Chapter 1

Tea sat on her large dark blue sofa. The oversized cushions surrounded her petite frame, enclosing her in a case of pillows and blankets. They were so warm and friendly, giving her the feeling of complete and unwavering protection from all the harm the world tries to cause. No, correction. All the harm the world had caused, especially her.

Tea snuggled deeper into the surrounding warmth. The last thing she wanted to do was get up and leave the safety net she had created for herself. She reached over and grabbed the hot chocolate sitting next to her on the old maple coffee table. She took a quick sip; letting the warm liquid fun down her throat until she could no longer feel the warmth flow it's coarse through her body.

She looked closer into the fireplace, which held the fire that was blazing in front of her. She had always liked fires, well, a least compared to heaters. Something about them jus brought a feeling of peace, of togetherness. Something she had always longed for. Something she would probably never have.

Tea stole a quick glance out the nearest window. It was still snowing, but it seemed to be slowing down. That meant it would probably stop soon. She squeezed the mug that was in encased in her hands even tighter, trying to absorb its heat into her body.

When she finally released it, she placed the mug back down on the coffee table. She tried her hardest to not let it come. She really did. She didn't want to admit she was weak, or that it affected her, but that just made it come even faster. No, she wouldn't let it.

She looked back outside. The snow had almost stopped now. As she looked outside, the thing she had been trying so hard to prevent happened, a single tear could be seen running down the right side of her cheek. She wouldn't dare wipe it away, no, that would be acknowledging that it was there. She turned back around and stared back into the fire.

It wasn't like she hated the snow or anything, it just brought back memories. Memories she had tried so desperately to forget. Feeling she didn't want to have. She refused to feel like this. There were people with much bigger problems then her.

Tea slowly willed her self to stand up, the ocean of warmth that had surrounded her, gone. She didn't care, she had to do something. If there was one thing she knew, it was that wallowing in self-pity didn't get you anywhere.

Tea looked over at her kitchen. 'That's it, I'll cook something.' She thought to herself. Tea quickly moved over to the freezer and pulled out a pack of frozen chicken.

"I better make it for more than just one, who knows who will be coming over today? Joey, Duke or Tristen, hungry, as usual. I mean really, they come over every other day asking what's for dinner. You kind of just have to include them in on your plans. Then theirs Mia, she comes over every time she has some new dueling trick she wants me to see. Or Serenity having more boyfriend troubles. You know, now that I think about it Duke and Mia have been coming over a lot lately, and I think I saw Weavel and Rex a few times as well. Just the other day I saw, oh, what's his name, the guy that lost his father at sea? I can't remember, oh well, maybe I'm just seeing things."

Tea just sighed as she placed the chicken in the pan and started to get out other things needed for her recipe; salt, pepper, green chili, garlic powder, onions, butter, water. She also pulled out some frozen corn and instant potatoes.

"Can't forget about Yugi or gramps either. They always like to come over and talk duel monsters. You would think they would get it by now that I really don't like the game. But I guess it's not like I can exactly tell them why, now can I."

She turned around and set the oven to 400 degrees.

"Oh well, first come first serve." She said quietly to herself. At that moment one of her many cats jumped up on the counter. He had a base color of white with black and tan splotches all over his body.

"Trisket! What do you think your doing?" She said trying to be intimidating. Trisket just meowed and cocked his head. He then walked up to her and started nuzzling her cheek. That was enough to make her fold.

"Alright, alright, you win." Trisket jumped off the counter when she threw her hands up, indicating surrender. Tea walked over to her fridge and pulled out the milk bottle. Suddenly there was another cat by her feet and three kittens trotting around the door. She pulled three small bowls down from the cupboard and poured them each some milk.

They all quickly ran over, each trying to get their fill. Tea just watched with amusement. Yes, she knew it; she was going to be that old lady with a bunch of cats. She didn't know why but she had always loved cats, dogs and other animals too, but cats were her absolute favorite. In fact, all of these happened to be strays that she had rescued from some place or another. All her animals were. She guessed she did it, well, because she could sympathize.

A timer was heard in the background, indicating the oven was ready. She walked over and put the chicken in. She knew it was weird. Broiling chicken, but it was great. It was a recipe she had concocted when she was younger, and it was fabulous.

"Guess I better feed everyone else." She walked over to the back yard where a dog sat patiently waiting for her. He was adorable, just sitting out their in the snow. He was a beautiful husky that absolutely loved the snow. She grabbed a towel to wipe off his feet and then led him inside to his bowl in the laundry room.

She looked up when she heard the doorbell. She flipped the watch on her wrist over to see that it was only 5:37.

"Well, it's not Joey or Tristen, they don't get off of baseball practice for another 20 minutes. Mia's still on her date with that Brad guy, Serenity was also still on her date. Maybe it's Yugi." She reached for the door handle, completely oblivious to the eyehole that could have told her to be prepared.

She froze. Right then and there. Out of everyone she could have expected, they were not on that little list.

"Gardner, open up the damn door so we can get in, it's cold, or maybe you hadn't noticed." Came a cold calculating voice.

She pushed the door open, that being the only thing she could will her body to do.

Seto Kaiba walked into the medium sized house, a scowl plastered on his corporate face. Ishizu was soon to follow along with Marik by her side.

Tea, finally finding her physical ability's again, shut the door and walked over to her 'company'. They were each sitting down next to the warm fireplace, Kaiba being in the armchair, Marik and Ishizu both sitting on the couch. They all just stared at her as if expecting something.

"Mind telling me what's going on?" She asked in a polite voice. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Kaiba roll his eyes and cross his arms. Oh, she just wanted to smack him senseless some times, like now for instance.

Ishizu decided to be the first to speak. "Well, we needed to talk to Kaiba and wanted to do it somewhere safe. We figured the last place anyone would look was at your house considering your one of Yugi's friends."

"And you would be hiding from who exactly?"

"No one in particular, just anyone who has something against Kaiba."

Tea just laughed slightly to herself. "Anyone who would want to see Kaiba destroyed. This may not be the best place. I mean, Joey, Tristen and Duke are over often, Serenity and Mia both aren't exactly on good terms with him and Yugi randomly pops over. Like I said, maybe not the best."

Marik finally decided to talk. "Yes, but if any one of them decided to stop by you could control them. Don't try to fool me Tea, I was in your mind, every single one of them listens to your every word. But then again, there was that door. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get it open." He looked at her curiously.

That little twit. He must have been looking for the perfect opportunity to bring that up. Ya, I remember him poking around, and I also remember fighting him off, he was only able to partially control me. "Do yourself a favor Marik, stick to trying to figure out Kaiba and his mind, you'll get farther." She heard a snort come from the CEO's side of the room.

Marik just smirked, and through his hands up, indicating defeat.

"Ok, talk all you want, if you want some chicken I'll bring it out." She walked into the kitchen and pulled our four plates and piled chicken, rolls and potatoes on them. She left her own in the kitchen, really not wanting to hear what they were going to be talking about. She walked in and handed them each a plate, until she got to Kaiba.

He still had that same 'I'm better then you look' plastered on his face. "Hungry?"

"Not if you made it, it's probably poisoned." His facial expression didn't change at all as he said this.

Oh, she wanted to hurt him so bad. Now normally after he would say something like this, she would pour whatever she was holding down his pants, but she had just had the furniture shampooed. Stupid Kaiba, he was just so, so, him.

She practically threw the plate at him. I mean, she couldn't let him starve. Or maybe she could. "That's a good idea, I'll have to try it next time I see you."

She started to walk out of the room but Ishizu stopped her. "Don't you want to hear what were talking about?"

"No," She stated calmly without turning around to face her. "I really don't like duel monsters and it's pretty obvious that's what you're going to be talking about."

Marik looked over at her. "Really, then why are you such good friends with Yugi and Joey, not to mention, how could anyone not like duel monsters?"

She just sighed. There were a lot of answers to those questions. "It's not like they were big duel champions when I first met them. I'm not going to stop being friends with someone just because they play a game that I don't like."

She then quietly walked out of the room, thinking of the one person who made her hate dueling, her father. As soon as she took a bite of her chicken the doorbell rang again. She walked over, through the stare, or should it be glare, of Kaiba. Just once I'd like to punch him and get away with it.

She opened up the door, to reveal none other than Yugi. "Hey Yugi, now's not actually the best timeā€¦" But he just pushed his way through, intent of finding something, or more like someone.

"Yami, how nice to see you, I see you got my message. Please sit down we have much to talk about." Ishizu said very casually.

"You said you were going to tell me about my past if I came, so talk." He looked incredibly focused, way too much in Tea's opinion. So much so she couldn't help but laugh.

All four guests turned and faced her in utter bewilderment. "What the hell is wrong with you Gardner?" Asked Kaiba without the slightest hint of emotion, well, besides being utterly annoyed.

"I'm sorry, It's just Yami reminded me so much of you with that serious face on. I mean it was like the time you couldn't figure out the answer to that math problem in class. I thought you were going to combust and well, Yami had that same look." She started to walk off into the direction of her kitchen, still laughing.

Kaiba looked as if he was going to pounce. "I do not find that funny Gardner!" He practically screamed.

"Well I do, so bite me." She then walked into the kitchen, now laughing at the fact that she had pissed off Kaiba. That always cheered her up, I mean, just because she was nice to almost everyone she met didn't mean she didn't enjoy messing with peoples heads. Especially his, he was way to egotistical for his own good.

Yami was still standing when Tea left, only this time with a smile on his face. Tea could always brighten up his day. By either some smart remark or her loving nature, she always mad him happier, especially when it was at Kaiba's expense. He went and sat down next to Ishizu, ready for an explanation.

Kaiba was mad, no, he was really mad. How the hell did she always manage to do that? She could always find that one button that would set him off into the pool of emotion. He worked to hard to get rid of emotion to have some happy go lucky cheerleader mess it all up. It's probably all her parents fault. They probably spoiled her rotten and were constantly telling her how much they loved her and how special she was. Damn cheerleader.

Marik and Ishizu both sat and watched the pharaoh and sorcerers faces. It really was amusing, especially how Tea had her own little way with each of them. But the best part was when Tea and Seto would fight. Especially because they each knew a part of how their fates intertwined and how they would eventually have to work together, without killing each other. Yes, amusing was defiantly the right word here.

Tea sat in her kitchen, thinking of how much of a jerk Kaiba was. Yes, he really was one. She sat there stroking one of her cats. Her head then started to throb again. It had been happening a lot lately. In fact, it really started to pick up around her seventeenth birthday, which was about a month ago. She had gone to the doctors but they claimed that nothing was wrong and she was probably just overdoing it on the stress level.

She reached into the kitchen medicine cabinet and pulled out the aspirin only to find it empty. She was about to go upstairs when she heard the doorbell again.

"Better get that, wouldn't want mister 'leave me alone or die' to throw a hissy fit." She looked down at her cat Trisket. "I wonder if he likes cats?" She got an evil smirk on her face. She looked back at her cat. "Promise you'll make mommy proud?"

Her cat just meowed back at her, so Tea took that as a yes. She picked up Trisket and walked into the living room.

"Bout time Gardner. What, do you not even know how to answer your own door?" Said a cocky CEO. If only he knew.

Tea walked over to him. "Your right, answering the door is to hard for a helpless little girl like me. I think I might need two hands." She then dropped Trisket on Kaiba's lap.

She smiled when Kaiba bit his bottom lip as soon as Trisket and his lap make contact. "Oh, by the way, as I'm sure you already found out, but I don't believe in de-clawing animals." After that she basically skipped over to the door. Gee, I wonder what Trisket could have landed on that's in his lap that would make him bite his bottom lip that hard. Wow, this is just puzzling.

Still laughing she opened up the door to find the three stooges staring at her, each shivering. I can't believe they didn't bring coats!

"Hey Joey, Tristen, Duke, the foods in the kitchen."

"Thanks Tea." The three flew through the living room and into the kitchen, not once noticing the four visitors.

"Are they always like that?" Asked a humored Marik.

"Always." Tea and Yami spoke in unison.

Tea looked over to see Trisket sitting on Kaiba's lap. He looked quite comfortable too, just sitting there with Kaiba petting him. She walked over and put her face close to his.

"Traitor." She whispered, but not quiet enough for Kaiba not to hear. She instantly walked away when she saw Kaiba's triumphant face. She stomped over to the kitchen to check on Joey and the others.

"Where's she going?" Asked Ishizu.

Yami smiled and looked at Kaiba. "Probably to get more cats, she got five of them."

Kaiba gulped, he did not want to repeat the pain the last cat had inflicted, especially four more times. Just then the doorbell rang again, remembering what happened last time Tea went to answer the door, he rushed to get it. Standing there was a 5 foot 6 woman in a purple suit with blonde hair. Kaiba immediately recognized her as one of Wealers friends.

"Did I like, come to the wrong house or something?" She asked.

"Yes you did, now go away." He tried to shut the door but Tea's hand stopped him. She then pushed him out of the way and let her friend in.

"Hey Mia, what's up? Oh Serenity, you're here too? So I guess your dates didn't go as planned?"

Mia went and sat down on the floor next to the fire. "The jerk stood me up. Can you believe it? Here I am going out of my way to try and trust somebody and he doesn't show, I waited two hours for that guy at that Caesar's Garden restaurant. That's it, I'm never talking to another man again. Their all just asses."

"Um, Mia?" Tea looked at her friend with a blank expression. "Weren't you suppose to meet him at Olive Garden?"

"Shit!" Mia quickly got up and raced over to the phone immediately dialing the mans number.

"Serenity, what about you?" She asked politely.

"Oh, well, I broke up with him, I mean, he was so last week. Joey in the kitchen? I need a ride home. You know, now that I think about it, how did they practice in the snow?"

"Probably did running and catching in the gym." Tea put her hand up to her head, it still hurt. She needed to get some aspirin.

Soon Joey, Tristen and Duke walked over into the living room. That's when it happened. "Bat he bell id be oing beer?" Asked Joey while pointing at Kaiba, his mouth still loaded with food.

Everyone looked at him questioningly.

Tristen decided to save his friend from total embarrassment. "He asked, 'what the hell is he doing here?'"

It was at that moment that Joey started threatening Kaiba and challenging him to duels. Kaiba just threw back sarcastic comments about dogs, once aging throwing Joey into another rage. Duke and Tristen were currently holding Joey back from trying to strangle Kaiba while Yami was trying to talk some since into him. Serenity started crying out of fear that her brother might get hurt, and then she wouldn't be able to go places with him. I mean, she was popular, she couldn't be seen with a guy who was beat up.

Ishizu and Marik on the other hand just watched Tea. They watched her cover her ears and then slowly move her hands to her head, massaging her temples. Duke and Mia had also turned around and saw it happen, and to say the least they were worried.

Tea slowly started to take a few steps over to the door until her feet and her head just wouldn't function properly. She was falling, she clamped her eyes shut until she realized that she should have hit the floor by now. She opened them to see dark blue eyes staring back at her light blue ones. She looked closer to see a flash of emotion flow through them. It seemed to be a mixture of fear, concern, surprise and was that relief?

She quickly jumped out of her savior's arms all to late realizing she had been saved by Seto Kaiba. He must have realized what had happened because he blinked a few times and then sat back down in his seat, staring into the fire.

She looked around to see all of her friends basically frozen in time just staring at her. "Are you ok Tea?" Asked a concerned Yami.

"Um, ya, I just have a little headache and it hasn't been the best of days, I guess all the noise got to me. There's some aspirin upstairs, I think I'll go get it now." She walked up the stairs leaving the group to come to their own conclusion. Trisket jumped off the armchair Kaiba had been sitting in a quickly followed his master.

"That was weird?" Said a now disturbed Serenity. "I've never seen Tea act like that, I mean, she's always so helpful and lively. I never would have guessed that she had a headache let alone a bad day."

Joey nodded. "I know, sometimes I forget that she human. I mean, she's always there for us."

"You know, she's had a lot of headaches lately." Yami looked at he others to make sure they wanted him to continue. Kaiba was the only one that didn't ask him to. "What I mean is, that for a while I've noticed that she's had them. She keeps on spacing out and I know I've seen more than one bottle of aspirin in her trash."

Mia and Duke just looked at each other then at Marik and Ishizu. The two pairs knew something, they each knew the other two had and idea, how much was the real question.

Kaiba looked down at his foot when he felt a paw on his leg. There stood Trisket meowing at him. Kaiba just ignored the cat a tried to discreetly listen to what Yami was saying. He didn't know why by he was interested. But the cat just kept on meowing and finally bit Kaiba's pant leg. The cat tried to pull him over to the stairs.

Ishizu saw this and looked at Kaiba. "I think he wants you to follow."

"I'm not going to do what some stupid cat tells me to do." He argued.

The cat then clawed his leg. "You know Kaiba, animals have been around a long time, they see things we don't. Cats are in fact suppose to be the most intelligent of all the animals, you should trust him." She said very calmly.

"Fine, I'll go, but only to ask Gardner if she has a bandage. Her stupid cat cut me." He then headed up the stairs, Trisket closely behind him. He than saw more cats, three, they looked like kittens. They were meowing for him to come over. Then there was another one, this was getting weird. He looked over to the bathroom door and saw a dog, looked like a husky, he was whimpering.

Kaiba turned into the bathroom about to yell at Gardner for having weird pets when he saw her lying on the floor. Her hair was spread out over her face and her body was twisted which gave off the look that she had fainted. In her hand was a bottle of aspirin that hadn't even been opened yet.

"Ishizu!" He screamed. "Call 911, we need an ambulance, fast!"