Warnings/notes: major hintings at Kaiba/Joey, drabble-ish shortie, bad language.

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. The song 'Radiophonic' belongs to The Pet Shop Boys and is the seventh on their album 'Nightlife'.

written at 7th january 2005, by Misura


/My mind is aching
With a feeling deep inside
That you've been staring, sending signals
Every time our paths collide/


Joey hasn't spoken to Kaiba for three days now.

That's a major victory, really, and Joey tells himself he ought to be proud of himself, since he has proven that he can lead a normal life, can ignore the part of him that likes nothing better than to snap and snarl at Kaiba.

Better yet, he can ignore -Kaiba-, simply finish the rest of his time at school without ever looking at that bastard again, and after school, they'll go their separate ways, and that will be that. Five years from today, Seto Kaiba will have been reduced to nothing more than a name.

Sure, a guy like Kaiba will probably never fully escape the media, so it's probable that Joey'll see his face on occasion, glaring at him from the cover of a magazine or from the screen of his TV, but it won't be the same. Who knows, one day he might brag about having been a class-mate of Kaiba's.

Nobody'd believe him, of course.

Ordinary people like Joey Wheeler, who finished second at Duelist Kingdom (but how many people will remember about -that-, five years in the future?), do not, in general, associate with people like Seto Kaiba, not even to engage in a bit of verbal sparring.

Whatever fantasies and dreams he may have had, about Kaiba breaking the cycle one day, or about himself doing so, none of them have come true. Perhaps it's time to accept that they never will.

Joey doesn't see the point in going on, in taking Kaiba's bait yet another time, only to be insulted and offended, never being taken seriously or accepted as an equal, since he has proven that, unlike some of the teachers and most of the other students, Joey isn't afraid of Kaiba.

Apparently, Kaiba doesn't give a damn. Not about Joey or about getting friends or about anything or anyone. Kaiba doesn't even give a damn about Kaiba, it seems, though Joey is pretty sure that he does care about that kid-brother of his.

Once, maybe, Joey believed that he could change that. He -wanted- to change it, wanted to change Kaiba into a person he could justify wanting to get closer to.

He's grown up though, and he's never been the idiot Kaiba has said him to be so often.

So ... Joey's quit. He'll go live his own life, and Kaiba can drop dead. He'll stop dreaming about Kaiba, throw away that one interview he's keeping in a drawer of his desk, with Kaiba snapping at some poor journalist, and he'll wipe the floor with Kaiba's Blue Eyes at the next Duel Monsters-tournament. (All right, maybe not the last, even if he'll sure do his best.)

And to reward himself for the past three days, which have been good, enjoyable days, Joey's gone to the park this evening, all by himself, with a big roll of cookies and every intention of eating them all to the last crumb. He figures that he deserves that, for getting a hold on his life again.

Chasing after some sort of dream, some vague ideal of getting Kaiba to become a nice, normal human, obviously can only lead to misery and disappointment. To have given up on that, to have faced and accepted reality, has undoubtedly been one of the smartest things he's ever done.

If anyone's a fool, it's Kaiba for being so insufferable.

Joey nods slowly, content with this conclusion. The first three cookies seem to vanish in the blink of an eye, though they leave a sweet taste in his mouth. The next three follow quickly.

By the time the roll's about half gone, Joey notices that he's no longer alone, that there's someone standing behind him. The remainder of the cookies in one hand, he turns around, for some reason not as surprised as he should have been to see who his visitor is.

One of the cookies is deftly picked out of the paper, and Joey watches as it's nibbled on, until it's gone. He half expects another one of his cookies to be stolen then, but instead, he's merely stared at.

It's an unsettling sensation, strangely. He'd almost say that it's even less pleasant than the other's glares, this feeling of having a person's complete and undivided attention, without any specific reason being revealed. He wants to ask why the other has come here, and how the other has found him, but, as usual, he opens his mouth a few seconds too late.

"You know," Kaiba remarks casually, finally averting his eyes, "I really don't like being ignored."

There are, Joey is sure, at least a dozen sharp and witty responses to that statement. Unfortunately, he can't think of any before Kaiba has turned on his heels and left him alone again, and Joey has no intention of running after him.

Still, the next day, he picks a fight with Kaiba again.