A/N: Right, well... I haven't written anything in a while and since "Full Circle" is going through some major revisions and my latest project, "Bishop to Queen", is still in its planning stages (it's gonna be a big one) I decided to drop this little number on you guys. It's not serious and I'm not attempting to be original in the slightest, but I wanted to write something light and fun before I retreat into angst-mode.

Besides, I miss writing those classic Tea vs. Kaiba moments ; Cheers to everyone who's enjoying their summer holiday (and what's left of it) and to those who aren't in such luck--- well, I especially dedicate this to you.

Disclaimer: YuGiOh, King of Games, is copyright property of 4Kids Entertainment and creator Kazuki Takahashi respectively. All characters and related ideas are enshrined in this copyright and are not to be used without permission/or without proper disclaimer. The following story was written for entertainment purposes only, and is in no way an intended infringement on the above-stated copyrights.

However, in these regards, unauthorized distribution of this story (i.e. Taking this story without the author's permission to use on a website/mailing list/claiming it for your own) is prohibited. Author reserves the right to her work and would appreciate credit where credit is rightfully due.

A Bite of the Big Apple
Written by Harlequine

"You're sure you don't want to come, Tea?" Yugi Motu asked his friend while shouldering his knapsack. Beside him, Joey Wheeler and Tristan Taylor stood waiting with their own luggage, the rest of the busy station remaining a backdrop behind them. They too, nodded to second the offer.

But their female friend only let out wistful sigh. "You know I would if I could, you guys." She shook her head and plucked at the pockets of her jean-skirt to illustrate her reasons, "but I really need to find a job this summer. I wouldn't even be able to afford the trip."

"You know money isn't an issue," Yugi said with a smile. "We already told you we'd pitch in for your ticket."

"Yeah," Joey added. "All expenses paid--- you'd just have to promise to lay off on the shopping while there, okay? There ain't that much money in the world, heh, heh."

Tea only rolled her eyes at the comment, though unable to help a small smile. The gesture alone was very sweet, but she couldn't bring herself to mooch off of her friends for the entire summer; it just wouldn't be right. She wanted them to have a good time without being frugal in their spending on her behalf.

Besides, they had been saving for this trip to Kirishima all year. After so many months of juggling school and several Duel Monster tournaments, they deserved the break. Especially since, for once, the world was not in need of saving and their calendar was clear for any special events with regards to dueling. The only thing that awaited them for the next couple of weeks was a bunch of consecutive lazy summer days, soaking their cares away in the hot springs at Japan's National Park.

"That's really nice of you guys, but I'd just be in the way."

Tristan laughed. "Trust me, you wouldn't. Without you, we're likely to turn into a bunch of savages--- though that wouldn't be too far off the evolution scale for Joey."

"Hey!!!"

The rest of the group chuckled at the rougher boy's outburst, who, despite his threatening stance, also harbored a wry grin at the comment.

"Train Number Six B to Kirishima is now boarding."

"Last chance," Yugi said, looking at her hopefully.

But the brunette only shook her head, stepping forward to embrace him lightly. "I'm sorry, I would really like to, but it's better if I stay here."

"Aw c'mon, Tea," Joey chided after she had given him his goodbye-hug. "What are you going to do without us for three-weeks?"

"Would you like that in reverse alphabetical order?"

"Hah, hah..."

She smiled at them encouragingly. "You guys take care of yourselves; come back in one piece."

"The same to you," the shorter boy nodded, while Tristan helped him pick up the rest of his belongings.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Joey cautioned. Tea refrained from commenting about how short the list would be in such a case and playfully shoved his handbag into his arms.

"Last call for Train Number Six B to Kirishima, last call..."

"Don't worry about me," she said, waving to Yugi and Tristan who had stopped to wave before turning their backs to leave. "Go, you're going to miss your train."

He gave her a thumbs up and a wink, before running off to catch up with the other boys. Tea watched them board the escalator that would take them to the lower levels where their train would be waiting for them, and sighed deeply. The station was slowly beginning to vacate and the cheerful morning light, up until then hidden behind a few buildings, filtered through the paneled windows. Now, completely illuminated by balmy sunshine, the empty waiting area marginally summarized the lonesomeness that stood before her in the few weeks to come.

With a slight frown, she turned to go.

On her way home, Tea's stomach had begun to rumble uncontrollably. She had waked up early that morning to see the boys off at the station and had neglected to eat her most generous meal of the day. Deciding that she was far too famished to walk another block, she had stopped by "Domino's Dice Diner" for breakfast. After all, the Dice Diner was famous for its waffles and she expected they would live up to their reputation when she made her order, drizzled just right with the perfect amount of maple syrup and strawberry jam...

What she didn't expect, however, was that when she walked in through the glass doors and heard the familiar ding of a bell announcing her entrance, was to see a head of messy, raven hair and shining blue eyes look up to meet her own, and be waved-over to join him at his table.

Especially this early in the morning.

"Mokuba," she greeted, unable contain her surprise to see him as she slid into the seat across from him. "What are you doing up so early?"

"Soccer practice. I skipped breakfast. You?"

"Same." She folded her napkin neatly into her lap, and looked up to see that the boy was looking at her with raised eyebrows. She checked herself. "Uhm, I skipped breakfast too, I mean. I had an early start; went to drop off my friends at the train station."

"Oh."

"I had no idea that you played soccer, Mokuba."

He grinned. "Well, actually, I just started. Seto says he doesn't like me just lounging around in the mansion and playing video games all day. He said I needed some exercise."

Well, he's certainly one to talk, Tea mused quietly with a sardonic curl of her lip. Seto Kaiba did nothing but sit around in his office playing around with--- designing--- video games and dealing with the stock market and pushy clients. In fact, he was probably Velcroed to his chair, with a working toilet strapped to the seat and a twenty-four hour maid service. If anyone needed exercise—or at least a vacation—it was Seto Kaiba.

"So, I heard their pancakes here are great..."

But the young Kaiba was busy shoveling in a fork-full of the said order of famous pancake just as she had made the statement, so Tea had to wait patiently for him to chew. Though, from the look of obvious enjoyment on his face, the verdict was quite clear. When the waitress arrived to take her order, the brunette merely gestured towards the sticky-faced boy and "I'll have whatever he's having," became a viable choice.

They had a laugh about it after Mokuba was given a chance to swallow. The waitress scribbled down the order and disappeared into the kitchen, leaving the two of them to engage in small talk.

"I'm actually glad that I ran into you this morning, Tea." Mokuba said after a few moments when their laughter completely subsided. "So let me cut to the chase---I've been meaning to ask you something."

"Oh?"

"Y'see, my big brother is going on a business trip to New York and he's taking me along with him; he says that I can take anyone I want with us to keep me company while we're there."

She nodded, uncertain why Mokuba was suddenly telling her this. She had begun the precise ritual of dressing her coffee, pouring in packets of sugar and cream, taste-testing to make sure everything was just right.

"...and I wanted to know if you wanted to come along?"

Tea nearly spilled the cup of coffee that she was about to sample all over herself.

"What?"

Mokuba repeated the proposal as if it were the most typical request in the world. "Come to New York, with me and Seto."

"A-a-are you kidding?" At this point, Tea was assured that he was. Surely, he knew how badly she wanted to visit the Big Apple; to see the big-city sights, and have a glimpse into her potential future of if or when she got into Julliard after High School. Going to New York would be an absolute dream--- he had to be playing a joke, there was no way...

But younger boy looked completely serious. "No, I'm not kidding," he said, though the smile that was breaking out onto his face made it hard to believe him. "I want you to come with us."

"I would love to Mokuba, but I really don't have that kind of money to be---"

"Don't worry 'bout it," he interrupted, waving a hand casually in front of his face. "All expenses paid."

This is Deja-vu all over again...

The waitress arrived with her order and place a plate of steaming pancakes, a jug of maple syrup and silverware on the table in front of Tea, before scuttling off.

"But... why me?"

"'cause you're a friend," he answered honestly, though Tea detected a bit of sadness in his voice. He took another bite of his food. "The only one I really have, besides Seto."

"There's nobody your age that---"

"Nope," Mokuba shook his head. "I want to take you."

"Mokuba, I—I'm not sure what to say."

"Say yes. If it makes things any easier, just think of it as an early birthday present or something."

Tea blinked in confusion. "This is a bit extravagant for a birthday present, don't you think?"

From the look on his face, Mokuba didn't seem to agree. Tea fiddled around with her fork, casting her eyes down on the unexcavated mountain of pancakes piled atop of her plate; they were slowly getting cold, but she suddenly realized that she wasn't that hungry anymore. Her heart want pounding in her head, and her entire body was tingling with anticipation as if she was about to perform a complicated dance solo on stage. An opportunity like this didn't just come around everyday.

Still, there was just one limiting factor that loomed invidiously behind this trip...

"What about Set---er---your brother?" Tea asked, taking a half-hearted stab at the first layer of her pancake pyramid.

"What about him?"

"What did he say when you told him that you wanted to take me along?"

"I didn't say anything about who I'm bringing along, but it shouldn't be a problem."

Tea was hesitant. "You do realize I'm not exactly one of your brother's favorite people."

The younger boy only shrugged. "Who is? Anyway, you're going to be there to keep me company, not him. Plus," he added as an afterthought, "he did say I can bring anyone."

"True," she nodded, though she wasn't entirely convinced. This was going to be a hard decision to make, especially with Mokuba was staring up at her so expectantly and those thousands of hopeful scenarios depicting what would happen if she did choose to accompany him there versus what chances she would be missing if she chose not to, saturated the decision making process with even more difficulty. For some reason, her promise to Joey earlier that morning flitted back into her mind as the scales started tipping in favor of the trip.

Although Tea knew that the list of things Joey wouldn't do in his lifetime was undoubtedly short, a vacation with Kaiba was most probably on it--- even if it was an all expense jaunt to the Big Apple.

"So?, "Mokuba leaned forward conspiratorially, sounding all too much like he was auditioning for host on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. "What's your final answer?"

A chance to see Julliard; a chance to glimpse into her possible future... A chance to visit somewhere outside of Japan. How could someone decline such an offer?

"Yes," Tea breathed finally, her hand snaking across the table to grasp Mokuba's left wrist, eyes shining with gratitude. "I would love to go. Thank you so much, Mokuba."

The youngest Kaiba brother blushed at the contact, and a sheepish smile pulled at the corners of his lips. "No probs."

He seemed very relieved that she had agreed to go. Seto wasn't really one for sightseeing; he had already made it clear that he was going to work the entire time that they were there, and he wasn't going to let Mokuba wander the city alone--- or at least not without an escort. But for some reason, Mokuba imagined that it wouldn't be as fun visiting places with one of Seto's beefy and intimidating body guards.

Tea was old enough to be a suitable and responsible guardian, but fun-loving enough not to be a total party-pooper. Besides, he did genuinely like her and thought she kept good company.

"Alright," he announced, putting down his tab in quarters and sliding out of the booth. "I have to head home and start packing."

"So soon?"

"Well, yeah." Mokuba said, raising a brow. "Didn't I tell you? We're leaving tonight."

'''

Fin. Part 1

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