Warnings/notes : AU, Seto/Joey, Otogi/Honda, Yami/Yugi, Bakura/Ryou, Mai/Shizuka, Noa/Mokuba, Anzu/?, slightly silly, hints at Otogi-Shizuka, Honda-Shizuka, Bakura-Yami, Yami-Bakura, ooc.
Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. This plot is loosely based on the movie 'Trading Places' (1983), especially the beginning. The idea to do a Seto/Joey-fic based on this movie is Sarasusa's
written at 11th july 2004, by Misura, as a birthday-offering for Sarasusasamiga.
(!)In this fic, Noa has been -adopted- by Gozaburo, while Seto and Mokuba are Kaibas by blood.
(!)Valuta will be translated to dollars, though this fic takes place in an AU that's neither America nor Japan. I have no knowledge about actual salaries for P.I.s, sorry.
"Life," Ryuuji Otogi stated, sipping his coffee, "is all about luck. If you're not lucky, you'll never get anywhere. It's all about being at the right places, at the right times. Fate has a much stronger hold over our lives than we ourselves ever will."
The small sign on the door said that this apartment was the residence of 'Yami M. and Bakura R., the best and cheapest detectives of Domino'. That last part was half-true.
"Do you know how long it's been since we got an actual job?" Bakura fumed, pacing the room that was the official office. It looked as run-down and tattered as the rest of the apartment. As the rest of the building, really.
"One week, four days, three hours and twenty-three minutes," Yami replied calmly. He made a movement as if he wanted to lean back in his chair, but straightened again at the ominous creaking sound the wood of the chair produces as he shifted.
Bakura snorted. "I do -not- call finding a lost poodle 'an actual job'. Besides, what did we get paid for that? Five dollars?"
"Fifteen," Yami corrected him. "And a fresh apple-pie, a pan of soup and an invitation for dinner to come and meet Mrs. Inu's charming daughters."
Bakura shivered proverbially. "They'd have to -pay- me to spend any time in the company of those five girls. I always thought sexual harassment by women was something that only happened in movies and novels, like 'Disclosure', but since I've met -them-, I've changed my mind."
"They just like you," Yami smirked. "You have such lovely white hair, and such a sexy voice - "
Bakura glared at him.
"And such expressive chocolate-brown eyes," Yami finished, grinning.
"You wouldn't think it was funny if they were crawling all over -you- the moment you sat down," Bakura grumbled.
"Probably not," Yami admitted cheerfully. "But that's not the case, is it?"
"Speaking of cases ... " Bakura finally sat down, picking up one of the many bills that were lying on the desk. "What are we going to do if nothing comes up before Friday? The rent's due then, you know, and I doubt if Kariru's going to cut us any slack."
Yami shrugged. "Something will come up before Friday. I'm sure of it."
"How?" Bakura inquired, jumping up again, seemingly unable to keep quiet. "It'd have to be someting big, something that pays really well. Face it, Yami, that's not going to happen."
"Have faith," Yami answered lightly. "Trust me, luck's on my side."
"That's nonsense," Hiroto Honda replied. "Without the skills and the smarts, nobody can profit from the opportunities life gives him. You can make your own luck, create your own chances, but you can never make yourself smarter or better than you actually are."
The seventeenth floor of the Kaiba Corp. Headquarters was filled with the sound of ticking, occasionally interrupted by the buzz of a printer, spitting out reports or memos. Normally, there also might have been the hushed sound of people talking, but it was common knowledge that Mr. Kaiba did not approve of 'idle chattering'.
The big man himself didn't often leave his private office on the top-floor to personally inspect the lower floors, yet whenever he did, people ended up being fired. The last time that had happened had been two weeks ago, meaning that the memories were still fresh.
Nobody wanted to risk his or her job for some gossip.
There were exceptions, of course. Or people who simply didn't care.
"Awww, are you jealous, Ryuzaki?" a blonde young man sagged down in his chair. His clothing was unusually casual, consisting of a pair of jeans and a shirt. Most males in the office wore suits.
Mr. Kaiba did not approve of 'casual looks' either.
"Jealous? Of you? What on earth for?" Ryuzaki replied incredulously. "You've been on this job for two -years- now, and you haven't accomplished a single thing. The only reason you still have it, is because Mr. Otogi stuffed you in a closet the moment it was known Mr. Kaiba was coming this way. God only knows why they hired you in the first place. You're absolutely useless, Joey Wheeler. Useless."
Joey shrugged. "Otogi wants to date my sister, so he offered me a job. It's as easy as that. If you had a cute sister too, maybe you wouldn't have to slave around all day either."
"You disgust me," Ryuzaki hissed. "I was -proud- of having managed to get a job here, at Kaiba Corp., because they only take the very best of the best. Mr. Kaiba -personally- welcomed me to this corporation, telling me what he expected of his employees and how he never accepted anything below the highest quality. I had worked for this all my life. And then I met -you-."
"And now all you want is to have my baby and spend the rest of your life raising kids and house-keeping? Sorry, Ryuzaki, I don't swing that way." Joey laughed at Ryuzaki's furious expression.
"I hope you'll drop back in the gutter where you came from one day. Then we'll see who's the one laughing," Ryuzaki snarled, turning his attention back to the screen of his computer.
"That's never going to happen," Joey replied confidently. "Shizuka'd never want to see Otogi again if he fired me."
Ryuzaki did not dignify that with a reply.
"I disagree." Otogi smiled. "In fact, I disagree so strongly that I'm more than willing to make a little bet about my being right."
"How did you imagine to prove I'm wrong?" Honda inquired. "I mean, it seems to me this is just one of those debates that can go on and on, without reaching a conclusion."
"A test, of course." Otogi's gaze wandered to the cookies that were lying on a plate in the middle of the table. He picked one. "As you know, I'm the head of R&D at Kaiba Corp.. Only the best of the best work there, the people with the highest 'skills and intelligence', so to speak. I propose to fire one of them, send him to live out on the streets and see how well he does. According to your theory, he should be fine, since his abilities will 'create chances'. However, if he fails, you'll have to admit that luck is the more important factor."
"You firing him doesn't mean he can't get a job elsewhere," Honda pointed out.
"Not necessarily, no," Otogi admitted. "But I'll have a team of hackers take care of that problem. For the duration of the bet, it will be as if he doesn't exist for any computer. He'll have to make do with what he has and what money he makes on his own."
"That sounds reasonable," Honda agreed. He looked suspicious.
"Doesn't it?" Otogi contentedly nibbled on his cookie, like a cat who had just gotten to the cream. "So ... do we have an agreement?"
Honda nodded. "Yes. I accept the bet. With one small addition."
"And what would that be?" Otogi curiously raised one eyebrow.
"I want you to pick a random person from the streets, someone who, according to your theory, has simply been unlucky. If he manages to become a useful member of your work-force within two months, I'll consider it proven that you're right; that he's simply had bad luck. But if he can't fit in, it proves that he lacks the skills and that -I- am right," Honda explained smugly.
Otogi grimaced. "Working at an R&D-department requires years of schooling, Honda. You can't seriously expect me to accept this."
"You can either accept it, or forget about the whole bet," Honda said firmly.
"You leave me little choice." Otogi sighed. "Very well then, it's a deal."
"Winner gets the usual?" Honda asked, reaching out to confirm the bet with a handshake.
"Of course." Otogi nodded.
There was the sound of a door opening and closing as their hostess walked back in, carrying a tray with fresh coffee and a cup of tea for herself.
"What were the two of you talking about that you're so quiet all of a sudden when I enter?" Shizuka asked, with a smile on her lips to make the question more teasing than stinging.
"Your beauty simply has the power to turn any man speechless," Otogi quipped, grinning.
Shizuka giggled and blushed, then shook her head. "You are impossible."
"It's true!" Otogi protested. "Ask Honda, if you don't believe me."
"I will not embarrass him like that." Shizuka sat down in a chair, two seats away from Otogi and only one from Honda.
"Actually, we were talking about your brother. There's this little experiment we'd like him to participate in ... " Otogi started.