Me beside you

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Warnings/notes : Seto/Joey (established), second(Seto)/third(Joey) pov, Mokuba, Yugi-tachi, oocness.

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. The song 'Me beside you' belongs to Travis.

written at 9th july 2004, by Misura, inspired by the Freeze Frame Plotbunny-challenge at A Dragon's Lair, lovingly dedicated to Scarlet Oasis. (Especially the second last line is for you. -winks-)

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/Dearest darling, look at me

Stuck away up on an old oak tree/

"Do you miss Joey?" Mokuba asks. You feel like it's the hundredth time he does so, and maybe it is. For some unfathomable reason, Mokuba seems to have decided that the mutt is essential for your happiness.

Perhaps it's partially your own fault, for letting your guards down after that evening when a heated argument turned into something equally heated, only a little less hostile.

You went to work a bit later, came home a bit earlier ... yes, it's all your own fault that Mokuba is now making assumptions like this. You wish he wouldn't, wish he'd see that he is enough.

/Looking down and as far as I can see...

(a nice deep breath taken)/

Before That Incident, Mokuba's company has always been enough. All you want is a return to that, a return to knowing what to expect when you get home.

"No," you reply curtly. Realizing too late that sounding gruff and cross now will only be constructed as yet another proof of Joey's presence being required.

Mokuba nods. He looks as if he accepts your answer, but you're not fooled. His next words confirm your suspicions.

"I miss him too. He made you smile."

/Dearest darling, look inside

Come with me and we'll walk for a while/

"He made you smile."

On your way to school, these words keep echoeing through your head. It bothers you. You'd like to dismiss them as untrue, but ... they are true.

Of course, Joey is a complete idiot, very good at making a fool of himself. That's why, perhaps, you're willing to admit that there's a grain of truth in Mokuba's words.

Smiles don't equal happiness though. Yugi smiles all the time. As does his cheergirl, Anzu. You're pretty sure they don't do it because they're so deliriously happy. It's just a part of their masks.

/And I'll define with you beside

Me beside you

Besides no one else will do beside/

You have seen Yugi's face during your duels. His real face. He may spout some faerie-tale story about how that fancy puzzle he wears around his neck contains the spirit of an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh who helps him duel, but only a fool would believe that.

The truth is that deep down, Yugi can be as ruthless and cold as, well, you. It excites you to duel him, to see the mask being dropped and face him as an opponent worthy of you, but it frustrates you to no end to see the mask being put back on.

One good thing about Joey no longer being by your side: you won't have to put up with the mutt's friends. They get on your nerves, with their talks about wanting to become -your- friends too.

You don't need friends. Especially not ones who believe in faerie-tales.

/Dearest darling when we wake up

Don't be cold and turn away, love/

Joey never wanted to listen to you when you tried to open his eyes to the real world. After a while, you decided it wasn't that important. What was it to you, if he insisted on being a stubborn idiot?

Besides, it gave the two of you something to argue about. The mutt could get so very ... passionate when it came to defending the honor of his friends, especially that of Yugi. Probably because the innocent and cheerful mask fooled him into thinking Yugi -needed- someone to defend him.

You liked to argue with Joey. Not just because of the way most of your arguments ended, the two of you stumbling up the stairs to your bedroom, with you trying to get the mutt to keep his voice down, for fear of disturbing Mokuba's soft slumber.

Granted, it did add something to the pleasure you derived from seeing him all riled up.

/'Cause there's nowhere that I'd rather be

Me beside you

Besides, no where else I'd be beside/

What really made you enjoy the fights though, was the taste of control they gave you. Knowing that you were the one responsible for that fire in his eyes, for his hands being balled into fists at his side, for his voice being raised ...

You're not a 'control-freak', not really. You do like to press people's buttons, get a reaction out of them while remaining perfectly cool and controlled yourself.

But at the same time, you acknowledge that you can't always predict what people will do. You can make people jump, yet you don't know aforehand -which way- they'll jump. And you don't want to either, not really. It'd make them predictable.

/Dearest darling time will tell us

If we'll fill up our empty wells/

You like a certain measure of control in your life, but predictability is something else. Something boring. There's no challenge in predictable things, no rush of adrenalin. You wouldn't go as far as to say you enjoy taking risks, or trust in Luck too much, like that flamboyant dice-freak.

A little unpredictability is nice though. Good to keep people on edge, alert. One of the few good things about the mutt was -and, you suppose, still is- that you knew some of his buttons, yet that you were never completely sure of his reaction to your pushing them.

Initially you were afraid that allowing him to live with you would make him predictable, make you too familiar with his mannerisms. It didn't happen quite that way.

The two of you did argue a lot more often.

/But until then we're by ourselves

Me beside you/

Mokuba gives you a strange look when you come back home, like he's hiding something. A surprise. For you. He smiles a lot too, almost giggling a few times.

You don't press him for what's making him act so cheerful, aside from a few neutral questions, offering him the chance to share his reasons with you, if he wants, or to remain quiet about them. He chooses the last.

When you stroll into your bedroom, tired of dealing with yet another fool who thinks that an upcoming deadline is a valid excuse for sloppy work, you find the 'surprise'.

A golden-haired pup is sleeping on your bed, his suitcases standing in a corner, still packed. Apparently his trip lasted a considerable time shorter than he'd told you. The other option, that he's returned because of you, is too ludicrous to even consider.

/Besides, no one else will do

Besides me beside you

Besides no one else will do/

He wakes up when you sit down, drowsily blinking up at you. You know his question the moment he's wrapped his arms around you, snuggling up to you like he really is an affectionate dog.

"Are you glad I'm back?"

And you, hating to be predictable and deciding that tomorrow is soon enough to start another fight, reply with a single word.

"Yes."

The look on his face reminds you of Mokuba's words again, because it's impossible not to smile at it.

OWARI