Lell: Okay, okay, I know I should be updating Of Puppies, Dragons and Foxes, but to be honest, I was tired of people yelling at me about which person Jou-kun should go with. Anyway, this was just a story to get all my frustration out on, not to mention the fact that I'm in my holiday home which has no Internet or cable. No Yu-Gi-Oh, Shaman King or !!!! I can't even check my e-mail. (Buries face in kittified Mokuba's neck)
Adara: We're both very upset – withdrawal cravings and all that.
Seto: Don't you think that you're over-reacting a bit? I mean, so what if you can't go on the Internet....okay, don't look at me like that...um, help? Please.
Lell: Quiet you. Anyway, I wrote this story for Ragdollsally15, simply because she has been a wonderful reviewer and I felt guilty for not making it Ryou and Seto. This is for you darling, I hope you enjoy. Oh and Adara wants me to tell you to tell Cain she says hi!
Disclaimer: Lell does not own this in any way or means so don't sue – she only has crappy fan art to offer.
Warnings: Bad language, Yaoi and mild Yuri. This means that there will be male on male action with a smattering of girl on girl. If this freaks you out then I'd advise you to leave. Now. And find yourself some more tolerance; you won't do well in the world if you don't have an open mind. Oh and Anzu bashing. I can understand if you like her, but I don't. That doesn't imply that she is a bad character, only that she is not to my liking so I portray her that way. I think that's it unless an extremely badly decorated room counts as needing a warning.
A slender figure wound its way through the busy crowd of pedestrians, fighting against the incoming sea of two-legged traffic. Being slight of build, the youth often stumbled, having been on the receiving end of a rough shoulder or an accidental knock. He gave no sound of protest, white tressed hair curtaining his face as he continued on doggedly, a blue bag weighing down one slim shoulder. His quiet determination was admirable; he did not seem to be one to show such strength in the face of such difficulties. But then again, the opponents were only people, blank city faces that he would never see again. One petal in a mass of blossoms, no different from them, no more important. Just another person whose dreams had led them to the busy metropolis.
Boy was Bakura Ryou not ready for this.
He stopped, ducking into a shop alcove and standing on his toes, straining to see over the heads of the crowd, melting brown eyes searching anxiously for the place that he sought. A gleam of pristine marble and the flash of green tinted glass drew his gaze and he allowed a small smile to hover briefly over shapely lips before he continued onwards once more. His destination was a soaring building, set proudly in the centre of the street. Through the translucent glass front, scurrying figures could be seen on each floor, Ryou's head tilting back precariously as his gaze travelled over the building from top to bottom.
Golden Eye, the place to become a shining star. Well, at least that was what was emblazoned across the head of the letter that Ryou clutched nervously one hand. He risked a glance at the writing underneath the swirling gold type.
Due to the rather interesting nature of your portfolio, we at Golden Eye have ascertained that you are indeed suitable for our new program. We would like to invite you to our Social Starter, a chance for you to mingle with those that you will be in a close working environment with. If you choose to accept this invitation, please....
After that, the letter had sunk into a web of intelligible language, a tangle of wherefores and forasmuches and the occasional long-term contract subsidiaries. Ryou had been lost, but the British youth had ascertained that indeed, he had been accepted. He smiled again, simply at the memory of the celebration his roommates had thrown for him. Up until the early hours of the morning, he, Yuugi and Malik had fallen asleep in a twisted pile of limbs and drink bottles. Those two had been so supportive ever since that first scout had approached him. Well, even if they had had the extra incentive of him gaining them entrance to all the modelling parties. Ryou was going to be a model, they had said, only slightly tipsy, he was going to be a star and that they would be behind him all the way. Well, that night, Malik had certainly tried to be behind the white haired youth, but in a different way. The teen always had been a friendly one when under the effects of alcohol, just as you could be sure that after a few tequila shots; Yuugi would start to find the walls of their penthouse extremely amusing.
Ryou started chuckling softly, an action which several passers by noted with slight wariness. He was after all a young man, not dressed in a dark suit like the rest of the crowd, standing there giggling as he looked up at the towering peak of the modelling agency. Strange kid.
Calming down, Ryou pushed open the glass door, fingers lingering on the cool metal as he entered the domain of the celebrities, models that graced the covers of those glossy magazines and who were portrayed atop billboards. To think, he was now employed in the modelling firm run by the great Pegasus.
A blast of cool, jasmine scented air assaulted his nasal passages and he wriggled his nose cutely, trying to stifle a sneeze. Once the threat of an explosion was past, he looked up, brushing his soft white tresses from out of his eyes. He was in a large atrium and there seemed to be something terribly wrong with the plumbing here; water was cascading down the walls. But, oddly, no one else seemed to notice. Ryou tentatively reached with trembling fingers towards the wall, only to find that the surface was smooth and dry. Constructed out of thousands of glass bricks, the water seemed to be running down the inside of the wall, like an indoor waterfall. Very fancy.
Once more inspecting the room that he was in, Ryou was awestruck at the sheer beauty he was witnessing. It showed extremely good taste and it was a taste that fitted in well with Ryou's own ideas of what looked good, what was trying too hard and what looked just incredibly tacky. This room, heck the whole building simply screamed taste, class and lots and lots of money. Polished marble tiles, creamy white tinted with streaks of dove grey, lined the floors, producing a slight clicking noise when any of the high heeled business woman strode past him, hair done officially in that universal bun which screams make-a-move-on-me-and-I-will-sue-your-ass-off. Not that any of them would use the term ass ever. Maybe Gluteus Maximus, but never something as unpolished as ass. The glass water walls were of the same tinted green glass as the front windows, yet the rippled material of the bricks and the flowing liquid cast dancing flickers of light that bounced of the gleaming floor and made the room seem as if it was underwater. Soft lighting, perfect for making everyone look wonderful. This Pegasus really knew his techniques. A beautiful employee was a happy employee and happy employees worked harder for less money.
A fountain stood in the centre of the room. More water. Must be some Feng Shui thing. As Ryou padded over towards the fern fringed bowl, a flash of gold and orange caught his eyes. Twisting lazily, the Koi Carp flicked a languid tail and drifted under the disturbed water that was sprinkled with droplets from the granite dolphin. The graceful beast was caught midleap, the spray of water from its blowhole rippling down to conceal the strut that supported the sculpture, giving the impression that the dolphin was suspended in the foaming peak of a wave. The decoration once more screamed taste and money. This was certainly a classy place and Ryou was coming close to pinching himself, just to see whether this was real or not. He didn't in the end, but he sure was tempted to perform that childish action.
A low cough brought him back from his contemplations and he threw his head up like a startled deer, only to find a diminutive woman smiling up at him. Her trim frame was dressed simply in a black pencil skirt and a lavender blouse. Her pale blonde hair was pulled back from her face securely by a length of black velvet ribbon, its soft curls falling in a soft waterfall down the back of her blouse. Milky skin nearly glowed under the flattering light from the walls as she smiled up at him, deep grey eyes inquisitive and business like, the dark iris streaked with flecks of a paler hue.
"You are Bakura Ryou, am I not correct?" she asked, voice clear over the babbling song of the glass walls and the fountain. All Ryou could do was nod, startled by the normalness of the woman. A small smile lingered on her unpainted lips as she ticked something off on the clipboard that she was holding. "To be honest, I knew already." She deftly unclipped a sheet of paper and held it up, revealing a picture of Ryou. It was a portrait shot of himself, white hair softly framing his face as he propped his chin on one hand. He seemed to be staring past the camera, eyelids half lowered as if in a dream, lips slightly parted. Ryou flushed, recognising it as one of the ones that he had included in his portfolio. "Mr Crawford always sends visual identification down so we can greet each new employee as he comes in. You were certainly easy to recognise, your looks are very distinct, very perfume ad if I may say."
Ryou blinked, slightly overwhelmed by this all already. He could have sworn that the woman smirked slightly as she held out a French manicured hand.
"Sorry, I kind of get caught up in the ideas for each new victi...I mean employee." Now she was definitely smirking, poking gentle fun at the flushing youth that stood before her. "Well, now all that official crap is over and done with, I can introduce myself." As Ryou took her hand lightly, she gripped it firmly. "I'm Carly, Carly Chan."
Ryou frowned at this. "Chan? No offence, but you don't exactly look Chinese...heck, you don't even look oriental." Carly nodded; absently adjusting the sapphire drops in her ear. The dark blue stones winked in the soft skin of her lope, not affected by the reflected green light sent out by the constantly moving water walls.
"I'm American actually," she offered. "But my mother remarried and I decided to take her Chinese husband's last name." She made a slight face. "It was better than my former surname – Carly Hebblethwaite." She shuddered deliciously as Ryou hid a smile behind one hand.
"Your Japanese is certainly good, you have no accent that I can see." Ryou said shyly, looking up at the woman with those wide chocolate eyes.
Cary smiled gratefully, her eyes becoming friendlier as she warmed to the awkward young man that stood before her. He seemed too nice to have come into this business. She hoped the harpies that worked here wouldn't break his spirit too soon.
"Well, introductions over, I've been instructed to take you to see the big man himself." She turned briskly on her heel, official manner once more in place as she headed towards an elevator in the corner of the room, glass naturally. Releasing a key card from a clip around her neck, she swiped it deftly through the slot. The doors slid open with a soft ping and Carly strode in, followed be a meek Ryou who was still looking around him with large eyes. He emitted a slight squeak once the elevator was beginning its ascent and he realised that the floor of the box was also glass, allowing him to see an interesting set of cables and winches, all becoming increasingly far away as they rose up through the floors. Resisting the urge to close his eyes, Ryou busied himself watching the different levels that they passed through. One filled with desks and computers white shirted and black trousered people bending over the screens. This must be the business end of the company, judging by the numerous pie charts that were displayed on flip charts, as well as squiggles of unreadable lists of what seemed to be figures with lots of zeroes. Not particularly interesting, but it was better than looking down and realising that the only thing that separated him and a rather lengthy drop was a sheet of green glass. Now that was a reassuring thought.
The next floor was similar, but the attitude was more relaxed. Jeans replaced suits and shirts had disappeared to make room for crass sloganised t-shirts, often with some sort of strange symbol that looked like an eye. The youth vaguely recognised it, possibly from his letter. It must have been the logo for Golden Eye. Still the same multitude of computers, but the flip charts seemed to have designs scrawled upon them. They might have been designs for anything from posters to television advertisements. The Graphics floor maybe?
Still quickly rising, the elevator passed through several more similar floors, plus a few where the walls turned to solid white painted ones, instead of glass, blocking vision. Finally, the box slid to a smooth halt and the doors once more opened with a cheerful ping. The corridor that was revealed was certainly...different from the subtly elegant décor of the rest of the building. Unless you could call pink and gold striped wall paper elegant. This eyesore made Ryou flinch and Carly looked sympathetically at him. "It's a bit of a shock to find out that one of the supposedly best styled men in the world could actually allow that colour scheme."
Ryou smiled weakly, still looking shell shocked by the wallpaper. That had been rather an understatement. Was the man who had employed him completely colour blind? The pair emerged from the glass box that began to sink back down the shaft again, in response to someone else's call no doubt. Trying not to look at the bright colours of the wall, Ryou focused his eyes on the door they were heading towards. This might actually be considered good to look at. Painted black, golden cranes flew across the background in a V formation while nearer the front, a silver tree was pressed on in artfully flaked silver leaf, lotus like blossoms a deep copper. The white haired teen barely had time to admire the Chinese artwork that adorned the wooden barrier before Carly had pressed a buzzer and the door had swung open.
Another large room was revealed and it was just as garish as the hallway. The colour scheme was similar, once more pink and gold, but the wallpaper was covered in Harlequin diamonds, alternating between each hue. The carpet was a deep burgundy, a very dark red that clashed with the pink. Several chaise lounges were scattered around the room and these had oddly been chosen to be upholstered in black and white zebra print. His gaze travelling across the room, Ryou was surprised to say the least to see a four-poster bed in the corner of the room, violet satin curtains covering three enclosed side, leaving the top open. Pillows of the same colour and material were propped invitingly on the mattress and were those red flecks that were scattered over the purple sheets rose petals? Who was Mr Crawford expecting? Looking up, Ryou saw himself. The man had mirrors on the ceiling. Being as naïve as he was, Ryou absently wondered why Pegasus would want reflective surfaces above him. Foolish teen.
Set in the centre of the room, before the large glass wall that allowed an overview of the city, light streaming brightly through it, a spacious desk was placed. The polished mahogany surface was covered in papers; photographs were haphazardly strewn over it, magazine fronts cascading out of hastily stapled files. All the signs of the owner of a Modelling firm were there, albeit in a very messy form. Yet Ryou's eyes were drawn to the man that sat behind the desk in a high backed swivel chair. Long fingers formed a steeple under his chin, pale skin a contrast against the red plush of the man's obviously tailored suit. The smooth material clung to the broad shouldered frame, the colour certainly vibrant. A dainty handkerchief peeped out of the breast pocket, lace trimmed edge snowy against the red base colour. Mr Crawford's face was half hidden by a curtain of silver hair, straight tresses obviously newly styled, blow-dried and whatnot. The one eye that was visible was dancing with barely concealed smirk and painted lips, yes he was wearing lipstick of some sort, were pulled up in a devilish smirk. The effect of the obvious colour blindness of this man was strangely relaxing, although Ryou was voicing silent wonders at the sanity of Mr Crawford. A winking metal sheet at the front of the desk had "Pegasus J. Crawford" written on it in curling cursive script. This was the man who had founded Golden Eye, the company that had reached multi millionaire status in just three years. Pegasus had become the name to be working for, it just proved that you were one of those attractive enough to be chosen by him and his tastes were finicky to say the least.
"Well how do you do my darling?" Pegasus drawled lazily, flicking a strand of silver deftly out of his face. "It's just wonderful to know that you accepted my invitation. With your face, we'll make you a star in no time. Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Versace, all shall want you."
Once more blinking like a deer caught in headlights, Ryou managed to compose himself long enough to bow slightly and murmur a greeting. He was aware of Carly standing a few paces behind him, all too probably smirking once more at the gushing speech that Pegasus seemed to be launching himself into.
"Of course they'll want you, but you'll always tell them that you're mine won't you? You wouldn't abandon Golden Eye, not when I so kindly employed you." Pegasus seemed to be making puppy eyes at the younger man, a fact that caused him to reel somewhat. "I'd feel very bad if such a pretty flower betrayed me like that." And now he was pouting...this was certainly not what Ryou had envisioned on his first day of work, far from it in fact. This oddly dressed and clearly insane man was the one he had to work for? Pegasus suddenly leaned forwards, peering intently into the soft features of the younger teen. "He has such a pretty face doesn't he Miss Chan?"
Finally coming forwards, Carly nodded swiftly, grey eyes also intently fixed on the now self-conscious Ryou. "Yes sir, a very appealing face. A fitting one for the upcoming perfume advertisement don't you think? His eyes are perfect and the hair is just different enough to add that extra panache without falling into the trap of over styling. He looks natural, that's what makes him so appealing."
This analysis of his looks was something that Ryou had never got used to. Yuugi and Malik had always assured him that he was adorable, but judging by the fact that he had never had a lasting relationship, he reasoned that they were exaggerating. He was still in delayed shock about the fact that a talent scout had even recommended him to the big boss, not to mention he had been employed. He just didn't see it, didn't see what everyone else saw. He didn't see his soul shining through his eyes.
Pegasus nodded in assent and all too suddenly, Ryou was blinking blindly from the flash of a camera. Once the pink and gold spots in his vision had faded to the gold and pink diamonds of the wall paper, he looked questioningly at Pegasus, only to find he wasn't there anymore. Swivelling his gaze around, he found Pegasus at the wall opposite the bed. What he had taken to be a darker wall than the other ones was actually due to the fact that it was plastered with photos. Pegasus was at present in the middle of attaching his own photo at the bottom of the collage.
Walking closer, Ryou could now make out individual photos. Some blonde, some brunettes, even some with red hair. Of both sexes, one thing could be assured; all were beautiful. Yet many photos had a large X magic markered over their faces in red.
"Those are the ones that left me, the ones who have been crossed out," a voice said and Ryou turned to see Pegasus looking intently at him.
"Abandoned me for other companies." Pegasus said morosely. "Either that or they couldn't cut it. They couldn't handle the pressure of modelling. It isn't all glamour and parties Ryou darling. Models do have to work, they can't just look pretty, they have to work out what the shoot requires and they have to protect their own interests at all costs."
Ryou was slightly perturbed by the fact that Pegasus had progressed to first name basis, but the man obviously felt pain at the thought of all the young hopefuls that had failed or left him for greener pastures.
Pegasus had once more lapsed into silence and Ryou took this chance to examine the mass of photographs that were pasted over the wall. Of the ones that remained unblemished, a few caught his eye. Only one was female, yet even if Ryou wasn't one for admiring women, he could still appreciate the obvious beauty of the girl. Blonde curls were immaculate, even though he suspected that all these photos had been as much of a surprise for the subjects as it had been for him. Violet eyes were wide and were normally a striking colour, but Ryou had become accustomed to seeing Yuugi's eyes and they were of a similar hue though. She was extremely sensual though, he had to admit that.
Another few noticeable ones were much closer in towards the centre, in the inner ring. These were probably more high status models, ones that had been employed by Pegasus for longer.
One seemed to be about his age, golden skin flawless and complemented by the honeyed blonde locks of the boy. He had an eager air about him, an aura of such energy that even a still and obviously unprepared image made you want to laugh. There was no name, but it was a face to remember with those amber eyes.
Then there were two that seemed to be Egyptian. One was calm, gold bangs framing his dusky face while crimson eyes looked steadily out of the shot. Red and black peaks rose above that, odd hairstyle obviously being one of the attractions about him. He was an odd fish among so many classical examples of good looks, though his neighbour was hardly what you would call normal. Another Egyptian, this time with platinum blonde tresses, seemingly gelled into some unattainable defiance of gravity. This male was amethyst eyed and instead of the serenity and coolness the other possessed, these occuli excluded wildness and raw emotion. Here was a model one would want to show passion, lust, any strong emotion for even from a picture, Ryou could judge that here was a man that did not live by halfway measures. It was all or nothing for him, but this obviously seemed to be working for him here.
The last two pictures were the largest and set at the centre of the collage. Both were profiles and the faces were pointed towards each other. One was a blacknette, layered hair pulled back by a strip of red cloth to expose an angled face and green, green eyes. Lips were twisted into a mocking smirk and the face sent out vibe upon vibe of self confidence. Beautiful and he knew it, that was the impression that Ryou received from the picture.
As for the other one. The person depicted still had an air of self confidence, but it came more from the fact that a pair of very blue looked towards the blacknette with so much mocking that they didn't look like there was a space between two photos between them. Chestnut locks tumbled into a pale face, threatening to obscure the icy gaze of those sapphire eyes. Out of all of them, this was the face that Ryou liked the most, the one he considered to be the most suited for modelling.
The most beautiful out of all the beautiful people there. A high compliment.
"Bakura?" The youth jumped slightly, startled out of his musings and reluctantly pulling his gaze away from the photos before him to look towards Carly. "I'll take you to where all the new employees are gathering. It will give you a chance to get to know the ones you will be working with. You know, make friends, assess the competition."
Ryou nodded and followed Carly who had begun to walk back towards the hall. Pausing at the entrance where the black doors had been opened once more, he looked back to where Pegasus was still standing.
"Goodbye Mr Crawford...thank you for the opportunity sir." Pegasus nodded absently and the white haired youth disappeared out of the doors, closing them quietly behind him. The red suited man was still looking towards the photos when he sensed the other person who had entered the room from the side balcony.
"What did you think of the new boy Seto?" he asked teasingly, still not looking towards the tall figure that stood behind him. The question received a clear "Humph."
"Tsk tsk now Kaiba boy." Pegasus seemed to take great delight in the growl that originated from the trench coated brunette. "I'd prefer a clear answer from you for once."
"He certainly looks the part, better eye candy than the average lot you employ." Seto's tone was grudging as he voiced his thoughts on Ryou. "However pretty he looks though, he doesn't have the temperament to survive in this world." He gave a contemptuous snort. "He's too god-damned timid, he even got scared of your little rant about how gorgeous he was." The snort was repeated. "I give him a month, maybe two before he runs out crying. I don't fancy any of the new one's odds. Quality has gone down." Seto sat himself down on the chair Pegasus had previously vacated, idly re-arranging some of the photos before him.
Pegasus smirked and came to perch on the corner of the desk, ignoring the fact that this model was treating him like an equal. As one of the two most sought after models in the company, Kaiba Seto was allowed to do what most could not. Only Ryuuji Otogi had the same privileges. "But he's so pretty, he'd be such an asset to the company and we'd get all the benefits of his company," the company owner purred, eyes half hooded.
Kaiba just grunted. "It's no fun if he doesn't fight back. It's not a challenge."
Pegasus leaned forwards, only inches between the two men's faces, a cat like smile on his face. "You wanted a birthday present. There you go. You can have the pretty British boy. You can handle his career, groom him in your own image, do what you want to him, if he lets you of course. You hold his modelling life in your hands. He is yours." Pegasus withdrew, sliding gracefully of the desk and brushing down the soft material of his suit. "Happy Birthday Kaiba Boy." Swiftly, he exited the room, leaving a pensive Kaiba, still sitting at the desk.
Sitting up, the brunette swiftly shuffled through the most recent files dumped in the overflowing in tray. Pulling out a brown envelope, he slid out the photos that were enclosed inside, as well as the standard information sheets all employees were required to fill in. Kaiba settled back in the well padded sheet, leafing through the sheets of paper.
"Bakura Ryou...eighteen...Domino..." The young model sipped at a cup of coffee that was left on the desk, not caring that it was cold as he concentrated on reading the basic life story of the white haired model that he had watched from the veranda. Now the choice was, to make or to break his career. Perhaps showing that he could be a mentor to a younger one, turn a possibly hopeless case into a successful model, would be the turning point in his battle with Otogi for the inheritance of Golden Eye. With Pegasus wifeless and heirless, it was now up to him to choose between the two young men. Both were capable so it would be the little things that decided it.
Little things like Bakura Ryou in fact. The youngster was so naïve, he was sure to irritate the hell out Kaiba. But Pegasus had a point, he was so pretty. Maybe it would be worthwhile to play along for a bit. Worst come to worst, he should be able to have fun. However much he seemed to act like a cold hearted bastard, Kaiba loved to have fun. You know, drinking, dancing, crushing some young hopeful's dreams, same old, same old.
Not to mention that Kaiba already had Ryou down as a screamer. He always had preferred the vocal ones.
Lell: Well, this was a fic born born out of randomness combined with boredom and the fact that I was having Internet withdrawal symptoms, but still having access to some fan art I had printed off. Resisting the urge to do some sort of Mokuba/Seto incest deeley, I decided to write a present for Ragdollsally. I hope you enjoyed it. Anyway, please review. Hate, love or indifference, all are appreciated.
Adara: But be constructive, please, mindless or pointless comments annoy me and when I get annoyed, people or things end up in the Shadow Realm, eh Seto?
Seto: (Sweatdrops) No comment...
Lell: Um, yes, anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and I would like to say that Long Ragged Moan is at my house and it is her that gave me this sudden writer's splurge. It is also her who introduced me to , so I guess you can either hate her or love her. Hehehehe. Anyway, see you next chapter.