Fifty Ways to Make Joey Wheeler's Life Miserable
Disclaimer: I don't own YuGiOh; I don't own any references I've used from the show; anything you don't recognize I've likely made up.
Notes: I'd been wrestling with this issue ever since last chapter- I don't want my characters to be nasty. I want them to be mischievous, light, and having a good time (except Seto Kaiba, who doesn't know the definition of 'fun'). Please bear that in mind as you read this chapter- which, this time for real, is the last one. Thanks, everyone, it's been great!
Téa arrived at school early, struggling to resist the temptation to shoot paranoid glances over her shoulder every two seconds. It wouldn't do to constantly be jumpy today, but honestly- she'd have to be pretty stupid not to expect some form of retaliation. Joey and Kaiba were sure to be out to get her, and maybe even Tristan if he ever figured out who put the Mad Sword Beast in his locker- and if he ever figured out what it was supposed to mean.
She walked down the halls slowly, lost in thought- how soon would they pull themselves together? What kind of prank would they pull? Joey she thought she could handle- there was nothing unfamiliar about his style, but Kaiba was a new card. He'd probably try and use his technology, just like he'd done to Joey.
Murmured voices filtered down from the side hallway, and curiosity drew her in. As far as she knew, the only things down there were the janitor's office and the boiler room, and these were distinctly young voices. And as she got closer, they became distinct voices, period. But what could Seto Kaiba and Joey Wheeler have to talk about?
"Come on, don't be an idiot," Kaiba said in exasperation. She could practically feel him grit his teeth. "Téa was the one who pranked you."
"Why should I believe a word you say, Kaiba?" Joey demanded. She suppressed a snort.
"Give me a break, Wheeler. The evidence is there. Just use your brain!" A pause: "You know, never mind."
"Hey!" Joey stomped his foot. "What're you trying to frame your girlfriend for, anyway?"
"Wheeler. Listen to me very closely. She's not my girlfriend."
"Wheeler. Do I have to spell it out for you? Téa doesn't like me. She pretended she did to get under your skin!"
"Yeah, right," Joey snorted. "If you two weren't going out, there's no way you would have gone along with something like that."
Seto groaned aloud. "Please. I can't even believe I have to say this to you. You are the most hopeless excuse for a human being I've ever known. …Mutt."
"Listen, Wheeler. I love her. Get the picture now?"
Whoa. Téa caught herself just in time. It wouldn't do to go falling on the floor.
"Umm… no. Not really."
Seto resisted the urge to bash his head into the wall. "I am in love with Téa Gardner. I spent an hour and a half locked in the bathroom with Téa Gardner, plotting against you. I spent a night carrying out some of those pranks with Téa Gardner. Téa Gardner then turned around and pranked the both of us. Get it?"
"Are you serious?" Joey's awed voice asked. Téa's brow furrowed.
"Huh. Geez. Waitasec- if you're so much in love with Téa, why are you telling me she pulled these pranks on me?"
"Because I made the error of thinking you'd figure things out for yourself," Seto groused. "And I wanted to make some things very clear before you did."
"Oh yeah? Wazzat?"
Seto took a deep, careful breath. "I assumed," he said carefully, "That you would want to retaliate on your friend. I expected that you would want to prank her back, and I wish to lay some ground rules. First- I ordered some flowers for Téa. That, and any other gifts I choose to bestow on her, will not be touched by you."
"Oh yeah! I need to prank her back!"
"That obviously went right over your head."
"Okay, okay, don't mess with your gifts. Geez. I wish I had a rich boyfriend to slather presents on me."
There was a dead silence in which Téa attempted to muffle her snort.
"Girlfriend, I mean," Joey amended.
"Never mind. I'm going to pretend you didn't say anything at all."
"Gotcha. So don't touch the presents. Next?"
Seto hesitated. "That was about it," he admitted. "Just don't get in my way, Wheeler."
"But you don't care if I prank her?" Joey wondered aloud.
Seto smirked. Téa, around the corner, could practically feel it. "Well… since she won't know I had any previous knowledge of it…"
"I wouldn't talk, Wheeler."
"You say you're in love with her, but you don't care if I prank her?"
"When you get right down to it, yes. That's right. After all, everything's fair in love and war, right?"
"I guess this is both," Joey agreed cheerfully.
Their conversation seemed to have been concluded with that, and Téa hurriedly scurried down the hall. Sooo… This was very interesting. And useful.
She ducked into the bathroom and examined her face in the mirror. Was it her imagination, or were her eyes sparkling a little more than yesterday? She shot herself a brilliant smile and smoothed her hair down, nervously twisting in front of the mirror and checking out her reflection. Today promised to be interesting.
She headed out of the restroom, eyes darting around. Kaiba and Joey were nowhere in sight. Slightly disappointed, Téa walked over to her locker, dropping her backpack carelessly on the ground as she reached for the combination and started spinning.
" 'Morning, Gardner," Seto drawled, draping himself in front of her. She glanced up at him, momentarily startled, then her eyes softened.
Kaiba didn't let any of his inner emotions leak onto his face, but he felt a surge of triumph. Just as planned, she'd overheard his conversation with Wheeler. Now she was convinced he was in love with her. He'd go about the day courting her and maneuvering her into situations where she'd be pranked, whereupon she'd blame Wheeler. Not only that, but the lavish gifts he'd be sending her all day were sure to humiliate her. Finally, at the end of the day, he'd invite her over to his house and unleash the Ultimate Prank- and he'd catch it all on videotape.
The first steps of the plans were already in action. A dozen red roses were sitting on her desk in first-period Algebra. He was showing preliminary interest in her. And her locker had been previously rigged. Check, check, check.
"Hi, Kaiba," Téa greeted calmly, turning the last number in her lock and taking a step back to examine him. "How are you today?"
"If you're expecting retaliation for yesterday… you're dead right," he told her coolly, taking a step forward so that he could tower over her and look intimidating. "Only, it's probably not in the way you think."
She lowered her eyes and looked up at him coyly. "Oh?" she asked, casually swinging the locker door open.
Seto barely had time to blink before a disgusting mixture of whipped cream and blue food coloring spurted all over his face, hair, and uniform. He opened his mouth to yell and got a nice fat glob on his tongue. "Pleh!" he spat, sputtering furiously. He waved his arms blindly, banged his fingers on the locker door, and finally got it to slam shut.
Téa regarded him with bland curiosity. "Was that your idea of retaliation?" she asked, not hiding her shock very well.
"Of- of course not!" he sputtered, spitting whipped cream on the floor. "Are you crazy? If that was my plan, why would I have gotten sprayed?!?"
Okay, the real question was, how could he have been dumb enough to stand in front of the locker door? He knew what would happen. He and Wheeler had arranged that last night (Joey knew Téa's locker number). What had gone wrong? He'd been so focused on intimidating Téa, he'd forgotten about the prank!
That was ridiculous. It was all because he was spending unnecessary time around Wheeler. Stupidity was contagious.
Glowering, he wheeled around and marched off to the bathroom, ignoring Téa. She stared after him, then shook her head.
She'd get Tristan to open her locker door and get rid of the spray can.
The only question was, should she tell him beforehand?
Téa walked calmly into class and sat next to Yugi. The poor boy was looking back and forth between Tristan and Kaiba, trying to figure out why they both had blue stains all over their faces. Joey walked in the classroom as she was taking her notebook out. His gaze went straight to Téa, and his brow furrowed; then his eyes drifted around the room and landed on Kaiba.
Seto shot Joey the coldest glare he could, daring him to make a comment.
"Ha! What happened to you, Kaiba?"
…Joey never was one to turn down a dare.
"Oooh! What're those, Téa?"
Téa looked up to see Hannah from Drama Club. Hannah was leaning on Téa's desk, carefully fingering the delicate roses than had been left there. At least a dozen rosy blooms peeked out admits a spray of greenery. They were beautiful. "I don't know," she replied truthfully, although she had a very good idea. "Do you think someone left them here by accident?"
"They were on your desk," Hannah pointed out. "Maybe they're for you! Is there a tag?"
"Let's see." Téa carefully picked the card out, making sure not to disturb the flowers. She read the inscription aloud: "You're no airhead…"
"What on earth?" Hannah asked, astonished. "Who'd write something like that?"
"Someone with absolutely no social skills and not a romantic bone in their body," Téa answered sweetly, deliberately not looking at Kaiba. She heard a pile of books go crashing to the ground, though- she'd be willing to lay money down that that was Kaiba's arm lashing out in irritation.
"I don't know, I think this might be going a bit overboard," Hannah said at the end of the day.
Téa could only give an irritated grunt. She was laden under a pile of flowers, chocolates, two oversized stuffed animals, a handful of helium balloons, and now a silk dress was pinned up outside her locker. Someone had posted flowery poetry about her all over the school, and kids had been pointing and snorting at her all day.
This had definitely been an odd day. There was the matter of all the extravagant and embarrassing gifts, first of all. Then in the middle of their language class, someone had removed the tile above Seto Kaiba's chair and thrown down a bucket of glitter, which proceeded to explode and shower him with golden sparkles. In Physical Education, they'd been playing tennis- Téa and Yugi versus Seto and Ryou Bakura. Seto served the ball directly at Téa; instead of hitting it she inexplicably ducked. It sailed over to the next court and exploded all over Joey and Tristan, showering them in a white dust that Ryou could only guess was chalk. To cap everything off, Yugi snuck off in the middle of last period. He'd returned five minutes later a few inches taller, with spikier hair, wielding a dark grin and a cake that he proceeded to smash across Seto Kaiba's face. He hadn't even been punished- Téa highly suspected he'd been messing with the teacher's mind. Literally, of course.
"It's nice, though," Hannah said, picking it up and holding it out so she could visualize it on Téa. She gave this up when she realized Téa's frame was completely hidden underneath the mass of presents she was stuck lugging around. "Real silk! Who has this kind of money to spend on you?" Téa merely rolled her eyes. Hannah whistled. "I'd sure like- hey, what's this?" She held the dress up closer. "Jesus! There's like two inches of padding around the chest of this thing!"
Téa's eyes widened and she sucked in a breath. Okay, what was going on here?! Joey was the only one crude enough to ever make a slight about wearing a padded bra- which was total bull. But Kaiba was the only one rich enough to shower money on her in the blink of an eye like this!
Hannah broke her out of her reverie. "Yikes! My bus is leaving!" She draped the dress over the rest of the pile in Téa's hands. "See you tomorrow, keep it real!" She dashed out the door, her backpack bouncing merrily.
Alone in the hallway, Téa groaned. She hadn't even thought about how she was going to get all this home. How was she supposed to bring it on the bus? And if she stopped to put anything in her locker, she'd miss it!
She had glumly resigned herself to walking home that day when the weight lifted from her arms. Blinking, she peered around the mass that had transferred itself to another person and saw Seto Kaiba smirking back at her.
"I thought you might like some help carrying all this," he said smoothly. "If you'd like, I'll bring it to my car and we can throw it in the backseat. I'll give you a ride home."
"Th-thanks, Kaiba," Téa said, slightly stunned. Well, well, well. It was rather ironic, actually, all things considered.
"So who do you think sent you all this?" he asked as they walked down the hallway. He was still mostly hidden from view behind the stuffed animals, but he turned his head to regard her with a cool look.
"I have no idea," she said lightly, staring right back. "Any guesses?"
He chuckled, and she swung open the door for him. They headed out into the parking lot, where Seto heaved all the gifts in the rear of his car. Téa threw her backpack in as an afterthought, and he carefully stowed his briefcase under the seat before slamming the door. Téa climbed in the passenger seat and Kaiba took his place in front of the wheel; starting the car they pulled away.
"Would you like to come to my house for a while?" Seto asked, his eyes glued to the road. "One of the maids made cookies for Mokuba. I'm sure he won't mind sharing."
Mentally rolling her eyes- that had to be the worst pick-up line in the history of pick-up lines- Téa smiled at him. "I'd love to," she answered sincerely.
Seto gave a slight nod, but inside he was smirking. He finally had her. The day, up until now, had completely not gone according to plan.
The gifts had been pretty good, all things considered- Téa blushed bright red whenever she found another one and her classmates had taken to whistling and catcalling as she walked down the hall. But for whatever reason, everyone had switched seats around in language. The only desk available had been Téa's old one, and Seto had reluctantly taking it, figuring Wheeler would have enough common sense to make sure he had the proper target.
That was probably the dumbest mistake he'd ever made in his life. Why had he assumed Wheeler would have common sense??
In any case, he and Wheeler had planned that Joey would pry up the ceiling tile above Téa's desk and shower down that glitter. Seto had personally been all for acid or paste, but Joey didn't want to make his friend suffer that much. And they'd both agreed that water was just way overdone.
They'd agreed on something. That was the second dumbest mistake.
The chalk-ball he'd substituted for the tennis ball had been a brilliant idea- he'd rigged it so it would explode exactly three seconds after first being hit with a racket. He'd hit it directly at Téa- and then she'd missed the shot. So it exploded all over Wheeler and Taylor instead.
But that was the kind of mistake he could live with.
And then Yugi had to go pick today to be all vengeful. Go figure. Kaiba was going to crush him in a duel for that, and it didn't matter that he'd never been able to beat him before or that Seto had started the cake-wars in the first place. And of course, he couldn't forget his gaffe with the spray-can in the locker…
But despite all that, his final plan would go off without a hitch. The second he and Téa entered the mansion, he'd signal for the lights to go off and he'd slip away quietly. And the hologram program he'd written specifically for this would kick in and utterly baffle her! And he'd catch it all on tape! He snickered out loud, but luckily Téa didn't seem to notice.
They pulled in and walked to the front door; the second it closed behind them the lights went out.
But Kaiba wasn't entirely pleased; his brow furrowed in the darkness. It was pitch-black; he'd made sure no natural light entered. But he hadn't given the signal for the interior lights to go off. The remote control was still in his trenchcoat pocket.
Before he could move, a hand closed around his arm. "Kaiba," Téa whispered. "What's going on? Is something wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," he said hurriedly, trying to pull away. "I think that-"
With a snap, the lights came back on. Téa looked considerably relieved. "What happened?"
"Hold it right there!"
The both of them jerked their heads up. Pegasus, cool, confident, and arrogant as ever was descending the stairs. "Don't move a muscle, Seto Kaiba," he said in a steely voice, jabbing a gun in the air for emphasis. "Your company will be mine."
This can't be real.
"Are you nuts?" Kaiba asked, forgetting one of the main rules: Kaiba Shouldn't Call People 'Nuts', no matter how true it was.
"Quiet," Pegasus ordered sharply. "Or the dragon gets it." He pointed the gun at his own hand.
After a double-take, Kaiba realized Pegasus was only pointing the gun at something he held in his hand, which put a bit of common sense back into a crazy situation. And then after a triple-take, he realized…
"My Blue Eyes White Dragon!" he said furiously. "What the- how did you take it?!?" His hand flew to his trenchcoat pocket, but when Pegasus barked at him he froze again.
"Don't move!" Pegasus told him, glaring. "Now… Kaiba. I believe we have some business to take care of."
Kaiba gritted his teeth silently.
"You will repeat after me: 'I love my Blue-Eyes'."
Both Téa and Kaiba stared at him. "I love my Blue-Eyes?" Kaiba asked blankly.
"Good, very good!" Pegasus said, sounding delighted. "Now: 'Blue Eyes Toon Dragon is sooo much more cuddly than that nasty old Blue-Eyes'."
"Wait just a second here!" Kaiba snapped, suddenly very angry. "I don't know what kind of twisted game you're playing here, Pegasus, but stop mocking my dragons! The Blue Eyes White Dragons are precious to me, and I will not allow you to demean them or destroy their dignity!"
"Heeeey, Kaiba! Hey, Kaiba! Hey Kaiba hey Kaiba heyKaibaheyKaibaheyheyhey!"
Bouncing Funny Bunnies filled the room, all chanting the same message. "Hey Kaiba!"
Pegasus' face didn't twitch in the slightest. Téa put a hand to her mouth to hide a smile.
And then he knew.
"AAAARRRRGHHH!!!!" he bellowed. Abruptly, the holograms disappeared, leaving only him and Téa in the bare foyer.
Téa collapsed with laughter, sinking to the ground and throwing her head back. She laughed and laughed and laughed, her clear tones ringing throughout the household. Fists clenched, breathing heavily, Seto paced furiously back and forth, trying to sort things out in his head. At one point, his gaze fell on the video camera he'd rigged to catch Téa looking like a fool and his eyes widened in shock. He'd have to destroy that film.
But how had she set up the holograms by herself?...
"I had help, of course," she said, finally getting her belly-laughter under control. "From Mokuba. He hacked into your system and rewrote it."
No way. His little brother wouldn't…
Scratch that. Of course he would.
But how had they known?
"I knew from the beginning that you were planning to prank me, Kaiba," she said, struggling to her feet and still wearing a wide grin. "Ever since I heard you and Joey talking this morning. It was all a set-up."
His jaw dropped.
"One. Joey would never have accepted that you were in love with me so readily." Téa wagged her finger playfully in Kaiba's stunned face. "Two. My theory proved true when I opened my locker door and that stuff sprayed out. That was directly after I overheard your conversation, in which Joey wasn't supposed to have realized I was behind the earlier practical jokes yet and you were supposedly in love with me and unwilling to prank me. Joey wouldn't have had time to set up the spray can while I was in the bathroom, if he even had something like that on him.
"And three. My favorite. Kaiba, please. You admitted that I wasn't an airhead. So how was I not supposed to notice that the chocolates you left on my desk were stuffed with garlic? Not to mention the balloons were shaped like my head. Airhead. Haha. Right." She started laughing again, then composed herself enough to deliver the last of her speech. "So I called up Mokuba- as we both know, his school had a half-day today. He agreed to help me." She started laughing hysterically again, choking out, "He's probably in the control room right now, editing your footage! That should make one heck of a seller! 'My Blue-Eyes are precious to me!' "
Kaiba went slack-jawed. The little monster.
"You and Joey have both really gotten it in the last few days," Téa said in satisfaction, heading for the door. "Isn't life wonderful?" She winked at him, then bolted.
Seto remained alone in the foyer, trying to wrap his mind around everything. This was impossible. How had he been outdone so spectacularly?
His whole body stiffening, Seto glanced over at the Funny Bunny hologram that had popped up once more. His eyes darted to the top of the stairs, where Mokuba stood, doubled over in giggles.
"Hey Kaiba!" Funny Bunny chanted, jumping up and whacking him on the nose.
Someone was going to pay. Too bad he'd already blown up the Duel Tower, because he could sure use another island to explode right about now.
KaibaCorp's latest commercial, aired that Monday night during the six o'clock news
'The Blue Eyes White Dragons are precious to me!' Seto Kaiba bellowed, standing in front of an imposed background of said roaring dragons.
"KaibaCorp. Where we believe in imagination and creativity," the voice-over said sweetly, with a hint of mocking in it. This was Téa's second real job.
'I love my Blue-Eyes," Seto said, his voice audio-enhanced to sound less flat and annoyed.
"KaibaCorp. If Seto Kaiba loves his dragons, you should too. So buy from us!"
Sales shot up 7.9 percent that week
Téa Gardner always comes out on top.