Covert Co-Operations

He waited tensely in his bed, listening for the anticipated sound. There! A quiet rustle of sheets that accompanied Yami sneaking not-quite-soundlessly out of his bed. Slitting his eyes open only a fraction, Yugi caught sight of the soft glow that heralded the spell his aibou used to make it appear as if he was still asleep in his bed.

Dressing save for his boots, there was an almost inaudible thump as Yami hopped up to perch on the windowsill, followed by a slight scraping sound as the windowpane was pushed up. A soft swishing sound as Yami ducked underneath the window and then a creak as he jumped onto the tree right outside the window. More rustling sounds as Yami shimmied down the tree, and then put on his boots.

Yugi waited for a full count of one hundred before he let out the breath he'd been holding. He threw back the covers, revealing that he wasn't the only one who'd been planning on sneaking out tonight – he was completely dressed, only needing to put on socks and shoes. Quickly donning his footwear, he put on his Millennium Puzzle and took Yami's route out of the house.

Once on the ground, he took stock of his surroundings, not finding any indication of which way Yami might have gone. Closing his eyes, he felt cautiously his bond with his soul-partner, searching for that sense of Yami that was never far from his heart. Once he determined which direction the sense was coming from, he loped off after his aibou.

Once Yugi caught sight of Yami, he slowed his progress, taking great care to remain out of the former Pharaoh's sight and hearing. Yami was taking a straightforward route to wherever it was he was going, but Yugi had to take a circuitous path as he followed, ducking behind convenient trees, bushes, and benches when necessary.

They continued in this vein for almost half an hour: Yami walking at a steady pace, Yugi following him furtively. His forehead wrinkling in a frown, Yugi realized they were heading for downtown Domino.

"What would Yami be doing here?" he asked himself. "The only person we even know who lives out here is…"

"Seto!" Yami cried out softly, snapping Yugi back to the present. He'd been so busy ruminating on what was going on with Yami, he hadn't realized that they'd reached their destination…the Kaiba mansion.

Seto was standing patiently by the front door – and Yami was headed right for him.

"Yami," Seto breathed out, a small, almost smile on his face.

Confused, Yugi quickly scuttled around the edge of the house and ducked down behind a line of bushes. Why is Yami sneaking out to see Kaiba? He doesn't even like him, or vice versa… But then, they both look so happy to see each other… He peeked out from behind his leafy cover just in time to see Yami wrap his arms around the CEO's neck and pull him down into an intense kiss.

Yugi barely managed to contain his gasp of surprise. Yami was dating Seto Kaiba?

Next Day – School

Yugi had headed back to the Game Shop after he saw Yami and Seto retreat inside Kaiba's house. He was confused, his thoughts in turmoil. He had no idea why Yami would keep his relationship with the other boy a secret from him; the spirit surely knew that he'd be okay with his aibou being gay – even if he was dating Kaiba. Even though Seto wasn't a very nice person, since Death-T he wasn't unnecessarily cruel or mean, either. He'd even given up calling Joey names, though the dog ones still sipped out occasionally.

His thoughts had whirled around and around in his head like strawberries and ice cream in a blender, trying to make a milkshake, until finally he'd fallen into a fitful sleep. Waking half an hour before his alarm was set to go off, he saw that Yami was back, and knowing he wouldn't be able to pretend he hadn't seen what he'd seen last night, he headed for school early.

It hurt that Yami felt he couldn't share this obviously important part of his life with him. But Yugi could understand how his other might be afraid – he had been when he'd first realized, and later acted on, his feelings for Joey – so he was trying to push off his hurt.

He really needed to speak to Joey, though. Thank Kami his boyfriend's father hadn't been home when he'd called at 5:30 that morning.

The sounds of sneakers slapping against the pavement reached Yugi's ears and he turned just in time to be grabbed up in a rib-creaking hug by the boy he'd been thinking of.

"Hey, Yug," Joey greeted him once he'd placed the shorter boy back on solid ground.

"Hey, Joey," Yugi said, slightly breathless from having all his oxygen squeezed out of him by his rather over-exuberant boyfriend. "I am so glad you're here."

"Of course I am, Yug. You said you needed me, so I'm here," Joey said simply. "Now…what's up?"

"I don't quite know where to start," Yugi said bashfully, leading Joey over to one of the benches the school had put in underneath the cherry blossom trees on the side lawn.

"Start at the beginnin'," Joey offered.

Breathing deeply, Yugi said, "Well, I first noticed something was going on about a month ago…"

When Yami came in to school that day, he knew something was up. Even if they didn't share a mind-link, he would have been able to sense Yugi staring at him whenever he thought the spirit wasn't looking.

Out of the corner of his eye he was also able to see his aibou exchange a few telling looks with Joey. Normally he would have written those off to 'lover's looks', but coupled with Yugi having left so early for school, and now his odd behavior…

Something was up in Domino City.

Yugi barely kept from crying out in surprise as Joey elbowed him in the stomach. Turning to his boyfriend, he mouthed, "What?"

The blond gestured with his head and, turning to see what had caught his attention, Yugi was just in time to see Yami write something on a piece of paper and pass it back to Seto, who was seated beside him.

Exchanging a look with his koi, Yugi asked subvocally, "Rendezvous later?"

Joey nodded. "Follow them?" he whispered.

Yugi nodded back and trained his eyes back on the board just in time to escape the teacher's notice.

Covert Operation: 'Catch Yami And Seto Red-Handed' would be underway once school was out.

Or it would have been, had they had any luck finding Yami. Just Yugi's luck he'd been asked to stay after class for a moment and Yami had skipped out while Joey wasn't looking. Now the two lovers were looking high and low over the school, fearing that perhaps Yami had caught a ride with Seto and they'd never be able to catch up with them today.

"I checked the parkin' lot," Joey told his lover. "Moneybag's car is still there."

"For all the good that does," Yugi groused. "He has a limo on call; they could have taken it."

"But why?" Joey asked reasonably. "They don't know we're plannin' on followin' 'em. Do they?"

Sighing, Yugi admitted grudgingly, "I guess not."

"But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out ta get ya, right?" Joey joked.

Yugi growled softly and peeked inside the Art room. "Clear," he said sulkily.

"So's the janitor's closet," Joey added, shutting another door across the hall. "What's left?"

"The library?" Yugi offered. "It stays open until six for people who need to study."

Joey slapped himself. "Why didn't I t'ink of dat? We shoulda gone dere first; it's a prime make-out spot. C'mon." Joey grabbed Yugi's hand in his and proceeded to drag his koi down the hall towards the library.

Almost running to keep up with Joey's brisk strides, Yugi demanded, "If it's a prime make-out spot, then why haven't we ever gone there?"

Arrested by the question, Joey skidded to a halt a few yards away from their destination. "Ah…because it's normally only used by people who're tryin' ta hide?" Joey offered lamely, knowing the answer wasn't nearly good enough.

Yugi arched an angry brow. Anyone who wanted to make-out on school grounds basically had to hide from the authorities. And he and Joey normally ended up using the bathrooms for their trysts, which both smelled bad and had no good places to sit. The library, in contrast, had comfy chairs, smelled like paper and books, and since everyone was supposed to be quiet, they'd have plenty of time to break apart if they heard someone coming.

"And because I almost never go into da library; anyone who saw me dere for more'n a few minutes would automatically know what I was up to," Joey added.

Yugi's eyes narrowed into a piercing glare, but he finally nodded. "All right. We'll talk about this later," he promised. "Right now, we have a yami and a CEO to spy on."

"Gotcha," Joey agreed, gulping at the fire in his lover's eyes. Normally enflaming Yugi's passion was a good thing…

Right now, however, he feared future celibacy.

Peering around the edge of the shelf marked 'History: Egypt – Japan', Yami smiled as he saw his lover waiting for him next to the trio of potted palm trees in the corner.

"Hey," Seto said, voice hushed.

"Hey yourself," Yami said playfully, snuggling up into his lover's arms. How he wished they didn't have to hide their relationship. But the others would never understand; most of them didn't even like Seto.

And Seto himself had a reputation to uphold. If it got out that he was gay…

Well, that – like what would happen should Yugi or any of their friends find out – didn't bear thinking about.

"How long do you have?" Seto asked, pulling the former spirit behind the sheltering foliage.

"I promised Grandpa I'd help run the shop this afternoon," Yami said regretfully. "So I only have about fifteen minutes."

Seto frowned.

"Sorry, koi. We should make the most of what little time we have," Yami suggested.

"Good point," Seto conceded, and lowered his lips to his boyfriend's.

Unfortunately, their incipient kiss was broken off by the sound of feet approaching. Seto and Yami couldn't break apart from their clinch fast enough to appear as if their actions were innocent.

They were caught.

By…Yugi and Joey?

Oh, shit.

Yugi's head popped out from behind the shelf marked 'History: Egypt – Japan'. Joey's followed, the blond craning his neck to see over the spikes of Yugi's unusual hair. "There they are," Joey breathed in his koi's ear, smiling at the shudder of pleasure that vibrated through Yugi's body at the sensation.

Yugi nodded distractedly, trying to force his wayward thoughts back to the mission at hand. "You remember the plan?" he asked needlessly.

"Yup," Joey confirmed. "Make like we didn't know nothin' about them bein' tagether, and reassure 'em that we're okay wit' it."

Yugi nodded once, firmly, before saying, "Let's do it."

In synch, the two lovers strode forward at a brisk clip, heading for the grouping of green foliage in the corner which concealed their two friends. Ducking past the leafy green fronds, they came upon Yami and Seto almost before the other two koibitos realized they were there.

Yugi had to stifle a snicker as he saw the position the others were in. When Yami and Seto had sprung apart, Yami had landed on his butt, with Seto on top of him. They were in an even more compromising position than if they'd stayed embraced.

"Yami?" Yugi gasped, giving a pretty good rendition of 'Hikari Shocked Almost – But Not Quite – Speechless'.

"Huh?" Joey mumbled, going for the 'Shocked Stupid' angle.

Not that Kaiba thought he needed a shock to get any dumber, but let's not go there, shall we?

"This isn't what it looks like!" Yami burst out.

Forcing his eyebrows to rise almost into his spiked hairline in simulated surprise, Yugi asked blandly, "It isn't?"

"Ya mean you two are…tagather?" Joey asked, trying to pretend shock at the sight in front of him. It wasn't all that hard – all he had to do was remember the soft smile he'd seen Kaiba give to Yami before he and Yugi had showed up. He'd never seen Kaiba without a scowl or a smirk on his face before. At least, not where Mokuba wasn't involved.

"Ah, ano, er…" Yami stuttered. He trailed off and flopped back on the floor, scowling up at his koi, who had yet to vacate his lap. "You deal with this," he told Seto, crossing his arms over his chest mutinously.

Quirking an eyebrow at his lover, Seto sighed. He rose from his position on Yami with his usual grace and turned to face their inquisitors. "Yes, we are 'together', as you put it, Wheeler," he said stiffly. "And I would…appreciate it…if you would keep quiet about that fact."

"Why?" Yugi asked guilelessly, though he thought he knew. CEO being gay equaled bad for business.

What a weird world they lived, in where money and image were considered more important than love and happiness.

Life sucked sometimes, no doubt about it.

Rising to his feet with the ease that only someone who didn't technically have bones possessed, Yami answered, "Because the paparazzi is incorrigible, and both of us would like to keep as low a profile as possible." Despite his confident tone, none of them could miss how uncomfortable he was with being found out.

"Exactly." Seto gave a firm nod.

Yami fidgeted slightly under Yugi's measuring glance. "Why didn't you tell me – us – Yami?" the hikari asked quietly. "You should have known I'd understand about you being gay. I am, after all."

"Me, too," Joey added needlessly. At Seto's snort, the blond huffed and said, "I mean, you shoulda known I woulda been okay wit' it, too."

Seeing that his lover was at a loss for words – a once in a blue moon event – Kaiba stepped in with, "You know that none of your friendship cult are all that fond of me. And Téa's been harboring a not-so-secret crush on Yami for quite a while."

"Yer out of the loop, Kaiba," Joey said with a slow grin, choosing to disregard the 'cult' comment in favor of getting one-up on his favorite – not that he'd ever admit it upon pain of death or blue balls – rival. "Téa got over Yami months ago."

"She did?" Yami asked, surprised.

Yugi nodded. "She and Ryou have been going out for about five weeks."

Both Yami and Seto blinked and exchanged disbelieving looks. "Why are we always the last to know these things?" Yami asked crossly.

"Beats me." Seto gave a one-armed shrug.

"But back to your explanation," Yugi reminded them.

When Yami turned to his koi, Seto shook his head and gave him an 'It's all yours' gesture. Sighing, the yami turned to his hikari. "I was afraid," he said quietly, unable to voice the words any louder.

Yugi, as always, knew where his dark's thoughts were headed before he could even voice them. "You know there's nothing you could do to make me love you any less," he chided his other, pulling the taller boy down into a hug.

Yami smiled crookedly, his shame-faced expression hidden in the crook of Yugi's neck. "I know, aibou," he said sincerely.

Brightening, Yugi pulled out of his dark's embrace and turned to Seto. "Now, why don't you two go back to spending the afternoon together? I'll take over your shift at the store today," he told Yami when the other opened his mouth to protest. "It's the least I could do for interrupting your time together."

Yami brightened considerably at the offer, and even Seto gave the young hikari an appreciative almost-smile.

Joey, however, wasn't so pleased. "Ah, Yug, but you and I were supposed to hang out today," he complained.

Yugi arched an eyebrow. "It's a Friday, Joey. What are the odds that anyone's going to come in?" he pointed out.

Joey's eyes lit up. "Y'know, Yug…" he drawled slowly, draping an arm across his koi's shoulders as they walked away. "Sometimes you have the best ideas!"

Yugi smirked. "I know," he said humbly. His gaze turning sharp, he slanted Joey a look out of the corner of his eyes as he added, "And you can spend the evening telling me why you never told me the library was such a good make-out place."

Joey gulped. Oh, boy…

He was so screwed.

And not in a good way, either.

But at least all their secrets were out in the open now – and he finally had some good dirt on Kaiba.

Pity Yugi would make sure he never used it.

But maybe – once he'd gotten out of the (pardon the expression) 'doghouse' this time around – Yugi would offer him some compensation for keeping his mouth shut.

By using his mouth.

All in all, the day could have gone worse. Secret missions normally didn't work out this well.

Cooperation was the key to good relationships.

Now, if only he could figure out what the hell he needed to 'cooperate' on to get Yugi to forgive him.

A wicked smile crossing his lips as a plan formed in his mind, Joey started to plan his next mission.

Operation: Seduce Yugi.

Post-orgasmic glow was wonderful for fogging up the brain. And he needed all the help he could get when he delivered his explanation.