by Lethe Seraph

Eleven: Nervous

So the little disc thingy I use to store everything up and disappeared…

Anyway, it's a relatively short chapter, I guess. Building up to things again, huh?


Jounouchi got up and started pacing his room. He sighed and sat back down on the bed. His chest was tight.

His shirt was tight.

Jou breathed out slowly and stood again. "All right," he mumbled. "All right." He wasn't nervous – just – what if it became awkward? They hadn't really talked in such a long time. At least Mokuba would be there to even out the tension, or at least let them pretend it wasn't there.

A decisive rap on the front door.

Jou forced himself to walk, calm, out of his room. To check the peephole even though –

It was Kaiba.

It was Kaiba.

Heyy, bud! I was wondering if you'd ever call. How'd it go, man?

Ugh. I'm so tired.

Well, we can talk it through tomorrow if you want.

That's all right. I … need to talk to you.

You okay? What happened?

Honda, I think – I think I'm –

"Wow, Jou! The last time I saw you, you were in a suit!" Mokuba looked Jounouchi up and down, his mouth hanging open. "You look really cool!"

Jou grinned and ruffled Mokuba's hair. "You don't look too bad yourself, kid. How ya been?"

"Pretty good," said Mokuba. "We have a few big tests coming up, but I'm ready."

Kaiba nodded at Mokuba. "I know you are."

The limo turned abruptly into a main street, and Jou forced himself not to lean towards Seto.

He hadn't said anything about what Jou was wearing yet.

That was normal, right? That was a good thing.

Then again…

Jou snuck a glance at Kaiba.

He was wearing a shirt.

An ordinary T-shirt.

Admittedly, there was a Blue-Eyes splashed across the chest. But still!

"No comment?" said Seto mildly.

"…Huh?" said Jou.

Mokuba winked at Jou. "I made him wear real clothes for once."

Jou remembered belatedly that they had talked about Seto's strange dressing habits before. How he never showed his neck.

It was as pale as the rest of him. He had an average Adam's apple, and a small freckle just above the collarbone. A very normal neck for someone so imposing, interesting only because Jou had never seen it.

"And you got a haircut," Seto said conversationally. Jou thought of the dog jokes on his own, knowing already that Kaiba wasn't going to use any of them. He almost missed it – if only for the simplicity. Provoke and fight, with eating and sleeping in between.

Why wasn't it the other way around?

Jou realized that Kaiba hadn't finished speaking. He sat up. "What?"

Seto's mouth curled into a small, amused smile. "I won't say it again, Jou."

"He said you look nice," Mokuba piped. "He'd totally jump you any day."

"I did not."

"Well, I didn't say that you said that last part," said Mokuba, eyes glinting. "Did I?"

Jou snickered. The kid was good.

And the food would be too, he thought as the limo approached the front gates.

Honda, I think I actually like him. I think I like him. And it makes no sense!

Why'd you change your mind?

I don't know. I didn't like him, I remember that. I remember that really well. And now I do! It's like how we didn't like Yuug at first, you know?

Ah. They kind of tie in together, if you really try to rationalize.

Please don't.

Well, then, let's figure this out step by step. You want to do that?

Fine. Can't hurt. Where should I start?

Where do you think?

"We have an hour before dinner," Kaiba announced. Jou groaned. "What would you like to do in the interim?"

Jou thought. This should be taken advantage of. "I wanna see your room," he decided immediately. Kaiba stared at him.

"We could play video games," said Seto, trying to dissuade him. "Or watch part of a movie."

"Or we could see your room," said Jou. "What, is it messy?"

"It is most certainly not messy."

"Then let's see it!"

"Only because it's your birthday," grumbled Kaiba. He started walking to the staircase, and turned back. "Coming?"

"All right!"

"Don't take anything to auction off or whatever," Mokuba called after him, voice fading. "He catalogues everything."

The trek took fifteen minutes. No wonder Kaiba was so skinny, Jou thought as he huffed along. Jou was in great shape, but keeping up with the guy's fast pace was too much for him. "Kaaaiba…" he groaned.

"We're almost there. Try to keep up."

"I'm trying!"

"This is good for you. One more turn."

Finally, Kaiba reached a door with a small, flat panel affixed to it. Kaiba placed his hand on the panel and waited. The door swung open. "Welcome," intoned a woman's voice.

Jou whistled. "Pretty slick setup there."

"It comes in handy," Seto said simply.

Jou walked in and looked around. For some reason, he wasn't surprised at how small the room was. Just large enough to live in, but he had a feeling Seto spent more time where his computers were – when he wasn't at work.

A plain mirror sat above the desk, with two stickers on its frame. Jou leaned in. The first was a cheap Blue-Eyes White Dragon, of course. Jou snickered. When Kaiba was devoted…

The second was a photo-booth sticker of Seto and Mokuba. The two were jollying it up for the camera with peace signs and silly expressions. Seto had probably never shown it to anyone else.

Jou corrected himself. Seto definitely hadn't shown it to anyone else.

A warm breath at his shoulder. "Amused?"

"It's cute," said Jou without thinking. "Wish I could get you to do that."

"You haven't tried," Seto said.

Jou turned to face him. They were so close. And in his room. Jou suddenly wondered whether it seemed like he was coming on to Seto. "I didn't mean to-"

"I know. Just friends." Seto smiled again, this time without humor. "I'm… glad… that you came back."

"Sorry for not apologizing sooner," Jou said.

"It was my fault," Seto said.

That was the first time that night that Jou's heart sped up without warning.