Songbird


Lyrics used are from the song 'Fever' by Peggy Lee.

The name of the club is borrowed from the TV show 'Charmed'


"Anyone know what's up with Duke lately?" Tristan asked idly from his position on the floor. He was lying on his stomach, propped up by his elbows, shuffling a deck of cards for another game of Solitaire – only it wasn't solitary, because Serenity was helping him play.

"I don't know, man, but it's definitely sumptin'." Joey shrugged and stretched, deciding to take a break from his algebra homework.

"Why would anything be up with Duke?" Téa asked breathlessly, having torn her lips away from Yugi's so she could enter the conversation. Noticing how close she and her boyfriend had gotten during their impromptu makeout session, she shifted slightly over on the couch to maintain some decorum during their discussion.

Serenity giggled as she plucked a red seven out of Tristan's hand and laid it on top of a black eight. "You two have been so wrapped up in each other lately I'm not surprised you haven't noticed."

His cheeks burning, Yugi asked, "Haven't noticed what?" He adjusted his neck belt to cover the hickey Téa had just given him.

"Yeah, and why have you noticed?" Joey asked suspiciously.

"Well, I noticed he hasn't been hanging out with us as much – and he hasn't flirted with Serenity in months," Tristan said, smiling at his girlfriend.

"Yeah, big brother, and he's been preoccupied lately," Serenity added. "I even noticed him daydreaming in the combined grades English class." Shooting Joey a mischievous glance, she added slyly, "Kinda like when you and Seto first got together."

His face heating up, Joe cleared his throat and said, "Yeah, well…hey, wait a minute! Are ya tryin' ta say…"

"You think Duke is in love?" Ryou finished incredulously, having finally looked up from his book.

"Well, look at the signs," Serenity said, listing them off on her fingers. "Daydreaming in class, spacing out during the lessons…"

"He has been awfully busy lately," Téa interjected. "We ask him to hang out and he says he has to work, but he never used to be that busy."

"If he's spending time wit' some girl den dat might be eatin' into his work time," Joey pointed out.

"So you think Duke is actually in a relationship?" Ryou asked. "Instead of him just having an unrequited crush?"

"It would explain everything," Tristan pointed out.

"But who could it be?" Yugi puzzled.

"Well, if it's someone we know, den it isn't anyone in dis room, which only leaves Mai and Malik," Joey reasoned.

Ryou shook his head at that. "It isn't Malik, Duke is straight."

"How do you know?" Serenity inquired. "We all thought Joey was straight, too."

Face red, Joey mumbled, "I'm bi," but no one heard him. He huffed and tried unsuccessfully to continue with his algebra homework.

"Well…" Ryou's cheeks pinkened and he shifted uncomfortably. "Bakura asked him out once, as a joke."

"Was this before or after he got his own body?" Yugi asked.

"After – right after," Ryou grumbled. "He was on some rant about how he was sexier than me – or something. I didn't quite understand what he was talking about since half of it was in Egyptian. He decided to prove it by trying to seduce Duke – something about anyone who wore eyeliner being gay – but Duke turned him down."

Tristan chuckled. "And you soothed his wounded pride and got him to admit he was trying to sublimate his feelings for you by arguing with you all the time."

"Pretty much," Ryou said wryly.

"So it's not Malik," Téa confirmed. "And I don't think it's Mai, either. As far as I know, she and Yami have a thing going. Right, Yugi?"

"Yeah," Yugi confirmed. "Yami says they're just friends, but I don't think it's going to last much longer."

"Okay, so it's not anyone we know – which might be why we didn't figure this out sooner," Tristan said, placing three cards down in rapid succession.

"But if it's not someone we know, then it must be someone we've never even met – otherwise we would've noticed Duke hanging out her with at school," Téa pointed out. "She might not even go to our school."

"But why is he hiding her from us?" Yugi asked, voicing the question on everyone's mind.


The next day after school everyone decided to go see Star Wars: The Clone Wars at the movies. For once Duke came along; although he seemed to be preoccupied. When the credits started rolling, he left the theater quickly, saying that he had an appointment.

"You think he's going to see his girlfriend?" Tristan asked as Devlin headed back the few blocks to the school parking lot so he could pick up his motorcycle.

"Probably," Téa agreed. "I wonder who she is?"

"Let's follow him and find out," Joey suggested.

"We shouldn't spy, Joey," Serenity chided, though not very strongly.

"If we see anythin' we shouldn't, we'll leave," Joey assured her. "I just wanna find out who she is, and why Duke's been keepin' 'er a secret."

"But how?" Ryou asked. "We can't keep up with him on foot when he's riding his motorcycle."

Joey looked stumped for a moment, then he brightened. "Yer house is near here, right?"

"Yes, about two blocks away," Ryou answered suspiciously. "Why?"

"Well, I know yer father left ya da car keys fer emergencies. We could use yer car ta follow Duke."

"I don't know, Joey," Ryou protested weakly. "I've only had my license for a few months…"

"You're a good driver, Ryou," Yugi assured him. "Besides, Duke probably isn't going all that far this late at night, and traffic is light, too."

Exhaling a long breath, Ryou finally agreed. "Okay."

After running over to Ryou's house and piling into his father's station wagon, they headed over to the school, hoping to make it before Duke left. Luck was with them, and just as they were rounding the corner to the school parking lot, Duke sped by on his motorcycle, black trench coat flaring out behind him.

"He must've taken the time to change out of his school uniform," Tristan posited as he caught sight of Duke's attire. "Otherwise we might not've gotten here in time."

"Well, he did, and we did. Now we only need ta follow 'im," Joey said, leaning forward to look over Ryou's shoulder.

"I'm following him, I'm following him…" Ryou grumbled.

Ten minutes later Duke pulled up in front of P3, one of the most popular clubs in town. It was of the few all-ages clubs in Domino, allowing people between the ages of thirteen and seventeen inside, as well as the older crowd.

Surprisingly, Duke didn't join the line in front of the club; instead he went around back to the stage entrance. He knocked once and was almost immediately let in.

"You think maybe he's in a band?" Tristan asked. "And we were wrong all along about him having a girlfriend?"

"Maybe about da 'girl' part," Joey said suddenly, anger in his voice. He scrambled out of the car quickly and stalked over to a nearby black Mercedes.

"Joey, what…?" Serenity asked, climbing out of the car after her brother, the others following in her wake.

Gesturing to the vehicle he was standing next to, Joey hissed out, "Dat's Seto's car. Da one he uses when he doesn't want ta draw attention."

Trying to calm his friend down, Yugi said, "Now Joey, there's got to be more than one black Mercedes in the city."

"But only one wit' vanity plates dat say 'Lapis'," Joey growled.

"Lapis?" Téa asked.

"Yeah, it's a blue stone, da lapis lazuli. He t'ought puttin' 'Blue Eyes' on dere would be a giveaway, and Lapis is an Egyptian name." Joey's explanation was delivered in a calm, clipped voice, but everyone could tell he was inwardly seething.

"It doesn't necessarily mean anything, though," Ryou said. "It could be that they're just having a business meeting or something."

"At a dance club?!" Joey demanded.

"Maybe Kaiba couldn't find anyone to watch Mokuba and had to bring him along," Tristan offered lamely, though no one thought it was a very likely excuse.

"Yeah, right. When I get my hands on him…" Joey seethed.

"Look," Ryou broke in. "All this speculation is getting us nowhere. Why don't we go inside and look for them before you go damning them to the Shadow Realm; for all we know, Kaiba and Duke might be here for totally unrelated reasons."

Looking slightly abashed, but still angry, Joey agreed. "All right, let's go. But I reserve da right to kick da jerk's ass if he's been seein' dice boy behind my back."

"As you will," Ryou said, his normally serene countenance strained. He locked the car and then ushered everybody over to the rapidly-dwindling line.

Ten minutes later, all of their hands having been stamped with black or red markings (black for those under seventeen, and red for those under twenty, the bar's way of making sure their underage patrons didn't indulge in illicit alcohol or tobacco consumption) the six friends made their way through the crowded club, looking for either Duke or Seto.

As they made their way around the perimeter of the room, Joey suddenly stopped and scowled. "Dere he is," he growled and pointed off to the right. Seto was sitting at a small table in a shadowed corner near the stage door.

"But Duke's not with him," Téa said positively.

"I don't actually see him anywhere," Serenity pointed out.

At that moment, the MC came up on stage. A hush fell over the crowd. "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, teens of all ages! It's time for what you've all been waiting for – our premier act, Amarin Rose!"

Everybody in the club started screaming and clapping as the MC left the stage.

"We should sit," Yugi whispered to the others as he pointed to a nearby free table. "I don't see Duke anywhere, anyway, and maybe the singer has something to do with this…whatever is going on."

Joey nodded reluctantly and they all sat down as a pounding, rhythmic beat started up and the stages lights turned off. The next moment, one light turned on in the center of the stage, to illuminate the singer.

Joey and Tristan gasped and Yugi looked slightly flustered.

Clad in a short black leather miniskirt, a blood-red satin bustier, with knee-high black leather boots on her feet, she looked like seven kinds of sin – and all of them deadly. The black choker with a red rose and the trio of red roses in her hair made her look more sexy than lethal, however.

Her lips seemed to caress the microphone and her hips swayed tantalizingly as she sang, in a low, breathy voice, "Never know how much I love you; never know how much I care. When you put your arms around me…I get a fever that's so hard to bear."

"She's good," Tristan whispered.

Yugi and Ryou just nodded.

"Yeah," Joey agreed. "But who is she lookin' at?"

They all turned to look off to the side of the stage, where Amarin's eyes were focused, and got the shock of their lives. Duke was sitting at Seto's table now, and Amarin was singing to them!

"You give me fever – when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight," she sang. "Fever! – in the morning, fever all through the night."

"Which one of 'em is she singing ta?" Joey hissed under his breath. "What, is she doin' both of 'em?"

"I'm sure there's a more logical explanation, Joey," Serenity said calmly. "Maybe she's dating Duke and Seto is here to offer her a record contract."

"KaibaCorp is only involved in gaming systems and computers," he grumbled, but looked thoughtful.

"Sun lights up the daytime; moon lights up the night. I light up when you call my name, and you know I'm gonna treat you right," Amarin belted out, and now that they were looking closely, she seemed to be directing her words to Duke – who was sitting there with a slightly dreamy smile on his face.

"That's the same look Duke gets during class," Serenity whispered. "It's her, it's got to be."

"You give me fever – when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight. Fever! – in the morning, fever all through the night," the singer went on. "Everybody's got the fever; that is something you all know. Fever isn't such a new thing; fever started long ago."

"I've never heard this song before," Téa whispered. "Is it new?"

"No, it's not," Yugi said softly. "I have heard it before, in a really old movie once."

"Romeo loved Juliet; Juliet, she felt the same. When he put his arms around her, he said, 'Julie baby you're my flame.' Thou givest fever, when we kisseth; fever with thy flaming youth. Fever! I'm afire, fever yea I burn forsooth," Amarin crooned, and she was swaying more than she had been at the beginning of her performance.

"Interesting wording," Ryou mumbled, though his eyes seemed to be slightly glazed from all the exposed flesh.

"Captain Smith and Pocahontas had a very, very mad affair. When her Daddy tried to kill him, she said, 'Daddy-O, don't you dare. He give me fever – with his kisses, fever when he holds me tight. Fever! I'm his Missus, oh, daddy won't you treat him right?'" she sang softly, a small smile on her lips.

"I highly doubt that's how that conversation went," Ryou grumbled and the others laughed softly.

"Now you've listened to my story, here's the point I have made: chicks were born to give you fever, be it Fahrenheit or Centigrade. They give you fever – when you kiss them, fever if you live and learn. Fever! – till you sizzle, what a lovely way to burn." Amarin was slowing down the tempo now, and adding even more sway to her hips. She had every male in the place spellbound, and not just a few of the females.

Joey was slightly pleased to see that Seto wasn't one of them – though Duke was.

"What a lovely way to burn. What a lovely way…to burn," she breathed out, as the music tapered off and stage lights came up. Everyone broke out in cheers and whistles, and Amarin smile widely before taking a deep bow.

The music started up again as soon as the crowd died down and Amarin went on to sing for almost an hour. Joey kept an eye on the table in the corner; Seto seemed more interested in Amarin as a performer than a girl, and occasionally between sets, the group could see him and Duke going over some papers.

Amarin sang everything – the old, the new, rock, pop, ballads, even country – and the crowd loved it.

As the last strains of Christina Aguilera's 'When You Put Your Hands On Me' faded out, Amarin took her leave of the stage, leaving lots of the frustrated men in the audience. She'd added hand motions – or rather, caresses to her body – to her hip-swaying during the last song.

And Duke looked like he was about to pass out, as she still directed all her words to him.

"Well, that was…wow," Téa finally said.

"Yeah, she was amazing," Serenity said, a hint of jealousy in her voice.

"Well, she might be a good singer, but you're the prettiest girl in the place," Tristan said, kissing Serenity on the nose. She giggled and blushed.

"Yeah, well, now we can go find out what Seto is doin' here," Joey said, getting up from the table.

"Are you sure that's a good idea, Joey?" Ryou asked. "I mean, we're supposed to be spying on Duke…"

"And if I don't find out what's goin' on here I t'ink I might explode," Joey gritted out. "I can't stand not knowing, y'know?"

"Yeah, we know, Joey," Yugi said comfortingly. "Come on, let's go."

The group of friends made their way across the club and when they arrived in front of Duke and Seto's table, both men looked up in surprise.

"So…I gather dis was da 'appointment' ya had ta keep?" Joey gritted out from between clenched teeth.

A look of confusion passed over Duke's face, but understanding quickly followed. "Yes, I had to be here to iron out the rest of the contract and make sure Seto didn't back out."

"Back out on what? And what kind of contract requires a meetin' in a dance club?" Joey asked belligerently.

"Joey," Seto hissed. "Calm down, you're making a scene."

Joey glared at his boyfriend but took a few deep breaths and sat down in a nearby chair. "Well…?" he said, referring to his previous question.

"I had to see the talent live before I could sign her," Seto explained patiently. "It's bad business to give someone a record contract if you don't know if they're any good."

"And she is great," Duke said enthusiastically. Turning to the others, he cajoled, "Wasn't she?"

"Yeah, she was," Tristan agreed, and the others nodded.

Just then a young woman with long hair, wearing blue jeans and a lacy white blouse, came out from backstage and headed over to their table. A smile lit up Duke's face.

"And here's the woman of the hour," he said happily, and she blushed. Duke held out a chair for her and she sat down gracefully.

"So am I to take it this means he liked my performance?" she asked in a lilting voice.

Seto smile slightly. "Kai Records, a division of KaibaCorp, is ready to sign its first musical artist – Amarin Marks. That is, if you would be willing to accept the contract?" He held out a sheaf of papers to her.

Amarin turned to Duke and he said, "The contract's gold, baby, it doesn't get any better."

"That's Amarin Rose?" Ryou whispered, surprised.

"Yeah, it's her, but she changed her clothes and let her hair down," Serenity confirmed.

Amarin smiled widely and said, "Anyone got a pen?" After accepting the one Seto offered, she asked, "Where do I sign?"

"On the dotted lines, here, here and here," Duke pointed out, and Amarin got to work.

Joey looked chagrined. He edged closer to Seto and said, "I'm sorry."

"For what, mutt?" Though Seto looked as if he knew.

"For thinkin' ya were steppin' out on me wit' Duke. It's just, we knew he'd been meetin' wit' someone in secret, and ya were here…" He gave Seto an apologetic shrug.

Seto sighed. "It's okay, Joey; I realize now what it looked like. Just…don't do it again, okay?" He smiled.

"Okay." Joey smiled back.

The others were studiously not listening to the reconciling lovers' conversation; instead they were studying Amarin. She signed the last page with a flourish and set down the pen. "I'm done. So, does this mean I'm now a recording artist?" Amarin asked, not able to keep the excitement out of her voice.

Seto managed to tear himself away from gazing into Joey's eyes long enough to confirm, "Yes, and soon you'll be famous."

Her nose wrinkling at that, Amarin said, "Well, if that's the price I have to pay…"

"You don't want to be famous?" Téa spoke up, surprised.

"Not really; when you're famous, you have no privacy," Amarin answered, then did a double-take at the large crowd of people at the small table. "I'm sorry, but I don't believe we've met – are you here about the contract, or something?"

"No, they're just friends of ours from school who showed up," Duke answered, slight annoyance in his voice.

"Oh," she said, seeming to take that in stride. "Well, did you enjoy the show?"

"Yeah, it was great," Yugi said. "You're really good, Miss Marks."

"Oh, call me Ami, everyone does," she said.

"Well, Ami, like Yugi said, you're a great singer – but if you didn't want to be famous, why did you sign the contract?" Tristan asked.

"I love to sing," she said simply. "And I like performing – I just also like my privacy. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it by using costume changes to throw people off."

"I noticed you're dressed a bit differently than you were on stage," Serenity broached hesitantly.

Amarin smiled. "Yeah, well, most performers dress differently on stage than they do off. No one would ever think that the girl onstage in the leather miniskirt is the same as the one offstage in jeans and a T-shirt. It gives me a bit of anonymity, even here. It's nice to be able to talk to my friends without worrying about people mobbing me."

"Speaking of friends…" Duke said, rounding on the group. "What are you guys doing here, anyway? Did you follow me from the movies?"

The group collectively blushed.

"Ah, well…yeah," Ryou said. "But it wasn't my idea!" he was quick to defend.

"No, it was Joey's," Tristan said. "We knew you had been seeing someone and we wanted to find out who."

"And we did," Joey asserted. "You've been datin' da songbird over there."

Amarin blinked and turned to Duke with a puzzled look on her face. "Duke, why didn't you just tell them about me?" she asked. "And come to think of it, why didn't you tell me about them? I don't even know who these people are, but they're your friends, and I should know."

Duke flushed slightly and shifted in his seat. "Ah, well, this is Joey–" he gestured to the blond, "And his sister Serenity, and her boyfriend Tristan Taylor–" the couple smiled and waved, "and that's Ryou Bakura, Yugi Moto, and Yugi's girlfriend Téa Gardner." They each nodded in turn. "And as to why I didn't tell any of you about each other…well, we've been dating for about six months, and I was going to tell you guys about Amarin once it got serious, but about a month into our relationship Ryou and Bakura had this…little thing going on, and I was pretty much avoiding them for a while…" He looked away uncomfortably.

"Would dis 'little thing' be when Bakura tried ta seduce ya?" Joey asked.

Duke rolled his eyes. "Pretty much. I wasn't sure the hell was going on, and I thought discretion was the better part of valor in that case."

"Ryou and Bakura?" Amarin asked. "Aren't they the same person?"

"Ah, no…Bakura is my boyfriend. His first name is the same as my last name. It's pretty much how we met," Ryou admitted, flushing.

Amarin nodded. "I take it this whole seduction thing happened before you guys got together?"

"Hai."

"Okay, Duke, so you were avoiding the weirdness, that I can give you, but what about afterward?" Amarin prompted.

"Oh, I remember this," Yugi piped up. "That's when Yami and Mai had their big blow-up and we were all trying to keep them from killing each other."

"And once that died down, you were in the middle of finals, remember? Studying day in and day out?" Duke put in.

Amarin nodded in understanding. "And then Seto approached me about a record contract and you've spent the past three months ironing it out while I doubled my performances here. Which has pretty much taken up all our free time."

"Yeah, exactly," Duke said, grateful she understood.

"Finals?" Tristan asked.

Amarin nodded. "I'm in my third year of college. I'm studying to be a teacher, which is only three years instead of four, but that means the classes are that much harder. I'm graduating in a few months; after that I'm going on tour."

Téa, Yugi and Joey looked nonplussed; Tristan, Serenity and Ryou just looked slightly surprised.

"So…ah…yer older dan Duke?" Joey finally asked.

"Just a little over a year and a half," Duke said.

Téa's brow furrowed. "But I thought you were in your third year of college?" she asked Amarin.

Amarin blushed slightly and ducked her head. "I skipped fourth and fifth grade," she admitted bashfully. "I graduated high school at sixteen."

"Ah," Joey said, and then was silent.

Just before an awkward silence fell over the group, Ryou spoke up. "How exactly did you and Duke get together, anyway?" he asked. "Did you meet here?"

"Yes, we did, actually," Duke said, grinning. "They were holding a Karaoke contest, and I was promoting my new Dungeon Dice Monsters cards by supplying the prize."

"And I won," Amarin continued. "Which was how I started performing here – the manager saw me in the contest and decide to hire me."

"What was the prize?" Serenity asked.

"Five thousand yen and a week of lessons on how to play Dungeon Dice Monsters – given personally by its creator," Amarin answered, giggling. She reached over took Duke's hand in hers. "We spent the whole week together and when it was over he asked me out. And we've been together ever since."

"Forgive me, but it doesn't seem like you'd have very much in common," Ryou said hesitantly. "I mean, even if you're not that much older than him, he's in high school, you're almost out of college; he's a gamer, you're a singer and a teacher…"

"Well, I suppose you could say I'm a bit of a narcissist – I like people who are like me." Shooting Duke a coy look from under her eyelashes, she continued, "Tall, dark hair, green eyes and unbelievably sexy." At Duke's blush she shook her head and laughed. Turning to the group she said, "At first glance I guess it looks that way, but we really do have a lot in common. We like the same books, the same movies, a lot of the same music… We both like games, and the beach, and we both drive motorcycles." Giving Seto a pointed look, she said, "Besides, I'm not the only one in this group who, on the surface, seems to be in a relationship with their polar opposite."

"What?" Seto said casually, not giving anything away.

"Ah, c'mon, Kaiba, even you have to admit that even the people who know you two find it hard to believe you and Wheeler are together," Duke pointed out.

"It's not dat hard ta believe," Joey groused.

"It is for those of us who've been witness to your long-standing rivalry," Duke returned.

"He has a point, Joey," Yugi said tentatively. "You're great together now, but two years ago you were at each other's throats half the time."

"They've got a point, Pup," Seto conceded.

"Yeah, well…" Joey grumbled, slumping back in his chair.

"There's nothing wrong with that, you know," Amarin said. "Relationships change over time; people just have to be willing to change with them."

"That's true," Ryou said. "We've all changed in the past few years; made new friends, found new interests."

All the members of their group nodded, but Amarin looked worried. "And am I one of these new friends?" the singer asked hesitantly.

"Any friend of Duke's is a friend of mine," Joey said and the others agreed.

Seto smiled slightly. "I don't give out music contracts to just everyone, you know."

Duke chuckled. "As far as I know, Ami is the only person you've given a music contract to."

Rolling his eyes, Seto said, "That's beside the point. As soon as my talent scouts find another up and coming singer, she won't be."

"So, Ami," Téa said. "When is your first album coming out? I definitely want to get a copy."

"I don't know for sure; Seto, what did you and Duke decide?" Amarin asked, turning towards the CEO.

"Right now we're working on finding the right songs for you to record; we'll probably have them all a few weeks before you graduate and you'll start recording in the summer," Seto said, glancing through some files he'd pulled from his briefcase. "That should only take a few weeks and we'll be ready to release your first album before school starts in the fall."

"Cool. I get input on the songs, right?" Amarin asked.

"I made sure to specify that in the contract," Duke assured her.

"You haven't read the contract?" Joey asked incredulously.

Amarin shook her head. "Duke read it for me; he pretty much negotiated on my behalf. I don't know how to work contract negotiations, and hiring a lawyer would have been silly since Duke's my manager and was willing to do it for me."

"And does he make the standard ten percent or do you give him more because he's your boyfriend?" Tristan asked teasingly.

Duke sniffed. "I get twelve percent, thank you, which is standard nowadays." Then he broke out in a wide grin. "Besides, even with my cut she still is going to make more money than me."

"Well it's only fair," Amarin said, grinning. "After all, you've been the one in our relationship with all the money so far."

"And that's enough talk about your contract with the public," Seto cut in. Checking his watch, he said, "It's getting late and I have to get home to Mokuba. I'll see you at our meeting on Monday, right?"

Both Duke and Amarin nodded. "We'll be there," she confirmed.

"Walk out with me?" Seto asked Joey, and the blond nodded and followed him out.

"We should probably be going, too," Tristan said, rising from his seat. Serenity followed.

"Yes, I have a test on Monday I need to study for," Ryou put in.

"It was good to meet you, Ami," Yugi said, shaking her hand.

"Yes, it was," Téa put in.

"Good to meet you guys, too. Hopefully now that all the paperwork is done we'll be able to hang out with you guys more. Right, Duke?" Amarin said pointedly.

"Right," Duke agreed.

Yugi, Téa, Ryou, Tristan and Serenity all the left the club, leaving Duke and Amarin behind. The two headed for the backstage door so they could avoid the crowd. They exited the club and headed for Duke's motorcycle, huddling close together for warmth in the crisp fall air.

Turning to her boyfriend, Amarin said, "I like them. They're nice."

"Yeah, they are. Are you really mad that I didn't introduce you guys earlier?" he asked worriedly. Picking up his spare helmet, he waited for her to put it on before mounting his motorcycle.

Amarin hopped up behind him and shook her head. "No, it's not a problem. Besides, I have yet to introduce you to my friends."

A spark of interest flaring in his eyes, Duke said, "Oh? Tell me about them." He turned on the engine and sped out of the parking lot, Amarin holding on tightly to his waist.

An enigmatic smile crossed her face as Amarin called out over the wind, "Well, I'm taking a course in fashion design as an extra credit course, and there's this girl named Mai that's really good."

"Mai?" Duke choked out. "Mai Valentine is going to college?!"

Amarin frowned and leaned forward. "You know her?"

"Oh, boy, do I," Duke said raggedly as they turned a corner. "Let me tell you about Battle City…"


THE END