't know the tension that existed between the two.
"Now Kaiba, I hear you are in the same class as my daughter here?" Mr. Gardner finally asked as he sprinkled some pepper onto his salad.
Seto nodded as he placed the handkerchief upon his lap, "Yes I am,"
Ethan Gardner chuckled, "I bet she's a trouble to deal with at school," Winking at his daughter to make known the joke.
In response, Tea rolled her eyes good-naturedly and winked right back at her father, "You know how it is Papa,"
Sprinkling some pepper on his own salad, Seto responded immediately, "I don't mind it at all, in fact, I don't believe we talk enough,"
Still unaware of the tension that existed between Tea and Seto, Ethan Gardner grinned brightly, "Now that's very strange, Tea's very extroverted. In fact, we have trouble getting her to stop,"
Tea…choked on her greens as she rewound the tape in her memory replaying Seto's comment over and over again. Did she hear him right? It wasn't his fault he had something permanently stuck up his butt. "Yeah…" She offered lamely.
Blinking at the bright array of orange, red and yellow colors, Tea pointed at it and screamed, "FIRE! THE LEMON MERINGUE IS ON FIRE!"
Mrs. Gardner's blue eyes widened greatly and in one instant, she had the pie on the ground and her foot was stomping it out. "What'd you do Tea!?"
"I don't know!" She exclaimed before her face was hit with a flying piece of lemon meringue pie. Tea's eyes widened as she looked at the flame which was now out but had started again and this time, on Mrs. Gardner's pants. "Mom, your pants are on fire!"
A blood curling scream was let out and two males burst into the kitchen, their eyes widening just as greatly as they took in the scene before them.
Tea finally put the fire out on her mother's pants and panting, she looked over, her cheeks dripping with lemon jelly, "I don't think we'll be having dessert tonight."
Groaning and turning in her bed, Tea tried to block out the events that ended an hour ago.
Seriously, did God hate her that much?
"Gardner and Kaiba," Tea mimicked in a high, falsetto voice as she jabbed wildly into her apple juice carton – only succeeding in pulverizing the box and bending the straw beyond recognition.
Normally, the table was situated so that one of the guys was sitting on her side and the two others were across. During the course of the meal, Tristan inched away subtly from the brunette and breathed a sigh of relief when he got to the other side safely. Yugi and Joey stared at the usually happy-go-lucky girl turned cheerleader-gone-psycho.
Suddenly, Yugi's eyes rolled to the back of his head as his features changed slightly. Now staring at Tea was his other half, Yami.
"Did I miss something?" He finally whispered. "Yugi practically dragged me out of the soul room…"
Both Joey and Tristan pointed at Tea who was now turning her baked potato into mashed potatoes.
"Tea?" Yami questioned innocently.
"Yooooo hoooo…" Yami waved his hand in front of the girl. He was able to snatch it back in time before her teeth snapped at the air where his hand once was.
"Damn." Joey whistled.
She was sure of it, God did hate her. "Maybe it's because I'm non-denominational," Tea muttered to herself as she looked over the project sheet.
Yep. It's true. The teacher finally assigned them their first project of the second semester which was to be done with a partner the teacher chose.
Seto Kaiba was hers.
"Why God, why??" Tea wailed quietly, her head facing up and hands in the air.
Ken twitched. "What…the…hell…"
Ah well, it couldn't get worse than this could it?
"Tea Gardner, please come to the main office, your father is here to see you," The announcements blared.
Wow. She really needed to stop jinxing herself.
"Hey honey," Her father greeted warmly as he stood casually with his hands in his pockets.
Tea pecked his cheek and smiled just as warmly back, "Hey Papa, what's up?"
"It's short notice, I know, but I thought it would be better if I told you face to face,"
Warning alarms went off in Tea's head. "What is it papa?" God it seemed so clichéd.
He grinned brightly, "Your mother and I are going overseas for business! We'll be back in two weeks,"
Tea's jaw dropped. "Awe…can't you bring me along??"
"You have school Tea,"
"Then how am I supposed to eat?"
Ethan Gardner pulled out a new wallet. "Here, this should contain enough yen to feed an army for several years and if that isn't enough, I left my credit card with you – but only use it in case of emergency!"
Tea nodded and tucked the wallet away, "Where's mama?"
"She left for the airport earlier but she sends her love. I'm going to get going honey, stay out of trouble okay?" He winked before turning around and walking towards the waiting taxi cab.
"You know me dad," Tea answered as she watched the taxi disappear down the street.
"This is rather awkward,"
Tea signed as she stared at Seto Kaiba sitting directly across from her in the limo. "Thanks for offering me a ride, my parents are out of town,"
"I know," He simply answered, looking out the tinted windows.
"So where are we going exactly?"
"The library, where else,"
"Right…" Tea finished lamely. He was right…where else would they begin their project?
"My library that is," He added as an after thought. The limo stopped and just as his hand reached to open the door, it was jerked open by a small boy, standing there looking as confused as the day he was born.
"Tea?" Mokuba asked.
"Hey Mokuba!" She greeted exuberantly, ignoring the confused expression, as the little boy scrambled into the car. "How was school today?"
Mokuba stared surprised at her, usually Kaiba asked that question but he didn't care. They actually had company for once and the situation received extra points in Mokuba's mind because it was Tea, "It was a lot of fun, they let us use the computers for the whole day. My eyes hurt though,"
"When we get home, we can get a cold cloth for that then," Seto answered, knowing first-hand how much use of the computer would be painful if one was not use to the after effects.
Mokuba shook his head, "Nah, I'll be okay," Looking at Tea and then looking at Seto, Mokuba finally asked the question that'd been bothering him the full five minutes he'd been in the limo, "How come you're here Tea?"
"There's a project due in school and we're partners," Tea answered instantly, as if she'd been rehearsing it. And she had been…in her mind.
Foresight was such an awesome skill she acquired.
"Awesome!" He exclaimed happily.
"Wow," Tea breathed as she stared at the large expanse of a room before her. Every shelf, every available space was covered with books. The room itself was decorated in a rich, comforting mahogany color scheme. It looked like a fairy tale…in fact, it almost looked like the library from Disney's Beauty & The Beast. Except, did the Beast's library contain a grand piano in the middle of the room? "You must have every single book in the world Kaiba," Tea exclaimed as she ran up to the first shelf on her right, skimming each title.
"Every single book worth getting," he responded sharply as he dumped his trench coat on the sofa and walked towards the desk situated off to the side of the room. Laying his laptop upon the top of the desk, Seto reached under the desk and pulled out another small laptop. "This will be yours to use for the time we're working on this project together, Gardner," Receiving no response, he glanced around the room only to find the brunette opening up the piano top and staring wistfully at the gleaming, black and white keys.
"Can I play something Kaiba?" She asked quietly, still staring at the keys with a small smile upon her face.
He stalked over and closed the top over the keys. "No, we need to get this project started,"
God he's such a tight-ass. She grumbled silently to herself while consenting on the outside.
"As I was saying, this computer is for your use during the duration of this project. I programmed it myself so you should not have any problems whatsoever. The commands are simple so if you're computer illiterate -,"
"I'm not," Tea cut in, her voice as dry as the Sahara desert.
Kaiba, the person that he was, didn't lose his stride, "You won't get lost. Just press control, shift and then the question mark button for your help guy to pop up." He continued while turning it on for her.
"Alright, so what should our topic be?"
Grumbling, Tea kicked the door to her house open while lugging in the large briefcase which contained the small laptop Seto loaned her for the time being. She had her own laptop and desktop system so this really was unnecessary. But he had insisted that because the programming was done by himself, it would be most reliable for this large project.
She mimicked that thought over and over in her mind, sarcastically.
How the hell did she get stuck with partner from hell?
No, she didn't dislike or hate the obnoxious elder Kaiba brother (as said before). Right now, she just wanted to give him a well-deserved kick in the –
"Kaiba, I don't think the class is going to really care for the statistics you pulled up…god, where did you even get these numbers? They're outrageous!" Tea flipped through the numerous data sheets she had been given.
"Why wouldn't they care?" He asked with a weird look on his face as if he had just drunk stale lemonade.
Tea shook her head, "People don't care for numbers. The world throws enough statistics in their faces with '1 out of every five smoke pot' or '9 out of 10 times, you get STDs' -,"
"What's your point Gardner?"
"My point is that we should tell them the idea behind these statistics, why we think they are the way they are with some facts to back it up. People listen more if you have interesting viewpoints to offer," Answered Tea as she flipped through more papers.
So far, most of her ideas had been shot down by Kaiba – not that she minded at first because he had good reasoning behind most of it - but it was getting to the point where she started to believe he just wanted to control every aspect of the project.
He simply answered.
And that was it.
"Hey Tea!" Yugi shouted as he quickly ran to catch up with the distracted brunette. "The gang and I were going to go to the arcade after school today, want to join us?"
Tea shook her head, "I can't Yugi, I've got to work on my project,"
"Maybe afterwards then?" He offered, shoving his hands into his pockets.
Tea smiled, "Maybe, I'll call you if I can,"
"Mokuba, where is my Tabasco sauce?" The elder Kaiba shouted, his voice resonating throughout the large kitchen.
"The place where you last placed it!"
Seto sighed and arched his eyes, "Stop being so obnoxious, where did you put it?"
Mokuba grinned impishly, "I needed red coloring for my volcano so I used the whole bottle on it,"
The older Kaiba brother groaned softly as he glanced at the clock. "When Gardner gets here, direct her towards the library, I'll be back in a few moments,"
Mokuba nodded vigorously.
As soon as Seto Kaiba left his property area grounds did Tea arrive in a taxi. After paying her fare, she hurried up the many steps and knocked on the large glass door.
It swung open with Mokuba grinning up at her. "Hey Tea!" He greeted happily. "Big brother went out to do a bit of shopping but he says he'll be right back,"
Tea smiled right back, "Alright, where should I go to wait?"
"Library," Mokuba responded as he closed the door behind her and led the way through the expansive halls of the Kaiba mansion.
When Seto opened the door to the library, he was greeted with the soothing lullaby of Johann Pachebel's Canon In D. "Gardner?" He called out before spotting her as the source of that piano playing.
Such a simple song really but one really couldn't tell with the way she was playing. Mokuba sat obediently by her side and every time she nodded once, he would flip the page for her.
After the song ended, he cleared his throat. "We should probably get to work,"
Tea looked up and nodded in agreement, "Sure,"
"Gardner, I'm telling you, it looks better if you stick that picture here,"
"I beg to differ. It looks too ordinary if we stick it there," Tea argued as she moved the cut-out to the place she wanted on the poster board.
Kaiba blew out a breath, "And if you stick it there, it's much too chaotic, here, let me do it," He reached for the cutout.
Tea yanked it out of his grasp, an annoyed look on her face, "The layout you proposed is so boring! We want this to appeal to the class, not make them fall asleep!"
"And the layout you suggested makes it much too disorganized! If they don't fall asleep, it's because they're too confused as to what the hell is going on," he reached for the cutout again only for the cheerleader to yank it out of his grasp.
Tea tucked it behind her back, "Our class isn't made up of dimwits you know!" She hotly responded as both his arms snaked around her. Turning around so that her back was to him, she jerked the cutout around each time his hands got too close to it.
"Give it to me!" Kaiba stated irritably as he closed Tea in, pushing her against the desk, every time he reached for the cut out.
"No!" She grabbed the glue stick and applied glue all over the back.
Those were the last two things said before Mokuba laid eyes upon them. Unfortunately for him, it was also the first two things he heard. Staring, pole-axed at the scene, he could only mutter, "God, you guys are getting waaaaay too r-rated for me,"
Seto and Tea froze in their positions, looking just as pole-axed as Mokuba was when he first arrived to the scene.
Tea recovered her senses first and with lightning quick reflexes, she slammed the cutout onto the poster board where she originally wanted it. "HA!" She declared triumphantly to the unsettled older Kaiba.
"Gardner?" Seto called out as he stuck his head into the kitchen.
"Gardner?" He called again five minutes layer, this time in the dining room.
Walking outside, he set his hands upon his waist, befuddled as to where the brunette girl could have disappeared when all she had to do was go to the bathroom across from the library. All of the sudden…
"BOOYA!" Mokuba exclaimed as he and Tea doused the older Kaiba brother with water guns.
The air was thick with silence as Mokuba and Tea stared at the drenched teenage billionaire.
"You have five seconds…" Seto growled under his breath as he stared at the two. "Five…"
Tea's eyes widened as she dropped her water gun, "Mokuba, I think we should probably go…
Mokuba giggled nervously, "Big brother…it was just a joke…"
Tea arched one eyebrow, "Uh…Seto, I think you missed three,"
"One…" By now, he had rolled up the sleeves to his Armani silk shirt and was staring predatorily at the two miscreants.
"RUN MOKUBA RUN!" Tea shouted as she pushed the smaller Kaiba brother towards the open deck doors. Thank god for her dancing hobby because at least with her legs being mostly muscle, she was able to run fast in the opposite direction Mokuba had gone.
Unfortunately, he went after her and not after Mokuba.
It made sense really since Seto could deal with Mokuba whenever he wanted to.
Tea on the other hand…
"PUT ME DOWN KAIBA!" Tea shouted from her position on Kaiba's shoulders.
Donned in one of Kaiba's large silk shirts and silk pajama pants, Tea sipped on a cup of hot tea that Mokuba had prepared for her. Damn Seto Kaiba and his long legs…it took about three minutes for Kaiba to close her in and when he did, he had picked her up and carried the protesting cheerleader inside, down two flights of stairs and into the basement where the indoor pool was located.
Then he had thrown her in.
Thank god she exacted her revenge upon him. As he went to help her out of the pool, she wrapped both arms around his neck and pulled him right into the pool with her.
That was probably the reason he sat across from her with a steaming cup of tea in front of him.
"You smell good," Tea chirped before going back to sip her tea loudly.
"Thank you," he responded.
that whole paragraph is full of fragments, you're using the wrong grammar;
everything is just…"
Tea growled, "You're just in a pissy mood because I got you back again yesterday,"
Seto rolled his eyes, "I don't believe I'm that immature Gardner, here, why don't you let me write this part?"
"Nooooo!" she snapped out as she pushed the keyboard out of his reach. "This is my part of the presentation; I get to write what I want to say!"
"We could fail because of your impudence," He reached for the keyboard again.
Tea picked up the small laptop and pushed her chair out. Kaiba snaked around that and was soon in front of her. She slid under his arms with the laptop in her hand and ran to the other side of the desk – which was the furthest the electrical cord would allow. "You're so dramatic Kaiba!"
He reached across the table. "Someone has to be in order to ensure a good grade!"
Tea jerked it out of his way again, "Kaiba, just get over the fact that I got you back and you weren't able to," she yelped a bit as he stalked around the table chasing the brunette.
"This has nothing to do with my male ego, Gardner," Seto responded as he tried going the other way to catch her.
Tea changed directions and stared fiercely at him, "It has everything to do with your male ego, Seto!"
"God, will you just let me take that computer and revise it a bit? I just want to help!" He took a hold of the cord and yanked it.
Tea stared, wide-eyed at the black screen in front of her face. When Seto yanked the cord, he had unplugged the computer, therefore shutting down the system.
Setting it down, her own blue eyes icy cold, she snatched a plump pillow from one of the couches and started beating Seto it with.
"Help!? I'll show you help!" She screamed as she hit him with each beat of her words.
Thankfully, his system had an automatic recovery system so it only lost the last fifteen minutes of her work.
Unfortunately, they were the best parts – she thought so at least.
Once again donned in his silk pajamas, Tea rolled around on the bed and stared at the clock. It was already two am in the morning by the time they finished so Seto Kaiba had generously suggested she stay the night.
It was definitely his guilt talking.
She signed and settled into the soft bed. Tomorrow was another day…
Thank god for Sundays because the first thing Tea's eyes opened to were a pair of big blue eyes.
"Tea?" Mokuba whispered, his face only inches away from Tea's face.
Out of surprise, Tea yelped and jerked out of the way. "What a wakening…"
"It's already eight o'clock in the morning, if you aren't careful, you'll sleep the whole day away! Here…I even have some breakfast for you," The younger Kaiba brother handed her a silver platter.
Tea accepted graciously. Since she was still too tired and still too groggy to form any words, she just pecked him on the cheek and started working away at her platter.
Mokuba blushed bright right before running off. "See you downstairs, Tea!" He called before closing the bedroom door.
"Mmmphf!" She waved before going back to devouring her breakfast.
Seto sniffed at the silk shirt he was currently wearing. It was the same one Tea had worn the day he threw her into the pool and it had been washed. However, his nose could still sense a faint trace of Charlie's Red mixed in with his own cologne.
It was a nice smell, actually.
"Kaiba, where's our poster board?"
Seto jerked around and looked straight at her, "I thought you had it?"
"No…this morning, you said you would put it in the limo," Tea argued, hands on hips. While loading into the limo this morning, she had taken both laptops with her while Kaiba carried a large folder and his school bag in one arm and Tea's school bag on the other hand.
The finishing touches had taken longer than either expected it to that night, so Seto had the driver take Tea back to her house and grab the essentials before coming back and going back to work on the project. Again, they worked rather late into the morning, both yawning extensively when the lights turned off.
Tea and Seto looked at each other and groaned softly.
"I can't believe we forgot the poster board…"
"Hey, how fast can this limo go?"
Joey and Tristan looked at each other before peering over at Tea.
"Alright Tea, how come you've been spending so much time with that jerk Kaiba?" Joey finally asked while pointing at the subject of his question.
Tea looked over at her project partner who was currently engrossed in his laptop, like every other day. "We had to work on a project,"
Tristan arched his eyebrow, "I've heard some pretty weird rumors about you two,"
This time, Tea arched her eyebrow and stared at him, chomping madly on her sandwich, "What kind of rumors?" she asked after swallowing.
Yugi rolled his eyes, "Stop questioning her guys,"
"Gardner," A deep voice shocked the group.
Tea turned around in her seat and smiled, "Kaiba?" This was odd. Their presentation had gone well despite the slight delay this morning and until now, Seto Kaiba had never approached her. It was always she who went to his house, she who went up to him so that they could schedule project meetings, etc. etc. "What's up?"
The tension was thick in the air as he locked eyes with Yugi. In one instant, Yami was out of his soul room and he glared right back at Seto.
"I need to speak with you privately," He finally answered, all the while piercing Yami with his gaze.
Yami could hardly believe the impudence of the man…Seto was the one who approached the group and without even saying a word, he was challenging the King of Games. Words need not be exchanged. And to what? He didn't know. The competitive tension was in the air.
"Yeah sure," Tea said as she packed up her lunch supplies and got up. Turning to the rest of them, she waved, "I'll talk to you guys later,"
At this time, Kaiba broke his locked gaze with Yami and walked beside Tea, one hand resting slightly on her lower back.
Tea? Yami's eyes narrowed as he watched his aibou's best friend and his worst enemy walk away together.
"The teacher just emailed me the grade," Seto began, handing Tea a single sheet of paper.
Tea looked at him, her eyes full of anticipation before taking the sheet and reading it over carefully. "Oh…my…gosh…"
"First time our teacher ever gave out a perfect score. We're also the only group to have received it," Seto added, his hands in his pockets as he watched Tea's expression.
"YES!" She exclaimed excitedly before jumping and hugging Seto with all her might. Letting him go, she danced around the hall and sighed happily. Running back to him, she tucked a strand of hair behind one ear and grinned, "Hey Seto, how about dinner tonight?" She asked out of the blue.
His face still tinged with a bit of pink, Seto nodded slowly. "Sure,"
He had picked her up and she had paid for the dinner. It made sense being that she was the one who invited him but since she had no means of transportation, he agreed to take care of that. Peering out of the corner of one eye, Tea couldn't help but admit that Kaiba looked devastatingly handsome in his outfit. She wasn't a girly person by nature so she really didn't have anything good in her closet but a small and short black dress with lavender-colored flowers and ivy pattern. Her black pumps which didn't look at all comfortable, gave her no problems as they walked in the silent park.
"What's your favorite hobby?" He finally asked.
If this was a few weeks ago, she would've wondered why he cared but those sort of thoughts were obsolete, "I like…to dance. When I was little, I would watch my parents as they danced the salsa, the mambo, the chacha, even swing. My dad even taught me some of the moves. I take ballet lessons weekly and if time offers, I check out some of the independent ballroom dancing classes around,"
Seto nodded, a faint smile playing upon his lips.
He looked at the ground and took a deep breath, "I like astronomy. I've always been fascinated with the stars and the rest of the cosmic universe. I also like reading different myths from many cultures, especially that of the Egyptians,"
Tea grinned, "No wonder, your obsession with dueling,"
He shrugged, "You could say it was partly that," Both sat down at a nearby park bench and looked up into the clear night sky.
Tea leaned back into the seat and looked over at him every once in a while, wondering whether or not she should ask what the other part for his dueling obsession was. She didn't mainly because she didn't think she would like the answer.
"If Yugi and Joey duel so much, how come you don't? You're always hanging out around them," Seto asked, breaking the long silence.
The brunette girl shrugged, "I don't have any desire to. I hang around them because Yugi and Joey tend to need encouragement to realize their potential. If I can make them realize that, then I've done my duty as a friend. They have so much skill but lack the confidence in order to make that skill useful. After Joey came in second place for Pegasus' dueling competition, he's much more confident but at times, he still needs encouragement. Yugi's gotten better now that the Pharaoh resides within him but even Yami himself has problems dealing with defeat."
"So they're sore losers?" Seto smirked slightly, recalling the one incident Yami finally lost against him. Even if the situation of that duel was a bit peculiar…in the end, he probably owed that duel to Gardner. If there was anyone who could convince Yami to basically forfeit his points, it was Tea. In that duel, Seto was so desperate to save Mokuba, he threatened Yami by standing upon the ledge. If Yami had unleashed his monster's attack, the force of the blow would knock him right off the ledge, making Yami an indirect murderer.
Tea, who jumped in front of his body with her arms spread out, intended to protect him should Yami ever unleash his attack. All the time, tears cursed down her face as she screamed at Yami to gather his senses.
"No, they aren't sore losers," Tea murmured, a frown upon her face as she looked over to him. "Yugi actually lost a duel on purpose to a little girl after the competition,"
Seto shrugged, "If they aren't, then they don't need you as their little cheerleader,"
Tea's eyebrows now narrowed, "Little cheerleader? Why do you make my role sound so small?"
He looked over at her furious expression and sighed, "I didn't mean it that way,"
"Then what way did you mean it? I know I'm not the best dueler and I'm not all that helpful but I try to do as much as I can," Tea argued, now standing up with her back stiff and hands on her hips.
"Tea," Seto began.
"Don't you Tea me! You know all throughout this project, I've put up with your pissy moods -,"
"Pissy moods?" He repeated, startled, his own blood starting to boil.
"God, you're worse than a girl on PMS!" She concluded her tirade with an effective stomp of her foot.
Refusing to comment, Seto quickly strode away towards the direction of where his limo was parked.
Tea blew a raspberry at him and started to walk the other way. It had only been a few seconds before she heard rapid footsteps and then her body being lifted up and thrown across Seto's shoulder. "Put. Me. Down!" She shouted, emphasizing every single word.
It was safe to say that their dinner date had gone to the pits of hell by that time.
On the ride towards her house, Tea finally worked up enough nerve to look at the teenage billionaire. It seemed as if they were having such a good time, rather weird due to the tension between him and her friends, but it had been fun none the less. Tea couldn't even remember the subject of their fight. Whatever it was, she refused to apologize because her tirade had been well-deserved. If anyone were to apologize, it would be –
"I'm sorry," He muttered softly under his breath.
Instantly, Tea replied, "I'm sorry too,"
After school, Yugi, Tristan and Joey hurried out of the classroom towards the classroom where Class A was letting out. Waiting at the doorway, all three signaled wildly to the brunette who was packing her stuff up.
"Oh hey guys!" She waved, grinning before throwing her bag across her shoulders and hurrying out of the classroom. "What's up?"
Yugi grabbed her arm, "A new arcade just opened up near my grandpa's shop, wanna check it out?"
Her eyes widening, Tea asked, "Do they have Dance Dance Revolution?"
"Everything," Tristan said with an emphasis on every syllable.
"Then let's go!"
Having blown most of their spare change on the games, Tea, Yugi, Joey, Tristan and Serenity (who had come along at the last minute) blew their last few remaining bills on two pitchers of soda and a full sheet of pizza. Joey and Tristan combined, they would devour three fourths of it in no time. While they held their pizza eating contest, Tea and Yugi had their own little conversation while Serenity ate her pizza in piece.
"Alright Tea, I'm just going to come right out and ask…why are you hanging around Kaiba so much?"
Tea's eyebrows narrowed slightly, "I had to do a project with him and I am in the same class as he is,"
"But I heard two girls saying that they saw you and Kaiba last night out together last night," Yugi exclaimed as he pushed the topic even further.
Tea stared disappointedly at her best friend, "Why are you getting so worked up over this?"
"Because he's my worst enemy!" He finally exclaimed, catching the attention of Joey, Tristan, and Serenity.
Unfortunately, it had also caught the attention of two other people who came up to their table.
"Glad to know my reputation precedes me," Seto commented dryly, his distaste for the male occupants of that group obvious.
"Hey Tea," Mokuba greeted shyly.
"Hey Mokuba," Tea greeted rubbing his head affectionately.
Serenity took one at the serious faces around her and recognized the tension which lay thick in the air. "Hey Mokuba," She grinned brightly. "I've got a few coins left, wanna check out that frog game?"
"Yeah! Big Brother may I?" Mokuba looked up eagerly into Seto's face.
Seto nodded, his gaze never once leaving Yugi's who had now transformed into Yami.
Once Mokuba and Serenity was out of listening distance, Tea turned her attention back to the group and got up.
"What do you want, jerk?" Joey taunted, now standing up with his back stiff and defensive.
Tea laid her hand upon Joey, trying to calm the agitated blond as much as she could.
Seto snorted, "I see your vocabulary has not expanded since the last time we fought. It's expected for a dog like you after all,"
Joey's face turned bright red as he slammed his hand down on the table, "Alright Kaiba, if you think you're so great. I want a match right here, right now!"
"Joey!" Yami exclaimed before he turned his glare back on Kaiba, somehow blaming the man for riling up Joey the way he did.
"Don't worry Yami, I've gotten better since the last time I played him," I'm sure to beat him this time. Joey thought confidently to himself as he withdrew a pack of dueling cards. "Do you accept Kaiba?"
Seto smirked, "Challenge accepted,"
"I can't believe it…" Joey stared emotionlessly at his deck of cards while his opponent packed up the gear calmly.
"Arrogance will never get you anywhere," Seto looked with unconcealed dislike at Joey.
"You should be one to talk!" Yami shouted infuriated as he started towards the elder Kaiba.
Seto simply smirked, "I'm not the one who lost now am I?"
"BASTARD!" Tristan yelled as he launched his body towards Seto Kaiba, arms outstretched.
"Tristan!" Tea shouted as she hurried to break the two up.
Seto was not without defense, he blocked each punch effectively and landed his own punch right in Tristan's gut before Tea reached the two.
Tristan's eyes bugged out as he fell to the ground choking for air. Snorting in disgust, Seto backed up thankful for the fact that Serenity had the foresight to keep Mokuba occupied throughout this whole ordeal. Tea knelt down next to Tristan, rubbing his back while murmuring 'breath in, breath out' in his ear.
The thunder above them crackled and rain started pouring upon the crowd which had collected around the dueling group. Now disinterested in the fight and more occupied with keeping themselves dry, the crowd dispersed leaving the group to their own dealings.
Feeling the first few drops upon her skin, Tea could and probably would have laughed at the satire the fates had placed upon them this day were it any other situation but this.
Seto had just turned around just as Joey launched his own body at the tall teenager, fist flailing. Falling to the ground with his own weight and Joey's weight combined, Seto flipped over and tucked his head in. Feeling one good punch at his lips and the metallic taste of blood, Seto covered his face and brought up his knee up, aiming for Joey's stomach.
He felt his arm being yanked by two small hands and watched as Yami pulled Joey away towards Tristan.
"Stop it Kaiba! Just stop it!" Tea protested, her voice strangely hoarse.
Seto really couldn't tell whether she was crying or not; the rain was pouring so hard that in a matter of seconds, they were all drenched to the bone. He took one glance at the group, disarmed Tea's arm from his own and slowly walked away.
"Joey?" Tea asked quietly as she brought one palm to his cheek. "You okay?"
The blond boy nodded, thankful for Tea's comforting hands lightly massaging his neck, "Don't get mixed up with that bastard Tea,"
Tea had no response for it.
When Mokuba entered the library with a cup of tea and some medical supplied, he was met with a lone figure standing at the window, expression as grim as weather outside. Leaving just as quietly as he entered, Mokuba sadly trotted down the stairs only to hear the bells of the door ringing as soon as he reached the bottom.
Confused as to who would be out in a rainstorm like this, he opened the door and peaked through, "Tea?" Eyes widening, he opened the door wider for the drenched brunette, "Tea!" Throwing himself at the girl, he hugged her legs tightly.
"Hey kiddo, where's your brother?" She asked ruffling his hair.
"He's in the library, you're drenched!" He chided as if he were her mother.
Ruffling his hair one last time, she smiled gently, "It's alright, I won't be long,"
Mokuba could only murmur a small okay as he watched the girl walking up the steps towards the direction of where his big brother currently brooded.
"Mokuba, what are you – oh, it's you,"
Tea was taken back by his harsh greeting but kept from saying anything, all the while observing his actions.
"What do you want?" He asked as he rolled up his robe's sleeve and looking at a tender flesh wound upon the elbow.
She didn't answer but instead, pulled up a chair next to him, took the bottle of rubbing alcohol, a ball of cotton, and then his arm ignoring the protest of the older Kaiba brother. "This is going to sting,"
"I could have done this myself," Seto stated before his sharp intake of breath as Tea pressed the wet cotton ball upon the tender flesh.
Tea shrugged, "I know but I wanted to do it for you," She simply replied. After cleaning the wound properly with rubbing alcohol, she gently put some cream on the area and then wrapped it up with some gauze bandages. "That should be better,"
Seto was looking over Tea's handiwork before he felt his face turned by the brunette before him. She had scooted closer and was now inspecting the cut lip. Try as he might, he could not break her grip.
"That must hurt," She simply commented once more, as she took a new piece of cotton and dipped it into the rubbing alcohol. Gently working on his face, Seto barely felt the sting that usually accompanied wounds being cleaned by rubbing alcohol.
After an elongated moment of silence, Seto finally asked, "Why are you here, Tea?"
She looked at him straight into his eyes before looking back down at his lips, "I was worried. When Joey tackled you, it seemed as if you landed the ground pretty hard,"
Yanking his head away from her hands, Seto busied himself with the supplies littering his desk, "I don't need your pity,"
"It's not pity Seto," Tea answered instantly, keeping her gaze upon his face. "I had hoped that maybe…"
"God you have such a one-track mind," He irritably stated as he glared at Tea. "How was it trying to repair Joey's self-esteem after I left him battered on that field? Did he go home with his tail tucked behind his legs?" Standing up, he towered over the girl, taking full note of the quick change in her feelings.
Tea's blood boiled at the ill-concealed sarcasm, "What is your problem Seto!? You beat Joey at the arcade in the duel, isn't that enough!? God, isn't anything ever enough for you? I came here wanting to see if you were alright and you just rub your victory against Joey in my face. How selfish can you be?"
Standing up, Tea took a deep breath and glared at him straight in his face eyes filled with unshed tears. It was as if they were back at that day when Tea both defended Kaiba and then challenged him. "You say my friends are sore losers? Look at yourself Seto, you're the sore loser here! You beat them but yet you aren't satisfied. You took Yugi's star chips, you've taken Joey's and Tristan's confidence, when are you going to realize that maybe, just maybe, the world does not revolve around your arrogant ass!? You have the world at the tip of your fingers! What else do you want!?"
"I deserve every single part of it!" Seto responded smirking as he walked closer to the girl, satisfied that she backed up each time he came closer. Once she was up against the wall, he slammed his hands on both sides of her head, and watched her flinch with the impact of his hands upon the wall.
"You never answered my question that day. Why do you hate them so much, Kaiba?" She finally asked her voice audible and clear as it resonated throughout the quiet library.
He almost answered instantly, eyes peering straight into hers, "Because they took you away from me,"
With that, he closed whatever little distance there was between them and kissed her.
Tears having finally fallen, Tea had begun to respond to the kiss and was only broken out of her reverie when she realized she lay as limp as a wed noodle in Seto's arms with his stoic face and eyes a sea of emotion staring right into hers. Taking both arms, she shoved him with all her might and dashed out, not once caring whether or not he chased after her.
He didn't. By then, Seto had fallen against the wall, face buried within his arms.
"Hello!" Greeted the brown haired girl as she crawled into the space where the brown-haired boy was currently hiding. Rubbing her blue eyes, she looked around, her lopsided pigtails moving each time her head turned, "Why are you hiding?" She finally asked when her gaze returned.
He looked out the hole from where she had entered, "How did you find me?"
She giggled, "I followed you!" Crawling up to sit beside him, she smiled brightly at him. "My name is Tea, what's yours?"
"Seto," he responded quietly, watching her curiously.
She clapped her small hands together. "Wanna be friends Seto?"
He was confused but this prospect of a friend excited him so Seto nodded enthusiastically, "Yeah!" he exclaimed.
"Yay! I have a new best friend!" she shouted happily before hugging him. Crawling out towards the hole, she peered back at him, "Well, aren't you coming? We can't have fun in this little hole,"
"Okay!" Quickly he scrambled after her.
Ending Notes: I thought a flashback from when Tea and Seto first met would be the perfect ending. That way, the readers get to choose whether or not they get together. Yeah, I admit that this fanfic was really fast paced but at the time I was writing it, it seemed pretty long and I only wanted this to be a one-shot. Sort of like my introduction speech into the world of YGO fanfiction.