More than Business
By Cat Alex
Chapter One: It Always Begins with a Bang
Serenity Wheeler grinned as her beloved blond brother pulled a twisted face at Tristan, who laughed along with the rest of the gang sitting around the cafeteria table in Domino's local college.
"That's what you said to him?" she gasped, her already large innocent brown eyes widening in a transfixed disbelief, "That's what you said to Kaiba?"
"You bet I did, Sis! I don't let that rich boy push me around!" Joey thumped his chest with an arrogant grin and Tristan shook his head with incredulity, while Yugi listened with interest and Tea covered her mouth as she continually giggled at the elaborately detailed story Joey had told.
"I was right there and witnessed it myself, but I still couldn't believe he was so publicly rude to the guy. I swear Kaiba's face went purple from rage," Tristan commented, quickly stealing a glance at Serenity while Tea giggled mercilessly, leaving Serenity to bury her head in her hands. Still after five years Tristan had a crush on her, but he refused to act on it not wishing not to jeopardise his friendship with Joey and it still made her kind of uncomfortable whenever he was around.
"What is it, Sis? Didn't embarrass you or somethin', did I?" Joey asked her with concern on his face and she lifted her head from her hands, an uncertain smile making its way across her delicate rose lips.
"No, I just can't believe you're my brother sometimes!" she told him nervously, then threw her arms around him affectionately.
"You're so brave!" she explained, shining with pride for her brother, and he grinned, hugging her back.
After the reunion between them, Serenity and Joey had been inseparable for the past five years. Admittedly, now they were all studying at college, Serenity had taken a place at Domino College along with them; they didn't see as much of one another anymore but were settling in nicely to their lives. Serenity for the first time in a long while was happy and the regaining of her sight thanks to her brother had given her the incredible lust for life.
Yugi sat looking about with a smile glazed across his face as he took in the warm atmosphere their table had. He felt a swell of achievement at how far they had all come over five years.
'So much companionship and teamwork-'
The buzzer hailing the end of lunch interrupted his thoughts and made Serenity let go of her brother with a startled expression, which turned into mild panic and Joey watched her with wonder at her swift change of facial movements.
"Oh no! Got to go to class! It's business now!" she jumped up and grabbed her navy bag before flying out of the cafeteria and down the corridor and left the rest of the group sitting in stunned silence for a moment.
"Well, she's certainly throwing herself into college," Tea remarked, not particularly willing to leap up for her dance class and the group nodded thoughtfully.
"But that's a good thing, right? She's smart an' she'll get a good job in retail an' stuff. Maybe one day she'll have her own business empire," Joey decided and stood with the others.
"Well, better head off," Tristan gave a casual nod and walked off, swiftly followed by Tea calling for him to wait up for her. Tea seemed to be doing that a lot lately, not that anybody – especially Tristan – noticed.
Yugi shook his head and stood up, picking up his neat satchel and securing it on his shoulder. He couldn't help but wonder why everyone was in such a hurry today, when he always thought of Monday's at college like wading through water, everyone all washed up from the weekend and grousing about having to work when they felt so disorientated.
"People really need to relax, Joey," he said as Joey pulled on his trademark green jacket and slung his backpack over a shoulder.
"You're tellin' me Yugi. Relaxation is the key to my studies," he said running a hand nonchalantly through his hair and Yugi shook his head as if he couldn't believe Joey would say such a thing.
"Joey, half the time you sleep in class!" he chastised the taller boy and Joey shrugged and began to head out of the dining hall, followed by Yugi weaving past the other students to keep up.
"Yeah, well, that's just how I operate, all right?!" Joey said offhandedly and suddenly stopped in his tracks, causing Yugi to bump into his back and give a muffled yelp or surprise.
"Hey, do you reckon Serenity made it to her class in one piece? She was runnin' kinda fast," he voiced his concern for his treasured sister while Yugi meticulously dusted himself down.
"I think Serenity is big enough to handle herself now, don't you? She's twenty now," Yugi told Joey firmly and the tall boy spun around.
"I know, I know, but I wish I hadn't taken part in that Battle City fiasco, or I wouldn't be retaking all my classes again like a dummy! I don't know how you guys did it, Yugi!" he replied with a look of slight confusion and Yugi modestly shrugged.
"Well, you know me, Joey – I like to keep my life up to date. And you'd have to ask the others yourself," he humbly replied.
Yugi was now training as a teacher within Domino College and preparing to take a position as an assistant teacher in Domino High. He believed it had good career prospects and could give him a good audience which to promote morals his grandpa had taught him as well as the reward of expanding young minds and showing them the world. His grandpa was so proud of him - Yugi couldn't help but feel proud of what he'd achieved over five years of hard work. Admittedly many of the trials of the Duel had caused problems with classes and extended his three year course to a five year course, like many of the group, but he still had worked extremely hard when he was studying. The twenty one year old had become a mild mannered man who still loved to Duel, but also put in a considerable amount of dedication to his new path as a teacher as well as managing to grow to a five foot six frame and retain his unruly hair. He looked a little more like Yami Yugi every day. Joey, on the other hand, had bombed out on his high school exams and had spent his time catching up, only now moving on to a college course in Physical Education in order to pursue a career in a gym. However, on many occasions he has been distracted by a certain woman who now hung around college since she didn't require a job. Mai Valentine. The woman couldn't get enough of Joey and his dumbness and sometimes Yugi and even Joey questioned her motives as to what she saw in the man.
Joey sighed and gave Yugi a nod.
"Have fun buddy – I'll see you this evenin'," he gave a wave and jogged upstairs, leaving Yugi to disappear into his class, leaving the corridors devoid of life…
Meanwhile, Serenity positively sprinted along the corridor, eager not to miss the start of class and cascaded down a flight of stairs to the lower part of the college where she took her business classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Most of the rest of her time was taken up with her Business class homework or helping around her and Joey's flat they had scraped money together with dead-end jobs to keep hold of. Though Serenity appeared to toil for much of the week, it didn't mar her soft, gentle beauty she held. She had become the most benevolent twenty year-old in the entire college. She generally kept her head down and did all her work, but with her new sight, her boisterousness was finally beginning to emerge, along with a willingness to hold her ground for what she believed in. She clattered along the hard tile floor with her solid flat-soled sensible shoes, nearly at her class. She was just beginning to wish she had left earlier to account for the distance from the canteen to her class when-
-she ran straight into someone or something and was sent flying backwards onto the floor. The force of the impact and the smooth, not to mention cold, tile flooring made her skid and slide across the floor with a distressed scream. The thing she had hit gave a sort of surprised grunt and she gathered her bearings enough to look up to see what it was.
He loomed over her and her mouth formed a shocked 'O' as Seto Kaiba, the man who had been very recently teased childishly that very day by her brother, looked at her with shadowed eyes of contempt.
"Watch where you're going," he snapped and went to leave until Serenity gave an indignant, "Huh!" to which he turned back again with a glare.
"What?" he barked in annoyance and Serenity bit her lip with fear as she stood, fearing she'd already put Kaiba in a temper. She was perfectly well aware of the less than friendly relationship Kaiba and her brother had, but hoped that just because she was related wouldn't mean she'd be made into a target.
"You could at least say sorry for knocking me over. I'm sorry I ran into you," she explained, giving her flowing yellow summer dress a self-conscious brush as Kaiba eyed her critically.
'It doesn't walk like a Wheeler and certainly doesn't talk like a Wheeler. But it is a Wheeler – that whining says it all,' Kaiba scowled to himself and clenched his jaw with agitation.
"I don't apologise to Wheeler's," he said through gritted teeth and Serenity's face relaxed as she failed to pay attention to his words.
"Thank yo- hey! You didn't apologise!" she called as he swept around, his dark trench coat whirling about excessively, and began to walk down the corridor to room 4B.
Inside her, a part of her mind clicked and she felt a surge of anger emanate toward this man she could barely say she met. She knew he was in her business class taking some kind of master degree. He spent most of his time with his huge corporation and sacrificed a lot of time to work rather than complete his degree, leaving him in this class for the past three years when he should have fast tracked it to an exam. But here he remained, the sullen man who said little to nothing each class Serenity attended to the point that she didn't even notice him there, despite his unusual looks and clothes to boot.
With a baring of her teeth, she stormed angrily up to the towering departing man and grabbed his arm, giving it a hard tug to make him face her.
"Apologise!" she heatedly commanded and Kaiba burned his eyes into her with anger at this impetuous treatment. He easily pulled his arm out of her grip and grabbed her shoulders, thrusting his face so it was inches from hers.
"I am Seto Kaiba and no-one tells me who to apologise to! Especially those related to Joey Wheeler," he growled and her face paled as the handsome, but terribly infuriated face of Kaiba denounced her and her brother.
"Don't insult Joey!" she protested and tried to shake his strong grip off her, but he wouldn't let go of her shoulders, making her wince slightly, convinced that there would be marks to show later.
Kaiba stared into her brown eyes and, for the first time since he had been in his business class, he noticed her. As far as he'd been concerned there was a girl related to Wheeler in his class and that was not a good thing, so he took the liberty to ignore her and everyone else around him in Business. People weren't his concern, only his corporation and his responsibility to Mokuba, though the boy was now a seventeen year-old heartbreaker, refusing to indulge in girl's simply because he was too used to the freedom he'd been given for the last five or more years and so thrived on his rich boy lifestyle. It didn't stop him from charming the ladies, though.
Kaiba's thoughts centred on the struggling woman before him and he wasn't sure what to do, which made him even angrier, this time at himself. How could he make important decisions day to day about a massive worldwide corporation since the age of fifteen, yet now at twenty three he couldn't decide whether to let a poor pretty girl go or grip onto her like a vice?
Suddenly his hands released Serenity and she paused for a moment to frown threateningly at the tall skinny man before smacking him as hard as she could on the arm.
"That was so rude! Apologise!" she persisted. Honour was quite a highly regarded virtue in her family and no way was she going to back down from a rich man who was too used to having his way all the time!
Kaiba couldn't believe she had even dared to think about striking him, as pathetic a blow it was, and went to rush at her – if only for a cheap spook for his amusement - causing Serenity to step abruptly backwards. In a flash her face changed to horror as she tripped into the 4B door, which swung open from the impact, and she fell backwards into nothingness.
Instincts took Kaiba over and he instantly pitched forward and reached his arms out, managing to pull her into his arms before she toppled to the ground so they looked as if they were in the middle of some kind of warped dancing competition.
The two eyed each other in surprise at the situation they had ended up in while their commotion caused the class to swivel their heads around to see what was going on. Kaiba and Serenity lifted their heads up to see the class gazing back and a blush filtered into Serenity's cheeks, partly from her head being angled towards the floor.
"And I see we have two volunteers," a stern voice said coldly from the front of the class.
A/N: Hey everybody! I've been through this and tried to flesh it out as best as possible, but I'm always a bit of a slow start and get into it. I'm putting up the first three chapters together and keeping all the rest I've done (I'm on seven at the moment) until I've gone through them as thoroughly as I can. I just want people to get a feel for what I'm going for right now. Hope you like it!