Warnings/notes : Kaiba/Joey, slightly weird, hints at alcohol abuse, oocness.
Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. The song 'No reply' is taken from the anime 'Cowboy Bebop', words by Tim Jensen.
written at 18th december 2003, by Misura
Thanks to the people who reviewed the second chapter:
To Kumori Sakusha formerly Saelbu: Thank you! I hope this last part won't disappoint either.
To Flame Swordswoman: Thank you! I had a great Christmas, though I didn't get on-line much. Hence the late update. –blushes-
To Ryuueiki: Original? Thank you! I don't think it's very original, really … but it's good to hear you don't think it's boring.
To Killian: … What about his father? No sympathy for him? –smiles hopefully-
To Amonae: Well, it's Kaiba. Admitting he likes –that- aspect of their relationship is a big step already for him, I think. Thank you!
To the moon at twilight: Thank you! (Also for that bunch of other reviews you gave me.)
To Reppu: You can blame the lyrics for the length; I just had to make it three chapters. –nods sagely- And I'm glad to hear you liked the additions, rather than feeling they were superfluous or something. Thank you!
To destiny: One happy ending, coming up. Thanks!
To MotherCHOW Goddess: Yup. Don't I always write Kaiba like that? –sweatdrops- It must be getting a bit boring by now … Thanks for reviewing!
To DarkShadowFlame: Hmmm, I do tend to be a bit unkind to characters, I guess. Though I partially blame the lack of fluff on the song; it's not a very happy one. Thank you! And Mokuba will do some more counseling in this chapter. It runs into the family … -smiles-
To FREAK014: Ah, but maybe Kaiba's changed a bit. And maybe he had his reasons for acting like that, who knows. Thank you!
To ChibiSerenity3: Semi-happy, I guess. Though you can pretend it's all happy, if you like. –winks- Thank you!
To RaineKitsune: Heh. I know that feeling only … somehow I always end up keeping some stuff in store. Partially because I write mostly when I'm off-line, so then I save the fic and forget about until I'm cleaning out my hard-disk. –coughblushes- Thank you!
To Glue Project: You have a good point there … I guess I simply assumed he'd spot it due to Joey not being a very subtle or introvert person. If that makes any sense? Thank you!
To Sami: Well, Kaiba's just … Kaiba. I hope this last chapter will make you like him a bit more. –winks- Thank you!
To Fiery Kitty: Since you said 'please' … naw, I'd already written the ending to be happy. Thank you!
To Yami No Marik: Yeah, Kaiba can be the voice of stupidity, can't he? –winks- Thank you!
To YumeTakato: I did my best, thanks!
To mystery me: Uh oh. I hope this ending will have you smiling. Thank you!
To SilverWing147: You guessed correctly! You win … this chapter? –winks- Thank you!
To Icy Flame: Kaiba's actions were actually meant to be something else than 'stomping on Joey', but I guess 'things not being what they seem to be at first' is somewhat of a central theme of this fic. Kaiba isn't the only one in denial; Joey's image of both his father and his lover is clouded too. I hope this chapter will clear up at least a few things though. Joey's father finding out about Joey's crush is something that I kind of used as a symptom of Joey's lack of clarity; his father's less oblivious than he assumes. Also, I just don't picture Joey as the type of person who's subtle and introvert enough to hide his crush for someone he sees daily. Especially not if that crush has resulted in an actual relationship.
Thank you very much!
To allyson: Thank you, I did my best.
To Macbeth's Mistress: Thanks!
To CaptainInuyasha777: -winks- I hope you'll be less forgetful with tests at school. Thank you!
To Snow Angel: -bows- Thank you! I hope you won't mind me fluffing him up a little then …
To YaoiYaoiYeah: Eep! I mean, wow, thank you! –beams-
(!) Scene switches at every song-fragment.
/You'll always mean so much to me
And there's no reply/
Kaiba couldn't say what had caused him to turn his head to stare out of the window, to see a blonde person hurrying away through the soft rain. Willing him to look back just once, Kaiba's gaze followed Joey until the other rounded a corner and disappeared.
He sighed, wearily shaking his head, trying to refocus on the meaningless letters and numbers on the screen of his computer. Well, they weren't exactly meaningless, of course. If he'd interpret them the wrong way, made the wrong decision because of them, the results for Kaiba Corporation wouldn't be very good. So it was important to keep his mind clear.
Dwelling on Joey and the accusations of some foolish drunkard who didn't know anything about him at all was a senseless activity, one he couldn't afford. It was true that he thought Joey ought to make a bit more of an effort to talk with his father while he still had the chance, but saving the mutt's family-life definitely wasn't worth breaking up with him.
What little time he had to spend with Joey, he preferred to be spent on more useful things than to make up after an argument.
/And there's no reply
You'll never know how much you meant to me/
It wasn't raining very hard. Just enough to make Joey's clothing go a little damp, to feel small drops of water gather in his hair before sliding down his neck. Just enough to justify walking faster than normal, without feeling like he was fleeing.
He chuckled bitterly, realizing how his home had turned from the place he wanted to stay away from into the place he considered to be 'safe'. Ironic, really. Would his father have known his drunken call was going to affectKaiba the way it seemed to have? Was this some sort of scheme, an attempt to pull him out of the clutches of evil?
His father had never seemed much like the type who'd approve of his son messing around with someone of the same gender. Then again, it wasn't as if he'd ever commented on Joey never getting a girlfriend either, while Honda seemed to have a new one every time he dropped by for a visit. So maybe his father simply didn't care. Though Kaiba didn't seem to think so ...
"And what does -he- know? Who does he think he is anyway, telling me how to live my life? Like -he- would know anything about it!" Joey kicked at a pebble, feeling a little better after having taken out his annoyance on something. A few seconds later, his foot began to hurt. And the rain had started to fall heavier.
/If only I could call the rain to melt and wash away the pain you feel
Giving up the pretense to be working, Kaiba shut down his computer and went downstairs. He wasn't surprised to find Mokuba there, sitting in his favorite chair as if it wasn't in the middle of the night and way past his normal bed-time.
Somehow, Mokuba seemed to have developed a sixth sense that enabled him to know whenever Kaiba and Joey had had an argument. Which was another good reason why Kaiba tried to avoid causing those, tried to keep his tongue and limited his insults to the old nicknames, rather than coming up with new ones to which Joey might actually take offense.
"You and Joey had a fight," Mokuba declared, holding out a steaming cup of coffee. Kaiba accepted it with mixed feelings. Becoming more awake than he was didn't exactly sound like a good idea. He'd much prefer to crawl in bed and fall asleep right away.
"It wasn't my fault." Mokuba also had an uncanny talent for making him feel defensive. Perhaps it was because Mokuba's opinion mattered so much to him, more than Joey's or anyone else's. "He was just being stubborn and stupid about something."
/You gave yourself to me and showed me what the truth could be
For that, I say thank you/
Not a single light was burning in the house as he entered. The sound of his key being turned in the lock and the creak of the door seemed very loud, almost echoeing through the hallway. Hanging up his jacket, he headed for the stairs.
"Joey? Is that you?" Amazing. His father was still awake and able to speak. Plus, he was sufficiently aware of his surroundings to notice Joey's arrival. Though, apparently, not enough to put on some lights to chase the darkness.
"Yeah." He'd have preferred not to answer, to pretend tonight was just like any other night. But there was a fine line between holding on to illusions or masks and downright lying, and while Joey might be guilty of doing the first every now and then, the second went too much against what he believed in.
"Where've you been?" If he hadn't known better, he might have heard a bit of concern in his father's voice. A hint of true interest. Probably that was just his imagination though, running along with Kaiba's earlier words. And he'd already determined Kaiba knew nothing about this matter at all.
/This was my life
It never made much sense to me/
"Perhaps you should tell -him- that you love him, instead of me," Mokuba remarked, his tone carefully neutral. Which meant he was actually trying not to yell. Kaiba knew his little brother well enough to read his moods and this was hardly the first time they'd had this conversation. "Just one time. Is that so hard?"
"I tried to." It was the answer he always gave Mokuba. It was, in a way, the truth. He wasn't stupid or blind, after all. He -knew- that Joey needed to hear him say those words, if only once. And perhaps he needed it at least as much, to acknowledge to himself what he felt by saying it out loud.
"Maybe you should have tried a bit harder," Mokuba snapped, losing his temper. This too wasn't unexpected. Nor was the stab of guilt he felt at being the cause of it.
"I know." Again, true. Not that it helped much. Joey was gone now, out of reach. Kaiba wished he could be certain that Joey'd come clean with his father, that at least -some- good would come of this night, but he strongly doubted it.
"Then do something about it." Mokuba held out his cell-phone, its screen indicating Joey's number had already been rung. Kaiba was annoyed to see his hand trembling a little as he accepted it.
/I close my eyes and watch as my life passes by
The only thing I see is you/
The sound of the phone ringing kept Joey from having to come up with an explanation as to where he had been. Relieved, he continued on his way to the sanctuary of his own room, where his father would never come. Joey assumed that wasbecause walking stairscould bea tricky activity if one was drunk.
For some reason though, he found himself heading for the living-room instead. Perhaps it was mere curiosity to the identity of the late caller. As far as he knew, his father didn't have any friends. And Joey's friends knew better than to call to his house, aside from the fact that they were probably fast asleep at this hour.
Except for Kaiba, of course, who was probably still busy working on some stupid project that was more important than Joey. Besides, Kaiba could hardly be considered to be anyone's friend. Least of all Joey's.
His father stared at him with the weirdest of expressions when he strolled in, before picking up the phone, pressing the button that would allow Joey to hear the conversation as well. Joey had no idea why, but sat down anyway, in a seat near the door. That way, he could always rise to turn and walk away if this wasn't something he wanted to hear. Walking away was easy.
/For all the times you walked the line for me and standing by my side
I say thank you/
"Wheeler." A gruff voice, sounding distinctly unfriendly. For one absurd moment Kaiba wondered if tonight was 'be unpleasant to Seto Kaiba'-night. Then he realized the man on the other end of the line couldn't possibly know his identity. Mokuba's cell-phone-number was only known to himself, Kaiba and a few members of the staff.
"Mr Wheeler? I don't know if you remember but you called me earlier this evening ... " He really sounded like a pompous, snobbishCEO, Kaiba considered sourly. Maybe he should spend some more time with Mokuba and Joey. Or Yugi and his friends, even if their attempts at being friendly tended to get on his nerves. At least they treated him like a human being, instead of the almightyleader of Kaiba Corp.
"Yes, I remember." The tone had changed from merely 'unfriendly' to 'hostile'. Kaiba managed not to groan aloud. Mokuba had left the room to give him some privacy, meaning that in theory, he could simply hang up, but ... he'd come this far already.
/You in my life
It all meant so much more to me/
"You told me then that your son was in love with me. And I just wanted to say that I think I return his feelings. Good night." A soft click indicated that Kaiba had hung up and the line had gone dead.
His father made an odd sound. It took Joey a while to figure out the man was laughing and crying at the same time. Which was better than having him yelling that no son of his would be allowed to be gay, Joey supposed, even if it wasn't exactly what he'd call reassuring either.
Deciding that things were getting a bit too freaky and weird for his taste, Joey softly got up from his seat, only to be halted in the doorway by his father's next words.
"Son, we need to talk."
At the other side of town, Kaiba stared at the ceiling of his room, musing that his bed felt rather cold and empty without Joey in it, and wondered what it would have been like to have a real father.