A/N: I just re-read this story. I can honestly say that my writing skills have improved a whole lot. Wow… You never know until you go back and see a past product. I 'm thinking of going back and polishing it, but that may take a while. So, I shall start it here and hope you all don't go cross-eyed from the previously written chapters.

Please don't flame me for the triangle…it is called a triangle for a reason. I know most of you fall on one side or the other, there aren't many who do Azure and Silent shipping with equal enthusiasm.

Which do I prefer? I will probably never divulge (hey I need to be a bit mysterious!).

As it stands the voting is tied according to my calculations. Any new input on whom Kaiba ultimately belongs with? So, vote or deal with the results of not voting… I could go either way—seeing as how I've written him with both characters now. I shall let you all decide. So, tell me in your review…e-mail…IM…telepathic message (though I don't reccommend it), okay?

Thank you… Oh, and review please…if this story drums up no interest I will put it back on the shelf and replace the dust…sigh…

Standard disclaimer…I own nothing but the plot and my few added characters.

This is for all of you who bugged me to pay attention to this story...You know who you are...

Chapter 8

Strawberry Mousse

The deck of the ship was relatively quiet at this hour of the day. All the work was done and the crew had slipped into its daily routine. Without schedules and concerns the men took to card playing and book reading. Some even watched movies on the satellite system. Being employed for a man obsessed with technology had its perks. One was never bored when your boss was Seto Kaiba.

Serenity sank into the cushions of the deck's couch. Slowly she nursed her mug of green tea as the sun began to descend amidst some clouds. Her heart longed to call Joey and let him know she was fine. Despite her trepidation she knew Kaiba wouldn't harm either of them. Teá should fear her, not Kaiba—Serenity wanted to strangle the brunette who possessed hugely bad ideas.

Not only had her supposed friend dragged her on this mission, which had resulted in kidnapping, she was also betraying her on a daily basis. Teá told Kaiba about Weevil…how could she? After the date Teá had taken a secrecy oath—and now she had spilled the sordid details to Seto Kaiba? Serenity shook her head. Waiting for the alarm to wake her from sleep wasn't working. She had officially entered a waking nightmare.

"So, I see you're enjoying the sea air." It was a statement. It didn't require an answer. She sat in silence as he approached—his blue eyes scanned her relaxed form. A gentle wind blew, causing some of her fiery strands to whip softly around her face. "I think we may be in for a storm tonight, we're pulling the ship into its dock on the large island." He came closer and leaned on the railing, looking over and down into the waters below.

"There's a dock?" Serenity asked as she looked up. He was in jeans and a rather tight t-shirt, giving him the illusion of being human. The trench coat he normally wore suited him better—this made him look too appealing for her peace of mind.

He didn't turn her way, instead his eyes drifted over the horizon.

"Could I maybe get off the boat and do a little walking? I would appreciate being on something that doesn't rock." A long swallow of tea was her attempt at calming her frazzled nerves. "It's been a few days and…"

She gasped as he turned his full attention to her. The desire to cower and hide under the deep cushions was almost over whelming. Had she been insane to suggest a walk? Hell, he could easily murder her and bury the lifeless corpse anywhere on that island. Would his crew care? Would they even look? They were probably so loyal to him that they would provide the shovel.

"We'll dock in a few minutes, be ready." He walked away, disappearing through a door.

That was it? Did it mean he was going to let her go off on her own? A burst of excitement shot through her. A few brief moments of freedom were more than she expected. Quickly she raced down to her bedroom. She changed from the over sized clothes into her own. It was so much better now that they had been hand washed and dried. Wrinkled…yes, her own…so much better. These fit her, unlike the crew's clothes. Her socks and sneakers felt good, being barefoot was getting annoying.

A gentle rap on the door caused her heart to race. Putting some distance between herself and this ship was better luck than she dared dream possible. Throwing the door open, she discovered Kaiba there. A crewmember would have sufficed to see her off, why was he seeing to it personally?

"Are you ready?" He asked, arching an eyebrow. The clothes she was wearing showed off a fuller figure than he remembered. Quite possibly he hadn't noticed her curves the first day because he was so annoyed—now he was noticing.

A soft blush crept across her cheeks. Seto Kaiba was, for all intents and purposes, checking her out. This was worse than him being mean to her—she preferred mean. This was dangerous and it felt strange.

She nodded and followed him as he walked through the ship. Vaguely, she wondered if Teá would be allowed to walk freely on the island. Hopefully they would meet up. There were a lot of things Serenity wanted to get off her chest…some friend Teá turned out to be.

Kaiba walked down the gangplank and stood on the small dock. She followed, not wanting to seem over eager to get off the ship.

"I had the area dredged to allow my ship to dock. This is the perfect get away—far from civilization and free of reporters. It's ironic that I would bring the press here. Then again, it isn't by choice…is it?" Accusing blue eyes bore down on her. She flinched, much to his delight.

"If I could rewrite history I wouldn't come within 100 miles of you," Serenity assured him. "Don't worry, once it's all over I'll never bother you again…and I'm sorry."

Her sincerity struck him as odd—it was honestly heartfelt. He could sense a liar from years of experience. This girl wouldn't be able to lie if it meant her life.

She started to walk down the dock towards the island. She kept her head down, eyes fixed on where her feet would go. Hell, nothing mattered now that she was on solid ground. The sand was soft and white, large dunes were scattered with beach grass. A deserted paradise, there was no other way to describe it. Topaz waters licked the beach that stretched for miles, while seagulls screeched overhead. A smile tugged at her lips, one couldn't pick a better location for an impromptu vacation.

"So I take it you like my island?" His voice ripped her out of the trance she was in.

"It's lovely." She stopped and looked at him. "I promise I won't get lost, you don't have to waste your time on me," she mumbled.

His arms folded defensively across his chest. "You think I'm going to leave you to your own devices?" He moved closer to her and watched her shrink back. "You want solid ground which is fine, but I'll be with you every step of the way. I wouldn't want you trying anything stupid." His warm breath caressed her cheek. Was he that close?

Slowly they walked along the beach. With any other man it could have been called romantic, with Kaiba it was terrifying. A few times she thought of running, but where to? It was just a huge island with no civilization present—a phone booth wasn't part of the landscape.

"C-c-could I sit for a little bit?" She tentatively asked. They had been walking for about an hour and she was dying to sit in the warm sand. He frowned at her but halted. Taking that as a yes she lowered herself onto the sand. The boat could be seen in the distance, pressed up against the dock. The crew was moving about, seeming to connect to some electrical source. Could there be a source of electric on the island? That was interesting, she filed the information away in her mind.

Kaiba sat in the sand next to her and rested his hands behind him.

Serenity couldn't help but notice how tall he was, his legs stretched out way further than hers. Honey eyes blinked and tried to think of where she could settle her sights. Staring at him was hardly an option. The silence grew long and awkward. It would have been fine with anyone but him. Slyly she attempted to sneak a peek at him. He was watching her with heated interest; she jumped and allowed a small cry to escape her throat.

"You really are immature," he snidely remarked. "Gardner was right. She said you acted like a spooked child around men. Tell me, have you ever been alone with a man or even a boy? Oh, and please spare me your relations."

Teá had said she acted immature? Serenity blinked several times, letting the words slowly sink in. Her own, supposed, best friend had labeled her immature and childish?

"I've been alone around men," she whispered. "Tristan and Duke, they both liked me."

"Do they like you now?" Kaiba watched her body language—she was slowly closing down, tugging her knees up so her chin could rest on them—her arms wrapped protectively around her legs. He was getting to her. "Gardner told me how they liked you. It is a past tense term—meaning no longer like. Tell me, what caused them to lose interest? She has her theories, what are the realities?"

Serenity was close to tears. Since when had Teá become such buddies with Seto Kaiba? Was it out of boredom that they chose to discuss her lack of a love life? Dislike was turning into hatred for the girl whom she formally referred to as a friend. A few short days and Teá was spilling secrets and confidences to a man who had kidnapped them.

"I…they…well…" Serenity felt very strangled and weak.

"Spit it out, I'm curious if friends really do know how to psychoanalyze one another." He was being very snide, but in her state Serenity took it as genuine curiosity.

"I was too young and they were so…"

"Persistent? Overbearing? Wanting?" Kaiba paused between each adjective, waiting for confirmation. He watched in curiosity as she rested her forehead against her arm, obscuring her face.

"I was too young, they were too annoying and I had other things to concern myself with." She tried, weakly.

"So, aside from Weevil who else did you grace with your attentions?"

"I hated that night," she mumbled. "Teá totally used me. In order to date this really nice guy she needed to find a date for his friend. She told me she had no idea it would be Weevil. I never 'graced him with my attentions,' I graced the door with my attentions."

Kaiba slid next to her and leaned in closer to her ear, "So, I take it you never had a boyfriend…" This was too rich. He could hardly believe the two girls had such different personalities. Serenity was so meek and mild, while Teá was full of fire. Two approaches would be needed to see if he could toy with them completely. He had lots of time to break the barriers down with both of them—hell, he had nothing else to do until he was cleared.

Teá needed to be swept up in total romance. It would take lots of convincing for her to believe he had changed. The best approach with her was slow and steady. Serenity was different. She would be more fun to analyze. He would push her limits. Wear down her fear of men and replace it with curiosity and desire. He noticed her looking at him, and how she jumped at his touched. It might be fear, but was he good enough to change it to passion? Corruption would be amusing. He would have to prey upon her naiveté.

Serenity thought about it, could she be honest with him? What did he stand to gain with her answers? Shaking her head no, she continued to keep her head down. Her heart nearly stopped when she felt his fingers threading in her hair. He was moving her long tresses in order to see her profile, how embarrassing.

"Look at me," it was a command. Slowly she lifted her head. "Surely you can't be as lacking as Gardner claims. Though I did find it cruel the way she was laughing at how you haven't even experienced a first kiss at your age." It was a gamble on his part, if she had kissed, she would know he was lying—but he had a small inkling she was as fresh as the driven snow. The deer in the headlight look he received proved his hunch correct.

"She told you?" It was a strangled cry. "That was something she promised never to tell anyone and she told you?" Tears sprang to her eyes, how could a friend betray her like this?

"I thought it heartless and quite mean. I even tried to stop her ramblings, but she said she loves to gossip. Heck, I even threatened to take away the Koontz book she was reading if she told one more crew member of your…innocence." He faced the ocean, but continued to watch her with his peripheral vision. It was complete now—Serenity would hate Teá.

"Teá told some of the men? Maybe I should tell them about the notebook she keeps and her rating system for dates. Hardly any have a second chance, no one meets up with her standards. She always jokes that she's a snob when it comes to guys--she needs intelligence, looks, and someone with direction. It's like a twisted job interview method." Still, Serenity's heart didn't want to believe the worst when it came toTeá--deception warning bells were going off inside of her. Then again, how would he know all of these secrets? How would he know she had never had a boyfriend, never been kissed or that Teá read Koontz? Why would Teá betray her confidences?

"Actually," Kaiba looked in the opposite direction now—in an effort to conceal his grin. "I think she told most of them. I tried to prevent it from spreading to the few who didn't know, but rumors spread like wildfire in tight quarters. The crew is very close knit. I'm sorry."

Her mind reeled, all the men on the ship thought of her as a prissy, innocent child? How humiliating! Could the earth simply open and swallow her whole?

"How…how can I face them all? Oh God, I want to die!"

She felt a warm hand settle on her back and start to rub in lazy long strokes. Several passes and his hand wandered into her hair, stroking the nape of her neck. Seto Kaiba was comforting her. It was the strangest thing that ever happened, she had seen him hug Mokuba several times, but never touch anyone else.

She turned her face and looked at him. "I feel like an idiot. The men on your ship…they'll think horrible things of me. What do I do?"

"I've never had a problem like this before, and had I known you would get this upset I would never have told you." He shrugged his shoulders innocently, "I didn't want to get you upset."

Serenity bit her lower lip and stifled a sob. She went over everything in her mind. Teá was a bitch. The crew and Seto Kaiba knew she a twenty year-old with no knowledge of men what so ever, a prissy little virgin…she was probably the butt of many jokes. Here she was far from home and no one to turn to…no one except the coldest man she knew.

"What do I do?" She mumbled several times, she saw no light at the end of the tunnel. There was no silver lining in this storm cloud. "Please let me go home…please?"

"You know I would if I could, this type of cruelty is really unforgivable. In large part that is why I allowed you off the ship, maybe let the rumors die a bit." It was such a lie, but it was getting to her magnificently. He wanted some alone time with the girl, yes, but he didn't realize how she would make it so easy for him. "I suppose I could tell the crew that you and I are…becoming involved…"

Wide, soft eyes stared at him, all blinking had stopped.

He shook his head. "No, it's a stupid idea. It would never work and I would hate to put you in a position you've never been in before with me—a total stranger for all intents and purposes." He was laughing on the inside as he angled the bait.

Pretend to be Seto Kaiba's girlfriend? It would solve lots of problems regarding the rumors. He could defend her honor, saying she was more knowledgeable than she was. Maybe he wouldn't be as scary if he pretended to like her. The biggest problem was her lack of experience. It might also be an advantage to not be alone all of the time…maybe the crew would be nicer to her with him on her side. So many thoughts whirled around in her head. Somewhere, deep and whispering, her conscience's last attempt failed. She nodded and turned to him.

"If you don't mind I would appreciate your efforts." Her eyes went back to the sand below her, she could hardly face him at all—it was so humiliating asking him to pretend to like her to save her from further embarrassment.

He tilted her chin up and studied her face. "You'll have to kiss me in front of the crew. Couples do that."

She nodded. It was beginning to feel more like a deal with the devil than a man. She quashed the negative thoughts and tried to find the bright side. Respect among the crew, someone to keep her company and a way to get back at Teá. Perhaps her friend had started liking Seto Kaiba (not that it was even possible— Teá hated Kaiba), but perhaps there was that slim chance… It would be fun to rub the traitor's face in it. Serenity was going from dateless to dating the most desirable man in Domino, well, it was an act but…

"I've never kissed before." It was a flat statement, a scared flat statement.

He nodded. "Maybe we should attempt this before it looks awkward in front of the crew. Unless you're too afraid, I won't pressure you." This was too easy. Hell—even he was amazing himself. Push a few buttons and watch the mutt's sister dance—at the exact tempo and rhythm he commanded.

"I would rather my first kiss not have an audience," she sighed heavily and then moved, positioning herself on her knees leaning closer to him. She was scared to death. It was one thing to kiss a shy innocent boy…but Seto Kaiba was hardly a boy and had he ever been innocent?

He didn't move to approach her; he would let her set the pace—for now.

"How do I do this? I mean…"

"Just kiss me." He prompted in a lowered voice as his tongue swept over his lips.

Her heart nearly stopped, she followed his action—prepared to lose her first kiss to a complete lie. Did it matter anymore anyway? She had lost her dignity, Teá, her freedom and now she was about to lose her first kiss.

Slowly she leaned forward and watched as his eyes closed, she decided to keep hers open. Gently she pressed her lips on his. Quickly she pulled back, placing shaking fingertips over her mouth. That was it? Kisses inspired poetry, songs, paintings, so many things...by this small action? It made no sense.

She frowned as his lips twisted into a semi-smile. Serenity felt cheated in a way. Maybe for a kiss to feel really good you had to be in love, or in like.

A soft snicker brought her back to the present. She blushed deeply at her racing thoughts.

"Are you laughing at me?" She asked gently.

"No, just your inexperience," he leaned towards her, catching her chin gently.

"It wasn't what I expected," she confessed.

"That's because it was terrible," he ran his thumb over her lower lip—his eyes followed the action, concentrating on her parted lips. "You're too stiff, you have to relax. I'm not your relative—that was a kiss you would give as a greeting." He noticed her breathing was becoming more rapid. "When you kiss it's softer, more open, willing, and it lasts longer." He never thought he would coach a girl on kissing. Wait until the mongrel found out that Seto Kaiba himself had corrupted his baby sister. Not only could he kick the mutt's ass in Dueling, now he was instructing Serenity on how to kiss…how delicious.

"How do you breathe?" She tilted her head in confusion.

"You hang out with boys too much," he mused. "Obviously Gardner didn't tell you anything either, then again why would she? It would be better for her to keep you innocent and naive—less competition."

His breath against her skin was making her dizzy, why did he keep touching her face? Vaguely she felt him pulling her a bit closer.

"You breathe through your nose, that way you can kiss for a long time without breaking contact. It helps for exploration purposes." His fingers stroked up her cheekbone and circled around her ear—tucking stray strands of hair behind it.

"Exploration purposes?"

He could hardly believe how innocent she really was. Panic stricken, innocent and now completely trusting him. Everyone and everything was so easy to manipulate. Friendships could be discarded, lies embraced and now trust was placed on the enemy. How fitting. The Scooby-gang was penetrated and would soon be destroyed. Lines would be drawn and people would fall onto one side or the other. Who would believe innocent Serenity, and who would side with the cheerleader? Revenge was dished up so sweetly—this was much more fun than simply bobbing in the water alone in the boat.

"Kisses deepen when you're a couple. It proves there are feelings there and implies intimacy." His blue eyes were completely focused on her mouth now. "Don't move," he whispered as he caught her lower lip with his. Slowly he pulled it into his mouth, sucking on it gently as his tongue slipped across it until she whimpered. He had her, she was such a child, so trusting—even her own brother's worst enemy.

Slowly he pulled back, releasing her. Her eyes were closed, lips moist and apart.

"Explorations," he murmured. She nodded. "Do you want more?" He asked, knowing she would damn herself if she said yes. There would be no one to blame in this game but herself.

"Please," she replied softly.

He moved closer now, his hand stroking the soft skin of her throat—teasing her. "Open for me Serenity," he requested and she complied. Her lips parted as his touched them, he could feel her warm breath against his cheek as she fought to control her breathing—she was losing that battle. His tongue slipped between her lips, while she remained still, too lost in the intoxication of her first kiss. Gently he stroked the inside of her mouth, tasting secrets no man knew. Cinnamon and sugar, peaches and maple syrup. His hand slid into her fiery silken mane, drawing her closer. So trusting, so perfect, all his.

Breaking the kiss he looked at her, she nearly fell forward as she tried to remain in contact. Steadying herself, by placing her hands on his shoulders, she apologized. A pink flush decorated her cheeks and nose. Her eyes were half lidded as her lashes stroked her cheeks for longer intervals. Despite her inexperience there was a world of passion, which, until now, remained untapped. Funny, she hadn't removed her hands—he had no intentions of asking her to.

"More?" He questioned. She nodded. "This time explore my mouth," he growled the instruction.

She nodded again. He liked how her breathing had become ragged. Slowly he tilted her chin up and claimed her mouth again—gently, slowly, deliberately.

Kaiba waited patiently as he felt her stir against his lips this time. He was almost sure she would lose her nerve but then she dipped her tongue into his mouth. Slender fingers gripped his shoulders as he stroked and sucked—pulling soft moans and sweet little noises from her throat. Quickly she pulled back and looked at him in shock. A lazy smile formed on his lips.

"I didn't know…" Serenity plopped back into the sand as if pushed by some unseen force. Seto Kaiba, heaven help her… Feelings stirred, senses came alive, a part of her regretted that her first kiss wasn't with a man she loved, but it felt amazing and so perfect.

"Kissing has a way of making people lose their minds," he stood up and brushed the sand off the back of his legs. He offered her his hand and then helped pull her to a standing position. Serenity kept licking her lips trying to memorize the taste of him. Coffee, banana and chocolate?

He wanted to release her hand, but she was clinging. Having her doubt his intentions was not a good idea so he gave her delicate hand a light squeeze. Funny, he thought she would taste like strawberries, but the taste of innocence was much more appealing.