Alternate

by Lethe Seraph

Chapter One: Donut Memory Direction

            ---

            Yes.  It's an AU Jou/Seto fic.

            Ohohohoho.

            They are OOC.  But this is because they are AU.  They still have some of the same characteristics that make them themselves, and not just the physical ones.

            Please enjoy.  Read and review.  It should get more interesting in the next chapter.

            Maybe if I scream "SETO LIKES JOU!" really loudly, then people will come. 

            Heh.

            ---

            They were huge.

            Jonouchi was amazed.

            "Beautiful," he whispered, caressing the closest one – soft, and… he took a bite… oh, so sweet.  It tasted of cinnamon.  He took another bite.  With apple filling!  This was the best day ever!

            He dove into the gigantic pile of-

            "Baka!  Wake up!"

            "Huh…?"  Jonouchi blinked his eyes open groggily.  The image came into focus, and he frowned.  "Oh… it's you," he mumbled.  "Go away… I was gonna eat the donuts…"

            "Come on!" yelled Seto good-naturedly, shaking Jonouchi for good measure.  "You can eat real donuts if you just get up!  And get ready for school, too," he added.

            Jonouchi bolted upright.  "Donuts!"  He then processed the rest of Seto's words and burrowed back under the covers.  "School…"

            Seto sighed.  "You're going to make me late, idiot.  Get up."

            Ten minutes later, Seto had finally succeeded in forcing Jonouchi out of bed and into the kitchen.  It was now getting him out of the kitchen that would be hard.  Why he went through this every morning was beyond him; the two had known each other since elementary school, and never once had Jonouchi gotten up willingly. 

            "You can have a donut, too," offered Jonouchi.

            "It's all right.  I already ate."  Seto declined, as always.  "Dad made waffles, because it's Monday."

            "What does that hafta do with anything?" said Jonouchi through a big bite of donut.

            Seto shrugged.  "Mondays suck.  We might as well have waffles."

            Jou grinned.  "Good thinkin', Seto.  I approve."

            "I'm glad to know that," said Seto dryly.  "It's all the better coming from you."

            "That's ni- hey!" said Jou.  "Was that an insult?"

            "Not at all.  It was merely a sarcastic compliment."

            "Well, I'll take it as an insult."

            Seto smirked.  "Do what you will, pup.  Now hurry; you don't want to miss your first day of high school."

            Jou nodded and swallowed.  "Are you afraid, Seto-kun?"

            "No.  Are you?"

            "Kinda, not really."  Jou grinned lopsidedly.  "Kind of excited.  I hope we get the same homeroom."

            Seto agreed.  "Shall we get going?"

            "Yeah, 'kay.  Bye, Dad!" he called before slipping his shoes on and exiting.

            "I'll see you later, Jonouchi-san!"

            "You too, brats!" replied Jonouchi's dad good-naturedly.

            -

            Seto didn't know a lot of things.  There were many mysteries in his life, most of them revolving around Jou.  Like how he managed to stuff so much food in a frame as slim as his and still manage to stay as lanky as he was.  Or how he could forget all of his school assignments, still get passing grades, and then remember the summary of every episode of his favorite cartoon show to boot.  He obviously wasted a lot of his brain space on trivial things.

            Another mystery was: why were he and Jou even friends?

            It had just worked out that way, he supposed.  They had met a long time ago – in kindergarten or first grade? – and just hit it off.  Or, rather, Jou had kept pestering him until he got used to it.  He smiled at the memories.

            -

            "Hey!  What'cha doin'?"  A childish smile and a prod to the shoulder.

            "Why do you care?"

            "Curious," said the boy simply.  His hair was bright gold.

            "Well, go bother someone else.  If you must know, though, I'm working through a few algebra exercises."

            "…What?"

            "Math."

            "Oh!  Why wouldja work on that?  It doesn't sound very fun."

            "It's better than sitting around and doing nothing," said Seto, giving the child a glare.  Perhaps he would leave now.

            "What's your name?"

            He sighed.  A persistent one.  "Seto Kaiba."

            "I'm Katsuya Jonouchi!  Call me Jou.  Everyone does.  We're friends, okay?"

            Seto was silent.  Jonouchi seemed to take that as a yes, because that day at recess he invited Seto to play hopscotch with him.

            He said no.

            Every day after that, Jonouchi had asked him, and he had always said no.

            But Jonouchi just smiled and kept on trying.

            -

            "It's my birthday tomorrow, Seto!" said Jonouchi cheerfully, pushing himself off and swinging.  He looked over at Seto and grinned.  He had lost one of his teeth a few days ago.  Kaiba winced at the unnerving sight and turned back to his book, swinging absentmindedly. 

            "That's good, I suppose."

            "Yep!  I'm gonna be seven!"

            'That's great.  Congratulations," mumbled Seto.  He turned the page.

            "Heyyyyy," said Jou.  "Pay attention."

            "I am."

            "Pay more attention!" whined Jou.

            Seto sighed and closed his book.

            "So!  Whatcha gonna get me?"

            "What are you going to get me," corrected Seto.

            "No, it's my birthday, baka!" said Jonouchi with another grin.  "You're s'posed to get me somethin'."

            "…I don't know.  I'll get you something," conceded Kaiba.  "May I read now?"

            "Sure!"

            The next day, he had agreed to play hopscotch with Jou.  Jou said that it was the best present he had ever gotten.

            -

            "Damn it," mumbled Jonouchi.  "Damn it…"

            "What's wrong, Jou?" said a nine-year-old Seto concernedly.  He put his hand on Jou's shoulder and bent over to look into his face.  Jonouchi was crying.  "Are you all right?"

            "No, I'm not all right," said Jonouchi.  "Just… go away, all right?  Don't need anyone right now."

            Seto flinched.  He had half a mind to stalk away, but years of knowing Jou had pounded into his mind that that was most definitely not right, and he should do something to help.  "Yes, you do."  He rummaged around in a pocket.  "Ah, no handkerchief.  Darn."

            Jonouchi giggled.  "I wouldn't use it even if you gave it to me."

            "What, too girly for you?" joked Seto.

            Jonouchi frowned again and rubbed at his eyes.

            "…Is that what this is about?  You weren't being teased, were you?"  Seto grabbed Jonouchi by the chin and forced Jou to look him in the eyes.  "Who made you cry?"

            Jonouchi shook his head.  "Can't tell you."

            "Jou, come on.  I care, all right?  At least tell me what they said."

            Jou blinked at him and another tear spilled down his cheek, landing upon Seto's hand.  "He said… he said that I was a wimp and it was a mistake that I was born a boy and then…"

            "Then?"

            "H-he hit me…"

            Seto was filled with rage.  "Tell me who," he demanded.

            "But I can't!" whimpered Jou.  "I can't!"

            "Jonouchi," Seto had said.  "You're my best friend.  I have to know so I can do something about it."

            "…I'm your best friend?"

            "Yeah, Jou.  You are."

            Jonouchi smiled shakily.  "That helps."

            He told Seto.

            The next day, the child had been called into the principal's office.

            The day after, the child was gone.

            -

            "Seto!  I'm talking to you, here!" said Jou annoyedly.  "Earth to Seto!"

            "Sorry," said Kaiba sheepishly.  "Just thinking."

            Jonouchi was silent for a moment.  "…Well?"

            "Well what?"

            "Where's the punch line?"

            "Eh?"

            "Just thinking, unlike you," quoted Jonouchi in a high, breathy falsetto, "or 'Just thinking.  Bet you don't know how to do that!' or even 'Just thinking.  Too bad this is a trick the old dog can't learn!'  Come on, Seto.  What's on your mind?"

            Kaiba laughed.  "I was reflecting."

            "…And?  What else is new?" Jou deadpanned.

            Kaiba elaborated.  "When we were kids, and we met each other.  You were a really annoying brat."

            "Yeah, wasn't I, though?" said Jou wistfully.  "Ah, for the good old days."

            "What about the time Sakano insulted you and then beat you up?  That wasn't a good old day," said Seto.

            "I didn't say it was!  For all you know, there were two good old days, and I was talking about them."  Jonouchi stuck out his tongue childishly.

            Seto was about to reply, when he stopped and looked around.

            "…Er, Jou?"

            "Yeah?"

            "Isn't the high school in the other direction?"

            They both looked at each other for a moment as it dawned.

            "OH, SHOOT!"

            They bolted off, jackets fluttering in the wind.