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 Two – Going Out . . . ?

"Hey, pretty sharp, there, buddy!" Neal gave his roommate a thumbs-up as the other returned to the bedroom after his shower.

"Eh, thank you, Neal-kun." Yugi looked down at himself, considering the black slacks and silver-grey vest over black long-sleeved shirt, the usual black choker-belt finishing the attire as it protected the back of Yugi's neck from chafing by the heavy chain of the Puzzle, also in place as always. His boots were downstairs by the front door. He got compliments whenever he wore this outfit, though he did not do so often. One of the most memorable times was when he first started getting to know his friend, Otogi Ryuugi. When I finally get to a game shop, I'll have to be sure to see if they carry Otogi-kun's Dungeon Dice Monsters, Yugi reminded himself.

-He did say that it was selling rather well, at least over on the west coast.- Yami nodded from where he stood out of the way in the corner, then added, -You do look very cool, Aibou! Krystal should be quite impressed.-

Yugi refrained from responding and started to climb the ladder to his bed, having left a belt up there. He faced the door in that position, and Jimmy ducked his head in to make a face.

"You're not actually gonna wear that tonight, are you!"

Yugi paused to grip the chain of the Puzzle out of reflex. This was not the first time Jimmy had taunted him about his treasure. Before he could respond, however, Neal grabbed and threw a dirty t-shirt at him. "Drop it, brat! Leave him alone."

"Jeez, he's such a dork!" Jimmy retreated to his bedroom, laughing.

Neal offered his roommate an apologetic glance and shake of the head, but Yugi only shrugged with a grin. For the most part, James was harmless so Yugi supposed he did not mind too much. He also supposed that he was glad to have been an only child himself. He appreciated that Neal never commented again about his oversized necklace once Yugi explained that it had been a gift and challenge from his grandfather, an artifact from exotic Egypt, and that he was never without it. It was his treasure. It was also one of the few familiar things Yugi had brought with him from home, so he knew Neal figured he could allow his new friend that comforting oddity. Neal did, however, grin with a mild tease of his own as Yugi buckled the second belt around his waist. "Never without those, either, huh?"

"Those," of course, were his Duel Monsters cards in their deck case on the belt. "Eh . . . yup. I guess I just don't feel right without them," Yugi murmured sheepishly. He adjusted the case to ride his right hip, tugging the vest down in place over it.

Neal was more into video games and tabletop role-playing, but he knew Yugi's reputation as a trading-card gamer all the same, had even seen him on television during Kaiba Corp's Battle City tournament. He shook his head again with a laugh. "Sure, Yugi. I understand." He glanced behind him at the computer screen, reading the numbers in the lower right-hand corner. "Ooh, almost time. Well, ya got any other questions?"

Yugi fiddled with his wristwatch, noting the LED digits "6:20p" on the black-and-silver face, and tried to remember all the things Neal had told him that an American gentleman did for a lady.

-"Ladies first,"- Yami reminded him. -Open a car door or building door for the ladies . . . Offer to push her chair in . . . Compliment her on her dress . . .-

-What? Were you taking notes for me?- Yugi laughed, suppressing an audible chuckle even as he allowed himself a glance at his ethereal friend.

-I won't help you with your schoolwork, Aibou, because you need to learn that on your own. This, however . . . - Yami shrugged with a grin.

Yugi gave him a silent mock-groan, then shook his head at Neal. "No, I don't think I do. Thank you, Neal-kun."

"All right, well – ah, crap! Never called the restaurant to make a reservation. See ya downstairs." Neal darted out the door.

Yugi turned to check his appearance one last time in the mirrors on the sliding closet doors just as Mrs. Carrington knocked softly on the doorjamb for his attention. "Yugi?"

"Hai, Mom-san?"

Alyssa Carrington smiled at her houseguest, tickled by the title he had chosen to call her. "You look very handsome, Yugi. I should get a picture to send back to your mom and granddad." Chuckling at the puzzled expression he must have had come to his face, she explained, "Well, perhaps that's not your custom, but American mothers are funny about that. I know – we'll wait until your date gets here and get a picture of you together," she added with a wink.

My . . . date . . . ? "Eh . . . Haha to Jii-chan would like that, I think." Yugi chuckled self-consciously, also knowing that it amused Mrs. Carrington to hear him call his mother and grandfather by their Japanese titles. He decided not to bother correcting his host mother, having already failed to convince Neal's little brother otherwise.

"Where is Neal?"

"He's downstairs, making a reservation for Andrea and him."

"For himself . . . and Andrea," Mrs. Carrington corrected mildly.

"For himself and Andrea." Yugi nodded, slowly repeating the phrase to better remember it. "Thank you."

Mrs. Carrington smiled. Yugi had learned right away that, as an attorney, she knew the importance of proper speech and demanded it from her boys – even foreign, half-adopted ones. "So . . . Krystal? – should be here in a few minutes. Did you remember to tell her to turn at the second Schooner Drive, not the first?"

Yugi choked. He had not remembered to give her any directions at all.

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"Okay, Krystal, where does this Yugi live?"

"Here," Krystal replied, offering a computer printout as she and her mother climbed into the car. Krystal had looked up the Carrington's address in the directory and used a handy website, MapquestDotCom, to get directions.

Her mother accepted the sheet of paper and looked it over. "All right, I know where this is." She started the car and pulled out of the driveway. As they rode along, Mrs. Erikson asked, "So how do you know Yugi? Is she in one of your classes, or what?"

Krystal choked. "He is in my English class, and has a locker near mine." She groaned at having to stress the gender of the pronoun.

"Oh." Her mom glanced at her sidelong and commented almost playfully, "You didn't tell me you had a date!"

"Nonono, I invited him along with my group of friends."

Her mom paused for a moment, then asked, "Aren't your friends all girls?"

". . . yeah. . ."

"Um . . . don't you think Yugi will feel a bit uncomfortable?" Mrs. Erikson pointed out.

Krystal considered it. "Come to think of it, he probably will . . . but I don't think he would go at all if I hadn't asked him to come with us. He's kinda shy . . . I only know him because he's in my English class." She had started to ramble. "He's a Junior, but he's in my English class because . . . oh, don't tell me I didn't tell you about the Japanese exchange student!"

"No, this is news to me."

"Yeah . . . well . . . that's him."

"Okay. That's cool." Mrs. Erikson smiled. "How does he like it here?"

Krystal shrugged. "Um . . . okay, I guess. You can ask him yourself when we get there, if you want."

Her mother nodded. "Yeah, okay."

A few minutes later, they pulled up to a two-story house with brickwork on three of its four sides, the decorative window shutters and front door painted a stately black. Krystal climbed out of the car while her mother waited with the engine running. Reaching the door, she rang the bell and stepped back, admiring the tall, shaped bushes on either side of the steps.

"I've got it!" she heard a voice call from within before the door opened to reveal a young man in beige slacks and casual sports jacket, his dusky brown hair as unruly as ever. She recognized the Junior from school and thought she recalled that he spent a lot of time with the Audio-Video department. "Hi. Neal Carrington?"

"Yep. And you're Krystal Erikson?"

"Yup. Yugi ready to go?"

"Yeah, just about. Would you like to come in for a moment?"


Neal sidestepped, letting Krystal slip past into the foyer. She found herself standing at the foot of a staircase to the upper floor, at the top of which she could see a railing where one could stand and look down on the entry hall or through the great window on the second story that looked out over the lawn. Through a doorway on her right was a stately formal dining room – which she could see was likely used for anything but – while the left doorway opened into a home office. Straight ahead, past the staircase, she could see the kitchen. Suddenly, a boy of perhaps ten or twelve years of age stuck his head around the corner from said kitchen. A big grin broke across his face at the sight of the visitor, and he hollered, "Yugi! Your girlfriend's here!"

Neal growled, "Why you little – excuse me." He nodded to Krystal, then moved to take off after his little brother, who disappeared for the other end of the house, snickering. Neal pulled up short of the kitchen door before turning back to Krystal, shaking his head with a deep frown. "Sorry about that. Can I get you a drink?"

Krystal was laughing in amusement. "Nah, I'm fine – thanks."

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Yugi had heard the doorbell, followed by the voices, and raced down the hall, stopping cold at the railing before the top step. He had always had the impression of his classmate being somewhat of a – what was the word? Danny-boy? No, that was something else. Tomboy! Yes, that was it. However, she now wore a comely dress of deep red velvet that reached nearly to the floor in spite of black high-heeled shoes. A small red rose perched above her collarbones on a black ribbon around her throat. Red eye shadow and lipstick completed the ensemble. Unadorned, her straight, shoulder-length hair was simply swept back as usual over her ears on either side. He refrained from the reactionary "whoa!" and managed to recover himself. "Eh – hi, Krystal-chan!" He rushed down the stairs, paused, looked up at her, and pushed back up two steps, taking advantage of the temporary aid in height to meet her gaze eye-to-eye. Blushing slightly, he offered a quick bow. "Thank you for inviting me along with your friends."

Krystal was trying hard not to laugh, the good-natured twinkle in her eye far from mocking. "Oh, don't worry about it. It'll be fun. You ready?"

Yugi nodded enthusiastically. "Yup!"

Neal gave him a slap on the back as he hopped back down to ground level and moved to pull his boots on. "Have fun, Yugi. Andi and I'll see you later."

"Neal, Yugi, who's at the door?" Mrs. Carrington appeared at the railing of the second floor. "Ah, you must be Krystal." Krystal nodded, waving with a grin. "Pleased to meet you. Now remember – " She looked at the boys. "I want you both home by midnight. Got that?"

Neal rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Mom, no problem."

Yugi bowed. "Hai, Mom-san."

"All right. You kids have fun!" She waved one last time before disappearing again from view.

"You guys go ahead. I'll lock the door and go out through the garage."

Both Yugi and Krystal nodded as Neal pulled the door open. "Shall we go?" Krystal queried with a grin.

Yugi's cheeks flushed a little again. "Yup."

He followed Krystal across the lawn to the blue station wagon on the curb, noting the brunette woman at the steering wheel and wondering if his friend got her flaxen hair from her father. Well, I don't have my mother's hair, either, he shrugged. Krystal usurped the rear door, motioning for him to take the front seat. He hesitated, then opened the passenger door, bowing. "Good afternoon, Erikson-san . . . I mean . . . Mrs. Erikson."

He winced as he read the thought in her eyes. "San"? Ookaaay . . . "Nice to meet you, Yugi," she smiled.

Yugi suppressed a grimace at himself. "S-sorry . . . wrong language," he apologized with a weak grin, climbing in and buckling his seatbelt. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well."

"Oh, don't worry about it." Mrs. Erikson jerked a thumb over her shoulder at her daughter as she drove away from the house. "I only understand about half of what she says about anime and stuff anyways, so I'm used to it. "

Krystal laughed. "Took me ages to get her to pronounce 'Inu-Yasha' correctly."

"Yes, I kept saying 'Ini-yashu'," the woman admitted, her tone sheepish.

Yugi laughed, then gasped slightly, half-turning in his seat. "Are you an otaku, Krystal-chan?" He was much more of a puzzle-and-game fan himself, so it had not really registered but, now that he thought about it, he was fairly sure he had seen a translated copy of Fruits Basket in her bookbag about a week ago.

Krystal grinned. "You bet I am, and so's most of my circle of friends."

" . . . otaku?"

"Hey, that is great!" Yugi was grinning broadly. Maybe they would have things to talk about after all! Then, Mrs. Erikson's question registered. "Oh . . . um . . . " The concept was a bit complicated, at least among Japanese. He thought that Krystal might recognize the term only because he had heard that American fans had adopted it as well.

"Geek," Krystal laughed. "Anime geek."

". . . 'geek'?" Yugi had heard that term murmured as an insult at school in tones that gave him the impression one would not freely choose to be called such.

"Um . . . " Krystal's voice trailed off, trying to decide on a definition.

Yugi chuckled. "Heh, never mind. It's all right." Defining "geek" must be like trying to define "otaku."

Standing in the open doorway of his soul room, leaned casually against the jamb with his arms crossed, Yami could only shrug. -You've got me, Aibou.-

Krystal, too, shrugged. "Sorry . . . "

Mrs. Erikson gave a brief, wicked grin as she glanced over her shoulder at her daughter. "Geeks are sexy."

"They are?" Yugi startled, blushing as he thought he recognized the last term.

Krystal choked in mortified embarrassment. "Mom!"

Mrs. Erikson laughed. "Anyways, there's something I really want to ask you, Yugi."

"Eh, sure."

"Are you Krystal's date for tonight?"

It was Yugi's turn to choke. "Um . . . I . . . " He started to glance back but stopped himself. He did not want to indicate one way or the other, however, without knowing exactly from Krystal, not wanting to offend her by saying they were not if she thought they were. "I-I guess that would depend on how exactly that's defined . . . " He made himself remain upright rather than sink into the seat of the car, even as he could hear Krystal trying very hard not to laugh. In the back of his mind, Yami was not trying nearly as hard. "We ARE meeting with some of your friends, ne, Krystal-chan?" Yugi hoped he did not actually sound as pathetic as he feared he did.

At that, Krystal regained control of her own embarrassed mirth. "Yes, we are. We're all going as a group, Mom. I told you before."

"Oh. Okay, then, if you say so," Mrs. Erikson chuckled at her daughter, then added for both hers and Yugi's sakes, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to embarrass you."

-Yes, Mrs. Erikson, I think you did,- Yami chuckled in great amusement.

-Yami!- Yugi grinned weakly at Mrs. Erikson. "Oh . . . t-think nothing of it." He thought a moment, then asked, "A date is when it's only two people, correct?"

Krystal nodded. "Unless it's a double date, with two pairs of people. But you're the only guy, so it's not."

Yugi winced, glancing at Mrs. Erikson and wondering what she must think of him – a lone boy with a bunch of girls. Her attention was focused steadfastly forward, on the road, but he could see that she was amused.

They drove in silence for a moment, listening to the radio. Yugi watched the tidy neighborhood give way to more commercial buildings while, within, Yami tracked their progress. The spirit frowned as they turned down a street he and Yugi had not taken before, suddenly realizing that he had no idea where these strangers were taking his aibou.

Yugi was not really worried about it but decided that it was best to know. "Erm . . . so, where are we going, if it's all right to ask?"

"The Lucky Key," Krystal piped up readily. "It's where we're having dinner."

"Oh? I haven't heard of that one. What is it?"

"Chinese, I think. I've never been there – Chelsea picked where we went." Yugi could hear the shrug in Krystal's voice.

Mrs. Erikson finally surrendered to a question that had been nagging at her – he'd been reading it on her face when she glanced at him periodically. "By the way, Yugi, that's a very interesting way you're wearing your hair. Is that the style in Japan?"

Yugi self-consciously ran one hand through his thick, soft locks. "Ano, not . . . really. It just grows like this. It's one of the things I inherited from my Jii-chan . . . um, grandfather."

Krystal startled to learn that. "Really? I always thought you styled it. It's really natural?"

"Heh, yup. It sure is."

"Wow. That's pretty cool."

Yugi just grinned, noting in passing that they were skirting another neighborhood.

"Oooh, look at that!" Mrs. Erikson pointed at an upcoming street sign. "Peppermint Drive. 'I live on Peppermint Drive.' Heh, I like that. Maybe we should move there."

"Sounds good to me," Krystal agreed with a laugh.

Yugi did not catch the joke right away, the humor lost on him initially as he sifted the comments through languages. "You do? Oh! Heh . . . yup, that would be neat."

"And I like your necklace, Yugi" Mrs. Erikson put in, changing gears as she eyed the Millennium Puzzle. "What's that, the Eye of Ra? Krystal's got a necklace with something similar on it, but it's silver and way smaller."

Yugi shook his head. "Eye of Horus, according to Jii-chan."

"Ra, Horus . . . hard to keep 'em straight. Egyptian, then?"

Yugi nodded at the woman with a chuckle. "Ah, yup, they can be. And yes, it's from Egypt. Jii-chan brought it back from one of his trips when he was much younger."

Krystal sat forward in the back seat, trying to look over Yugi's shoulder. He obliged by holding up the Puzzle for her to see. "Really? That's seriously awesome."

"Maybe it's a piece of Goa'uld technology." Mrs. Erikson gave her daughter a wink of private humor.

"Be careful with that, Yugi – it might be dangerous." Krystal winked back, and her mother laughed.

Yami laughed as well. -Oh, yes, very dangerous!-

Yugi scratched the back of head. "Heh . . . yup, I'll be careful. But what is 'Goa'uld technology'?"

"It's a reference to this TV show, 'Stargate'." Krystal shrugged. "Sci-fi."

"Jack O'Neill," Mrs. Erikson murmured with a blissful grin.

"Ah." Yugi nodded, though he did not recognize the reference, nor the strange sounds "s-eye, f-eye". "It's a good show, then? American?"

"Yup." Krystal poked the back of her mother's shoulder. "Less lusting, more driving. I'd like to arrive in one piece. Sorry – she's going through her second adolescence."

"And enjoying every minute of it," Mrs. Erikson agreed, a wide grin on her face as she cast a fun wink sidelong at Yugi.

Yugi laughed, deciding that he really liked Krystal's mother. "I will have to watch this show sometime, I think."

"You should," Krystal grinned. "We've got the original movie. It's heavy in Egyptian mythology . . . Want to borrow it?"

"The TV show is based on a movie? Sure, I would like that."

"No problem. Remind me, and I'll bring it to school Monday."

Yugi was nodding enthusiastically. "Sure!" He suppressed a snicker as Yami promised to help him remember, himself more than a little interested.

With that, they turned another corner at a large intersection, then took the driveway into the shopping center on the right. A strip mall bordered the back two edges of the parking lot, opposite the street. Yugi recognized a dollar-store, a sandwich shop, a postal store, a consignment shop, a Mexican restaurant – and a Chinese-styled restaurant with "The Lucky Key" on a faux-scroll sign on the end.

Mrs. Erikson parked and Yugi followed Krystal's lead, climbing out of the car. Mrs. Erikson leaned over. "Where am I picking you guys up? The high school?" Yugi turned to Krystal to answer that.

"Yep, the parent pick-up line. You know, the place you drop me off when I miss the bus."

"Okay, yes. What time?"

"Eleven, I think."

"Mom-san . . . I mean, Mrs. Carrington wants me home by midnight," Yugi put in at the same time.

"I can do that," Mrs. Erikson assured him. "See ya! Have fun!"

Yugi offered a bow. "Thank you for the ride, Mrs. Erikson."

"You're welcome. And you're polite, too," Mrs. Erikson marveled with a warm smile.

Yugi blushed, half-glancing at Krystal to see if she seemed to think he was acting out-of-sorts.

Krystal, too, was grinning. "Wish the guys around here were half as nice."

Yugi's blush deepened – he realized that he was probably going to spend all night with a various shades of pink to his face for one reason or another – as he waved goodbye to Mrs. Erikson and turned to follow Krystal into the Lucky Key.

Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!