This is the slightly tweaked and updated version of chapter one; I'm trying to update them all a bit before I continue on with the story. Thanks for the support!

Chapter 1

"You had better take that back! Right now!!" the blonde's eyes flared madly in his flushed face, the boy just managing to hold himself back from leaping at the brunette before him.

"Why should I? We both know I let you win, inu," the taller boy replied coolly, composed with his trademark smirk firmly plastered upon his shadowed face. The blonde growled at the nickname and took a step forward, halving the distance between the two. The dark boy's smirk widened, seeing the other clench his fists and jaw, desperately fighting the urge to strike his opponent. He leant in slightly to look down at him, revelling in his advantageous height.

"Now, now inu" he said curtly, his voice patronising. "You shouldn't growl like that. Why don't you be a good puppy and behave your-" Predictably, the blonde snapped and dived at the man but felt someone grip his arms, holding him back.

"Calm down Jou!" Yugi's voice piped in his ear as he and Ryou held the barking blonde back. Jou momentarily felt compelled to turn round and rip them to shreds instead but his amber eyes were glued intently on the brunette's cold blue ones, currently lit with a vague sort of sadistic amusement. Jou snarled and stood back, shaking off his so called friends.

"I'll get you back, Kaiba" he spoke venomously, gifting the man with a scorching glare before turning swiftly on his heel and storming determinedly off down the corridor, tailed closely by Yugi. Kaiba watched him go, amusement still evident on his face. Although Seto Kaiba was known to be a 'lone-wolf' sort of fellow who was outwardly cold and distant and, yes, malicious, he seemed to have a queer fondness for picking fights with the light-hearted, hot-headed Jounouchi Katsuya. This particular argument had been triggered by a previous duel, which had itself been caused by an earlier disagreement between the two boys. Kaiba was a great duel monsters player, ranking among the country's top players, and could easily beat just about anybody dumb enough to challenge him into the dirt, with the rare exception of Yugi Mutou. Kaiba could only assume that the Halfling had bargained off his leg bones or something to the devil in exchange for unnatural duelling ability. Come on, no one wins with a Kuribo! During Kaiba and Jou's duel however, he had played along with the younger boy's skill, stretching the game on for over four hours before eventually letting it end in a draw. For some reason he loved to torment the boy and took up every opportunity as a personal challenge to do so. Not that it was much of a challenge at all really, Kaiba mused fondly; you call the kid a dog once and he barks off on his leash. Ryou's melodic voice interrupted Seto's thoughts.

"Why do you always wind him up like that Kaiba?" he asked, sounding as innocent and melodic as a baby deer that had just swallowed a church bell. His chocolate eyes practically swam at Kaiba under his white bangs sending an eerie shiver down the man's spine. A shrill bell rang and Kaiba shrugged at the unnerving creature before abruptly strolling down and away from the kid towards his next class, his long non-uniform, gravity-defying coat fanning out behind him.

Jou stormed into his literature class and harshly threw his rack sack unceremoniously under his desk collapsing into his usual chair, still feeling heated as he rested his chin upon folded arms. Yugi appeared a moment later, trying to catch his breath and frowning at his short legs while wondering in passing whether he had gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Feeling slightly hungrier than before he shifted his attention to the blonde, now trying to sear a hole in the wallpaper.

"You shouldn't let him get to you," Yugi stated helpfully, taking the seat next to Jou who only scowled in response and continued to glare at the blank wall before him. "...a-and don't feel bad, you know Kaiba's practically the best duellist-"

"What?!" the blond sat up gruffly and stared at Yugi, eyes wide, "Why should I feel bad? It was a draw! …You think he went easy on me, is that it?"

", no..." the small boy took a little too long to reply. His best friend glared at him disbelievingly.

"You know what? Thanks Yugi thanks a bunch." Jou pouted spitefully, quickly scooping up his bag and barging past the teacher on his way out the class. The tri-colour haired boy sat staring after him for a moment frozen in shock before sighing and continuing to grasp around in his bag for something edible.

Half way down the corridor Jou slowed down, his initial burst of anger cooled enough for him to think. Great, now where was he meant to go? Definitely not back to the class, what would be the point, he's already out. He took a door to his left, the restrooms. Jounouchi splashed his face with some cold water, needing to calm down. Taking a deep breath he rested his hands on either side of the mirror above the sink. He looked at his reflection; a single crack was etched into the glass and across his mirrored face. Jou remembered how angry he'd been before, how easy he had been to crack; but why? He mused to himself, sure he had a slight rep for being somewhat hot-headed, but for some reason it was always Kaiba that got him the most fired up. Both amber eyes closed and when they opened again the boy felt much calmer. He headed out the room, deciding to spend the remainder of the school day in the library; no one was allowed out of the building during classes so he'd just have to hide out there a while.

Kaiba stood up and stretched, working a painful cramp from his shoulders and legs. Well that's what I get for staying here so long, he thought as he watched the computer shut itself off. Pulling on his blue jacket Kaiba thrust his hands into his pockets and made his way out of his office and company building. The teen often had to work late shifts to make up for the time he spent attending school - at eighteen he was the youngest corporate sensation in history, having inherited Kaiba Corp. from his despised step-father, Gozaburo. His hands clenched at the mere thought of the man and he immediately tried to clear his mind, letting the breeze sweep the look of disgust from his face as he briskly strolled down the street.

Jounouchi yawned and decided to finally go home. As soon as school had ended he had gone to the arcade and had remained there as long as his lunch money for the week allowed, only leaving when he felt that his foul mood had been moderately lifted. Wrapping his navy school jacket tightly around him, Jou lowered his face to shelter it from the crisp cold wind as he departed for home. He didn't see the small group of guys until he practically walked into one of them.

"Heya Blondie, how've ya been?" a deep voice hinted with menace inquired. Jounouchi's head shot up with a ready comeback, but thought better of it when he saw who it was. Ushio and his little gang of renegade oafs. The teen looked defiantly up at the larger boy before trying to quickly pass by them. A thick hand shot out against his chest, pushing him back until he stood before them again. Despite how uneasy he felt, the look of defiance returned to Jou's face as he met his aggressors' eyes steadily. The teen suddenly remembered a time when he had been just like this bully, tormenting those weaker than him; the memory caused a wave of shame to nibble through him. He was so glad he had managed to escape from that miserable existence.

Ushio began to slowly pace a circle around him but Jou made sure he never left his field of vision.

"Well? You didn't answer me Blondie..." Ushio continued. The boy's hands became tight fists that hung alert at his sides, expecting a blow at any moment. He and Ushio had been rivals, but that was now in the past. Jou never even spoke to him anymore, not wanting to be sucked back to who he used to be. The bully gradually reappeared in front of him and began to walk another circle, his half-witted cronies spaced out, blocking any means of escape.

"...I hear you've gone soft, is it true? Hanging out with the other children, at school? With that pathetic Mutou kid, and B-, B-something - the little blond runt?" Ushio put an emphasis on the words, causing the others to grin as an involuntary redness rose in Jou's composed face, his eyes still trailing the bully as he vanished behind him again. He just stood there, determined not to speak. He had nothing to say to them; or at least nothing witty enough to warrant getting his face broke. Ushio laughed cruelly.

"But then again, you always were, soft."

Jou's keen ears picked up a shuffle come from behind him and he tensed up, ready to defend himself. Suddenly, a voice on his right exclaimed;

"Think fast!"

Jounouchi, quick as lightning spun in its direction and immediately saw his mistake, only a fraction of a second before Ushio's fist pelted into his ribs from the left, winding him. Oldest trick in the book really, Jounouchi had half a mind to hit himself for falling for it. The boy gasped in pain and clutched a hand to his side, but his earlier years had trained him not to fall down during a fight; once you were down, you were as good as dead.

Jou's other hand shot out repeatedly, striking a few blows and succeeding in hurling one of the guys against a wall, but it was a small victory as the rest of the boys pelted him mercilessly from all sides. After several minutes his torso hurt so much that he couldn't stop himself from collapsing. Bent over double he rested his forehead on the cold grey pavement, moaning. The blows rapidly subsided, but that was only because the lead bully wanted the fun for himself.

"See what you've become, eh?" he commented to the hurt boy before spitting down at him. The small crowd laughed at the scene. Jou felt completely humiliated, bitterly taking small consolation in the idea that it was quite likely he won't have to live with the feeling very long.

"You're weak" Ushio told the crumpled figure, then shot a hard kick at his side causing his arms and legs to give way, leaving him sprawled on the ground. He heard a jeering response from his 'playmates' and Ushio promptly aimed another kick, this time at that blonde head.

Just as the strike was about to fall a commanding voice made him freeze and sent a tremor through his body at the sheer growling tone of it. He looked down the narrow alley, at the figure silhouetted there, its long coat flaring out like a cape.

"Touch him again, and you'll have to deal with me," the bold voice smirked, "...go on, I dare you..."