Disclaimers are the same for all chapters.
This is it. The Final Chapter! Be sure to check out Behind the Pixels; a series of side stories to this fic.
The swirling blue mist faded into black.
"JOUNOUCHI! Would you get up already!"
Jou perked right up after having the anonymous voice yell right in his ear, and smacked his head into the owner of that voice.
"Ack! Sorry Yug, I didn't realize that you were right there!" Jou apologized, rubbing his forehead to get rid of the minor pain.
"You have to go downstairs right now!" Yugi yelled in a scolding manner. It was actually terrifying to have a short and normally cheery kid start screaming at him, especially when he was dressed in all black and biker belts.
"Wha..? Can't I get dressed?" the blonde protested as Yugi forcefully grabbed his wrist and pulled him out from under the blankets.
"Hurry up!" Yugi scowled, his hands placed on his hips impatiently. He ran off to the sink and returned with a toothbrush and toothpaste. He handed Jou the items, even though the sleepy boy was still struggling with his white shirt and blue jeans, and barked, "Don't forget to brush your teeth! Hurry up! We have to go back downstairs NOW!"
"Yer sparee," Jou mumbled as he furiously brushed is teeth. What he meant to say was, 'You're scary.' Yugi pushed him out of his room, urging him to walk faster to the sink.
"You're done! Let's go," the short and scary boy said. He grabbed Jou's hand and ran downstairs. Jou stumbled and choked on his own saliva, wondering what the hell was up with his friend.
"Yugi…what's going on?" Jou asked, ruffling his hair a bit.
"GET YOUR SHOES ON!" The blonde could swear that Yugi suddenly grew fangs, red wings, and a pointed tail.
"What about my jacket?! You're taking me outside, aren't you?" He scrambled to slip his sneakers on.
"Okay," Yugi sighed, "Now let's go outside." The short boy somehow expelled the evil demon that had taken over his body and lead Jou into the store and outside. The store wasn't open that day, so Yugi's grandfather and mother were out shopping.
"What's…what's going on here?" Jou demanded. Seto Kaiba was standing outside, wearing all black, and of course a trench coat.
"Why don't you tell me, Jounouchi?" Yugi replied, "Kaiba comes here and suddenly wants to talk you?"
"Yugi," Kaiba said sternly, "Just stay out of this."
"I'll be inside then. The store needs to be organized for tomorrow." The shortest boy opened the glass door of the game shop and left Jou and Kaiba alone outside.
"You can't log off on me this time," the brunette stated.
Jounouchi shivered from the chilly breeze. There was a light layer of snow covering the ground. He sniffled, "I can't."
"Come here," Kaiba stepped forward, wrapping his arms around the shivering boy, "You'll catch a cold."
"Let me go, Kaiba," Jou protested. He made no move to escape. It was very warm and comforting to be held by Seto; he could not deny that he was protected from the cold.
"No." The wind picked up again, making the long coat flow away from the brunette's legs. He tightened the embrace in reaction to the gust.
"Kaiba…" It was no use. He would have to push himself away and run into Yugi's house now.
It was his only chance. After this moment he might not get another. He couldn't care less who was around, even though it was a rather bleak and boring day. He brought his hand up to Jounouchi's hair, rubbing his head affectionately, and preparing to tilt it upward.
And he slipped away.
Katsuya had tightened up and slipped down to abscond into the game shop.
"No," Seto muttered. He soon found himself chasing the blonde inside, surprising Yugi. Jounouchi jumped over an unopened box on the floor and fled inside the house, slamming the door behind him. Seto gripped onto the handle a second too late; and he wasn't about to run inside Yugi's home uninvited.
"Katsuya!" the tall boy yelled, pounding his right fist on the door, "Katsuya!" He began to feel the snow he kicked up melt into his pants and through his socks. It only made him shiver more.
"Go away!" Jou yelled through the door. At least he was still there. It had to mean something, didn't it?
Was this really it? Did Jounouchi truly hate him? Were his actions indeed unforgivable?
It hurt too much. He wasn't going to give up.
"No, I won't leave," he spoke through the door, letting his forehead rest on it. He unfurled his fist and placed his palms on the door, acting as if the door itself was Jounouchi.
"Why are you bothering Jounouchi, Kaiba?" Yugi asked from behind him. The tone was demanding and angry. Seto merely turned his head slowly, never removing it from the door, and looked at him. His eyes were sad, and lacking the usual condescending glare. He figured that was a good enough answer for the annoying punk, and gazed back at the door.
"Katsuya, open the door." He wondered if the boy was even able to hear him that time, he had barely managed to say the words. He was choking back another fit of sadness, not for Jounouchi's sake, but because he didn't want Yugi to see him tear up.
He heard some sort of noise from beyond the obstacle. He wasn't sure if Jou had replied, or was crying. Perhaps his hearing all together was off and the boy had walked away, leaving him about to talk to himself.
"Katsuya, you told me not to hide behind the monitor, so I came to see you," Seto somberly rationalized, "But now you are the one hiding." There was silence. The brunette listened, hoping for some indication that the boy was still just beyond the few inches of hinged wood. He heard a minor shuffle, and continued, "I'm sorry. Just open the door so I that can tell you."
He waited for a few moments, but the door never opened. He winced, forcing the welled up tears to trickle down his cheeks. Seto wiped them away quickly, before turning around to leave.
It was time to give up.
There was no point in trying. His jealousy had driven him to hurt Katsuya time and time again, whether it be indirectly through his friends or by directly insulting him. Would this be how it would be forever? He would always be alone. He damned himself to this life when he decided to construct that icy shield of his. Not only that, he had probably passed this type of attitude on to Mokuba, who would in turn live a lonely and bitter life if he didn't turn around now. What a wonderful role model he had become.
There would be no one to share his wealth with. No one to take care of him when he needed to be taken care of. Just one bitter old man with a nice resume.
Seto swallowed a large gulp of air and walked for the door. He glared at Yugi, sending the short kid a signal to shut up and not make some defending or intrusive comment as he usually might do.
It had started snowing outside again. Little tufts of snowflakes were kicked up as Seto hurried to reach the car that he had wait for him. It was around the block, out of the way as he didn't want to act like he was pushing his wealth in the poor blonde's face.
Strangely enough, he didn't feel like going inside the warm automobile once he made it there. He instructed the driver to head back without him. He wanted to torture himself in the cold a bit longer.
It felt…justified. He could stay out all day and suffer whatever consequences the cold had on his body. He would stop crying so his face couldn't feel the heat from his tears. A suitable punishment.
Of course Katsuya wasn't a dog. Sure, his hair was a little messy, and his loyalty was comparable. It wasn't nice at any rate. Seto had even gone so far as to label him a low rank duelist on a computer network when his Battle City Tournament kicked off, despite the fact that he was a finalist at Duelist Kingdom.
When he thought of it, maybe he had always liked the rowdy teen. He had always found him attractive, and was drawn to him in a strange way. He remembered wondering the same thing back when he had disappeared from Marik's thugs. He couldn't figure out then why it had worried him, but now it was coming together.
The thoughts made it all the more painful, which spurred him to think them in endless circles. He was enjoying the misery, as strange as that may seem. He felt like he would no longer be human if he didn't, and after all he had done in his past, that line wasn't so far away.
Before he knew it, he had ended up back in that same park, overlooking that same empty fountain, and leaning on that same cold railing.
Well, he had done it.
He had effectively driven away everyone that he cared about.
He didn't even live with his mother and Shizuka, just with some drunk of a father who only acknowledged his existence when he was angry or needed more beer. Otogi was still angry about getting punched in the face, not to mention mad about Nymphe's exit from Radiant Eclipse. Bakura just followed like a lemming. Yugi was on his way out; he would find out what happened between he and Yami soon enough, and he already sensed some jealousy over Kaiba. He could eventually find a way to drive Honda away, and Anzu really didn't matter. She just came with the Yugi package. And then…
There was him. Seto Kaiba.
He had always envied him. Kaiba was able to rise from destruction of his family and reach his full potential. He was able to see his younger sibling every day. His grades were excellent, and he never let anything get to him.
He wiped his nose with his finger as he walked on. Jou had no idea where he was heading, only that he couldn't stay at Yugi's house and get grilled. He didn't want to have something stupid happen with that crazy other personality and get rid of both halves of Yugi.
Kaiba still sat in his head. He was strong, physically and mentally, and hot to boot. Jounouchi always had a secret attraction to the tall blue-eyed brunette, then again, who didn't? Physically, Kaiba was stunning, and perfect. If Jou had even half of the boy's looks, maybe the girls would have paid much more attention to him.
Disregarding his hatred for him, Jou actually pondered the events that occurred since they 'met'. Seto had so easily thrown everything away, and willingly rendered himself vulnerable in front of someone whom everyone thought was his archenemy, just for him. The way that he held him earlier was so gentle, and his touch was loving yet needy.
Needy. Of course. Kaiba's life wasn't all that great, was it? He had discovered pieces of Seto's past, and it was just as tough as Jou's life, if not worse. Jounouchi had no one? Seto has his brother. That's it. And Katsuya had just made life even more miserable for the poor boy.
He knows what it's like to open up to people he thinks he can trust, only to have them be the ones to stab you with the biggest and sharpest blades. It's hard to trust and love again, and perhaps that is why it took him so long to warm up to Yugi and everyone else.
He had just done that to Seto. He was the one to open him back up, and he even led him on further by accepting his true gender. Then what did he do? He told him that he hated him and deserved every ounce of hurt that came his way. He forced him to come out, at risk to his company and his reputation, and then pushed him away.
Jounouchi decided then that he had to go back to Yugi's and sign on to the game. It might be the only way to talk to Kaiba. It was getting dark, and he was starting to the feel the cold through his thin knit gloves. On his way back, he passed the park that he had discovered the truth about Nymphe in, and saw a single figure standing at the railing, their long coat flapping in the breeze.
Had Seto been outside all this time? It had been seven hours since their encounter, and Jou had only left Yugi's in the last eighty minutes. He had to find out. Little wisps of air could barely be seen exiting the tall boy's mouth as is.
Katsuya took his gloves off and stuffed them in his pockets. He approached the lone boy slowly, noticing that he had both hands bare and gripping onto the metal guardrail. Jou walked to Seto's left, and placed his right hand on the brunette's left. It was chilling to the touch.
"You've been out here the whole time, haven't ya?" the blonde asked. He quickly spun the other boy around and took both of his numb hands to his chest. It was so like him, to wait for hours on end even if there was little hope. Just like Impy would do.
"Yes," Seto finally answered. His breathing was incredibly slow.
"Stupid…" Jou said, pulling the tall boy into him by his waist. He took his free hand and placed it on the side of Seto's face. His cheeks were rosy, but they were as icy as his hands. The color of his lips was starting to look a lot like his eyes.
"We have to get you inside!" Jou scolded. His heart was pounding; how could Kaiba do something so idiotic?
"Let go," Seto meekly asked. The blonde unwrapped his arm, knowing that the request wasn't to ease his annoyance, but rather to get out of the way of his pockets. The frozen boy pulled out a cell phone and struggled to make his fingers press the button that he wanted. He finally succeeded and motioned for Jou to put it back, as his hands were to immobilized to do so.
Jounouchi continued his vain attempts to get Seto's hands warm for several moments. Neither of them seemed to care about the elderly couple that was passing by. A black limousine soon pulled up in a side street near the park; Jou assumed that the phone had some sort of tracking system integrated into it. He helped the frozen boy in his arms inside the car, then sat down himself.
The cushions were comfortable and upholstered in black leather. There were climate controls everywhere, and even a mini-fridge under one of the seats. All of the lavish features, aside from the climate control, meant nothing to the blonde. He stared at the controls and turned on the heat once he had deciphered them. He took his own jacket off and covered Seto with it like a blanket. The car had already started moving, and he assumed that they were heading toward the brunette's prestigious home.
"What were you thinking?" Jounouchi asked, laying his head on Seto's left shoulder. He slipped his hands under the jacket and gripped onto Seto's once more.
"I wasn't," the cold boy honestly replied. It actually brought a wry smile to both of their faces.
The rest of the ride, they were silent. Jou had nothing going through his head, except for the warm feeling that he was getting just by caressing the other boy's hands. Finally, after ten long minutes, they arrived at the mansion's doorstep. The two exited the car, which pulled away right after. He was surprised that a chauffeur hadn't come to assist them.
"Seto!" Mokuba cried through the door. The teen had gotten taller since Jounouchi last saw him. He ran outside in his slippers to help the blonde walk Seto indoors. Without words, they both assisted Seto up to his room.
Katsuya took in the ornate interior of the estate. The ceiling was so tall that even someone like Seto could feel as tiny as an insect. It probably added to the desolate feeling inside of the young businessman. Several stairs and stumbles later, the trio entered Seto's colossal room and set him down on the canopy bed.
"I can do it," Seto lightly scowled at Mokuba, who was trying to be a polite brother and remove his shoes and coat for him.
"Okay," the adolescent sighed. He looked up at Jou, who took that as a sign to leave Seto be, as much as he didn't want to. The young boy announced, "I'll go get some tea and a bowl of hot water." He ran to the grand doorway, but stopped to say, "Thanks Jounouchi."
"You don't have to, Mokuba," Seto uttered, "Just have them bring two cups of tea back instead of one."
"He's…staying?" Mokuba questioned, seeming not to understand the situation.
"Mokuba…" the elder brother sternly stated. The boy quickly left and gently closed the door obediently.
"It's late…" the blonde said, still standing next to the bed dumbfoundedly, "I should go back to Yu.."
"Call him," Seto uttered, producing the phone from his pants' pocket and tossing it to the side. He was laying on his back and snug under the covers already.
Jounouchi picked up the phone and dialed Yugi's number, not sure of what to say. Had Seto implied that he wanted him to stay the night? Or did he just want him to stay a while longer?
"Sit," the laid up boy commanded. Jou figured that he was annoyed with his pacing back and forth, so he complied with the request and sat down on the edge of the bed.
"Ah, Yugi…umm, I just wanted to tell you that I'm fine." He swallowed hard, wondering exactly why he had called in the first place.
"Hmm? Why wouldn't you be? Where are you?"
"I'm at…Kaiba's." Jou heard Seto deeply exhale, so he glanced back and saw the brunette's blue eyes fixated on him. The stare was full of sorrow, which confused him.
"Kaiba's? Have you been there this whole time?"
"No…" He tapped his fingers on the indigo blankets; "I just got here."
"Why did you call? Are you staying there tonight?" Yugi's voice sounded angry and impatient.
"Am…I staying?" Jou repeated. Kaiba suddenly grabbed onto the moving fingers, signaling the answer to that question. Jou nudged his shoes off with his feet and replied, "I couldn't really tell ya right now, Yug."
There was a slight knock and the bedroom door opened again. A well-dressed butler brought in a silver tray that had a two cups and a teapot on it, and set it on the nightstand opposite of Jou. He began pouring tea out of the pot, but Seto waved a hand up, letting the servant know that was enough.
"Can you tell me everything else then, Jounouchi?"
Seto sat up wearily and poured the rest of the tea into the cups. His hands weren't working well though, so some of it spilled onto the silver tray. Jou giggled a bit and the brunette looked back at him with a scowling gaze.
"Yeah, whatever you want to know I can tell ya bud," Jou answered with a smile. He found Seto's sudden urge to be self-reliant adorable. He brought his legs up onto the bed, getting more comfortable.
"Kaiba is Nymphe, right?"
Seto winced, apparently burning his mouth on the hot tea. He quickly set the cup down and went back under the covers. Was he pouting? Jou smirked at him and grasped his hand again, tracing his thumb over the pink knuckles.
"Sorry Yug," the boy apologized, his eyes fixated on Seto's, "Yeah. Promise not to say anything, okay?"
Yugi sighed and reluctantly answered, "Yeah, I understand. I promise!"
Katsuya watched as Seto's eyelids struggled to stay open. Instead of letting Yugi continue, he interrupted, "Hey, Yug, listen. I'll tell ya more tomorrow. Just don't wait up for me." Yugi confirmed that and Jou turned the cell phone off and placed it on the nearest nightstand.
Seto was falling asleep. Jou turned over and placed his left palm on the boy's forehead, searching for a fever. He played with the perfect strands of hair before pulling his hand away; he wondered if he was the first person to really mess them up.
"Are you still cold?" he whispered, not entirely sure if the taller one was still awake. He yawned himself at the sight of Seto lying there innocently. All of the stress over the last few days had exhausted him too.
"Yes," was the slight reply. The brunette turned on his side, facing Jou completely, his eyes still closed.
Jounouchi had to do something to warm up his…boyfriend? He adjusted his position and slid underneath the blankets with him, lacing one arm underneath one of the very fluffy pillows and the other around Kaiba's waist. He actually saw Seto smile; his lips having returned to their normal color.
"You don't have a fever…you're lucky," Jou uttered, "You could have gotten hypoglycemia." He was shocked when Seto's eyes shot open, almost like he was a zombie that had just risen from the dead.
"Hypothermia," Seto corrected, using his normal condescending tone that everyone was used to. His eyes slowly shut again.
"It was still stupid of ya," Jou retorted. He felt another yawn coming on, and gradually, his eyes began to close as well.
"Katsuya," Seto murmured, "I'll go back to the guild." He turned on his own side to face Jounouchi, and returned the loving hold.
"Will ya?" Jou replied, tingling from the feeling of Seto's hand on his hip. He opened his eyes again and remarked, "They'll like that." He was tired, but it was refreshing to have a normal conversation with Seto Kaiba, face to face even.
"Eventually they will discover who I am…"
"That doesn't matter."
The statement lifted a minor weight off of Seto's chest. There was tons of it left there, and one of the heaviest issues was the distance between himself and Katsuya at that moment.
He wanted to kiss him so badly. The pent up emotion from the weeks of not being able to do so over the game was immense. The conflict over the last few days has not helped either. He wanted to make things up to him. It was clear from the look in the boy's brown eyes that he wanted the same.
The technique came naturally to Seto. His tongue pierced into the blonde's mouth at a languid pace, taking in the taste and savoring the moment. It wasn't a rushed movement, as he didn't want to give the boy the wrong impression. He was a gentleman, and he also didn't want Jounouchi to run off on him again.
He cursed his body for needing air.
"You taste like candy," Seto uttered. He was surprised that he still remembered the flavor; he had given up such things long ago. Perhaps it was time to revert back to his own age.
"That was nice…" Jounouchi replied. The boy closed his eyes again, his face permanently bearing a pleasant smile. He nuzzled his nose into Seto's neck, tickling the brunette's nose with his hair. He wrinkled it a bit and successfully held back a sneeze.
Seto felt Katsuya's breath against his neck. It was slow, revealing that the warm boy had fallen into a slumber. It was a rather wearisome day on both of their minds. It was time for his first serene rest since Joukatsu and Nymphe had met. Seto's body and breathing rhythm came into tune with the one in his arms and he gradually allowed himself fall asleep.
Thank you, my loyal readers, for all of the support and feedback you've given me. I can't express enough how happy you've all made me during the course of this fic. Please continue to support me and read some more Zelia Theb fics! I would love to write more for everyone.
I am uncertain if I want to make any sort of sequel at this point in time. I am leaning towards keeping it as is. If anyone is interested - I do have side stories up. Just click on my profile and head to Behind the Pixels to read them. If anyone has any requests for a side story, feel free to do so! My e-mail addresses are also in my profile.
At the moment I am working on Yu Yu Hakusho fics; I just posted a one-shot titled Strawberry Licorice, and am working on one called Alternate Universe. I also have most of the third side story of Behind the Pixels completed. So keep an eye out!