"No, we aren't," Tristan snapped. "This is the scenic route, it's supposed to take longer."
Duke arched an eyebrow. "Aren't 'scenic routes' supposed to have, oh, I don't know, scenery perhaps?"
"Don't start, dice boy! It's on the fucking map!"
It was hot. A map was spread open on the hood of a powder blue 1962 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. It was old and worn and starting to fray along the creases. The map that is. The Cadillac was in tolerable running condition, maintained by equal parts overcharging mechanics and threats of vehicular damage from its raven-haired owner. The engine ticked sullenly, trying to cool in the heat.
"Are you sure you're reading the map right?"
Tristan glared. He jabbed an angry finger to the map, tracing the route. "You're the one that didn't want me to drive your precious Cadillac." This time Tristan jabbed Duke in the chest, his voice raising in a steady shout. "You're the one who shoved the map in my lap. And you're the one who made me the 'navigator'!"
The other boy blinked, briefly taken aback by Tristan's sudden flare of temper. His confusion smoothed into wry amusement. He grabbed the offending finger still poking his chest and pointed Tristan's hand to a spot on the map. "Unless the poles have reversed," Duke said smugly, tapping the upside down letter beside Tristan's fingertip, "you've been reading the map upside down."
"I'll spare you the 'I told you so.'"
"That still counts. It's just 'I told you so' told sideways."
"Sideways as opposed to upside down?"
Duke shoved the map aside, not caring that one of the frayed creases finally gave way. He lay down on the hood, arms folded behind his head, also not caring about Tristan's loud protest.
"What are you doing!" Tristan grabbed the map and tried to fold into some semblance of order. He gave up and tossed it into car where it landed in a messy shuffle looking not unlike a poorly made origami duck. "We've lost enough time already trying to get to that stupid tournament."
Duke stretched out like a lazy cat enjoying a sunlit porch. "Are they going to notice that we're late?"
"Not right off..." Tristan said slowly. "They've gotta get ready for the matches."
"And where are the 'cheerleaders' supposed to sleep while they spend the night in their private suites?"
Tristan resumed a glare that was surely becoming very familiar by now. "We can crash with them."
"On the floor?" Duke asked, returning the familiar glare with a familiar smirk.
"Joey and Yuugi are our friends, Duke," Tristan said with a hint of defensive spite.
Duke rolled to his side, ignoring the creak in the tires as his weight shifted. He rested his head on his hand. "Did Joey even ask if you wanted to come?"
"Sure he did."
"How'd he phrase it?"
Tristan blinked. "What are you talking about?"
"How did he phrase it?" Duke repeated slowly, rolling his eyes.
Tristan eyed the other boy warily. He smelled a trap. "He asked what time I was going to show up."
Duke smiled at Tristan with that particular brand of benign wisdom known only to the insufferably smug. "So, he didn't ask you if you wanted to come, he just assumed you were coming."
"You are such an ass," Tristan muttered and stretched out on the hood next to Duke. "Such an absolute ass."
"Let's see how they do without their cheerleaders this time."
"I don't want to go, you weren't even asked if you wanted to go, so why go?"
It was an idea startling in its clarity and daring. Tristan furrowed his brow. It was even more startling that it was daring. Why should he allow himself to be drug into another tournament? Especially this one? This was a nice, normal tournament. No soul sporking, forced destinies, or petty revenges. No one was running around with shiny artifacts of doom or cards that never should have been printed in the first place. If anything, the blatant card promotion was somewhat reassuring. Industrial Illusions and Kaiba Corporation were out to make a buck with this one.
And what was with the underlying thrill that practically reeked of getting away with something naughty?
"It's just a card game," Tristan whispered. He sounded like a prophet on the verge of a religious epiphany. He propped himself up on his elbows, staring out at the empty road ahead of them. "It's just a fucking card game!"
Duke's laughter bordered on triumphant. "He can be taught!" he crowed and clapped Tristan on the shoulder. His grin was bright and for once, absent of any mocking humor.
Tristan tried to tackle Duke, but it turned into more of a shuffle of limbs rather than any actual pushing or shoving. Neither of them wanted to fall off the car, after all. Tristan enjoyed listening for a moment to the slither of Duke's leather pants against the hood of the car before he stopped. There was a sudden flip and Duke was perched upon Tristan's hips grinning like a maniac.
"You should be glad we didn't fall off," he said.
Tristan glanced at his left leg hanging off the hood. "Barely."
"We don't have to be back in Domino for at least a week," Duke said, still grinning.
"So where do you suggest we go?" Tristan asked. He flicked at an errant spike of black hair blocking his view of green eyes.
"We've got half a tank of gas, an upside down map, and a lot of open road." Duke leaned down and gave Tristan a teasing half kiss. "I'd say that's a good start."
Tristan concurred wholeheartedly by yanking Duke back down to finish the damned kiss.