The Truth About Dragons And Duelists

I borrowed the character Lita Kino from the anime Sailor Moon.

"Truth or dare?"

"Truth," Yugi said, taking another sip of his beer for courage. No, he wasn't going to ask where Joey got it; he wasn't sure he wanted to know.

And besides, that would waste a question.

Joey smirked. Yugi would have been afraid, but he knew that no matter how embarrassing the blond's question might be, Joey wouldn't try to humiliate him.

Kaiba, on the other hand…

"Are you a virgin?" Joey asked, and Yugi almost choked on his beer. No, not humiliating, but definitely embarrassing.

He was extremely glad that Téa wasn't there.

Yami chuckled in his ear, sending shivers down his spine and courage to his heart. "In what sense?" Yugi asked blandly, determined to make Joey work for it.

"In the sense of having either fucked or been fucked, Yugi-chan," Duke groused pointedly, idly rolling one of his ubiquitous dice back and forth between his fingers. He glared, the die stilling between his thumb and index finger, as if he was preparing to throw it. "Stop stalling; this game is taking forever because of it."

Trying to intimidate me, ne? It was Yugi's turn to smirk. "My boyfriend is an ancient Egyptian spirit who recently learned how to create his own temporary body – and hasn't gotten any in 5,000 years. No, I'm not a virgin, in almost any sense of the word." With that frank pronouncement, he snuggled back against said boyfriend, who was trying his hardest not to laugh at the shocked expressions on their friend's faces.

Joey gaped at his friend's bluntness, and then giggled hysterically. "Man, Yug, what happened to that innocent little kid that everybody used ta pick on?"

Yugi shrugged. "You started loaning me porn."

Duke snorted, and Joey blushed. Ryou giggled and Bakura stifled a laugh. Seto was silent, giving no hint – other than the flash of amusement in his eyes, which no one could see – that he'd heard the exchange.

"Now, I do believe it's my turn," Yugi continued on blithely. Turning to the quietest member of their little beer-klatch, he asked, "Seto, truth or dare?"

The CEO looked up from his laptop and growled at the interruption. "What exactly am I doing here again?"

"You lost a match to me, Kaiba, remember?" Yami reminded the other boy. "And the rules were if you lost, you had to come hang out with us this afternoon."

Sighing – and returning Duke's glare full-force because the dice duelist obviously thought he was also stalling – Kaiba said, "Truth."

"Same question, then: are you a virgin?" Yugi chirped.

There wasn't even any change in the brunet's expression – except for his eyes, which flickered for a moment – before he answered simply, "Yes." Ignoring Joey's triumphant expression and the mild surprise on the other's faces, he continued with no preamble, "Bakura, truth or dare?"

The thief started, not expecting to be picked. "Dare," he said defiantly, obviously not liking the direction this line of questioning was taking.

"I dare you to tell Ryou exactly how you feel about him," Kaiba ordered. "You can whisper if you want so the rest of these losers can't hear you, but he has to be able to."

Bakura just gaped at him for a moment; Ryou was suspiciously silent, as was the rest of the group; what was Kaiba up to?

"You're stalling," Duke pointed out testily, and this snapped the white-haired spirit out of his daze.

Giving Ryou an almost – nervous? – look, Bakura turned to look at him. The matching Rings on both their chests glowed briefly for a moment as he initiated their rarely-used mind-link, obviously not wanting to try to whisper around this bunch.

Seconds ticked by, and the other occupants of the room watched both of the Ring-bearers like hawks. Kaiba's inscrutable gaze was chief among them, and he was the first to notice the tears gathering in Ryou's eyes.

Finally the glows left the two Rings; Bakura was finished. Checking his watch, Yugi noted that they'd been waiting for almost five minutes.

Ryou turned to his yami, and, forgoing words for action, smiled blindingly at him before yanking him into a blisteringly hot kiss. Bakura was obviously surprised by this, as evidence by the fact that he actually squeaked before his lips were claimed and he could no longer vocalize. When Ryou finally let him go, he was panting and blushing faintly.

Chuckling softly – and for once, not maliciously – Kaiba said pointedly, "It's your turn, Bakura."

The former tomb-raider nodded absently and scanned the room for a likely target. Eyes landing on Tristan, who had managed not to be asked yet, he said, "Taylor, truth or dare?"

The brunet sighed and said, "Dare, I guess."

Bakura's request was only two words: "Kiss Kaiba."

"What?" Tristan squeaked. Kaiba himself was suspiciously silent, though there was an aura of mirth around him.

"For a full minute; I'll time you," Bakura added gleefully. "And, just in case you were trying to weasel out of it, yes, I do mean on the lips. In fact, make it a French kiss."

Face burning, Tristan groaned quietly before nodding in assent. He hauled himself up from his seat in the corner and walked over to where Kaiba was sitting. The CEO was on the floor, having commandeered the coffee table for his laptop.

Dropping down beside the other brunet, Tristan nervously moved up right next to him. Kaiba's eyes twinkled with suppressed laughter, and Tristan relaxed slightly as he saw he wasn't about to be killed for going through with this dare. He shot a glance at Bakura, and receiving a nod from the spirit, cupped the back of Kaiba's head to pull him into the kiss.

It was surprisingly sweet, considering whom he was kissing. Warm, too. Kaiba was known the Ice Prince at school; damn, they'd been wrong about that.

Remembering belatedly that this was supposed to be a French kiss, Tristan parted his lips, his tongue snaking out to enter Kaiba's mouth. The other boy complied willingly with the implied demand, and soon their tongues were twining around each other, like Tristan's fingers were twining in the brunet's hair.

It was such a good kiss, in fact, that Tristan found himself surprised – and strangely reluctant to stop – when Bakura told him the minute was up.

The awkwardness that might have arisen once the kiss was over never came up. Kaiba broke the ice quite well with his seeming non-sequitur of a question.

"Is there a reason you taste like peanut butter, Taylor?" Seto asked dryly, head cocked slightly to the side.

Tristan made a face halfway between a frown and a disbelieving smirk at the question. "Today was the mystery meat special in the cafeteria, so I brought my own lunch."

Joey shuddered at the mention of the awful meal. There hadn't been anything in his refrigerator to bring for lunch and he'd had to eat the mystery meat.

Cafeteria food was the same the world over. Completely, utterly disgusting. And inedible to boot.

Kaiba nodded in acceptance and turned back to his computer. After a few moments of silent typing, he said pointedly, "It's your turn, you know."

Tristan started.

Joey laughed.

Glaring at the blond, Tristan said, "You know, Joey…you haven't been picked yet."

Joey gulped.

Duke exchanged smirks with Yami and Yugi. Ryou and Bakura were busy discussing something in hushed whispers.

Smiling a self-satisfied grin, Tristan asked sweetly, "Truth or dare, Joe?"

Swallowing, Joey's eyes flicked back and forth between Tristan and the door. "Ah…truth, I guess," he said at length.

Tristan gave Joey a knowing smile and said, "Describe your first kiss."

Joey blushed beet red. "Ano…do I hafta?"

"Yes, Wheeler, you do," Kaiba and Duke chorused. Exchanging disbelieving expressions, Duke went back to staring down the blond while Seto returned to his work.

Joey sighed long-sufferingly. "Fine… I was ten. School had started 'bout three weeks before, and I'd gotten braces dat summer."

Kaiba made sure to hide his smirk; he had a feeling he knew what was coming.

Plus, if he made any muzzle jokes he might not find out what happened because Joey would be too busy chasing him down to talk.

"And dere was dis new girl in our class…a transfer student from Juuban district," Joey went on, color rising his cheeks. He fidgeted and looked at the floor as he talked. Obviously this was a very embarrassing story. "Her name was Lita Kino and I really liked her – but she didn't really like anyone."

"Especially you," Tristan put in. "I told you it was a bad idea to put gum in her hair."

Joey growled. "I was aiming fer your hair, lame-brain, but she got in da way!"

Duke cleared his throat. "To continue…" he prompted.

Joey sighed. "Anyway…so da day before school let out fer Christmas break, our class had a party. And da teacher had been called away for a moment, and monkey-boy over here decided to break out da mistletoe."

Glaring at the blond over the mention of his time as a monkey in Noah's world, Tristan said, "You're stalling, Joe."

"I know," Joey said sulkily. "As I was sayin'… Tristan hung some mistletoe up over da door, and spent da next half hour pushing pairs of people underneath it. I'd managed ta steer clear fer most of da party, but finally he cornered me and stuck me under it right when Lita was walkin' by."

Tristan snickered at the blond's predicament. "Tell them what happened next."

"I'm gettin' dere, I'm gettin' dere," Joey said exasperatedly. His cheeks flushed again as he said, "Now, Lita really wasn't into da whole kissing thing, but she never backed down from a challenge. And with everyone eggin' us on, she wasn't about ta walk away. So she leaned up and I leaned down, and we kissed." He sat back, obviously not willing to continue.

"Tell them the rest, Romeo," Tristan prompted.

Joey mumbled something indistinct.

"Could you repeat that, please, Joey?" Tristan asked sweetly.

Joey growled and mumbled again.

"What was that, mutt? I couldn't hear you," Seto put in teasingly.

Glaring at the two brunets – one smirking as usual, the other with a too-smug grin on his face – Joey said, cheeks flaming, "What I didn't tell ya was dat Lita had braces, too. And when we kissed, dey got stuck tagether. When da teacher came back ta da room, she had ta call an ambulance ta come and pry us apart."

Yugi and Yami burst out into giggles. So did Ryou, but he at least tried to stifle them. Bakura gave a deep belly-laugh, Duke snickered behind his hand, and Tristan just sat back, looking like the cat who had gotten both the canary and the cream.

Revenge was fun.

Seto, for his part, just smiled slightly and shook his head. While the story was funny, he knew it was more embarrassing for the blond than anything else. At least the mutt hadn't cut her lip with the metal wires. Or vice versa.

And it was the type of thing that could happen to anyone…even he himself. Except he'd never had to wear braces.

"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up," Joey groused, voice muffled because he'd buried his head in his hands so as not to have to see the others laughing at him, even though he could still hear them. "It's only funny 'cause it didn't happen ta you guys."

"Exactly," Duke agreed, snorting.

Raising his head, Joey frowned. His frown melted slowly into a wicked smile. "Yeah, well, now it's my turn again," he pointed out.

"And who are you gonna get your revenge on, Joey?" Tristan asked, as if he wasn't worried that Joey was going to pick him.

It would have been wasted worry…

"Kaiba," Joey said triumphantly. "Truth or dare?"

Seto sighed and turned his attention from his computer back to the mutt. "Truth," he said, repeating his answer from the last round.

Not that he had really objected to kissing Tristan, but with the mood Joey was in right now, who knew what the other boy would come up with?

"Again, same question – tell us about your first kiss," Joey said.

Seto's raised one eyebrow and he shrugged. "Why bother?" he asked, turning back to his computer. "You all saw it."

"What?" Tristan burst out, sounding as if he'd swallowed an entire tank of helium, his voice was so high.

"You're the first person I've ever kissed, Taylor," Seto told him, eyes shuttered, revealing nothing.

"How is it possible that you're seventeen years old and you've never been kissed until today?" Duke asked incredulously.

Eyes flicking away from his laptop screen for only a moment, Seto said, voice as bland as banana pudding, "People don't like me, Devlin. A lot of them fear me, some very few respect me, and most of the girls – and even some of the guys – at school seem to think I'm attractive. But none of them like me."

"Still…" Yugi protested.

"I don't have time for dating, anyway," Seto said dismissively, going back to his typing. "Hell, I don't have time for friends – the only reason I went along with this little charade of yours is because I could work while 'hanging out' with you freaks."

"Hanging out implies having fun, Kaiba," Yami groused. "That means no work."

"Then you should have specified I not work when you made that bet with me, Pharaoh," Seto returned smartly. "That'll teach you to be more careful of your wording. Technically, I don't even have to take part in this little game of yours; I only had to be here. I'm participating out of the goodness of my own heart."

"What's left of it."

The last sentence had been added in a voice so low that only Tristan ended up hearing the other brunet's words.

Brows knitting together in a frown, Tristan added this tidbit to the little stockpile of information he'd labeled 'Things I Know About Seto Kaiba.' It was an admittedly small amount of facts, but it had grown in leaps and bounds tonight.

He'd always thought Kaiba was hot – a oxymoron when one considered his normally icy demeanor – but while the physical attraction had been prevalent throughout much his dealings with the other brunet, Tristan had never given much through to it beyond that. Kaiba was sexy, yes, but his personality left much to be desired. He had gotten the chance to see a whole different side to Kaiba this afternoon. The normally cold-mannered CEO seemed almost…human.

Tristan wondered when he started thinking that just because Seto acted like he didn't give a damn, meant he really didn't.

After all, who knew better than the members of their group that appearances could be deceiving?

After that, they managed to throw off the melancholy air that Kaiba's revelation had induced, and got back to the game. Truths were told – embarrassing almost everyone – and dares were done – embarrassing everyone else.

Surprises were also discovered. Apparently, Bakura had a knack for snake charming – as they all had found out when Kaiba dared Yami to conjure up a monster from the Shadow Realm. He'd miscalculated and ended up with an Egyptian asp instead of a Kuriboh.

And asps were very poisonous. Luckily Bakura had been able to catch it before anyone got bitten. Seeing the former tomb-robber hiss out sibilants at that reptile had been strangely alluring – which was part of the reason why Tristan didn't want to think about it.

Tristan still wasn't sure how it happened that Yami had made such a grievous error – what was an Egyptian asp even doing in the Shadow Realm to begin with? He'd thought only Duel Monsters lived there – but then, magic had never been his thing. He didn't understand it at all.

Bakura had excused his knowledge of snake charming with a blush and a muttered, "Diabound was a two for one deal."

Tristan didn't understand that, either.

Although the look on the former Pharaoh's face had been priceless. Maybe Yami knew what the thief meant…

But those two weren't the only ones that made spectacles of themselves. Everyone got in on the act – except Joey, whose first kiss story seemed to be the most embarrassing thing he'd gone through the whole evening, and the two hikaris, whom people kept conveniently forgetting in favor of having their yamis humiliate themselves instead.

Hearing Kaiba sing Elton John's 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight?' should have been extremely funny – and it was.

For everyone but Tristan.

Seto was a very good singer, and instead of faking his way through the song, had actually put a lot of effort into it. That was Kaiba to a fault – he gave everything one hundred percent of attention. He did nothing unless it was thoroughly and with care. Whether he deemed it important or not, he did his best. Tristan had found himself enjoying the performance, and not wanting it to end.

Of course, Kaiba hadn't enjoyed it one bit – not than anyone could tell by looking at him. His face was the impassive mask it always was, but his eyes…

Tristan had never noticed before, but the brunet's eyes held all the emotion Kaiba kept from showing otherwise.

And during his performance, Kaiba's eyes had been full of irritation and an almost microscopic measure of embarrassment, an amount of discomfort so minuscule Tristan wouldn't have noticed it if he hadn't been looking for it.

Thinking about Kaiba – actually, in his mind Tristan was starting to call him Seto, which didn't freak him out as much as he would have thought – kept him occupied throughout the rest of the evening. It even alleviated a good deal of his nervousness when Joey made him show off his mostly-unused and long-hidden talent for memorizing and reciting Shakespeare plays.

Damn Joey for requesting the balcony scene from 'Romeo and Juliet,' though. And making him pretend Seto was Juliet.

Though it was rather nice of the CEO to say Juliet's lines, considering that he didn't have to; it was Tristan's dare, after all. And Seto was a pretty good actor, too.

Though I am really glad he let me fake the kiss – I don't know if I could have kept my hands off him had he actually gone through with it, Tristan though wryly. He didn't know if it was the beer running through his system, the caffeinated cola he'd been drinking in equal measure to cut down on his inebriation, the typical weirdness involved in and engendered by playing 'Truth or Dare,' or just his teenager hormones, but…

Tristan Taylor was developing a thing for Seto Kaiba. No, wait, correction…that was future tense. It should have been past tense. Tristan Taylor had developed a thing for Seto Kaiba.

And somewhere, swine were investigating their new aviation abilities.

When the game – and the evening – finally came to a close, Tristan still hadn't figured out what to do about Kaiba. He couldn't exactly go up to him and say, "Hey, I think I like you; wanna go get some coffee sometime?" now could he?

Well…yeah, actually, he could. But the odds of Seto not scorning him and laughing derisively in his face, let alone saying yes…

Let's just say that Joey had a better chance at beating both Yami and Seto in a duel and leave it at that, shall we?

Bakura and Ryou had left first – actually, Ryou had literally dragged Bakura out the door, mumbling something about 'he never knew that snake charming was such a turn-on' – followed closely by Joey, who said he was expecting a phone call. Considering his unusual urge towards punctuality in that regard, it had to be a girl. Either Serenity or Mai – most likely Serenity, since the younger girl was more wont to be prompt and Mai liked to party in the evenings instead of chat.

Duke left with a limp wave, an eye roll and a flat statement of, "It's been real." His unwise choice of 'dare' when Kaiba had questioned him – while the other brunet was still incensed over his forced karaoke performance – had led to him being forced to dress in drag and play the part of a geisha for the rest of the evening. He hadn't been too pleased with it – especially since the makeup hadn't come completely off. He was several shades paler than usual, and his lips were almost blood red; coupled with his casual black and red attire, it made him look disturbingly Gothic.

Tristan forced himself not to let his thoughts dwell too long on the madness-inducing question of where the costume and matching accessories had come from. He had a strong feeling that he really didn't want to know the answer to said question – just like he didn't want to know where Yugi learned to apply makeup so well…

With Yami and Yugi cleaning up after the party – And most likely sneaking kisses, touches, and maybe more in between, the little sex maniacs, Tristan thought wryly – that left only him and Seto alone in the entryway.

Why in the name of all that was dark and shadowy did he have the figure this out tonight?

No duh, Sherlock, Tristan berated himself. Because Kaiba doesn't hang out with us but once in a blue moon, and if I don't do it now, it might be months before the stars – or our schedules – align once more to allow it.

Besides, I've never been afraid of anything short of death and Téa's meatloaf – and I'm not about to start now.

Resolve about as firm as it could get, Tristan headed Seto off at the pass – or, in his case, the front door near the coat closet and the shoe rack. Seto had just slipped on his usual trench coat and had slipped off his slippers in preparation for putting on his shoes when Tristan padded over.

Noticing the pair of white sweat socks – and quickly figuring out which of the other guests to the little swaré he'd been forced to attend they must have belonged to – standing in front of him, Seto raised his head from where he'd been contemplating the snaps on his coat and whether or not he should do them up. He raised one eyebrow, a silent inquiry of, "Yes?"

"Ah, Kaiba…" Tristan said, not sure where he should start. A bit of common ground should work, he thought, and blessed whatever deity watched out for bumbling fools as and idea for a conversation starter sprang to mind. "I want to apologize for Joey," he said, hoping that the other boy couldn't see through him.

Eyes narrowing slightly – in confusion or suspicion, Tristan wasn't entirely sure; probably both, knowing Kaiba – Seto asked, "What about the mu– Wheeler?"

Inwardly smiling at the self-censoring the other had committed – Tristan saw it as a good sign that Seto was trying to curb his insulting tendencies; it meant it wasn't just wishful thinking on his part that had Seto acting human, it was a conscious act on the CEO's part – Tristan said, "For all the embarrassing sexual questions – most of which got directed at you. Joey can get kinda…perverted when he has a few beers under his belt."

Seto snorted. "Wheeler can get 'kinda perverted' when he's just breathing, Taylor. And if anyone deserves an apology for the questions, I think it would be Yugi. I'd rather have an apology for that thrice-damned dare."

One brow arched above a humor-skewed scowl, Tristan said pointedly, "At least you didn't have to recite the works of an Olde English playwright – in English." His scowl relaxed into a smile and he segued neatly into the next part of his plan – ingratiate himself with Kaiba, or at least become friendlier with him – with, "Thank you for that, by the way."

Seemingly uncomfortable with the other brunet's show of gratitude, Seto shrugged diffidently. "It was nothing," he dismissed. "I just wanted to see the look on Wheeler's face when I played Kaibalet to your Montaylorgue." The smile he gave at his joke appeared forced, but Tristan pretended to overlook it.

"Yeah, well, you'll notice that Joey, my best bud for going nigh on eight years, gave me that dare. He wouldn't have tried to help me out if someone else had given me that dare."

"Even if that someone else was me?" Seto asked. He appeared disinterested in the answer, but Tristan saw his eyes, and knew that in this case, appearances were deceiving.

Shrugging as if disaffected, Tristan said blithely, "Sure. Joey's always been one to let other people stew in their embarrassment."

Seto snorted. "Isn't that the truth."

"Speaking of embarrassment – what was with that dare you gave Bakura?" Tristan couldn't help but ask. He really was curious – Bakura hadn't seemed upset by the dare at all; more happy to have an excuse to tell Ryou of his feelings. But if Bakura wasn't upset, then he couldn't figure out why the thief had given Seto the dare to kiss him.


No. That's impossible, Tristan thought, with no small hint of disappointment. Even if Seto does like me, there's no way that he would have told Bakura of all people.

Hell, if Seto did like him, he probably wouldn't even tell him.

"I have Chemistry with Ryou." Seto's voice brought him out of his whirling thoughts. The CEO appeared discomfited by the track their conversation was taking, but it seemed to be a personal point of pride that he would not refuse to answer Tristan's question. "We're lab partners, actually. We don't often talk about anything but work, but on Valentine's Day, he happened to mention that he wished Bakura would be a little more romantic. It's one of the few things he's ever said to me beyond 'pass the sodium nitrate,' and it stuck in my mind."

"So you decided to grant his wish?" Tristan asked, not able to keep a note of disbelief from his voice. Oh, sure, he knew Kaiba could do nice things for people – he just didn't know why he'd want to.

"I can be something other than a cold-hearted prick, Taylor," Seto said, voice icy as a winter's night.

Holding his hands up in a gesture of harmlessness, Tristan said, "Hey, hey, I know, Kaiba – that whole thing with the Shakespearean mini-recitation proves it – I just… It seems odd that you'd use what is supposed to be a game geared towards embarrassing one's friends to make Ryou so happy."

Shrugging, Seto said smoothly, "Why not? It's not like Bakura was expecting it." His casual air of nonchalance was at off with the tense set of his shoulders.

"You like catching people off-guard, don't you?" Tristan asked with a small smile.

Cutting him a sharp glance, Seto replied slowly, "Better than the alternative."

"Which is?" Tristan asked, curiosity aroused by the other brunet's unusually open – for Kaiba, anyway – manner.

"Letting them take advantage of me." Kaiba shrugged again and fell silent.

A lull in the conversation caused Tristan to blurt out the first thing he could think of. It appeared as if Seto was preparing to put his shoes on and take his leave of the Moto residence, so he figured he had nothing – except maybe his pride – to lose.

"Do you really think that?" he asked, one hand rubbing the back of his neck to try to conceal his nervousness.

Seto gave him an uncomprehending look. "Think what?"

"That none of us like you," Tristan said bluntly.

Seto blinked at Tristan for a long moment. Finally, he sighed and plopped down onto a nearby chair, gesturing for Tristan to do the same. Once the other brunet was seated, he said, "Tristan, I'm not going to say that anyone in that room hated me…"

"Not even Joey?" Tristan broke in, a small smile on his face to help blunt the melancholy edge this conversation had taken.

Seto smirked. "Not even the mutt." He sobered and continued, "But while hate is perhaps too strong of a word, dislike isn't. The fact of the matter is, no one in that room liked me all that much, either."

"I like you," Tristan argued, and winced at the earnestness in his voice. Geez, friendship is one thing, but at this point in our relationship – acquaintance, really – I wasn't planning to go for broke and pledge my undying love.

My never-ending lust, maybe…

Something flickered in Seto's eyes – Tristan would have liked to call it interest, but he wasn't sure that wasn't just wishful thinking on his part – and he said doubtfully, "You do? I would have thought that what with Wheeler being your friend, you'd dislike me as much as he does."

"Joey's my friend – probably my best – but that doesn't mean we're all that alike." Taking a deep breath for courage, Tristan decided to take the plunge. Only the anxious tapping of his sock-clad foot on the floor betrayed his nervousness as he said blandly, "For one thing, Joey's hung up on Mai, but I've got a thing for a certain CEO."

Seto blinked. His mouth dropped open and only the fact that it was connected to his jaw kept it from hitting the floor. "Y-you're kidding…right?" he stuttered out, tone almost plaintive.

Swallowing hard, Tristan leaned forward, quick as a cat, and brushed a feather-light kiss across those sweet, supple lips he'd been thinking about for the past two hours. He pulled back and smiled inwardly at the look of pleased shock that graced those normally stony features. Forcing his voice into an even tone, he said, "No, I'm not." He grinned lopsidedly. "You can punch me now, if you want," he offered.

Seto just blinked and looked down at his lap. Finally, his head rose, blue eyes fixed almost absently on Tristan, misleadingly expressionless. Slowly, he said, "Truth or dare, Taylor?"

Startled, Tristan answered without thinking. "Truth." What in the hell…?

"Is this all some sort of elaborate prank?" Seto asked sharply, his harsh tone unable to hide the note of hurt that he might be right. "A dare that I didn't catch while I was typing on my laptop?"

"No," Tristan said immediately, voice calm, though inside he was reeling in shock that Seto would think such a thing. I thought he knew us better than that… "I'd never go along with something like that, even if anyone in there would suggest it – which they wouldn't."

Seto nodded jerkily. "That's what I thought," he said softly. "I just…couldn't really believe…" He sighed. "The truth is, Tristan, that I've…liked you for a while." Seto swallowed. "A long while, actually."

Tristan blinked, his mouth dry. He…has? "Why…why didn't you ever say anything, Ka– I mean, Seto?" Did Bakura know? Is that why he gave me that dare? he still couldn't help but wonder.

Seto smirked mirthlessly at Tristan's mid-word switch of his name. "That's it right there. None of your group really likes me all that much – even Yugi isn't all that fond of me, though Kami-sama only knows why he and Yami have made it their goal in life to get me to socialize more – and none of your consider me your friends." He shrugged fatalistically. "Why should I set myself up for rejection and ruin what could quite possibly be my only chance at normal teenage friendships to boot?"

"So you were afraid," Tristan surmised.

Eyes flashing with irritation, Seto said stiffly, "I weighed the pros and cons, evaluated all the possible outcomes, and made an intelligent decision regarding the possibility of your returning my feelings and acted accordingly."

Tristan grinned. "You were scared," he reiterated.

Seto ducked his head and scowled at the floor. "So what if I was?" he mumbled, annoyed. "I'm allowed to give into my fears everyone once in a while." That last sentence was said more as if he were trying to convince himself rather than Tristan.

"Every once in a blue moon, more like," Tristan snorted, but gently. He inched closer to Seto, relieved when the blue eyes – bluer than any moon could ever be, he thought whimsically – that turned to meet his held hints of mirth instead of aggravation.

"Well, it is my favorite color," Seto replied, apropos of nothing. "Although…I do have a certain fondness for hazel," he added, looking directly into Tristan's eyes – Tristan's hazel eyes.

"Is that the truth?" Tristan asked, a slow smile spreading across his lips.

Seto pursed his lips in thought, then nodded decisively. "The truth."

"The whole truth?" Tristan asked, sensing there was still something the other boy was holding back. Like maybe himself, Tristan though, noticing how Seto still held himself rigidly away from him.

Seto licked his lips – prompting several hentai thoughts to speed through Tristan's mind – before looking Tristan straight in the eye and saying, "The whole truth being that…unless you'd said what you did, I never would have dared to do this," right before he wrapped one hand around Tristan's neck and pulled him into a clumsy, but fierce kiss.

As they pulled apart moments later, Tristan panted out, "Wow."

"Yeah," Seto agreed, slightly out of breath himself.

Tristan quirked a grin. "I dare you to do it again."

Seto's eyes flashed at the challenge, and he smiled back. "I never back down from a dare," he whispered, before pulling Tristan into another kiss.