Three Sides To Every Triangle
"What are ya doin'?" Joey asked, walking up to the white-haired boy perched precariously on the roof's edge.
Ryou started and turned towards the blond. He stared at Joey for a moment, slack-jawed, before realizing that his friend had asked a question, and most likely expected an answer. "Umm…waiting?" he said at length, as if not sure of the reply he'd given.
"Waiting fer what?" Joey asked, glancing around at the deserted roof. It was lunchtime, and it being such a nice day, the group had all decided to eat outside. Ryou had been nowhere to be found, until Joey had spotted the younger boy from the ground.
"I…don't know," Ryou said tersely. "I don't actually know what I'm doing. Why don't you go away so I can figure it out?" He bared his teeth in what might have been meant as a pleasant smile, but was most likely a cross between a glare and a grimace.
"Ry, what's up with ya lately?" Joey asked gently. "You've been all out 'a sorts fer weeks now."
"And so what if I have?" Ryou asked flippantly, looking away to hide the pensive expression on his face. "Don't tell me you actually care or anything."
Brow furrowing, Joey said, unable to keep the hurt from his voice, "'A course I care, Ryou. You're my friend." And I wish you could be more. You and Bakura… Shaking off thoughts of what could never be, he came back just in time to hear Ryou's response to his words.
"I…it's Bakura," Ryou admitted finally, forcing the words out past a block of reluctant to talk about this situation. "He…"
"He what?" Joey prompted gently, his stomach sinking in dread. He'd thought that the spirit had gotten less malicious after his Pharaoh-enforced stay in the Shadow Realm.
Cheeks pinkening, Ryou blurted out, "He…he kissed me!" His face went even redder, and he ducked his head.
Well, at least he's not hurting Ryou, Joey thought sardonically. The dull realization of disappointment glazing over his eyes was the only outward indication he gave to his internal distress. Bakura and Ryou together…with no room for him. "And dis is…bad? Good? Confusing?"
"All of the above," Ryou agreed, voice ragged.
"Because ya don't like him like dat?" Joey asked, not sure if he wanted an affirmative answer or not. If Ryou wasn't even interested in guys, he didn't have a prayer of getting together with him, but if it was just Bakura he didn't like, then maybe…
For some reason this question only caused Ryou's blush to resume. "I…ano…I'm not sure," he finally said. "I mean, I…we haven't even really been friends for all that long, and…"
"And?" Joey prodded gently.
Heaving a sigh, Ryou stared down at the roof's tar-black surface, studying it intently. "I…" Ryou let out a shuddering breath. "I don't know," he said, voice choked. "I never…I never thought about him like that…"
Hearing the odd emphasis Ryou had used, Joey asked, "But ya do like someone, right?"
Still scared, Ryou nonetheless nodded. "I…yeah, I do."
Noticing the thinly-veiled fear on the other's face, Joey asked softly, "Another guy?"
Ryou's eyes went wide, and, pointedly not looking at Joey, said softly, "Hai."
"Well, okay, so ya just tell Bakura dat ya don't like him like dat," Joey said, not quite understanding the problem.
"But…I'm not sure that I don't," Ryou said in a strangled, tearful voice.
Joey had the surreal feeling that if he were an anime character a large drop of sweat would be forming on his forehead. As it was, he was pretty sure he'd turned as red as a tomato. "Ah…ya think ya like both Bakura and dis other guy?" Joey asked, trying to keep the hurt out of his tone. Oh, he knew all too well about being in love with two guys, but to hear Ryou was as well…and what were the chances that this unnamed guy Ryou was refusing to talk about was him, ne?
Probably about the same chances as Seto Kaiba hooking up with Yami and Yugi and them having a stable relationship.
But freaky ménage a trois' aside – Oh, like me, Ryou and Bakura wouldn't be one as well? – Ryou was, first and foremost before any carnal lusting, his friend. And he was going to help him sort out his feelings for Bakura and this other guy, no matter how much it hurt.
He was brought out of his musings by Ryou's answer. Thankfully, the younger boy seemed not to have noticed his mental detour. "I…I think so," Ryou admitted softly. "I know I like…this other boy, and I know that I'm at least attracted to Bakura–" here he blushed as red as said yami's eyes, "–but I'm not sure that it's not just transitory lust on my part," he finished on a rush.
Joey nodded, thinking. "Ah, okay, so just tell Bakura dat. I'm sure he'd understand."
"You think he would?" Ryou asked disbelievingly. "Why?"
Joey floundered for a moment before coming up with, "Well, why not?" Ooh, smooth answer, Joe. That's real convincing.
Ryou's mouth opened to reply, but then snapped closed. "I…don't know why not," he admitted. "But what do I do about my problem?"
"What exactly is yer problem?" Joey asked. "You like dis other guy, and you're attracted ta Bakura…but what is da specific problem ya have with dat?"
"Well, I have to…choose…one. Don't I?" Ryou asked, as if not wanting his supposition confirmed.
"Do ya?" Joey countered.
"Well, I mean, I'm literally caught up a love triangle," Ryou told him. "I like this other guy, but I'm also attracted to Bakura. Bakura likes me, and is attracted to me…"
"What about da other guy?" Joey asked.
The panicked sheen was back in Ryou's eyes. "What about him?" he mumbled, returning to his previous occupation of staring at the roof's surface.
"Well, does he like ya? Or Bakura?" Joey asked.
"I'm…not sure. I don't think so," Ryou admitted, turning his gaze to his hands, which were clasped in his lap.
"Well, why don't ya ask him?" Joey asked.
"I could never do that," Ryou said, aghast. "He's a friend; what if he doesn't like me like that? It could ruin our friendship."
"You could say dat ya think Bakura has a thing fer him, and ask him how he feels about it," Joey suggested. "Then you'll at least know if he swings dat way. Unless he's good friends with Bakura or somptin', then maybe ya should just say it's some guy ya both know," he added as a proviso.
Ryou seemed to consider that for a moment, but ultimately shook his head. "No, he knows Bakura, and I'm not very good at prevarication; I could never tell such a lie convincingly."
"Well, maybe ya should figure out how ya feel about Bakura before ya try and sort out yer feelings fer dis other guy," Joey said.
Sighing, Ryou agreed, "I suppose I'll have to. It wouldn't be fair to be with Bakura if I don't really feel that way about him. Especially if I'd rather be with someone else." His tone was strained, and he was looking anywhere but at Joey, seeming to be uncomfortable with baring his innermost thoughts to his friend.
Joey nodded in compassion, inwardly thinking, What is he so uptight about? It's like he's afraid to tell me who this guy is. But why would that be unless…Before he'd really thought about it – because if he had, he might never have said anything – Joey blurted out, "Ryou…this other guy ya like…is it me?"
Ryou's head jerked up and he stared at Joey, eyes wide in terror, unable to move or say anything. Taking short, rapid breaths, the fear mostly receding from his eyes, he finally managed to say, "I…I… Hai, Joey," before sliding down against the raised edge of the roof and curling up into a fetal position.
Yes! Score! Joey thought, before forcing himself to calm down. Idiot. Just because Ryou likes me too, doesn't mean I have any less of a problem. Bakura is very possessive; he most likely won't share. But I'll deal with that later; right now I have to get Ry to stop crying. "Hey, Ryou, it's okay," Joey assured his friend, kneeling down next to the tight ball of misery that was his friend. "I…I like ya, too."
Ryou's head shot up so fast that Joey was afraid it might fly off. A few lone tears running down his face despite valiant efforts to keep them at bay, Ryou stuttered, "W-w-what?"
"I said I like you, too," Joey repeated slowly, enunciating his words carefully. "And ya weren't kidding about dis being a love triangle – I like Bakura, as well."
Ryou looked pole-axed, bemused, and…slightly hurt?
What's with that? Joey thought. I thought he'd be happy that I return his feelings.
"Really?" Ryou asked, sniffing away his tears.
Joey just nodded, still confused.
A tremulous smiled crossed Ryou's lips, but Joey noticed it didn't reach his eyes. "So…who do you like more?" he mumbled. "Me or Bakura?"
Ah, so that's the problem. Ryou doesn't feel the same about both Bakura and me – yet – and thinks it's the same with me. "I like ya both da same, just in different ways," Joey told him.
Forehead crinkling in a frown, Ryou said, "How is that possible? I thought that only happened in the movies." He sniffed again, trying to wipe away the tears that lingered in his eyes.
Joey shrugged, digging inside his jeans pocket to pull out a rather ragged tissue which he offered to Ryou. He was slightly discomfited by the intense perusal the other boy was giving him, but said, "I don't know. I first started feelin' like dis during Battle City, but afterwards when we found out Bakura had been pretendin' ta be ya some of the time…I wasn't sure which of ya I liked."
"How did you figure it out?" Ryou asked, voice slightly muffled by the tissue.
"We all started spendin' more time together after dat, remember?" Joey reminded him.
Ryou nodded. "Yeah, Yami Mind-Crushed Bakura and Marik so they weren't…actively malicious anymore…and we all started hanging out together so he could keep an eye on them." Wiping away one last trace of moisture on his cheek, he crumpled the tissue into a ball and stuffed it into his jeans pocket.
"Yeah, well, anyway, in order ta figure out which one 'a ya I liked, I started payin' more attention ta both ya and Bakura. And I realized dat what I liked about ya was pretty evenly split between da two of ya…and during all the watching I'd been doing I found more things I liked…so I came ta da conclusion dat I liked ya both pretty much equally," Joey concluded.
"And that didn't…weird you out, or anything?" Ryou asked, obviously confused.
Rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, Joey said, "Well, yeah…kinda…at first, anyway. But, I mean, ya like who ya like, right? And even though I didn't think either 'a ya could like me, I figured I was luckier dan most people who never find anyone ta like."
Ryou mulled that over for a moment, eyes distant. When his gaze cleared he said, "So…what do we do now?"
Joey was at a loss. "Well…my first advice still stands, sorta," he finally said. "We know how we feel about each other, and we know how we feel about Bakura, and how Bakura feels about ya…but how does Bakura feel about me?"
As if he'd only been waiting for the right question to be asked before he made an entrance, said spirit appeared from the Ring in a flash of light. Smirking at both his light and the blond, who each wore similar versions of a gobsmacked expression, Bakura answered the question that, though it had not been asked of him, could only be answered by him. "I find you…not as irritating as the rest of the Pharaoh's fan club, Wheeler. And you are very attractive…physically at least. When you're not acting like the idiot Kaiba thinks you are," he finished with a wicked grin.
Joey snorted. "Ah, feel da love," he said dryly, placing one hand over his heart. "And here I was thinkin' ya hated my guts."
Bakura shot him a smug look and dropped down to sit between the two.
"Yami?" Ryou said attentively, then gulped when he received his dark's full attention. Licking dry lips, he asked, "What…what do you think of our predicament?"
Bakura actually seemed to give that some serious thought. "I see no reason why we couldn't make it work…if we're all willing to really try," he said finally. Turning to Ryou, he said, "I know you're not sure about any of this, but you'll never know if you don't give us a chance."
Ryou felt swamped by the rapidity and intensity of events in the past few minutes, and more than a little worried about the seeming all-too-easiness of the other two's concordant agreement. An agreement to share each other, as if three-way relationships happened everyday, and were just as likely to thrive or fail, instead of having three times as many strikes against them from the start.
But he was being offered everything he'd ever wanted – and even what he never knew he did – on a silver platter. He wasn't stupid enough to turn it down. Even if things did blow up in his face, at least he would have had it all for one brief moment.
And Bakura seemed so sincere in his words that Ryou's doubts seemed suddenly so much smaller. Glancing at Joey – who was giving him an encouraging, hopeful smile while simultaneously holding his breath – and then at Bakura – whose face was an impassive mask, but whose eyes showed everything he was feeling: hope, longing, and something he thought might even be love – he took a deep breath and said, "Let's do it."
"All right!" Joey cheered, a wide grin on his face.
"Quite," Bakura said, a small, but nonetheless sincere smile on his lips.
Ryou giggled a little, his laughter ending in a squeak when he was suddenly grabbed – by both Bakura and Joey, who seemed to be able to work together already – and yanked between his two 'boyfriends'. Joey's left arm was around his back, and Bakura had him practically in his lap, which was slightly disconcerting, but mostly because Ryou liked it.
Wrapped in their arms, he couldn't help but think that this was nice…the three of them, together…and maybe it would all work out.
After all, Yami, Yugi and Seto had been dating for six months, and they were still going strong.