Author's Note - Hey, everyone! This is a big departure for me. It's a joint effort with a very good friend of mine, Lady LeBeau. No, that's not the departure. ((grin)) The difference is that she's a comedic author. While I weave humor into my stories, they would not normally fall into the comedic category. However, we talked one day and came up with a series of ideas that were mostly just "amusements" - no great conflicts, no save-the-world-again plots, just some down-to-earth fun and personal interactions. Yes, we came up with some plotlines to keep these from being meaningless fluff. Anyway, hope everone enjoys!
Disclaimer –"Yu-Gi-Oh!" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Takahashi Kazuki and any other related owners/distributors/producers. We get no monetary benefit from this. Our benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.
"October Fests: Part One - Homecoming"
by Lady LeBeau and DragonDancer5150
Chapter One – New Traditions
Yugi wandered across campus at a much less frantic pace than his fellow students who were eager to get home for the weekend, trying to rub the headache out of both temples with only one free hand. He had never been to a – what did they call that again? – "pep rally" before and found himself rather dreading the next one. If he had learned nothing else in the past month since starting school, it was that Americans liked everything fast, busy . . . and loud.
Last spring, Mutou Michiko found in her proverbial lap what she felt to be a great opportunity for her son. She and her father (well, father-in-law, if one wanted to be technical about it) could only afford to pay for a half-year's worth of schooling, but it meant time abroad, five months in the prosperous and promising United States. Yugi had arrived some six weeks ago to live with a host family on the opposite side of the country from his native Japan, in a state by the name of Georgia. He told friends and family back home that he was living in the city of Atlanta, though technically he was in a suburb known as Chamblee. He supposed that was rather like telling someone he lived in Tokyo or in Domino City, his hometown being technically a bit south and west of the world-renown capital – but the two were still technically considered as one to those not from the area.
-That's a lot of "technically's," Aibou,- a voice chuckled softly in his mind.
-Heh, yup, I guess so,- Yugi allowed with a private grin.
At least he had been able to bring one friend along so he was not quite so lonely and homesick. He desperately missed his other friends, though – Jonouchi, Honda, Anzu, Bakura, Otogi . . .
"Whoa! Watch where you're walkin', Freshie."
I'm not a freshman! Still, rather than argue, Yugi backpedaled and bowed apologies to the beefy jock before continuing on his way. By the reckoning of the American education system, he was a Junior. Still, he was on the opposite side of campus from the banks of upperclassmen's lockers. Within a week of school's start, he had been moved to the Sophomore area, as he could not properly reach into an upper-level locker, and there were no open floor-level lockers in his year's section. He sighed heavily. On the whole, the Japanese were shorter than Americans, and he was far shorter than the average Japanese height. He was rarely taken for his true age of seventeen years even back home, so he supposed he could hardly expect otherwise here.
He approached his locker as a knot of Sophomore girls stood talking. He recognized one of them from his English class – a slender, pretty blonde by the name of Krystal. Yugi's reading and comprehension of the English language were decent, but his grasps of the spoken language and of general written composition were not quite up to Junior level standards. Thus, he had been placed in a class one level below his grade-year. He waited for the small gathering to disperse to approach his locker rather than intrude on their conversation, shifting the heavy textbook in one arm and attempting to rub the ringing out of his other ear. It was a wonder to him that American teenagers were not deaf by the time they graduated high school.
"Okay, um . . . Chelsea has a cell phone, right?" Krystal asked, getting worried.
"Yeah," nodded a brunette. Yugi thought she looked terribly anxious.
"Anyone have her number?"
An Asian girl with brown eyes took an address book out of her bag and flipped through it. "No, I don't have it."
"I might have it saved," put in a blonde with green eyes, taking a cell phone out of her pocket and scanning through the address book. "…Nope."
The brunette appeared to be trying really, really hard not to panic. "So what do we do now? I said I'd give her a ride home from Homecoming, but I think her mom thought I meant the game, and I wasn't even planning on staying for it because I've got loads of homework and . . . "
"What's all the fuss about?" A slim blonde with a freckled face appeared through a pair of double doors that led to one of the many staircases from the senior hall below. Yugi recognized her from his English class as well.
"Chelsea!" The brunette sighed in relief. "Ohmigosh, thank goodness! Um, am I giving you a ride home after the game?"
Chelsea shook her head. "Nope. Hitching a ride with Eva. You're taking me home after the dance, remember, Ashley?"
Ashley sighed again. "Ah. Good. See you guys tomorrow, then."
Krystal turned back to the contents of her locker as her friends filtered off, and Yugi took the opportunity to lighten his load into his own. He did not need the tome of U.S. history, at least not this weekend, though he would need his geometry book, and social studies –
"Hi! Your ears bleeding, too?"
Yugi turned with a start to Krystal, who had glanced down at him while pulling books out of her bookbag. His left hand finally freed, he had been absently rubbing the heel of his palm into that ear in a vain attempt to ease the persistent ringing. He dropped his hand and inclined his head, the closest he could get to a bow as he was already crouched down on a knee. "Good afternoon, Kurisutaru-chan." He tripped over the pronunciation of the foreign name. "Eh, they are not 'bleeding' . . . " Yet. He ignored the bemused grin from Yami who had manifested to stand behind him, reflexively guarding his partner's back.
Krystal grinned at his formality and the honorific. "Eh, no, not literally." She shrugged. "It's something Chelsea said that we all started using. Just means that your ears hurt because of some unpleasant noise or other." She grinned to herself. "Heh, study time's all pep rallies are good for." She waved her math book proudly before throwing it in her locker. "I finished my homework!"
Yugi allowed a weak smile in return. "That's great you can concentrate enough to get homework done with so much . . . distraction."
"Heh, and it didn't help that the powder-puff cheerleaders were right in front of me . . . " She winced, then added with a wink, "But hey, that was nothing. I've got a little sister who plays tuba."
Yugi nodded, though he did not recognize some of the words she used. He figured that he probably did not want to know what "powder-puff" meant exactly and guessed the last to be a musical instrument of some kind. "What is the purpose of a . . . 'pep rally' again?"
Krystal rolled her eyes. "To make a lot of noise, get out of half an hour of class, and for the boys to watch the cheerleaders. Officially, though, it's to get the students and athletes excited about the football game." She shrugged again.
"Ah." Well, it was certainly difficult not to watch the – ! Yugi caught himself with a self-conscious murmur. He shook his head and stuck it in his locker in the pretence of digging for something, hoping Krystal did not see the sudden flush to his cheeks.
He could hear the slight frown in Krystal's tone. "Oh, sorry, no offence to you. I'm just really used to hanging out with girls all the time, so . . . yeah."
Yugi re-emerged, resisting the urge to glance over his shoulder at Yami, now chuckling at his partner's teenage fluster. "Hm? Oh! N-no, it's all right – none is taken."
"So, you going to the dance tomorrow?"
This whole past week had been a series of activities they called "Homecoming," something leading up to the social event Saturday night. "Erm . . . "
-It would do you good to get out among your fellow students, Aibou.-
"My . . . host mother says that I should . . . "
"You got a date?"
Yugi did not miss the playful glint in her eye. He tried to remember – "Date" was one English term for the numbers on the calendar, but it also meant . . . "O-oh! Uh, I . . . I haven't. What do Americans do for . . . dates?" The blush was back; he could feel it.
"Hm? In this case, basically show up at the dance with your date, then do whatever you want until the slow dance, then you dance with them, then you do whatever again. It's really informal."
"So . . . a date is a person, not what you do?"
Krystal laughed. "It can refer to both. You can go on a date, but the person you go with is referred to as your date. English is pretty screwed up."
Yugi grinned in return. "Heh, yup, it's . . . is a challenge at times."
"So, are you reluctant to go because you don't have a date?"
Gods, are American girls always so forward? Yugi did not answer right away, trying not to jump to conclusions as to where this was headed. "Do you . . . have to have a date to go on one? I-I mean, go to a dance?" Gah! He caught himself from smacking his forehead in embarrassment. That was a stupid question!
Yami, for his part, stood with his arms partly folded, one hand over his mouth to hide the smile, but he could not completely conceal from his partner the sensation of his suspicion: that Yugi might actually like this girl, if only a little. After all, Yugi had largely given up on Anzu some time ago. -It seems like a valid question to me. It's all right, Aibou. You're just flustered. Calm down. She's not going to bite.-
"Nah, not to this one," Krystal was responding at the same time, giving him a wink.
-Heh, the feeling may be mutual,- Yami observed with a laugh.
Yugi's blush deepened, which he had not thought to be possible, his hand subconsciously gripping the chain of the Puzzle, something he always did when uncomfortable, regardless of why. And it was not helping his headache to listen to comments in two different languages in essentially the same conversation. Yami comprehended the dialogues around him through Yugi's understanding, but his own speech was still in Japanese.
"Y'know, pretty much all of my friends don't have dates. Not surprising, really, with all the jerks at this school." She paused, then added almost sheepishly, "Present company excepted, of course."
Considering the context, Yugi guessed that "all the jerks" basically meant "all the boys." He couldn't say that he disagreed, shrugging with a grin of his own that he was not bothered by the comment. There was a moment of awkward silence, then Yugi ventured, "Are . . . you and your friends not going, then?"
"What? Sure, we're going! A couple of us are meeting up tomorrow evening and going in a group. No dates or anything, just to have fun."
"What do you do at a dance if you do not dance with a date?" Yugi frowned a bit, hoping that he used all the right words correctly.
"You dance on your own! Or with a group of friends. Or complete strangers."
Yugi did not know quite what to think of that last, and it must have shown on his face, as she paused a moment, snickering, before she continued. "Or you can just sit and talk, and watch the people go by."
"Oh, well . . . that sounds interesting, too, I suppose." Closing his locker, Yugi pushed to his feet, shouldering his backpack in a practiced motion.
"It's a load of fun." Krystal finished packing her own bookbag, locked her locker, shouldered the bag, and stood up. "Say, you want to come with us? You're pretty cool. And it'd be interesting having a boy along. Wanna come?"
Yugi nearly dropped his backpack. " Um . . . m-me?"
"No, the tri-colored, spiky boy behind you. Of course, you!"
Both Yugi and Yami reacted in an instant of genuine alarm before recovering with self-conscious chuckles, realizing – or at least hoping – that she was kidding.
Krystal maintained her grin, though Yugi could see the hint of disappointment in her eyes. "Oh . . . if you're uncomfortable going with a bunch of girls, I understand if you don't want to go with us – but it'd be really fun to have you along!"
"I . . . oh, no, no! I-I would like to come along. Thank you very much . . . Krystal-chan!" This time, he made sure to pronounce her name properly and gave her a respectable bow. Then, the last part of the comment caught up to him. The blush returned. "You think so?"
"Yup! This makes . . . two decent guys in the school! Score!" She grinned.
"Are you going to the game tonight?" Yugi was not a sports fan himself, but he thought it might be worth going if Krystal and her friends let him sit with them.
"Nah, football bores me," she said with a dismissive wave. "Never really saw the point."
"Ah." Yugi was not sure if he were relieved or disappointed.
Just then, a bell rang, the sound echoed through speakers all across campus.
"Oh, drat, I've got a bus to catch." Krystal took off down the hall, shouting over her shoulder. "I'll call ya with the details, 'kay?" Their English teacher had passed out a sheet with everyone's home phone numbers at the beginning of the year so there could be no excuses about missed homework assignments.
"Oh, all right! Talk to you later, Krystal-chan!" Yugi turned toward the front parking lot where Neal would be waiting for him. He was shaking his head at the whole conversation.
Yami paced along beside him, grinning in that way only an older-brother figure could. -Go, Aibou! Looks like you've got yourself a date.-
Yugi's gait faltered for a step or two as he blinked, thinking about that. Then, he gave a sheepish shrug. "Heh, yup, I guess I do."
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"Okay, we're meeting at . . . Northlake Mall . . . at seven?" Krystal confirmed, scribbling it down on a post-it note stuck to the wall above her bed. She was lying on her side, phone held to her ear with her shoulder, and playing absently with her pillowcase.
"Yup," Chelsea replied over the phone. "That's . . . you, me, Ashley, Mel, and Flora."
" . . . what?"
"Yugi. Spiky hair, interesting taste in jewellery, in our English class? I invited him along." She paused, realizing that she had not checked it with the other girls yet. "That's okay, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I think so. It'll be interesting, at least." One could hear the smile. "We have a boy!"
"We have a boy," Krystal replied, also grinning.
A thought seemed to strike Chelsea just then. "Hey, think he'd be up for Halloween with us?"
Krystal pondered it. "Hmm . . . maybe . . . he's nice enough but kinda shy, so I dunno if he'd go for it, but . . . "
"We'll see how tomorrow goes," Chelsea replied.
"Mmm-hmm," Krystal agreed. "Speaking of which, I'd better call him, tell him where we're meeting, see if he needs a ride, or whatever."
"Yeah, that might be a good idea," Chelsea said, slight sarcasm adding spice to her words.
Krystal laughed. "Yup. Well, see you tomorrow, then."
"Ta," Chelsea replied, and the connection cut with a click.
Krystal hung up the phone. "Now, to find that darned phone list . . . Ah." She found "Mutou, Yugi" in the left-hand column and dialed the number by his name.
It barely rang once before she heard, "Hello, Carringtons." Another line picked up at the same time, then cut off.
Carringtons? she thought, then realized that she did not know the name of Yugi's host family. "Hi. Is there a 'Yugi' at this phone number?"
She could hear the male preteen mischief (which was to say, "jerk-in-the-making") in the kid's voice. "Depends. Is this his girlfriend?"
" . . . No . . . "
In the background, an adult woman's voice could be heard just then. "Jim, who's it for?"
The boy gave an exasperated sigh before half-covering the headset's microphone and screaming at the top of his lungs, "Hey, Yugi! It's for you. It's a GI-IRLLL!"
Krystal could all but feel an anime-style sweatdrop running down the back of her head. "Glad I've got a sister," she muttered as she waited for her classmate to pick up the line.
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Yugi sat on the top bunk, trying to drag himself through a reading assignment for social studies after dinner. It was his host "brother" Neal's turn to use the desk as he was looking up research material on the Internet for a term paper. Yugi jumped when the phone rang, swallowing hard at the thought that it might be Krystal. Neal picked up, then hung up again without a word, and Yugi realized he could hear a voice downstairs. He flinched again, his heart stuffing itself up his throat, when the voice called out, "Hey, Yugi! It's for you. It's a GI-IRLLL!"
Neal rolled his eyes at his baby brother's singsong voice before flashing his roommate a knowing grin. He stood and stretched, then waved at the phone on the desk next to the computer. "Go ahead. I was just thinking of getting a shower anyway."
Yugi nodded as he climbed down the ladder, appreciating that at least one of the boys had learned manners. He picked up the receiver, calling out the door, "Arigatou, Jim-chan. I have a phone up here!" He suppressed another gulp before putting the headset to his ear. "Moshi-moshi – ah, t-that is . . . hello?" This was the first call he had received since getting here that had not been his mother or grandfather – or Jonouchi – to see how he was faring. He was accustomed to conversing in Japanese when on the phone and now bapped himself with a fist. Great. Now she knows you're an idiot. Don't even know what language to use . . . Yami chuckled in the back of his mind.
A bright, cheery voice rewarded him, unfazed by the mistake. " Hi! It's Krystal. Um . . . is tomorrow still on?"
Yugi was about to respond when he realized that he not heard the phone downstairs hang up. ". . . Jim-chan, please . . ."
Neal had ducked back in to grab a change of clothes. Scowling, he leaned over the rail in the hall to glare down in the general direction of the first floor. "Jimmy!"
Mrs. Carrington's voice quickly followed. "James Timothy Carrington, get off that phone right now!"
Mortified, Yugi almost wished he could sink through the floor, and Yami's bemused smirk in the back of his mind did not help anything. "G-good evening, Krystal-chan," he managed to choke out.
" . . . Sibling?" He could hear the empathy in her voice.
"Eh . . . not mine directly, but he is a son of my host family."
"Ah. Yeah. So, tomorrow . . . you need a ride? If you're still coming?" she added, as if realizing she had not yet received an answer to her first question.
"I will – I mean, I am – I mean . . . yes, thank you. What time? Oh, what should I bring? And . . . how does a person dress for a dance?"
Krystal laughed. "No problem – six-thirty, money for dinner and a ticket, and semi-formal." She paused. "Uh . . . you don't need to really dress up, but no jeans or shorts. Just . . . nice."
"Ah . . . all right. What might be the cost of dinner? And . . . would I be paying for . . . um . . . for one or . . . two?" He was sure she could hear him blushing, but he thought he remembered that American custom was such that the boy paid for himself and his "date."
By her tone of voice, she shrugged nonchalantly, seemingly oblivious to his discomfort. "Just yourself. Um . . . ten dollars ought to cover it."
"Ah, all right. Six-thirty, then."
"Hmm . . . anything else you need to know?" she wondered aloud. "Nope, I think that's it. Yup, see you then!" Click.
Yugi stared at the buzzing phone in his hand, feeling a little lost. ". . . eh . . . well, all right, then." He hung up the phone and turned to his half of the closest, social studies completely forgotten as he tried to figure out what to wear for his first "date" with an American girl.
Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!