One Long Week

Day 5

"I'm bored," Joey announced at the breakfast table. Although, announced may not be the correct word in this sentence, as Joey's proclamation was more of a long, drawn-out whine that sounded more akin to a keening dog with vocal cancer than a human. Joey made sure that this was exactly what his voice would sound like, taking care to get just the right pitch, with the express purpose of trying to be as obnoxiously annoying as humanly possible.

He wasn't quite sure yet if it was working. Kaiba always seemed to be annoyed with Joey's existence in general, but guessing by the fact that there were not more than five veins popping out of his head in what could only be described as apoplectic fury, he wasn't annoyed enough. Not for Joey's taste, at least. Which always tends to be slightly suicidal, when one considers the source.

After all, taunting one Seto Kaiba early in the morning is a very dangerous feat. In fact, the life expectancy for surviving jumping out of an airplane five miles above where the earth's atmosphere ends and there is no supply of vital oxygen, with no Acme parachute, only to land in a canyon full of horrible, sharp, pokey cacti while one Wile E. Coyote watches on with a grimace of empathy is much higher than if one were to interrupt said Seto Kaiba while reading his morning newspaper.

Luckily for Joey, he was far too thick-headed for Kaiba's glare of death to actually work. However, the lack of Joey writhing on the ground in obvious misery resulted in Kaiba resorting to more desperate measures.

Joey was only saved from a brutal death via a candlestick in the kitchen as Mokuba just happened to walk by at that most inopportune moment (Kaiba, reluctantly putting the blunt metal object back to its original resting place, had taken a moment to sulkily ponder whether the smaller boy was taking extra precautions to ensure nothing…accidental…befell the poor, hapless blonde) and gave a fierce glare to his older brother as if to warn him the horrors he would conjure should the elder Kaiba do anything that would displease the younger Kaiba. I.e., killing his new toy, Joey.

And in that single stare, Kaiba saw all the terrible things that Mokuba's wrath would bring, and the powerful, mighty, fearless CEO, who had been known to regularly laugh at death in the face and beat the grim reaper in poker every third Tuesday of the month, whimpered in terror.

Mokuba suddenly grinned, giving Kaiba whiplash from looking at the change of facial expressions that took place at the speed of light, to inform his big brother that he would be over at a friend's house until late afternoon and would be home later.

And then Mokuba glared again, giving Kaiba a permanent crick in his neck that would require serious physical therapy for several months to get rid of, and growled that the two boys had better play nice.

And Kaiba had never been so proud of Mokuba for pulling off such a beautiful, magnificent, perfect Kaiba glare.

But then Kaiba remembered the glare was directed at him, and stifled a sob.

Then Mokuba grinned again – Kaiba wished with a groan, feeling paralysis creeping into his vertebrae, that Mokuba would stop doing that – and skipped off, out of the mansion to leave Kaiba and Joey to their selves.

If Mokuba hadn't been so scary, it would have been Joey's death sentence, as the blonde boy immediately went into convulsions against the table, complaining once more of the lack of anything to do.

But as it were, Kaiba rather valued his life, and tried extra hard not to induce bodily harm to the shorter teen. Kaiba couldn't help but grumble to himself that Mokuba had better be grateful that Joey was still alive, because it was taking a lot of effort.

"That's nice," Kaiba drawled in response to Joey's fourteenth declaration of boredom in the last ten minutes, trying to not really pay any attention. This was made more difficult as Joey began to paw listlessly at Kaiba's shirt sleeve in a plea for attention. The brunette discreetly shifted his chair a couple of inches in the opposite direction. "Now shut up."

The blonde pouted, and let his head fall to the table surface with a pathetic thump. He rolled onto one cheek to look up at the brunette, as if his state of bored-ness had sapped him of all energy. Which was a lie, because if this didn't work, he had a twenty pound bag of pocky, and was fully prepared to submit himself into a coma-inducing sugar high, and start jumping around, climbing up the walls, and hanging from the ceiling fans if necessary to get his way. But for now, he would stick with his high pitched keening that had to be making Kaiba's eardrums bleed. It was only a matter of time before he had to give in.

"But I'm really, really booored." Kaiba's eye twitched in irritation, but gave no other indication that he had heard the blonde's griping.

Joey huffed from his head's position of lying on the wooden table. Kaiba hoped, rather vindictively, that his cheek would get splinters. This would be impossible, of course, because being Kaiba's table, it was nothing short of perfect, and was far too smooth to even dream of giving anyone a splinter. But Kaiba continued to hope anyway.

The blue-eyed CEO grunted in misdirected irritation at the table for not obeying his wish, turning a page of his morning newspaper – which, as of yet, had not been mutilated, torn, or burst in spontaneous combustion. Yet. It was really only a matter of time – in what he hoped was a calm manner that did not give away the annoyance coursing through his very veins. He was really hoping that the theory of ignoring him would make him just go away would work. Unfortunately for Kaiba, Joey was the exception to this rule. In fact, he was the exception to any rule where logic was concerned.

And so, Joey continued his whining, and Kaiba's anger continued to grow. Which, really, was not very good for the medical state of anyone within a twenty mile radius.

Realizing that the brunette was merely making noncommittal sounds to appease his whining, Joey puffed out his cheeks in an attempt to prepare for full-blast annoying complaints like the world had never seen. The Guinness Book of World Records would later be contacted to inform them of the new owner of the Most Annoying In The World award.

"Seeeeeetoooooooo," Joey carried the name out until he had used up every last oxygen molecule in his lungs, and then continued when he no longer had any breath with which to whine. The resulting sound was so horrible, if it was not obvious that the blonde was, unfortunately, in perfect health, Kaiba would have thought that he was being tortured.

The brunette paused for a moment at the ease with which Joey used to say his first name, glancing surreptitiously at the blonde out of the corner of his eye. He tried to repress the shiver it sent up his spine in what was not exactly an unpleasant feeling. Ever since the two had come back from the fair the night before, Joey had taken to calling him Seto instead of Kaiba.

Seto wasn't quite sure what he should make of that. He tried to examine the side effects he displayed after hearing Joey call him Seto, which Joey had done a grand total of thirty-seven times so far. Every single time, his face turned an unhealthy shade of red and grew unusually warm and his heart beat a little faster, occasionally stumbling over itself and even missing some beats – Kaiba thought, pouting elegantly (the readers may be wondering if it is even possible to pout elegantly. Well, Kaiba will be happy, in a manner of speaking as happy is not a state of being that the CEO is familiar with, to demonstrate that it is.) that if his heart were an employee, he would have fired it for its lack in efficiency around Joey.

He wasn't sure if the organ's stuttering was at the unfamiliarity of someone being close enough to call him something so intimate without the fear of a miserable life of eternal unemployment as punishment, or if it was another emotion entirely…an emotion that he wasn't sure that he was entirely prepared to face.

So lost in his thoughts, Kaiba didn't even see the tan hand waving energetically in front of his face. He didn't even hear the amused sigh erupt from just a scant foot away.

"…really bad at listening to me, you know that?" Kaiba jumped slightly as his puppy's voice finally managed to bring him back to reality. The blonde had obviously realized that Kaiba was not paying the slightest bit of attention to Joey's one-sided conversation, and was now sitting patiently (for Joey, at least. Which is to say that his patience was decimated in the time it took Joey to blink), watching the brunette for any sign of returning to the present.

Kaiba looked at Joey blankly, who didn't seem to be at all upset that he wasn't being paid the due attention. In fact, the blonde was sporting a rugged, amused smile that really brought out a certain attractiveness to his face. The way it was lopsided, and caused a dimple in one cheek, was strangely very becoming…

Kaiba's eyes widened at the thought and the calm, collected CEO had to struggle not to physically slap himself to stop that thought in its tracks. These forbidden thoughts were becoming more and more frequent. He was beginning to worry about himself, and question his own mental stability.

A small Mokuba-angel – robe, harp and all - appeared on his shoulder and began to chastise the elder Kaiba on how an over-bearing work schedule could lead to a break in his mental health. Kaiba gave the tiny apparition a level stare, as if to point out that he was being scolded by a hallucination of his brother in a white dress. Obviously he was way past a break in his mental health. The celestial Mokuba nodded solemnly, as if to concede Kaiba's point, and decided it was a lost cause. This guy was way beyond help. With a grimace of sympathy, the small angel wished him luck and disappeared. This did not mitigate Kaiba's fears about his debatable mental stability.

But back to why, exactly, one world-prestigious, multi-billionaire CEO is contemplating committing himself into the nearest loony bin.

The entire car ride home last night had left him feeling happier than he had felt in a long time, longer than he wanted to admit, and the fact that it had less to do with the fact he was leaving the awful fair germs far behind and more to do with the content blonde next to him cuddling his teddy bear was just the slightest bit frightening.

And then - as if the Fates had put all three of their heads together to see if they could come up with anything worse than finding Joey snuggling a bear endearing - when they had walked down the hall to retire for the night, Kaiba had, in an oddly sweet move that he would always deny and never be able to explain to himself, lingered at Joey's doorway for no other reason than to say good-night, a very uncharacteristic move for him.

But worst of all: Kaiba had realized he had an inexplicable, but nevertheless very strong, urge to kiss the blonde. Even if it was just on the cheek, Kaiba found himself wanted to just lean over, look into those chocolate eyes and…

This was the point where Kaiba really started to freak out. Now, if he had wanted to just ravish him and take advantage of the smaller boy, Kaiba would have found some sort of convoluted way to prove (read: lie) that the act had been just another way to demonstrate that he was the puppy's master. That it all had been a part of his plan to prove his obvious superiority. He probably could have come up with an established mathematical equation that somehow involved quantum mechanics and the theory on black holes, along with a PowerPoint presentation with snappy little animations to further augment his argument.

As it was, however, Kaiba did not want to just ravish him. He wanted something much more innocent, sweet, and therefore much more dangerous. He could perfectly imagine himself leaning hesitantly over the blonde, softly caressing his cheek, and kissing him ever so gently. Kaiba blanched. This did not bode well. This did not bode well at all.

It was at that moment that Kaiba had realized just how big and beautiful and close Joey's eyes were. It took a minute for his brain to catch up to what was going on – it had been quite distracted by a certain blonde's lower lip being ravished between said blonde's teeth and wow, look at that gorgeous tongue darting out to lick his lips – but when Kaiba realized his head had moved towards the blonde's on its own accord, he quickly jumped away muttering some pathetic excuse – Kaiba would later be mortified that he couldn't come up with a better reason than his mumbled pretext about needing to go scrub toilets or something. Toilets! He was a billionaire. He didn't scrub toilets - and scampered to his own room as fast as his feet would carry him.

It was embarrassing. He did not scamper. He just wasn't a scampering kind of guy. Stomping, sure. Prowling, oh yeah. Scampering, not so much. He was a Kaiba. Running away wasn't even in his vocabulary. Yet there he had been, collapsing against his doorway, panting from adrenaline and fear of his own feelings.

It did not help matters very much when the ever-oblivious Joey had crossed through the joint bathroom and into Kaiba's bedroom unannounced. The taller teen realized the blonde was curious as to why he had taken off so quickly – though a small (and correct) part of him suspected that Joey didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to see Kaiba doing bathroom chores and obtain perfectly good blackmail material - but he hadn't been in the mood to deal with it, and had bodily thrown him back into his own room before slamming the door shut. And pushing the desk against the door to act as a barricade against the onslaught that was Joey. As an afterthought, he added the nightstand too. And then the dresser, for good measure.

Back to the present at the kitchen table, Joey was still watching Kaiba with an odd glint in his eye. Well, judging from the amused manner of the blonde right now, at least he didn't seem to be offended by Kaiba's hasty actions last night. Horrifyingly enough, he knew enough about himself to know he would have felt terribly guilty if he had hurt Joey's feelings.

Why this was the case, however, Kaiba refused to let it be anything other than a mystery. He was not going to delve further into it. But he knew it to be true: less than a week ago he would have been proud of himself for causing such suffering to his pup. But now…he swallowed. But, no. He was not going to dwell on such thoughts.

Meanwhile, Joey rested his head in the palm of his hand and watched Seto with mild curiosity. The taller teen had seemed really out of it since last night, when he gave Joey the bear he had wanted so badly. He had a feeling that it was best to let him sort out his thoughts, and not interrupt. He had tried to interrogate the brunette before, but after receiving the patented Kaiba Death Glare, something held him back. Like his sense of self-preservation. He liked his head where it was, thank you very much.

But even more than the state of his physical intactness, he wondered if Seto was okay. He wasn't sure why, but he didn't really want him to worry. Which was odd, because he really loved nothing more than to push the brunette's buttons to beyond the brink of insanity.

Of course, Joey has the attention span of a goldfish with attention deficit disorder, and the patience of a puppy with a small bladder waiting to be let out into the yard, and so after three seconds he decided it was time to bug Kaiba again. He paused for the briefest moments – How to go about annoying Seto? So many methods, so little time – then decided the best tactic would be a sharp poke to the ribs, which he executed immediately and flawlessly.

The quick jab to the brunette's abused side not only caused him to jump out of his skin, but also to give a bark of laughter (no dog puns intended) involuntarily. Kaiba quickly clamped his mouth shut with an audible snap, hoping the blonde did not realize his one true weakness: The richest, most powerful CEO in the world was, in fact, incredibly ticklish. Beyond ticklish, in fact. His Achilles heel. One feather-soft touch to the sole of his foot and he would crumble. Damn his oversensitive nerves.

Chancing a quick glance at the blonde, and seeing an evil grin worse than the devil himself – or even scarier, worse than Bakura on a murder-happy spree - he slowly backed up a few steps, hands up in the universal sign for 'I'm unarmed. If you attack me you will be convicted in a court of law.' For every step Kaiba took backwards, Joey took one closer. Upon reaching the doorway out of the kitchen, Seto put his long legs to good use and quickly dashed away in a sprint, knowing fully well that the now cackling blonde was only a step or two behind him.

Kaiba made it into the living room, slowing down for a second to run around the couch, feeling déjà vu as he claimed it as his sanctuary once again (Go back to Day 1 if you don't remember), hoping to use it as a barrier between him and the currently deranged blonde.

The large furniture obstruction, however, meant nothing to a blonde on a Torture Kaiba Mission. Instead of dashing around it, like any normal, sane person would do, he took a full running leap over the sofa and landed squarely on Kaiba's chest – Joey would later revel at the satisfactory sound of all oxygen leaving Kaiba's airways - knocking the both of them to the ground. Without a moment's pause, Joey used his weight to help keep the brunette pinned beneath him and quickly began to run his fingers up and down the CEO's sides, causing Seto to burst into guffaws of laughter.

Joey's hands faltered for the smallest fraction of a second. He was so unused to hearing Seto laugh that it almost seemed foreign to his ears, like his brain couldn't match the image of Seto smiling with the sound that was vibrating around his eardrums. But nevertheless, Kaiba was laughing, and Joey's heart skipped a beat. He could feel his cheeks heat up just the slightest bit, and he couldn't help but wonder why he was acting so weird, like he was feeling feverish. He quickly decided that Kaiba must have given him food poisoning, the asshole, and it was beginning to affect his body. Joey made a mental note to glue all of Kaiba's belongings to the ceiling in retaliation.

In the second it took for Joey to pause in his tickling tirade and contemplate the best antidote for whatever poison Kaiba could have used, Kaiba quickly turned the tables around and flipped Joey over onto his back, effectively trapping the blonde beneath him. Kaiba smirked at Joey in triumph. He could see the surprise in those large, amber eyes, and Kaiba couldn't help but think that his doe eyes were…cute, actually.

He shook his head to clear his mind of unbidden thoughts, and vehemently needed a distraction. He silently hoped that Joey was ticklish so that Joey wouldn't notice that his increased breathing had less to do with tickling and more to do with the fact that Joey was right beneath him, separated only by a few scant millimeters of cloth...

And this train of thought was not conducive to his distraction plan. Then he chastised himself; that kind of thought was not conducive to anything. It would lead only to a world where everything was bad, bad, bad. Although, maybe being bad with Joey wouldn't be so bad…

No, no, this was not where he wanted his thoughts to be heading to. Back to distracting himself. Yeah. Back to hoping Joey shared his own Achilles heel. Implementing his long fingers in feather-light touches on Joey's sides, he quickly found out Joey had the same weakness.

And thus began the tickling wars to end all tickling wars. A tickling war like the world has never seen! To spare readers the bloody, gory details, we'll just say that casualties included every inanimate object in the room, and somewhere along the line a few smoke grenades and a cake mixer may or may not have been involved. And Kaiba took a moment to be grateful that the millions of dollars he had spent on those self-activating, pump action robotic nun-chucks with target homing features were worth every penny.

After the smoke cleared, the two were very exhausted and panting. Kaiba had won the match, of course, and was still on top of the blonde. Joey's face was red from all the laughing, and his crooked grin remained plastered to his face. Kaiba couldn't help the small smile that crept onto his own face. And then he noticed something rather strange.

Joey's face suddenly grew slightly redder than before, his breath hitched just a tiny bit, and thanks to their close proximity, he could feel the blonde's heart skip a beat. He also noticed Joey's brows furrow together ever so slightly in a faint look of confusion. Kaiba wondered if his puppy was having as mixed emotions as he was.

Joey was, in fact, having mixed emotions. However, being the observant-as-a-pile-of-rocks kind of guy that he is, instead of having the mind-blowing revelation about his deep, inner feelings of love for Kaiba that all the readers want him to have, he blamed it on the rat poison flowing through his veins that he just knew Kaiba had dumped into his food. It was the only explanation. He wasn't sure what was going on with him, but it could only be the result of some nefarious scheme the brunette had hatched up. Why else would he suddenly be thinking that Seto was incredibly hot right now? It also occurred to him at that very same moment that he was still under the brunette, and quickly scrambled to his own feet, blushing all the while.

Unfortunately for a certain CEO, in Joey's haste to get up, he managed to ram his forehead into Kaiba's nose. The blonde slapped a hand to his forehead where he was sure the front of his skull had been shattered, and stuttered an apology, mentally cursing himself for being so clumsy in front of Seto.

Wait, when did he start caring about what the jerk thought of him? He should be congratulating himself, and hoping he broke Kaiba's stupid, hot nose. But he still looked up worriedly into the taller teen's face, and mentally sighed with relief that his face was still maddeningly perfect. And he relaxed even more when Kaiba didn't look like he was about to immediately murder Joey. So he couldn't think he was too much of an idiot.

He paused to think for a moment. He wasn't quite sure when it had happened, but it was undeniable: Joey Wheeler cared about what Seto Kaiba thought of him.

Weird. What kind of drug had Kaiba put in his food?

Speaking of food, his stomach took that moment announce to the world that it was hungry and needed nourishment at this very moment, lest it unleash an unspeakable evil to befall the world that would inevitably bring about the next ice age. Or maybe not. Maybe it was just bored and wanted Joey to do something entertaining. Joey had a very hard time deciphering the many meanings of his stomach's growls. He had bet Tristan twenty bucks that his stomach could help him predict earthquakes. One day when he was supposed to be taking a math test, he had announced that the school needed to evacuate due to an oncoming seismic force. He found out the next day he was just getting the stomach flu, but that didn't stop the principle from giving him a month of detention. But at least he had gotten the class out of the math test. That was all that mattered, anyways. Besides the fact that he had lost his twenty bucks.

Joey's stomach growled again in a very menacing fashion, as if to warn the blonde that its patience was wearing thin. Hmm. What did the stomach want? Food, or something to cure its boredom? Food or boredom?

At that moment, Joey came up with an idea to kill two birds with one stone. "Seto, let's bake something!" he exclaimed, grabbing onto Kaiba's arm in excitement at the prospect, as though he had come up with some magnificent suggestion.

Seto blinked down at his wrist, which both of Joey's hands were wrapped around, and forced back a slight blush, then slowly raised his eyes and graced him with a blank stare. "You do realize that I can just summon up a cook to do that for you if you're hungry, right?"

Joey realized that he had yet to see a single maid or butler or cook, but he wouldn't put it past the CEO to have all of his employees trained as super secret ninja maids. That way when people came in to steal all sorts of juicy Kaiba secrets, such as Kaiba being very ticklish, in an attempt to blackmail him and take over the company (which, Joey would hurriedly say while coughing suspiciously, he would never attempt. Ever. Cause that would be, like, immoral and stuff. Joey would then look around shiftily in a very unconvincing manner.), the brunette could have one of his cleaning ladies take out the unsuspecting burglar with an evil frying pan of doom.

He asked Kaiba if this was true (Not that he was wanting to know this information to his benefit, Joey would insist, while he was most definitely not gathering said blackmail. Because Joey had standards. And he was totally above using Kaiba's ticklishness to his own personal gain. Really. Joey would then gulp nervously while continuing to deny everything). Kaiba told Joey he was an idiot for even thinking such a ridiculous notion.

Joey narrowed his eyes at Kaiba's lie. He knew better. He decided that for legal purposes, Kaiba had to deny the obvious. It was probably illegal to have super secret ninja maids, and Kaiba couldn't admit to their existence. That was why they stayed hidden all day. Joey congratulated himself for his smart detective work, and then jotted down some notes that were suspiciously titled "Plans to Break Into Kaiba Mansion and Blackmail Kaiba and Take Over Company To Get Back At Bastard."

(Joey would later chuckle in a manner that suggested he was feeling really uncomfortable with all of this suspicion of him, then retort that despite the misleading title, his notes were actually on, uh…bringing world peace to the Vietcong. Yeah, that's it. World peace. Totally. Nothing suspicious about that. Joey patted himself on the back.)

Returning to the conversation at hand concerning Kaiba's maids, who were "allegedly" not super secret ninjas, Joey looked at Kaiba like he was an idiot, which was certainly ironic as it was usually the other way around. "Seto, you can't have someone else bake something for you. It goes against everything that is holy about all that is sweet and yummy. It's only good if you make it yourself. We can make cookies!" Joey posed with a wide grin with his thumb up and confetti rained from the heavens.

Kaiba raised an eyebrow. "You know how to bake?" he asked incredulously. "I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks."

Joey decided to ignore his comment for the sake of being allowed to use the kitchen, though his smile looked kind of forced, and the confetti shriveled a little bit in dejection. His eye twitched slightly as he forced himself to not leap at the CEO in a homicidal rage. He figured throttling Kaiba might not be the best way to get in his good graces, and he really wanted those cookies now. He mentally patted himself on the back at his brilliant deduction. Kaiba + Murder = No Cookies. He was a regular Sherlock Holmes.

Kaiba looked decidedly less enthused than Joey. "You do realize that Mokuba is over at a friend's house today, and that he won't be here to help eat the cookies. A lot of them will go to waste," Kaiba tried to find an excuse to get out of baking. Joey gave him a level stare that plainly said Kaiba was an idiot. Celestial Mokuba popped in by Kaiba's ear to agree with Joey's stare, and disappeared again in a puff of smoke.

Kaiba rolled his eyes. "Oh, that's right. I forgot I was talking to the world-renowned human garbage disposal. My mistake." He made sure to exaggerate his sarcasm. He had a feeling that it would just bounce off of the blonde's thick skull.

Sure enough, Joey puffed out his chest in pride, and seemed to be quite proud of the fact that he could eat almost anything, edible or not. Kaiba sighed, deciding it was a hopeless cause.

A few minutes later, filled with lots of under-the-breath grumbling from Kaiba that sounded suspiciously like not wanting to get food poisoning from Joey's lack of baking skills, and the pair was now standing back in the kitchen. Joey realized he had never really taken a good look at Kaiba's kitchen appliances.

He should have known, him being Moneybags and all, that Kaiba would have bought the most expensive, high-tech oven known to all of mankind. Five hundred years of technology advancement probably could not produce a more superior oven. It looked like something out of a futuristic space movie. Joey even took a moment to ponder the possibility of whether or not Kaiba could have bought it from an alien race with better baking technologies than Earth. It had way to many knobs and levers to have been made by humans. He couldn't even locate the power button to get the thing started!

Kaiba smirked, watching the smaller teen from behind, as Joey narrowed his eyes at large piece of machinery to inspect it further. His smirk grew as Joey apparently did not like what he saw and crossed his index fingers to create a cross. The blonde muttered something that sounded like Satan. "Come on, pup. Haven't you ever seen an oven before?" He couldn't help himself; how he loved to tease Joey!

Joey growled, giving a quick glare to Kaiba, and then faced the oven. He put his hands on his hips and stared down at it. He was not about to be outsmarted by anything that made girly little cupcakes, and pushed a button that looked like it might turn on the heat. Or bring about a nuclear apocalypse. It was a 50-50 chance.

"Good morning, Mr. Kaiba," an automated voice sounded as robotic arms sprouted forth from the appliance. Joey yelped and dove behind Kaiba, only daring to peek one eye out over the brunette's shoulder at the evil incarnate. There was no way he was going to forfeit his soul to that thing!

Joey felt a pleasant vibrating from Kaiba's torso as the taller teen chuckled in amusement. Kaiba placed his arm around the blonde and gently forced him to walk up to the oven. Joey eyed it suspiciously while silently wishing he had some holy water with which to vanquish the evil spirit within. As if reading Joey's thoughts, Kaiba chuckled again. The brunette looked at the oven, and shook one of the robotic hands. Joey's jaw dropped.

Seemingly unfazed by Joey's horror, Kaiba smiled pleasantly at the oven – Joey took a moment to appreciate the irony that Kaiba could only smile pleasantly at something that wasn't even alive – and greeted the appliance. "Good morning, Oven. My guest and I would like to bake cookies, please, if it wouldn't trouble you too much." It seemed to work, as the oven replied that it would begin preheating immediately.

Joey was officially freaked, and wondered where the closest exorcist would be. Seeing as Joey lived in the nicest neighborhood in the country, it probably wouldn't be anywhere close.

Feeling a tingling sensation on his shoulder, Joey looked down to realize that Kaiba's hand was still lingering there. He blushed slightly.

Sensing Joey's gaze, Seto looked down to realize this as well and slowly removed his hand, though it seemed to linger for a couple seconds longer than necessary. Joey felt his heart thump somewhere in his esophagus.

Hastily clearing his throat, Kaiba mentioned not making the oven wait, since it didn't have the greatest of patience. Joey gave Kaiba a deadpan glare, as if to Kaiba to go back over that sentence and try to figure out what was wrong with that thought. Kaiba glared back, as if to say that he didn't see how anything was out of the ordinary. Joey sighed, and conceded that nothing was normal or ordinary when Kaiba was involved.

Getting back to the baking, Kaiba got all of the ingredients from the various storages in the kitchen. (Kaiba told Joey to get off his lazy butt and get the ingredients himself; it was his idea, after all. Joey then proceeded to explain that because Kaiba's kitchen was large enough to fit a third world country inside, it would take weeks to find everything, and then they would have to give up trying to bake cookies, as they would have starved to death. Kaiba asked how that was a bad idea; Joey's cookies couldn't be any better than the slow agonizing death of withering away. Joey threw a spoon at his face and Celestial Mokuba popped in to glare admonishingly at his brother before disappearing once again. Feeling outnumbered, Kaiba sulked and got the ingredients.)

Kaiba sat down at the table, his part in the baking complete, content with watching Joey work diligently at trying to measure out all of the ingredients. He took the time to try to figure out what exactly it was about Joey that was causing his feelings to run so wildly rampant.

He unconsciously smiled a small, almost invisible smile, watching that mop of blonde hair fall in front of Joey's chocolate eyes, which were currently squinting in determined concentration at getting exactly the right amount of sugar. Then that smile turned into a roll of the eyes as he realized Joey was counting out every granule. The fact that he could spend so much time measuring, and yet couldn't be bothered to complete a single assignment at school, amused him.

Joey's tongue peeked out from the corner of his mouth, as if it would aid in making the perfect cookie. Seto found himself staring at Joey's mouth, at his lips, at his tongue. He felt his face grow warm, and tugged on the collar of his shirt. He began to feel that urge to kiss him again. Maybe staying here was a bad idea. He should just blow the whole thing off and storm up to his office. He didn't need to deal with this…

"Um…Seto?" Joey's voice interrupted his thoughts. "I think I messed something up." Seto jumped slightly. How long had he been thinking? He gave his head a quick, violent shake and got up to inspect the batter. He blinked and was surprised to find it very runny, instead of the thick dough that he should have been viewing. The oven took a moment to point out that the dough did not seem to have the right consistency. Kaiba nodded vaguely in agreement. How on earth could Joey have possibly messed up chocolate chip cookies?

He then noticed the cups of flour sitting forlorn and forgotten besides the mixing bowl. Kaiba's eyebrow twitched. Really now, who forgets the flour? Remembering Mokuba's threat earlier, he decided to gently tell Joey of his mistake and not make a big deal of it.

"You complete idiot! You forgot the flour. Who does that? Really now! No wonder your cookies are an absolute ruin! It's because dogs just can't cook. We would have been better off if we'd had Yami try it."

Joey winced slightly. That was just rude. He couldn't have been that bad at baking to have deserved being compared with Yami. Last time the Pharaoh had tried to cook, flammable liquids, a lawnmower and a misuse of the toaster had been involved. The fire department had to be called, and to this day the Pharaoh refused to explain exactly just what had happened, only that he had a craving for scrambled eggs.

No one really believed this as there were no eggs to be found anywhere. Joey suspected that Yami had ended up banishing them to the Shadow Realm with his Mind Crush, but nobody believed him. He had a lot of money riding on his theory being correct but Tristan refused to acknowledge Joey's victory in the bet due to a lack of evidence. Every now and then he contemplated paying Marik to use his Millennium Rod to prove it, but figured Yugi wouldn't approve. So he just had to console himself with the knowledge that he secretly knew the truth. His bets were always right, after all.

Joey growled at Kaiba. He'd just have to show that jerk! He was the best baker there ever was! He picked up one of the cups of flour in a regretful impulse and threw it at the pristine brunette. After the white cloud had settled, there was a brief second of pure silence before Joey burst into laughter. He gripped his ribs with one hand while the other was slapping against his knee. The look of pure shock on an entirely white Seto was simply too funny.

This, of course, resulted in said brunette taking another cup of flour and tossing it on his golden mop of hair. White eyelashes batted against white cheeks as Joey blinked in surprise. That was unexpected. Kaiba smirked while his eyes glittered in triumphant mischief. "There, now we're even."

Joey quickly picked up the bowl of soupy dough batter, brandishing his newly found weapon. "Don't test me, Moneybags. I'm heavily armed and I'm not afraid to use it." Kaiba's eyes widened, as he began to back away, holding his hands up in universal sign for surrender. Joey wouldn't have that, and with a wicked grin took a particularly large handful of the goop and threw it in his face.

Kaiba stood still for a moment, and took a moment to wonder how often would he find his face in sticky, gooey substances that were best not described? He then gave his best death glare at Joey, who, in his defense, did suddenly look very regretful and began to take a few steps backwards. Seto was too quick though, and lunged at Joey as another wrestling match ensued. Soon, the pair were covered in flour, dough, and chocolate chips. The tussle only stopped when the two realized there was only one handful left in the bowl, and Joey currently had possession of it. The blonde quickly jumped out of arm's reach and gripped the bowl protectively to his chest while jutting his chin out at Kaiba in defiance.

Kaiba donned a predatory grin. So that was how he wanted to play it, huh? Kaiba's grin grew wider. He slowly stalked towards Joey. "Alright, pup, fun's over now. Give me the bowl, and I promise your punishment won't be too bad." Kaiba was practically purring, but that didn't seem to make Joey want to relinquish his hold on the batter.

Joey took a step back for each step that Seto took forward. After a number of steps, however, his back hit the refrigerator. Joey's eyes widened as he looked around for escape, but all he could see were blue eyes. He looked up at the towering brunette above him. He gripped the bowl tighter. He would fight to the death, dammit!

Kaiba placed a hand on either side of Joey's head, effectively trapping him, and leaned his head down to that their noses were only a few centimeters apart. Joey was looking up at him with those large, determined eyes of his. They were blazing with a playful fire in them, and Seto felt butterflies rampage in the pit of his stomach and his breath catch in his throat. A drip of the batter was sliding down the blonde's cheek, towards his chin. Without thinking, Kaiba slowly brought his thumb to travel lightly across Joey's bottom lip, and then up to catch slowly moving drip. Joey made a small noise in the back of his throat as Kaiba stuck his thumb into his mouth, never breaking eye contact with the blonde.

Joey's eyes grew large, but didn't do anything to protest. Kaiba felt a small swelling of hope. He just kept looking at him with those large, beautiful, confused eyes that were asking that silent question that he was asking himself.

The next thing he knew, Kaiba was crushing his lips against the blonde's, catching the small gasp of surprise. One hand was firmly gripping the side of Joey's face, exploring every curve and plane of his soft skin, the other wrapped around the small of his back, effectively trapping him there, clutching him as close to him as possible.

Joey had frozen. What exactly was happening? Let's back up just a moment here. His brain took a few moments to register what went on in the last few seconds. Since when did cookies mean permission to kiss him? Why was Seto doing this? Why wasn't he doing anything to stop it? Why did it feel…good? Why did he want to just close his eyes and lean further in?

Seto began to worry. It had been at least ten seconds already, and Joey hadn't moved a muscle. He began to feel silly, standing there kissing someone who wasn't responding in a positive or negative way. But he didn't move away. Something told him that if he stopped kissing the blonde, he would lose that small spark of hope that had ignited and grown in him over the past day and a half.

Just when Kaiba began to realize it wasn't going to happen, Joey's eyes slid shut and his arms suddenly sprang to life and entangled themselves at the base of his neck in his chestnut hair. Kaiba sighed in more relief that he had expected. Finally! A response, Kaiba mentally cheered. His hand traveled up Joey's back to come to a rest just beneath his shoulder blade, and Joey gave a barely audible moan and leaned in just a fraction of an inch closer. Seto gently nibbled Joey's lower lip, causing the blonde to gasp slightly. He took the opportunity to slide his tongue into Joey's warm mouth, and Kaiba had never felt anything so wonderful. Joey fiercely kissed him back.

They broke apart for air and Kaiba kissed down Joey's neck with a feather-light touch, relishing the feeling of Joey's quickened breath in his ear as he leaned his head back to give Kaiba more room. His fingers teased their way under Joey's shirt, tracing along the smooth toned skin underneath. Joey immediately began to unbutton Seto's shirt, staring at Kaiba with an intense blaze in his eyes that made his heart pound and set fire to his veins. Within five seconds, both shirts were gone and Kaiba was kissing Joey's collarbone with his leg forcing its way between Joey's.

Both teens were panting and moaning, and just when Kaiba dipped his hands beneath Joey's waistband to feel up Joey's butt, a large crash sounded just a few feet away. And just like that, Kaiba's little world of happy sloppy kisses shattered. Both teens jumped and looked over to see a very red Mokuba who decidedly not making eye contact with anyone but the floor and very obviously wishing he wasn't there standing in the kitchen entryway, having dropped a small plate that appeared to have once had food on it.

"I-I'm sorry, I came home a little e-early and thought you guys would like some of the brownies we made. Um, I'm really, really sorry…but d-don't mine me. Uh, have fun, I'll be upstairs." With that, the embarrassed Mokuba disappeared, having dashed up the stairs.

Joey's eyes widened in shock and slowly dawning horror. Just what had happened? He was kissing Kaiba, feeling him up, and then…and then…. He stopped in mid-thought. Wait a second, he had kissed Seto Kaiba! His heart froze. He looked to Kaiba, who was watching him as one might watch an unstable psychotic that might explode, or as one might watch Marik in a crowd of defenseless innocents. His brain began to shut down with so many thoughts and questions pounding against his skull. It had felt good he had to admit, and he was shocked and horrified to find himself regretting that it had ended. But it was Kaiba! His life-long enemy! It was too much. Just too much. He had to think. He had to get out of here.

Without another word, Joey pushed his way past Kaiba and dashed out of the mansion, slamming the door open, feet pounding hard against the pavement. He needed to sort out his feelings without a hot, distracting CEO in front of him. And just the fact that he found Kaiba to be hot and distracting was another problem he was going to have to sort out. This couldn't be happening. It couldn't be real!

Kaiba stood back in the kitchen, still in shock. Had that really happened? Was he dreaming again? His mouth was tingling, along with any inch of skin that Joey had touched. It had happened. It was real. Kaiba fought hard to suppress a giggle worthy only of girls in middle school. He brought a hand up to his lips, and felt a smile there. Not just one of those tiny, barely-there smiles that Kaiba reserved only for his baby brother. A real, true happy grin. He shook his head, chuckling at the impossibility of it all. Who would have thought it: The stoic Seto Kaiba had fallen for the obnoxious Joey Wheeler.

With the grin still on his face, he quickly grabbed his coat and ran out the still open front door, intent on retrieving his puppy.

1/18/09 - Okay! There's the new, revamped chapters! I'm working on the next chapter now, so I'll have it up as soon as I can! (Don't worry folks, I swear I won't wait two years this time! :D ) Anyways, if you've liked this version better than the last one, or if you're a new reader and just got a good laugh out of it, please review and let me know!