Money like water and sand
Warnings/notes : Seto/Joey, snippet/shortie, slightly weird/silly, slightly AU? (if Joey has a job in the anime, I haven't noticed, but ... if he does, this is an AU).
Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.
written at 25th may 2004, by Misura, in reply to a post in the livejournal-community 400words by This Girl, which offered as a subject: "A first paycheck" Edited on the 16th January 2006. Re-edited on the 24th July.
"All right, time for my favorite part of the schoolday!" Joey sprinted to the door, barely managing to dodge the teacher, who glared at him in a way that might have impressed Joey a bit more if he hadn't been living with Kaiba for the past three weeks now.
Kaiba followed, somehow keeping up with Joey without appearing the slightest bit rushed or hurried. If he privately considered Joey's way of walking a bit comparable to that of a puppy that's been promised a treat, he kept it to himself.
There were, Kaiba had discovered, limits to the amount of teasing he could put Joey through without making sure his evening would be spent doing little else than attempting to keep Joey from distracting him from his work, and since there was a deadline coming up, he prefered not to provoke Joey too much.
"Lunch-break's your favorite part of the day? Why am I not surprised?" Kaiba sneered. Dog-jokes might be off-limits for the moment, but that hardly meant he couldn't insult Joey's fondness of eating "Probably one of the few times you actually bother to stay awake."
"Hey! I was awake all during Maths and History!" Joey protested. "And Maths was really boring too. But you were just looking so cutesy, all concentrated on your note-book."
"For someone who got a D- on his last Maths-test, you allow yourself to be distracted much too easily, mutt," Kaiba snapped back. If there was one thing he regretted about his relationship with Joey, it was that it had allowed Joey to find out about Kaiba's distaste for petnames and sappiness.
Before, when they'd argued, Joey'd been unlikely to call him anything other than a bastard and a jerk, both of which were terms Kaiba could live with. He was pretty sure Joey wasn't one for romantic idiocy either, only somehow, Joey'd found out how to get under his skin.
"I got a boyfriend who's promised to tutor me," Joey shrugged. "Besides, it's not -my- fault you had to look so cutesy." Kaiba twitched. Joey grinned. "What were you reading anyway? Don't tell me it had anything to do with what Mr. Bango was saying."
"Program-code," Kaiba replied curtly.
Joey snorted. "An unintelligent series of numbers and letters got you looking like -that-?"
" 'Unintelligible'," Kaiba corrected him. "Which is only true in -your- case, since they make perfect sense to -me-. And looking like what?" If Joey'd answer 'cutesy', Kaiba'd strangle him and claim it'd been an accident afterwards. His lawyers might as well do something to earn the small fortune he was paying them.
"Like you wanted to jump someone's bones," Joey declared, staring at him accusingly. "Some days I could swear you care more about your computer and pet-projects than about me."
"Amazing. It seems even complete idiots have their moments of intelligence." Kaiba smirked. He didn't bother denying the accusation; he knew it wasn't true, and he was reasonably sure that Joey knew it as well. That was no reason to make declarations of love in public, though.
Joey muttered something under his breath, reaching with one hand to search his pockets as they entered the cafeteria.
"Could you lend me some lunch-money? I'm kind of broke," Joey asked, showing only the slightest hint of embarrassment. A small part of Kaiba was flattered at having his aid being requested so trustingly, but the bigger part of his mind was amazed at Joey's apparent assumption that Kaiba'd ever even consider lending him money, as if Kaiba was his friend, or something like that.
"Didn't you brag about having gotten yourself a job?" Kaiba inquired, opting to be diplomatic and not immediately refusing. "Doesn't it come with a salary?"
"I did! It does!" Joey appeared to take offense at Kaiba's tone. "I got my first pay-check last Friday."
"Friday, hm? And today, it's ... Tuesday." Kaiba raised one eyebrow. He was well-aware that there were few things Joey liked less than being spoken to as if he was a fool, but he felt calling Joey a mutt once was hardly a fair pay-back for Joey having called him 'cutesy' twice.
"Well, it was my first, so to celebrate it, I treated Yugi, Anzu and Honda to ice-cream. And I still owed Anzu, so I paid her back now that I had the money." Joey's mouth twisted. Kaiba concluded that Anzu might have been a bit more insistent about Joey clearing his debt than Joey himself.
"You seem to be as good at dealing with money as you are at everything else." Kaiba sighed, telling himself it was utterly stupid to feel a little disappointed about Joey not even having going through the motions of inviting Kaiba to come and have ice-cream as well. Kaiba would have said 'no', of course; there was far too much work to be done to waste time on something so frivolous as ice-cream, but still ...
"I wanted to buy you something, too, but I couldn't think of anything you'd like." Joey stared at Kaiba as if he felt it was Kaiba's fault that Joey hadn't been able to think of a good gift.
"There's nothing I want that you could afford to buy," Kaiba responded, not entirely happy with the way that sounded. He'd be damned if he said something cheesy about Joey's best present to him having been something money could never have bought him.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Joey nodded. "So then I decided to buy something for Mokuba, 'cause you care about the kid more than you care about anyone else, but, well, I guess you spoilt him rotten already."
"I don't spoil him; I'm just trying to make him happy." Kaiba stared at the queue that had formed in front of the counter and suppressed a sigh. "And what does this have to do with your reason for not having got any money left?"
"Well, nothing, I guess." Joey shrugged. "Look, just forget about it, okay? You don't want to lend me any money, fine, then I'll go and ask Yugi. No big deal."
Kaiba noticed that Joey didn't seem to be in a hurry to go looking for Yugi. Instead, it seemed that Joey expected him to change his mind, just because Joey'd threatened to get Yugi's aid if Kaiba refused him his, which revealed rather a lot about Joey's understanding (or lack thereof) of his and Kaiba's relationship.
"Bring back some coffee for me. I'll go find us an empty table." Kaiba despised having his bluff called. He intended to make sure there'd be no need for a repeating of this next week, even if he'd have to bribe Joey's boss to give him a raise, or hack into Joey's bank-account to adapt the numbers a bit. Anything was better than being reminded by Joey that Kaiba's judgment was severely clouded when it came to him.
"Thanks. I'll pay you back," Joey promised, managing to sound and look only half as smug as Kaiba knew him to feel.
"If not, I know where you live." Kaiba turned and strolled off, headed for the table that had always been his alone, in spite of being big enough for four persons.
"Very funny, Seto." Joey snorted, calculating how long it'd been since he'd last put salt into Kaiba's coffee, and regretfully deciding it was a little too soon to do it again.