Get Your Game On
Joey loped around the airport terminal like an antelope on speed. He bounded to the windows to watch planes take off and land, scampered to the monitors to check on the incoming flights, and then made his way back to Seto. For his part, Seto paid Joey's antics no attention. Joey didn't mind, though. Seto had a lot of work to catch up on.
While Seto worked, Joey entertained himself, just as he'd been doing since they'd returned to Domino City. Now that all of the excitement with Siegfried and Gozaburo was over, Seto seemed more determined than ever to bury himself in his work. Joey didn't complain, though, because it gave him and Mokuba the chance to plan a killer Welcome Back party.
"Joey!" Tristan was shoving his way through the crowd. Joey waved as his best friends came into view. In moments, greetings were exchanged, hugs were given, and hair was ruffled. Once everyone backed off enough to give each other breathing room, Joey hauled back and slapped Tristan. "That," he said with a snicker, "was for that 'you, me, and my couch' comment, you pervert. And there's a major ass kicking in store for you if I find out you've been talking dirty to Serenity. Now let's get moving before our ride decides to leave us!"
Laughing to himself, Joey began making his way back to Seto. "Oh, my God!" he heard Tristan gasp behind him. "Oh, yuck! I can't believe I hit on Joey!" It seemed as though half the airport turned to stare at Joey's gagging friend as he tried to digest his realization.
Soon the group reached Seto, who favored them with a brief glance up from his paperwork. "Still King of Games, Yugi?" When Yugi nodded, Seto smirked in response. "Good. I look forward to challenging you for your title later."
"Be nice to my friends, you bastard," Joey growled playfully as he mussed Seto's hair. He had to choke back another laugh as he heard he heard Tea say something about a death wish. There was no doubt in Joey's mind that once Seto would have beat the stuffing out of him for this kind of manhandling, but that was before the Professor met Merry.
Now Seto merely gave Joey a tight-lipped smile - a smile that told Joey he was trying to maintain his "cold bastard" status. "I'll be nice to whomever I please, mutt."
"Jerk-face," Joey countered playfully.
"Second-rate duelist," Seto snapped back.
"Rich snob." Joey's friends cast their gaze back and forth between the two, following the insults as they volleyed back and forth.
Instead of lobbing out another insult, Joey shrugged. "Yeah, I guess I am. You win. Now let's blow this place." Three sets of jaws dropped open at Joey's admission of defeat.
Seto crossed his arms and smirked. "Only when the puppy barks for his master."
Expecting Joey to go ballistic, Yugi and Tea grabbed onto Joey's arms to hold him back. Instead of starting a brawl in the middle of the terminal, though, Joey smiled as he stared out at Seto from beneath his shaggy bangs. "Woof."
"This," Tristan declared, "officially qualifies as 'weird shit!' Someone went and replaced Joey with a pod person while we were gone!"
Joey would have loved to relish his friends' shock, but there wasn't time. Seto had put away his paperwork and was already making his way towards the luggage carousel. Joey pulled his arms out of Yugi's and Tea's grasps and began following. He had no intention of walking all the way from the airport back to Kaiba Corp.
"Joey, wait up!" Joey slowed his pace at Tristan's call, but he didn't stop. Up ahead, he could see Seto slowing also. When the group caught up, to Seto, Tristan grabbed the young CEO by the coat. "What the hell have you done to Joey, Kaiba?"
For a moment, confusion clouded Seto's face, but it was quickly replaced with the arrogant smirk that Joey knew so well. "What have I done?" Seto murmured sarcastically as he pretended to think over Tristan's question. "Why, Joey, what would you say I've done?"
Joey chuckled as he began carefully prying Tristan's fingers off of Seto's coat. "Let's see... You fired my ass. You let me move in with you. You let me come with you to Germany so we could break into Pinky's castle. And you're letting me throw a Welcome Back party for my pals." Of course, those were only the highlights. Joey figured that for his friends' peace of mind, he probably shouldn't mention the near kiss that Seto pretended hadn't almost happened. Nor did he mention that he'd been pretending to fall asleep on Seto's bed while watching TV just so Seto wouldn't kick him out of the room. Some things, Joey decided, needed to stay private - at least until he and Seto worked them out.
At last Tristan's fingers came loose, though Joey suspected that it had more to do with shock than his prying efforts. Once Seto was free, Joey bounded to the luggage carousel and began grabbing his friends' bags. "Hey, Moneybags! Catch!" With almost no effort, he began lofting the bags in Seto's direction. Seto caught them just as easily, setting the bags down for their owners to reclaim them.
Joey found that he was enjoying the looks of dumbfounded stupefaction on his friends' faces. They needed to be shaken up from time-to-time. "Joey? Is everything really alright?" Yugi watched Joey carefully, his innocent face brimming with worry.
"I can't remember when things have been more alright," Joey assured the smaller boy. "You guys will get the whole story at the party, ok? The really short version is that Moneybags and I managed to work a lot of shit out. And we're still working shit out. But we get each other a lot better than we did."
"Put the touchy-feely crap on ice, Wheeler," Seto growled impatiently as he folded his arms across his chest. Recognizing the signs of an impending Pissy Seto moment, Joey saluted and began helping Tea with her multiple bags. Yugi and Tristan had packing down to an art - jam everything you could possibly need into one duffel bag, and if it doesn't fit then you don't need it. Joey never had understood why Tea needed more than one bag.
Seto led the way out to his limo. Once the luggage was stashed in the trunk, everyone piled into the vehicle. Because everyone wanted to stay together, they all got into the very back. Joey frowned for a moment as he tried to figure out how to make some room, then he scooted onto Seto's lap. This time even Seto seemed shocked as Joey made himself comfortable.
"What the hell are you doing, mutt?" Seto growled as his personal space was thoroughly invaded.
Joey put on his most vapid expression, widening his eyes in innocent surprise at Seto's gruffness. His goofball grin slid perfectly into place. "I," he began dramatically, "am making room for my friends."
Seto glared, his face reddening. For a moment, Joey thought he might have gone too far. He teetered on the verge of moving to Tristan's lap when Seto finally sighed. "I can't work with you right there."
"You work too much anyway," Joey muttered as he slid over to Tristan. He knew when to admit defeat; Seto was an incurable workaholic. At least Tristan and Yugi didn't mind sharing their laps, though Joey would have worried that he'd squash Yugi. Joey had never tried sitting on Tea's lap before, though - mostly because he figured that she'd think he was trying to pull a Weevil and cop a feel, and Tea packed a mean right hook.
Suddenly a pair of arms circled around Joey's waist and he was pulled roughly back over onto Seto's lap. "I didn't say you had to move," Seto growled, and Joey would have enjoyed the moment if Seto hadn't been glaring daggers at Tristan. "If I can't work, I'll read. Now make yourself useful and get my book out of my briefcase."
Now this was new! To the best of Joey's knowledge, only Seto was allowed to delve into Seto's briefcase. With exaggerated reverence, Joey bent and picked Seto's briefcase up off of the floor. He settled it across his lap and opened it. Joey carefully poked among the charts and contracts until he found the book. He felt a thrill of delight to see that it was one of the ones Merry had recommended to the Professor - "The Drowning of Stephan Jones." He passed the book to Seto, and carefully closed the briefcase before setting it back onto the floor.
As Seto began reading to himself, Tristan gave Joey's leg a kick. "Start talking, man. What happened while we were gone?"
Joey felt Seto tense up, but otherwise Seto gave no indication that he'd heard anything. If Joey hadn't known any better, he would have thought Seto was completely absorbed in the book. "Well," Joey began, since he knew his friends would keep questioning him. "It all began with that computer game."
"Should have known," Tristan muttered, grinning wryly. "It's always about a game."
Joey stuck his tongue out before continuing. He told his friends about how he'd accidentally created a female character and made friends with a knight. The limo pulled to a stop at the Kaiba Corp building as Joey reached the part where he lost his job. "Bastard looked like his spleen was going to rip out of his body and strangle me when I handed him the puky towels!"
"Bastard is still sitting right here," Seto murmured as he closed up his book.
Joey put the rest of the story on hold while everyone exited the vehicle. He was rapidly approaching the part of the tale where he wasn't sure what had happened, after all. Seto never had explained to Joey why he'd gone running to the rescue. It was just one of the things that Joey mentally filed away as "Seto's Business" to be left alone until Seto felt like discussing it.
As usual, Seto took the lead as they made their way through the Kaiba Corp building. When the entered the sub-basement where the virtual reality equipment was kept, Mokuba stood impatiently in front of the door - arms crossed and foot tapping, looking for all the world like a miniature Seto. "What took you guys?" he demanded. "Everyone else is already in the ballroom!"
"Ballroom?" Tea peered past Mokuba excitedly. Her shoulders slumped in disappointment as only computer equipment met her gaze. Seto shoved past Tea and went straight for a virtual reality pod. Joey gave Tea a light shove against the small of her back. When she turned to slap him, Joey ducked. He gave Tea a friendly wink before bounding into the room.
Knowing his friends would follow; Joey settled into a pod and began logging into the game. As he appeared in the ballroom of the vampires' castle, he saw that Mokuba hadn't been joking. Everyone was already there. Weevil and the Sphinx cuddled together against the wall. The vampires stood by the buffet table, splitting a bottle of blood. Siegfried had a silver-haired knight that Joey assumed was the real Pegasus cornered. Seto was already crossing the room to come between the two. "Break it up!" Joey called out, beating him to the punch. "This is a party, not a business meeting!"
One by one, Joey's friends appeared in the ballroom. Unable to resist a little bit of teasing, Joey threw his arms around Tristan's neck, pressing his virtual body against his friend. He snickered as Tristan's face turned various shades of red. Sometimes having a girl's body could be so worth it! "Is that lobster on the buffet?" Tristan stammered out, keeping his eyes off of Joey.
"Yep!" Joey chuckled, releasing Tristan. "Since Seto's skimping on the snacks in the real world, I told him he had to go all out here." Tristan nodded and made his escape to the food. He paused to watch the vampires, and once he was sure they weren't going to turn him into a meal, he began filling a plate. Yugi was soon following his example. "Story time!" Joey announced once everyone had a full plate.
Everyone gathered around, and Joey took up the story where he'd left off. Weevil jumped in when they reached the first raid on the vampire castle, exaggerating his role so greatly that it almost sounded like he'd beaten the Vampire King and his Lords single-handedly. Joey pretended not to notice as he inched his towards the edge of the group, closer to Seto. He already knew what had happened, so he didn't feel any particular need to pay attention.
As usual, Seto's face betrayed nothing when Joey reached his side. If anything, his expression seemed to harden. Hesitantly, Joey reached for Seto's hand, only to have it jerk away. Joey caught Seto's eye and raised his eyebrows in a silent, "What's wrong?" In an equally wordless response, Seto shot a glare at Tristan, and Joey had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. Once he was certain that he wasn't going to let out an ill-timed chuckle, Joey mouthed the words, "Log out."
As Seto logged out of the game, Joey followed. Both boys climbed out of the virtual reality pods - one glaring and the other holding back a smile. "You always such a jealous bastard?" Joey teased. Seto growled under his breath and turned away. "I was just horsing around with Tristan, man. It's not like I'm even sure where I stand with you anyway."
Growling low in the back of his throat, Seto slammed Joey against the wall. Joey squirmed in Seto's clutches, as the other boy leaned in closer. If Joey had any further doubts about where he stood with Seto, they disappeared as Seto crushed his mouth against Joey's. Seto bit down on Joey's lip, earning a surprised gasp. That moment was enough for Seto to send his tongue exploring the depths of Joey's mouth. Seto Kaiba never asked permission; he took what he wanted, as Joey was finding out firsthand.
When at last Seto pulled back, Joey leaned against the wall for support, knees trembling. Seto merely smirked, tracing a finger along the line of Joey's jaw. Joey realized that they just might be able to work out a relationship if they didn't kill each other first. Sure, they still had a long way to go - after all, Seto had the personality quirks of an anti-social, three-legged dachshund. But Joey, with his temper, probably wasn't much better. Smiling, Joey pulled Seto into another kiss. Whatever the future might hold, for this moment at least, Seto was virtually his.
Author's Note: I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who's taken the time to review! Also, a super grand thank you to Dark Fairy of Doom for beta-reading this chapter! It's been a long, wonderful ride. Alas, all good things must come to an end. But while this particular story has wound to a close, there are still more adventures in Seto's Age of Heroes game world to tell.