Rowan and Sakura, once again, do not own Yu-Gi-Oh! or any other anime for that matter. We are ownership-less. Hey! Come back here with our ship! Yes you, that creep in the back with the shady glasses and shifty demeanor! We know you have it and we want it back!

Ahem. Yes. Well…you get the idea.

Warnings: Uh…some smut…well, more lime-ish smut, but still…maybe some cursing…seeing how this was written before the fic itself…anyways…on with the story, right? One last thing- somewhere along the storyline it is to be inferred that Jou has the hots for Seto. Since it's not ever really mentioned flat out, just a heads up.

Pairing: SetoJou…heh !

Picking Up Rose Petals

When the dance ended and Seto began to pull away from Jou's embrace, the blonde wrapped his arms tight around the brunette's shoulders. "Let's keep dancing. Please?"

Seto looked down at Jou and shook his head. "I promised someone a dance, and I want to fulfill that commitment now before I forget. I'll be back Katsuya; I promise."

Jou reluctantly let his arms fall from around Seto's shoulders, walking back dejectedly towards the couch. Seto shrugged and turned, looking for Shizuka. She was dancing with what looked to be a pathetic imitation of the Dark Magician, and Seto graciously cut in.

Shizuka smiled at Seto as they waltzed around the room. "Well?"

"Well what?" Seto replied.

"Well, did you find Jou yet?"

Seto laughed softly. "Yes, I have seen your brother."

Shizuka's eyes lit up. "Oh, where is he?"

Seto cleared his throat and pointed in the direction of the pretty little barmaid on the big orange couch. Shizuka's eyes followed where Seto indicated and she shot a puzzled look at him. "There's nobody there," she stated.

Seto's eyes immediately went to the couch, but as Shizuka said, he was not there. His blue eyes searched frantically through the crowds of people, until he spotted a tall barmaid dancing with a rather short Pharaoh.

The barmaid, laughing with her dance partner, suddenly looked in Seto's direction, and their eyes met. She smiled softly at him, her eyes twinkling merrily. Seto blushed and bowed his head. He could even hear Jou's quiet laughter in his head.

"Seto?" Shizuka inquired. "Seto, what is it?"

Seto shook himself out of his reverie and glanced at the girl. "Tell me Shizuka, does Jounouchi make a habit of cross-dressing?"

Shizuka blinked. "What? No, never! Why?"

Seto smiled. "Ah, so tonight would be the exception?"

Shizuka shook her head. "I don't understand."

"Well, Jou would be the one in the barmaid outfit dancing with Yuugi," Seto replied, a faint laugh lacing his voice.

"What!" Shizuka exclaimed, her eyes whipping around to the odd pair. Seto, in turn, glanced over at the two as well. Jou was still watching him and Seto felt his face burning hotly. Did his eyes have to be so intense, so completely saying "You are mine"?

Shizuka, once she saw her brother's outrageous costume, laughed merrily, and Seto was stunned to find their laughs so similar. It made sense; they were siblings. He had just never really noticed Jou's laughter before.

"Wow, I can't believe Jou is that desperate!" she exclaimed, turning to smile at Seto. "I wonder if he shaved his legs?" she added as an afterthought, glancing back to take a look at Jou's exposed thighs.

Seto blushed a deeper maroon as he remembered back to just moments before, when Jou had guided his hands up his skirt…the skin had been smooth, cool, and silky under his touch, Seto recalled. The memory of the sensation of Jou's skin beneath his fingers made them tingle with excitement and anticipation of touching that cool skin again.

Seto shook his head to dispel the tantalizing images of a naked Jou that entered his mind at that moment. Seto blushed even more, his heart racing at a dangerously fast rate. He wouldn't be surprised if his face rivaled Rudolph's nose by now. If Santa appeared beside him and asked for Seto to lead his sleigh, Seto wouldn't have been surprised, what with the other peculiarities he was experiencing that evening. First he actually showed up at the dance- quite a feat, Shizuka should be proud- then to see Jou but think he's a pretty barmaid girl, and then…to actually feel turned on by the prospect of seeing Jou again- it was almost too much to be real. If Seto had in any manner been a masochist- and not that no one debated that possibility, there were quite a few rumors about him- he would have asked Shizuka to pinch him, just to make sure. Since he did not, he just had to trust that this was real and that yes, Jou did turn him on. Still, being attracted to Jou…would it be enough? He didn't know him well enough to say he loved him…and yet, he knew him enough to know he hated him. So what was the difference? Surely, if he wanted to, he could love Jounouchi.

The question, then, was whether he did love Jounouchi after all.

And that question he could not answer, but for the beating of his heart when Jou pressed against him…Jou needed him to tell him he loved him, and saying the words would be easy enough; they were, after all, just words.

Glancing back over at Jou- three times during one song!- Seto saw the love in his eyes, and looked away, guilty.

Could he force himself to lie and see those beautiful eyes crumble?

---

Jou couldn't help but giggle in Yuugi's ear as Seto looked back at him for the third time that night. Yuugi grinned up at his friend.

"What was that?" he asked.

Jou blushed. "Oh, just…it's nothing."

Yuugi shook his head. "It's not nothing and I know it. C'mon, I'm curious to know. Who is he?"

Jou bit his lip, then whispered softly in his ear, "The Maha Vailo."

Yuugi glanced past Jou and over to the tall figure swathed in blue. "Oh, the one dancing with your sister?" he asked

"Uh, I suppose," Jou replied. "So, how many people recognized you?"

Yuugi smiled triumphantly. "Everyone I've spoken to, which would be nearly half the room," he said.

"That's a good thing?" Jou asked.

He nodded. "Of course it is Jou. Because every person I've spoken to I've been able to identify. They may know who I am, but that's the only one. I know this entire room." Yuugi then laughed darkly. "And I'm the only one who knows that you're the pretty barmaid everybody's been looking at for the better part of the night," he added with a sly wink.

"You don't know who the Maha Vailo is," Jou countered with a smirk.

"Process of elimination," Yuugi counteracted.

Jou snorted. "That would work, except there's one problem."

"And that would be?"

"I've spotted at least three Maha Vailos in here since the night began."

Yuugi laughed. "Yeah, probably the same one!" he remarked. "You know, the whole 'I only have eyes for you' thing?"

Jou laughed as well, but Yuugi's comment planted a seed of thought in his head that quickly took root.

Seto couldn't stop glancing over at him and Yuugi. Jou knew he could barely keep his own eyes- not to mention his hands- off Seto if he could help it. Maybe, just maybe, there was the chance that Seto harbored feelings for him? What Jou wouldn't give for Seto to love him back, and what Jou wouldn't do to hear him say the words.

There was little possibility of that happening though, because Jou recognized the fright in Seto's eyes- the same fright Honda had once, when he and Otogi tried to mess around with him. It was the look that said he couldn't be gay- the look that said he can't believe you are. However, Jou justified his actions with a simple assertion that once they spent the night together Seto would see. Once Jou held him in his arms, there would be no doubt in Jou's mind whether it was right- and he knew in his heart just how right it would feel to hold Seto to his heart.

When the song finally ended, it was all Jou could do to stop himself from dashing back to Seto; after all, hadn't he promised that they would dance for the rest of the evening? When he reached him, however, a pretty Princess of Tsurugi was on his arm, laughing merrily as Seto smiled softly down at her. As Jou slowly approached the pair, the girl looked up and ran towards him.

"Jou!" she giggled excitedly, grabbing his arm and hugging it tightly.

Jou started, then laughed when he realized who the audacious girl hanging on his arm was. "Hello Shizuka. I'm afraid I've come to steal your escort; he promised me this dance, you see."

Shizuka laughed and released her hold on his arm, reaching behind her back to grab Seto's hand. "I don't know, Tsuya, I'm rather attached to my lovely dance partner. I can understand why you wish to steal him, but I'm not quite sure I can let you do that."

Jou smirked. "I'm afraid I cannot stand for that, Shizuka my dear. I myself am rather infatuated with him; if it has to come to blows over him, I'm more than willing."

Seto watched the exchange with interest. If he didn't know any better, he would say a cat fight was in the near future, but the smiles and laughter in both their voices changed the scenario. It seemed almost as if they were testing each other. For him? Seto couldn't understand it. They were looking out for him.

"Infatuation?" Shizuka mock-scoffed. "Infatuation is nothing. I love him; now that is something. Therefore, my claim to him is much more than yours." To drive her point home, she prudently stuck her tongue out.

Jou rolled his eyes, but a chuckle of amusement still bubbled past his lips. "Ah, but I love him much more than you do. The extent of my love is immeasurable except in this- give me a thousand kisses, lend me a thousand hugs, share with me a thousand days, and I will not be satisfied. Show me a thousand sunsets, catch me a thousand shooting stars, grant me a thousand insatiable wishes, and all I could ask is for you to be at my side." Jou was facing Shizuka as he said this, but his ambient eyes were shining on Seto, full of fervor and passion, that Seto unconsciously pulled back from the force in their veiled depths.

Jou smiled, breaking the solemn spell his words had cast upon his audience of two. "Ne, Shizu, do you think I won or what?"

Shizuka smiled. "You're halfway there, I think. Well, you're closer than I am, so I relinquish him to you, for tonight. Maybe you'll get there. I hope you do." Shizuka winked at them both, then walked away, mumbling under her breath something about finding Bakura.

Jou and Seto watched her walk away, then cautiously looked at each other again. This was the first time the extent of Jounouchi's feelings had been revealed to Seto and while he was flattered he was worried as well. What would happen after tonight when he was no longer blinded by the frilly dress and the shimmering blue eyes? Jou wanted to have sex- no, he wanted to make love to him, but if Seto couldn't love Jou, how could he possibly make love to him? How does one get something out of nothing? That can't happen.

"Well, Jou," Seto said at last. "Looks like we're alone at last."

Jou nodded. "Yeah, I guess so."

Seto looked down at his blue-swathed body, then up at Jou. "Do you want to dance or…is it midnight already?"

Jou frowned. "What happens at midnight?" he asked, puzzled.

Seto smiled softly. "I want to catch Cinderella before she loses her slipper." Jou was still confused, so Seto reached tentatively out towards Jou's hand, holding it firmly in his own. "Perhaps if Cinderella and both slippers came with me, I would be assured of her presence until morning?"

Jou gasped, then grinned. "Cinderella never heard such a straight-forward proposal." Then, he smirked. "She heartily accepts."

Seto took Jou's arm in his own, then quickly led them towards the door, ducking out right before the clock struck eleven-forty-five.

---

It was eleven-forty-five when Otogi finally realized that Honda was gone from his side. He graciously excused himself from the conversation with Mai and then began to scan the room. It was impossible to find the tall brunette, however, in his tantalizing trench coat that looked like it belonged more in Seto's closet than Honda's body, and yet Honda looked admittedly quite sexy in the jacket. Otogi would have liked to eat him up…if Mai hadn't distracted him and if only he could find his lover.

Suddenly, Otogi spotted his Honda grinding up against a Duel Monster-decked person with wild white hair. His face grew red with fury and his eyes glowed virulent green.

Bakura noticed Otogi first and quickly slipped out of Honda's embrace before their hotheaded host reached them. "See him," Bakura whispered in Honda's ear before he disappeared, leaving Honda by himself on the floor in the middle of dancing, sweaty bodies. Otogi came upon him like an oasis.

"Hiroto!" Otogi demanded as he stormed down upon his boyfriend. "How could you make me worry like that? I didn't know where you were; I'd thought I lost you! And who were you dancing with just a minute ago?"

Honda simply smiled and wrapped his arms around Otogi. "Oh, Ryuuji, you do care!" he exclaimed.

"Of course I care, you idiot. I love you," Otogi said into Honda's shoulder.

Honda simply smiled more. "I'm glad. I love you too, Ryuuji; I'm not going to lose you to some girl without a fight."

Ryuuji pulled back. "So that's why you left! Who were you dancing with anyway?"

"The Lady of Faith."

"Who?"

"Bakura."

"Oh." Otogi frowned contemplatively. It was a slightly old argument between them, who Bakura would go for first of the two of them. Otogi always knew their friend would pick Honda first and he was only a little jealous. Not of Honda, of Bakura. Honda was too sexy to share.

Honda smiled and hugged Otogi enthusiastically again. "So…you mean that? You love me?"

Otogi scowled at his boyfriend. "Shut up and kiss me, you idiot."

Meanwhile, Bakura hadn't moved two feet away from the now happy pair when he ran into someone. "I'm terribly sorry!" he apologized quickly, turning around and looking into a pair of amber eyes.

"Oh, that's perfectly okay," the person- a girl, a pretty one, Bakura noted- said in a soft voice. "I wasn't watching where I was going."

"Then, I confess, I'm at fault as well. I was not paying attention either," Bakura insisted.

The girl smiled. "Maybe it wasn't so bad, not paying attention. That's usually when good things happen," she said with a small laugh.

Bakura laughed as well. "Are you with anyone?" he asked boldly. Not something the normal Bakura would do, but tonight he was not Bakura, so what did it matter? Besides, the girl was too pretty not to try and get a dance with her.

She looked behind her towards the main door, then turned back to Bakura. "Not anymore!" she said gleefully. "My escort just walked out with the barmaid, as planned, so I'm perfectly free. You?"

Bakura suddenly gasped. "Wait…Shizuka?"

The girl Shizuka hesitated, then frowned. "Bakura?"

Bakura nodded. "That would be me. So, Kaiba really just left with Jou?"

Shizuka nodded as well. "Oh yes. I have a feeling I'm going to be quite free for quite awhile. That is," she added as an afterthought, "that is, as long as Tsuya is good in bed."

Bakura gaped, then heartily began to giggle. Shizuka mirrored him and, leaning into Bakura's arm, giggled merrily in his ear. Such a musical laugh, Bakura noted happily.

"Well," he remarked after a moment, "I'll try my damnedest to see that that doesn't happen."

"What?" Shizuka asked.

"I'm going to make sure you're not free…at least for tonight." Bakura winked, causing Shizuka to blush. "Care to dance?"

Shizuka grinned. "Love to," she said, pulling Bakura closer. It was nice not to be alone, to be with Bakura.

---

In fact, Jou was probably thinking somewhere along the same lines as he and Seto ran swiftly out of Otogi's house and towards Seto's limousine. Not expecting to stay as long as he did, Seto had ordered his chauffer to wait for him. However, when he and Jounouchi ran to the side of the limo, the chauffer was asleep.

Seto cursed under his breath. "Damn!" he said, kicking the back tire in frustration when he tried to open the door and found it locked. "How are we going to get back home?"

Suddenly, Jounouchi had an idea and he ran to the front of the limousine, rapping lightly on the driver's window. The man woke up with a start, then stared outside at Jounouchi the bar maid.

"Hello!" Jou greeted as the driver rolled the window down. "I'm not sure if you were aware of this, but your boss and I really need to get into the limo so he can take me home with him and then fuck me raw until morning. We want to go for at least three times before the sun comes up and there are some things I want to try that will take time setting up. So if you don't mind opening the doors and driving extra uberly fast, that would be more than greatly appreciated."

The man's jaw dropped in surprise, until Seto's twitching face appeared behind him, setting the man into frantic motion. The doors opened with a click and Seto grinned, then swiftly turned and slid into the backseat, Jou right behind him.

The door was closed with a slam and the car took off quickly, speeding down the road towards the Kaiba mansion.

---

Otogi, with Honda by his side, dutifully stood by the door as the party guests slowly filed out. Some people were muttering about the unsurprising yet still disappointing outcome of Otogi's contest.

"I can't believe that Yuugi Mutou kid won again!"

"I mean, who else would have known that that barmaid was Katsuya Jounouchi?"

"Damn, was that disappointing. And he was really hot too, dressed up like a girl!"

"What's that, Kawasaki? Are those your hidden homosexual tendencies I hear?"

"Knock it off Miyaka! You know what I mean! If Jounouchi had been born a girl he would have so been my type!"

"Oh yeah? Well I saw him dancing with the Maha Vailo. Who was that again?"

"Seto Kaiba. How could you forget that?"

"Damn, that's right. Imagine that though! I always thought Jounouchi and Kaiba couldn't stand each other!"

"Must have thought he was a girl too."

"Talk about irony!"

"Yeah; that's just plain weird!"

Otogi and Honda exchanged glances. Honda laughed. "You don't say…" he chuckled.

Suddenly, Yuugi and Anzu were standing in front of the pair, Yuugi happily clutching a pair of tickets for a boat ride, the prize he won from guessing the most guests correctly. Actually, he got them all right.

Yuugi, however, was looking slightly anxious. "Say, have you guys seen Jounouchi? He's supposed to come home with me."

Otogi and Honda shook their heads. "I didn't even see Jou," Otogi said.

"And I had no clue Jou was that scantly clad maid until you won!" Honda added. "Congrats, by the way."

Yuugi blushed. "Thanks. Do you know anyone who might know?"

"I do!" a voice cheerfully chirped from behind the Pharaoh and his Dark Magician Girl. Turning, they saw Bakura with Shizuka on his arm. "Jou and a certain spellcaster walked out of here about twenty minutes ago."

"Spellcaster?"

"Who?"

"You mean the Maha Vailo?" another voice spoke next to Otogi. It was Mai.

"You saw Jounouchi?" Anzu asked.

"Yeah, he and the Maha Vailo walked out of here about a quarter to twelve looking very cozy."

Anzu glanced down at her boyfriend. "Yuugi, who is that?"

"No way!" Honda gasped before Yuugi was able to respond.

"So Jounouchi really is gay!" Otogi added. "Go figure!"

Anzu was beginning to look very confused. "What? I don't understand." She was looking at Yuugi for assistance, but Yuugi was too much in shock to hear her.

"You mean," he whispered, "that Jou left with Kaiba!"

TBC…

Yay! So, that's the rest of the masquerade! Actually, what it's lacking are the song lyrics and the lemon…but you'll get to read those if I e-mailed you my LJ links. Anyway, next chapter should be the aftermath…and I'm not quite sure when that'll be up. To play it safe, I'll make my deadline September, so if it comes a little early that's a good thing! I actually don't have chapter six started, so I'll be getting on that soon. In the meantime, please review!