by Lethe Seraph

One: Jou

            I didn't mean to do it, really.

            It was just curiosity.  I didn't mean anything by it.

            I'm sure.

            Really!  I was just bored.

            You said that you were curious.

            Well, when you're bored, you kind of get curious about anything easily, right?  You just want to do something.  Anything.  If it gets rid of your boredom, then it's good.

            So, if a knife had been available to you at the time…

            …then I would have slashed the desk open, right.  Just to see if it really was wood.

            All right.  Whatever.  Go on.

            Okay.  So I was sitting there.  In class.  And I was bored.

            Which class?

            History.  The teacher was going on and on about something-or-other, and I wasn't paying attention.  There was a really sweet breeze coming in through the window.  It smelled like food.

            And you wonder why Kaiba calls you a mutt.

            Hey!  It was perfectly smellable to anyone with a nose, thank you very much.  So I was sitting there, the teacher was being boring, and I smelled food.  Needless to say, I was getting agitated.  There was food, darn it!  I wanted that food.


…Smellable isn't a word, you know.

            It is now. 

            …No, it isn't…

Anyway, I started looking around for something to distract me from the smell.  I was playing with my pencil for a while, but that got boring too.  Then I saw it.

            Saw what?

            Well, see, Kaiba's in that class.  And he sits right next to me – because of the teacher.  Not my choice.  My last name is Jonouchi, and his is Kaiba, so of course we usually sit near each other.  Not my fault at all. 

            Yes, I get that.  So, what did you see?

            He was writing!  He wasn't paying attention either.  I think he was writing something business-related.  It was all tidy-looking.  And it was in cursive.  That was interesting.  I'd never seen Kaiba's handwriting before.  It wasn't messy cursive, either.  It looked like a typeface on Word or something.  It was kind of cool.

            You must have been really bored.

            Yeah, I know!  So I sat there watching him write for a while.  And then I started reading what he was writing.  It was about stocks or something.  I just kept on watching him write, and then his pen ran out of ink.  He leaned down to get a new one from his briefcase, and saw me staring!  That definitely wasn't good.  He probably thought I was a nut, or trying to send him a death glare, or something.  I didn't know what to do! 

            So you did something stupid on the spur of the moment.


            Do tell.

            Well, um.  This is kind of embarrassing.  I, uh, well.  I, um, raised my hands and made a heart sign.  You know, where you kinda curve your fingers-

            …I know what you mean.  Continue.

            Yeah, so I did that.  You should have seen his face!  It was priceless.  He was giving me this totally blank stare, like What the hell? and it was really hard for me not to burst out laughing.  I wonder if he thought I meant it…?  Anyway, that was when I realized that the teacher had stopped talking. 

            And she was staring at me too.


            "Jonouchi Katsuya!  What are you doing?!"  Jonouchi snapped his head away from Kaiba – such an amusing sight – and turned to find the teacher, giving him the strangest look he had ever seen.  From her, anyway.  Kaiba's look still took the cake. 


            Jou flushed when he realized that all of the students were looking at him now, and about half of them had actually seen him give Kaiba the heart.  "Um, paying attention.  Really."

            She raised an eyebrow.  "Oh, really?"

            "Yeah.  Um, yeah."

            "Do explain why you were looking at Kaiba, then, instead of me."

            What else could he do?  Jonouchi flashed one of his trademark idiot grins and stood, propping a foot on his desk.  One could almost see the majestic mountain and fluttering flag in the background.  "Because, sensei!" he cried in a rabble-rousing manner.  "Although your material is fascinating, he is much more attractive than you are!"

            "Hear, hear!" cheered Honda from the back of the class.  Anything for a disruption.

            "I fully support Jonouchi in his endeavor!"

            The class was in an uproar.  At one point, even Yugi had stood and was cheering Jou on.

            "Yeah!  All right, Jou!  Go Kaiba!"

            Kaiba had begun to twitch.

            Jonouchi grinned more widely and displayed a peace sign.  "Yes!  All who support Kaiba!"

            "Hear, hear!"

            "Three cheers!"

            "Hip, hip-"


            The teacher glared at them all.  "Jonouchi.  Hallway.  Now."  She gestured to the door.  "I'll be out to deal with you in a few minutes." 

            Jonouchi sighed.  It was a good effort.  "Yes, sensei."


            So, that's how it started.

            I see.  It wasn't your fault; you were just trying to avoid looking like a fool.


            You succeeded admirably. 

            …Was that sarcasm?

            Not at all.

            Now that was sarcasm.  I know you.

            Just go on.  What happened next?

            I don't know if I should tell you, if you're going to be all sarcastic and stuff.  …Fine!  Fine!  All right.  After school, I was gathering my stuff, and…


            The bell rang.

            Jonouchi sighed happily and began cramming his binders into his somewhat tattered backpack.  School was finally out for the day!  Who cared if he had detention all of next week?  The day was bright, and sunny, and he could smell food.  So everything was good.

            He was whistling a cheerful tune when he was grabbed by the shoulders from the behind.  Pale hands roughly turned him to face their owner.


            …And how did the teacher react to this?

            She had already left for an appointment.  I was actually the last person there.

            How long does it take you to pack up, anyway?

            Well, my backpack's zipper was kind of stuck, not to mention not all the binders would fit…

            …Geez, Jou.  Buy a new backpack.

            Would if I could.

            Fine.  Whatever.  Just keep talking, all right?


            "…Kaiba!" said Jonouchi in surprise, flinching under the gaze of cold blue eyes just a few inches from his own.

            Kaiba gave Jonouchi a dark look.  "What was that for, mutt?" he said in the same sharp manner as always.  His hands tightened on Jou's shoulders, and Jou squeezed his eyes shut so he wouldn't cry out.  He wouldn't give Kaiba that pleasure.

            "What was… what, Kaiba?" said Jou.  Was Kaiba going to hurt him?  They were alone.  Kaiba would be able to leave and say he hadn't done it.  Jonouchi trembled slightly.

            Kaiba let out an aggravated sigh and released Jonouchi's shoulders.  "Stop whimpering and open your eyes.  I'm not going to kill you, as much as I would like to."

            Jonouchi was tempted to bolt out of the door – but, no, his pride wouldn't stand for it.  He straightened and glared Kaiba in the eye.  "You wouldn't be able to.  I could give you more than a match with one hand tied behind my back!"

            "Strong words, pup," said Kaiba almost amusedly.  "Kindly remember, though, who was quivering in fear just a moment ago."

            This served to, metaphorically, stick Jou's anger and pride over a stovetop and set them aflame. 

            "What?!  I thought you were going to beat me up!  And besides, what if it wasn't fear?" shouted Jonouchi at the unflinching Kaiba.  "What if I was just really, really… um…"  He faltered.

            Kaiba raised an eyebrow.  "Were you going to say 'angry' or 'turned on'?"


            "You said it yourself.  You think me attractive."

            "I… I!"  Jonouchi brandished an accusing finger at Kaiba, though unsure of what he was accusing Kaiba of.  "Well, I, um!  No, not… I'm not…"  Then he remembered what he had wanted to say.  "I just said that you were more attractive than the teacher, not that you were actually attractive!  Maybe you like me, huh, if you jumped to conclusions like that!"

            "So why were you staring at me earlier?"  This was clearly what Kaiba had wanted to talk about; his icy eyes glittered almost dangerously.  Jonouchi thought that if you took Kaiba's eyes out, they could probably cut diamonds.  Heh.  An eyeless Kaiba.  What a sight that would be, Kaiba blundering about and banging into walls…

            But his mind was wandering.  And Kaiba was waiting for an answer.

            "…Well.  Uh," said Jonouchi.  Shoot!  If he hesitated at all – well, he already had – then Kaiba would take that to mean that he had some sort of crush!  That, of course, was most definitely untrue.  Kaiba was such an idiot.

            "Well, uh?" said Kaiba, smirking slightly.  He seemed to be enjoying flustering Jonouchi further.  "Well, uh, what?"

            "Shut up!" said Jonouchi.  The truth couldn't be any worse than what Kaiba was taking out of his silence, right?  "If you really have to know, Kaiba, I was watching you write!"

            Kaiba blinked.  Whatever he had been expecting, it couldn't have been that.  "You were watching me write?"

            "Your handwriting was kind of cool-looking," admitted Jonouchi, looking away.  "And the teacher was being really boring."

            Kaiba sighed again.  "I shouldn't have grabbed you like that," he said, his cold expression slipping a bit.  Jonouchi noticed this with a small jolt.  Kaiba would be really cute if-

            What was he thinking?

            "You shouldn't have," agreed Jonouchi.

            "I apologize.  Do you need a ride home, mutt?"

            "Call me Jou, damn it!"

            Kaiba was stunned for a moment before he began to laugh. 

            "What?" Jonouchi said, offended.

            "Isn't 'Jou' what your friends call you?"

            "Yeah…" said Jou.  He didn't quite grasp the point.

            "That had to be the strangest offer of friendship that I have ever received."
            It was Jonouchi's turn to be shocked into silence.  He had!  He had just suggested, however unintentionally, that he and Kaiba be friends!  He resisted the urge to hit his head repeatedly.  He still hated Kaiba with a vengeance!  How could he have said something like that without thinking?!  "Well, you don't have to…" began Jonouchi.

            "I think that I would rather like to accept," said Kaiba, silencing Jou.  "Now, Jou, do you need a ride?" 

            Jonouchi blushed.  What could he do?  He might as well try putting up with Kaiba.  

            And besides, if he didn't, he would have to walk home.

            "Yeah.  Thanks, Kaiba."


            And that's all.

            But how did things turn out?  Did you actually remain friends, or did you keep arguing like you usually do?

            …I'm really hungry.  Can we finish this conversation later?

            Sure, fine.  Help yourself.  Kitchen's over there and whatnot.

            All right!  Awesome!