Disclaimer: I do not own that line in the Author's Note from Nightmare before Christmas. I do not own the Matrix. I do not own SpongeBob SquarePants. I do not own YGO. Nor would I want to, because if I took over, I'm sure I'd make a mess of it and then no one would like it and then we wouldn't have it on ffn for us all to write about because we have no lives. And there'd be too many run-on sentences.
Author's Note: "This is Halloween, everybody make a scream, trick-or-treat till the dead of night!"
Cheers abound! (Throws confetti) Ah, one of my favorite times of the year: October, for its splendid display of colors, the cooler temperatures (summer is brutal… you hear me, summer? You are brutal!), and best of all, the free-candy block party that is HALLOWEEN! (WOO!)
And to celebrate this festive fiasco of frightening feats and treats, I have written a one-shot for a fan fiction contest. The pairings are JxS, YYxY, and maybe a few others that I can't think of right now. All I know is that this plot bunny has been mutating ever since I caught it and has now eaten all my socks and MUST BE SET FREE! So, here it is, unto all of you: my Halloween story.
Warning! OOC, which I normally don't do. Read… if you DARE! MWHAHAHAHA!
By: Angel's Nocturne
"Mokuba, for the last time, I am not going to Yugi's Halloween party."
Seto Kaiba's voice was stern and icy, like the bitter autumn wind that howled past the limousine Mokuba and he were in. They were sitting side by side in the back of the limo, as it zoomed silently down the various streets of Domino. The twilight of the late afternoon made it dark within the confines of the vehicle, so it was almost impossible to see the two figures as they sat beside one another, both of them staring straight ahead. Mokuba's raven-black hair was visible, gleaming under the streetlights' glow, while Kaiba was just a shadow, his sharp face expressing a scowl that could frighten even Frankenstein.
Mokuba sighed, noticeably frustrated. "C'mon Big Brother," he said dryly. "You know you wanna go…."
Kaiba's face remained as hard as stone. "And hang out with the geek squad? Mokuba, I'd rather shoot myself."
That wasn't completely true, but only Kaiba knew that—or so he thought. He had no intention of hanging out at Yugi Mutou's house for his wonderful little Halloween party; not when he had so much paper work to do back at his office. He reminded himself that the only reason he was in the limo with his brother was to see him off, since Yugi had invited Mokuba to attend their little gathering. Mokuba gladly accepted, and Kaiba had no real say in it—if Mokuba wanted to hang out with lesser beings than himself, then that was fine (at least now, Kaiba thought, he could have some peace and quiet as he got his work done). Things only became a problem when Mokuba decided to drag Kaiba along with him….
Mokuba jerked out of his seat, facing his brother with a wide-eyed stare. "But, Big Brother—!"
"No buts, Mokuba," Kaiba said flatly, never even turning to glance at the youth. His sapphire eyes seldom moved save to blink. "I'm not going to a party hosted by Yugi, and that's the end of it."
He refused to let Mokuba win on this one; if there was ONE thing Kaiba did not intend to do, it was go to Yugi's party. He had his few solid reasons as to why: for one, Yugi was his archrival. Or rather, Yami was his archrival, but that was another matter entirely (a matter that insisted he believed in such nonsense as alter-egos and ancient magic and all that other ridiculousness).Second, they were nerds: lower scum on the totem pole of life. Why should he be expected to spend his time in the company of people who would most likely find pleasure in telling ghost stories and trick-or-treating? Kaiba snorted—he'd rather eat his trench coat.
In any case, Kaiba was feeling an adamant desire to stay within ten feet of the Kame Game Shop. His nerves were steel, his mind made up… why, then, did his heart race when he thought of being at the same party that his love interest would be at—
Kaiba glared, silencing his own thoughts. He would not consider such a thing—surely he had better reasons than the fear of confronting his crush. Things like nervousness, sweating, his heart beating faster, and butterflies in his stomach were all expected if he dared step foot in that game store, and Kaiba dared not tackle it. Not that he was afraid or anything… it was just, a hassle. One that he didn't feel like dealing with right now.
Mokuba sighed again, crossing his arms over his chest as he slumped into the leather seat of the limousine. Looking defeated, he gnawed on his lower lip, appearing as if he were slowly calculating his next move—as Seto Kaiba's younger brother, he had also inherited stubbornness beyond his years, and a determination not to give up when presented a difficult challenge. To Kaiba the boy looked pitifully hilarious, considering he was dressed up in a Matrix costume, complete with the black sunglasses.
Finally Mokuba sat back up, straightening out his black trench coat as he did so. A small smile had curled on his tiny lips. Kaiba immediately took notice of the change in his brother, and his curiosity got the better of him as he finally broke the uneventful silence.
"… What are you smiling about?"
Mokuba turned to him, and in the darkness he could be seen grinning from ear to ear. Kaiba felt a chill tickle the back of his neck, but he refused to shiver.
"Well…" Mokuba said cheerfully, a voice that never his shaded stare, "I think I just realized how I'm going to get you to that party."
Kaiba shook his head, giving a wayward glance at his scheming brother. "Dream on, Mokuba—you know I have better things do to than waste my time at—"
"Waste your time?" Mokuba exclaimed. "Big Brother, when are you gonna have fun for once? Just once, you need to relax and take a break—"
"Mokie, I don't have time for breaks. As the CEO of KaibaCorp, it's my duty to stay on top of all our operatives and functions. I'm the president of a multi-million dollar company, and there's no room in my life for anything but my work."
All at once Kaiba wished he hadn't said those words; he wanted to pull them back, but what is said cannot be undone. He didn't truly mean that. There were things more important than work….
Like Mokuba, he reminded himself. Like my little brother. I'm working to give him the life we might not have had, had I not taken action against Gozaboro. I have no time for anything else… not even to enjoy with him the life I've given us.
He shoved down his feelings, stuffing them down before they could leave upon him an impression. This was no way for the CEO and President of KaibaCorp to act—there would be no crying, there would be no tears. There would be nothing, because emotions made you weak. They made you vulnerable.
He wished that Mokuba could understand that concept. The boy had his face in his hair, his eyes blocked from view by his sunglasses. There was silence between them, and a tension that seemed to cut the limo into two separate compartments, so that the boys were so close, yet so far apart. Kaiba could see that his brother's glove-adorned fists were clenched tightly.
"Sirs?" The window separating the driver of the limousine from the passengers slowly rolled down. With it came the voice of their driver, some nameless fellow who Kaiba had never taken the time to really become familiar with. The car trudged to a stop for a red light. "Mr. Kaiba, sir?"
"What is it?" Kaiba snapped. His eyes glanced at the rear view mirror, and he briefly met the gaze of their driver in the reflective glass. His eyes were hazel, he realized.
"Sir, we are nearing the residence of Mr. Yugi Mutou." The light turned green, and the car revved back up again, though it was as silent as a purring kitten. "We should arrive in about three minutes."
"Make it two," Kaiba retorted. The driver nodded, his eyes on the road.
"Right away, sir."
"I'll make you go." Mokuba's voice was quiet and low. Kaiba's eyes darted over to him, but the CEO barely registered the underlining feelings in his tone. "I'll make you go to Yugi's party, whether you like it or not."
"Oh?" Kaiba cocked one of his eyebrows, now slightly amused. "And how are you going to do that? I'm older than you… you can't order me around like you do our servants, Mokuba."
Mokuba lifted his head up, and took off his sunglasses. His big brown eyes stared at Kaiba, forcing the older of them to look back. He shivered—Mokuba was smiling, like a mischievous fairy about to pull a terrible prank on an unsuspecting human.
Why did Kaiba get the feeling that the human was him?
"Oh, don't worry …." Mokuba giggled. "You'll see, Big Brother…I have a plan."
The door to the Kame Game Shop opened. Yugi Mutou—dressed as the Dark Magician—was standing inside, his obsidian spikes of hair hidden beneath a pointy purple cap that stood taller than his hair did. His blonde bangs were wildly splayed around his forehead, framing his cherub face and sparkling violet eyes; he was small, but still impressive in his costume, wearing long robes of deep purple and carrying the Dark Magician's staff around with him. He stood in the doorway, looking surprised at the two people who had knocked.
"Trick or treat!" Mokuba answered cheerfully. He grinned at Yugi, and the older boy smiled too, brushing away some of his stray bangs.
"Hey Mokuba! Glad you could make it!" Yugi replied. He looked past Mokuba to see a tall shadow in a white trench coat that stood at his back. "Oh, hi Kaiba…."
Something akin to a snort came from the shadow. "Hello, Yugi." A pause, and then, "Oh, well, I guess I should be off now—"
"Seto!!" Mokuba turned around and hissed, stepping on his brother's foot sharply. The CEO grimaced, holding back a yelp of pain. Mokuba's voice was barely a whisper. "Remember our deal… if you go, I'll tell Jo—"
"SHHH!" Kaiba clamped his hand to Mokuba's mouth. From the doorway, Yugi stood still, befuddled by the event. He watched them, but it was obvious by his confusion that he couldn't hear what they were saying. "Mokuba, you can't really be serious!"
"I am!" Mokuba retorted quietly, once he had removed Kaiba's hand from his face. "I know your secret, Seto! And if you leave, I'll tell everyone that you've got a crush on—"
"Enough! I get it!" Kaiba hissed. He twisted Mokuba back around to face Yugi, and he forced the most feigned smile he could on his scowling face. It came as close to a smile as a strained grimace. "Yugi, is there any chance I can stay at your party too?"
The little Dark Magician's jaw dropped to the floor. "K-Kaiba? You want to be at my party?"
Kaiba nodded stiffly, his body moving against its will. "S-Sure… why not?" Mokuba, when we get home, there's gonna be hell to pay. I promise…!
Yugi's entire brain function seemed to shut down. He stared at them for a long time….
Then he ran into the house screaming, "OMIGOD KAIBA'S AT MY PARTY! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!"
Kaiba and Mokuba sweatdropped as they watched the Dark Magician scurry away. "Are you still gonna make me stay for this?" Kaiba asked.
Mokuba nodded dimly, as Yugi ran headlong into a wall, and then scurried into the kitchen, still screaming like a howler monkey. "… Yep."
"Make your move, Yami!"
Seto sat on the couch in Yugi's living room, watching with muted interest a play duel between Yami and Mai. The two were in costume, like almost everyone else who had come to this party: Yami as an Egyptian Pharaoh, and Mai was her favorite monster, the Harpy Lady.
They were sitting on opposite ends of the coffee table directly in front of Kaiba, so he had no choice but to observe the duel—their over-sized hairdos were blocking his view of the T.V., which had nothing good on to begin with.
"All right, Mai! Here I come!" Yami answered. A few turns later, Mai put her hands up in defeat.
"You win, big boy," Mai said flirtatiously. She batted her eyelashes at him. "Care for another round? You know I'm always ready for some action." Yami's crimson eyes looked at her apathetically, as he raised one eyebrow in mock amusement.
"I can see that," he said flatly. Mai sniffed at him, putting up her nose as she strutted out of the room, but Yami didn't appear to care. Gathering up his cards, he called out to the kitchen. "Yugi, are you still in there?"
Kaiba tried to listen past the blaring J-pop music for a sign of Yugi, as Yami waited for a response. Kaiba remembered not seeing Yugi return from the kitchen since he'd last met him at the door… Kaiba smirked. The poor midget was probably in America by now, having scrambled away so fast.
There was no answer—Yami's brow furrowed in confusion. His garnet eyes looked in the direction of the kitchen with concern, as he got up from the floor.
"Yugi!" he called again. "Are you in the kitchen? Answer me!"
"Relax, Yami," Jonouchi said. The blonde was sitting on the couch's armrest, on the opposite end that Kaiba had acquired. In the time he had been settled there, Kaiba noted that Jou wasn't in costume, instead dressed in his green jacket, white T-short, and blue jeans. The blonde's position allowed him a better view of the television and its mind-numbing programs, as he munched on a bag of potato chips. "I don't hear anymore screamin'…I bet Yug's fine by now."
Yami looked over at his friend. "Kaiba scared him pretty good…what makes you so sure?" he asked, suspicious. Jou shrugged.
"Ehh, maybe 'cause he's raiding da fridge of every beer we bought." Yami gaped at Jou. The blonde ate his chips.
"And… and you didn't think to STOP him?" Yami asked, horrified. He ran into the kitchen, and Jou yelled after him, "Yami, it ain't no big deal! A little alcohol will loosen him up!" Yami didn't respond, so Jou slumped, sinking down from his perch into the couch. He sank as the air slowly deflated from the cushion.
"So…" Jou said, his honey-brown eyes gradually staring at Kaiba. "What exactly are you doin' here, moneybags?"
Kaiba grimaced, trying to hold back a growl of annoyance. He could finally watch the TV—SpongeBob SquarePants was entertaining him from the boob tube.
"Nothing you should be aware of, mutt."
"Hey, I told ya to stop callin' me dat!"
"Tough shit. I don't care."
Jou growled, rearing up like an angry puppy ready to pounce on his prey. "Ooh, you lousy piece of—"
"JONOUCHI!" Yami's voice boomed through the entire game shop—the Pharaoh re-entered the room, dragging behind him what looked like a purple lump. It turned out to be Yugi.
"Look what you've done!" Yami complained. "You let Yugi drink, and now… and now… oh just look at him!" He turned their attention to Yugi, and they saw the poor teen as drunk as Mai's tits were massive. His eyes were heavy-lidded, but it was visible how glazed they were. The Dark Magician cap was titled off to the side, so that some of Yugi's unruly hair protruded out. He could barely stand up, instead preferring to crawl as he giggled under his breath.
Kaiba looked at him with a calm gaze, but inside he was laughing his ass off. If he'd only known that scaring the shit out of the pitiable thing would make him drink till he puked… he could have had some real fun with that years ago. Yugi obviously couldn't hold his liquor, because as far as Kaiba recalled Honda complained earlier that there were only three cans of beer in the fridge. Maybe Yugi had already gotten to the others… Kaiba didn't care, though, instead just focused on enjoying Yugi at his most pathetic.
Jou tried appearing calm and collected as well. He ended up stifling peals of uncontrollable laughter without success. "Y-Yami…" he stammered, covering his mouth in an effort to hold back his giddiness. "I—I think… I think Yugi looks f-fine…!"
"Are you insane?" Yami said. "He's about as wasted as… as wasted as… well, he's just wasted. Completely, utterly wasted." Yami pulled his hikari up to his feet, and the youth wobbled on them, trying to stay balanced. He moaned as he leaned against Yami, red-faced. "And now we're out of beer, too. Yugi drank the last can—somebody needs to go out and buy some more."
"Okay," Jou replied dully, turning his attention away from Yami and back to the moving screen. A talking pink starfish had just made its appearance as Jou added, "Get back soon."
Yami rolled his eyes, before leaning over and smacking Jou in the head. The blonde yelped.
"Jonouchi, I can't go!" Yami hissed. "I have to take care of Yugi. Being this drunk, I don't know if it's safe to leave him alone… and I don't intend to leave him with you." He glared at the blonde, and Jou stuck out his tongue. "You're a hazard."
Jou shrugged. "Well then, who's gonna go?" he asked. "Why don't ya send Honda and Otogi to—"
"Honda and Otogi went to get donuts, remember?" Yami retorted. "They won't be back for another fifteen minutes… maybe longer, if they choose to detour." The two friends nodded in secret agreement, while Kaiba just zoned out in front of the television, trying desperately to block them out. He really didn't wish to know what Honda and Otogi chose to do when they were alone….
"So, who's goin'?" Jou asked again. "Mai's not gonna do it, and Mokuba's too young." He groaned. "Where's Anzu at a time like dis? She'd do it!"
"I severely doubt that," Yami corrected, still supporting Yugi as his light groped his shoulder feebly. "She's against drinking… hence why she's at Ryou's party, not ours."
"Figures." Jou propped his dirty sneakers on the coffee table, still devouring his chips. Yami watched the blonde calmly, but as Kaiba glanced over at him, he noticed that the Pharaoh's eye was twitching. "Well, somebody's gotta go get more beer! This party's dead as it is!" He glanced lazily over at the silent brunette who sat beside him. "What 'bout you, moneybags? You wanna go get the beer?"
Kaiba didn't even look at Jonouchi. He snorted, his eyes glued to the TV screen. As if, mutt. There is no way in Hell that I, Seto Kaiba, am going to get your stupid—
"He'll do it!" Mokuba's voice rang through the room. All three sober heads turned to see the younger boy enter the room, and Yugi barely moved save to nuzzle into Yami, humming in dizzy delight. He drooled a little on the Pharaoh's gold-clad arm. "Seto can go get the beer! Isn't that right, Seto?"
"Mokuba, wha—?" Kaiba opened his mouth to protest, but saw the look Mokuba was giving him. It was "the look"—the sign that if Kaiba didn't do what was asked of him, Mokuba would turn loose-lipped on him and blab away his secret. Kaiba swallowed back down his words with reluctance; since when did Mokuba manage to get such power over him?
Yami turned to the CEO. "What was that, Kaiba?"
"Hmm? Oh, um, nothing." Curse you, Mokuba, curse you. "I'll go get the beer."
"Great," Yami said. "Thanks, Kaiba." His eyes darted between the two brothers, catching the awkward feeling that passed between them. "… I think."
"Alright, hit da road, rich boy!" Jou encouraged, as Kaiba stiffly got off the couch and dragged himself begrudgingly towards the door. "I know ya got enough money ta get a few six-packs… I'll pay ya when ya get back, 'kay?"
"Am I supposed to walk?" Kaiba asked drearily. He could feel Mokuba's big eyes boring holes into his skull, and he instinctively rubbed the back of his head to relieve the phantom sting. "My limo left, and won't return till later—"
"It's the Takahashi Spirits store," Jou answered. He ate a few more potato chips. "It's a couple blocks away… maybe ten minutes to and back, if ya take da special secret way."
Kaiba half-turned, not truly interested. "The 'special secret way'?" What the hell is he blabberin' about? Mokuba, why are you trying to KILL ME?
Jou nodded, still staring at the TV. "Yeah, through da cemetery. Me and Yug found it on our first trip ta get him some bo—" The blonde felt Yami's gaze on him, listening intently. "Ah, boots! Yeah, when we got Yugi some boots! We cut through da graveyard, made it back in nearly half da time it takes da normal way."
"Really?" Mokuba asked, now standing over the back of the couch. He looked at the television screen with Jou as the blonde munched his chips noisily. Kaiba could hear that sound grinding through his brain… as his eyes started looking at the door with weary longing, he heard his brother add, "Hey Jou, if you know the short-cut so well, why don't ya go with my Big Brother and help him out?"
… WHAT? Kaiba bit back a gasp. Mokuba, you crazy little bastard—
"Wah?" Jou exclaimed. Apparently that woke him up too. "Hey, I don't wanna go with moneybags over 'dere!" Kaiba sighed. At least someone else here was sane. Still, why did the thought of Jou rejecting him make him feel so… empty? "What are ya pullin' at here, Mokuba?"
"Well, you know the way…" Mokuba said shyly. "And my Big Brother can't carry all those six-packs by himself. And what if…." The boy leaned over to whisper something in Jonouchi's ear. Kaiba strained to hear it, but was unable to. Was he giving away Kaiba's secret to get Jou to go with him?
Before Kaiba could think to answer that thought himself, Jou literally jumped off the couch and stalked towards the brunette. Kaiba froze—what was the mutt about to do?
"Thanks for understanding, Jonouchi!" Mokuba called to the blonde's back. Jou walked right past Kaiba, leaving the CEO standing alone, confused. What had just happened? He could hear Jou opening the door to Yugi's house, the hinges creaking with the movement.
"…Well?" Kaiba turned to see Jou waiting for him at the door. He had a look on his face that was unreadable. "Ya comin', rich boy? I ain't waiting all night—'dere's beers ta get!"
Kaiba roused himself out of the shock from before. He leered at Mokuba, who only winked at him. That miserable little elf. Had he planned to have Kaiba alone with Jonouchi all this time? Kaiba could barely assemble his thoughts of brotherly revenge, however, as he trudged his way over to the open door and Jonouchi. The blonde gave a feigned grin, before the two of them headed outside.
Yami called out to them. "Get back in one piece!"
"And don't forget the beer!" Mokuba added. Kaiba's incoherent grumbles and Jou's cheerful, "Hey, I got it, I got it!" followed, before the door closed with a click.
Yami looked at Mokuba. Mokuba looked at Yami. They paused there, as Yugi moaned a little, his flushed cheeks looking purple against Yami's white tunic.
Yami cocked an eyebrow. "… Mokuba, what's going on?" His manner referred to Kaiba and Jou. Mokuba shrugged.
"Dunno." He pointed down at Yugi. "Umm, Yami?"
"I'm not sure, but is your costume supposed to have yellow slime running down it?" Confused, Yami followed Mokuba's gaze to his tunic. His eyes went wide as he nearly dropped Yugi.
"Argh! Son of a—!" Yami stopped himself. He tried to take in a deep breath… without smelling the stench of the vomit. "Mokuba, go get some paper towels. Wet them. NOW." As the younger Kaiba ran off to do as he was bid, Yami sighed, gripping Yugi loosely in his arms.
Something told him that when things were all said and done, he was really going to want those beers.
Kaiba wished that things didn't have to be this way.
When they were together—Kaiba alone, and him with his friends—the brunette CEO didn't feel anything other than the desire to gag when Anzu or Yugi started going on and on about friendship. He was cold, like stone, unmoving and unfeeling. His emotions were in his grasp and his heart nothing beyond his control. And all the while, he would act like a fool, being his normal ridiculous self; displaying with pride the fact that his head really was empty—or probably full of straw, at best—and that Kaiba was way above his league. The distance between them was miles, a sea too far to travel.
But when he smiled that goofy grin, flashing it in Kaiba's direction, the icy insides that Kaiba called his own melted into a puddle that he could barely contain. When he grinned like that, there was something beyond the empty-headedness that was his normal appearance. There was a warmth, a depth, a place that Kaiba could not uncover. A mystery he could not decipher. It was something that challenged Kaiba, baffled him. It made the CEO want to know so much more. To reveal the unknown parts… of Jonouchi Katsuya's heart.
Kaiba wondered how it was that, when they talked among Jou's friends, he could feel so coldly to the blonde. He tormented him, rivaled him, smashed him into the ground like all the rest of the slime. Inside Kaiba felt no different than he ever had before, and yet, a part of him desired to release itself and show Kaiba what he had been missing all along. When they were alone—which was a seldom occurrence—Kaiba did not have those same barriers. His heart throbbed, he felt warm, and his skin prickled with the knowledge of his interest standing right beside him, right in his reach, but not quite there. The CEO within him wanted to barricade the feeling parts of his heart—to tell them that feeling was for the weak, and to feel would make you vulnerable. But… he could no longer help himself. He was long past that stage. Now he would only ride the waves that took him to the shore of desire, and he would wait, abide his time… maybe someday, he would reach those shores, alive, and in one piece.
If only he knew how to break through the mask that he had created for himself.
These were his thoughts as he walked beside Jonouchi through the dark streets of Domino City. He could hear Jou talking, saying something random about the weather, but Kaiba had drowned him out, lost in the sorting of his confused heart. Children dressed in Halloween costumes ran past them, their faces joyous as they heaved giant pillowcases full of candy around with them. The wind howled a little, sending up leaves that danced under the light of the streetlamps—the icy chill bit into Kaiba's body, despite the heavy cloth that his white trench coat was made of. He instinctively wrapped his arms around himself, and he could see that Jou had his arms crossed across his own chest as well—that small green jacket of his couldn't be keeping him warm at all, if Kaiba was cold in his heavy trench coat. The sound of cars zooming past and people about made the atmosphere a comfortable one. It made the darkness a little less oppressive.
Had Mokuba really planned to get the two of them all alone, in the dark, with extra privacy? Kaiba hoped not—he prayed that it had only been an odd twist of fate that things happened this way. Otherwise he would have to kill him. But, Kaiba thought, what good would any of this do for him? Kaiba was the CEO and president of a company—he had power and money, all at his command.
To think, even with all that—the power, the money, the fame—he was still empty. He was still a robot, moving and working at the whim of his corporation. It had taken him a while, but Kaiba now knew the horrible truth: he was not in control of the company. The company was in control of him, his life, and his heart. It had control over his feelings… and the feeling he wanted to command the most, was friendship… or, going further, in growing passion, maybe even—
"Kaiba?" The CEO could hear Jou's persistent voice in his ear. "Yoo hoo! Earth ta Kaiba!" A pale hand waved itself in front of Kaiba's face. Kaiba gave a start, even though it was only Jou's hand. "Geez, what's with ya, rich boy? Halloween givin' ya the chills?"
Kaiba grimaced. "No, but this weather is. It's fucking freezing." He adjusted his trench coat, wrapping it closer around him. "And what were you implying? That I might be afraid of Halloween?"
Jou shrugged his shoulders. "Ah, well, hey—anything's possible." Kaiba snorted in disbelieve.
"Not with me. Only the weak feel fear," Kaiba said defensively. His cobalt eyes looked at Jou carefully. "I guess you're shivering with terror then, eh, mutt?"
"Huh?" Jou rubbed his arms. "Naw, I'm just cold too." They kept walking, now in silence, as the streets grew quieter and the air colder. Some of the streetlights were busted, leaving the alleys in total darkness. Only the three-quarter moon gave light over them, and for the most part the celestial body was covered with passing clouds.
Jou coughed lightly, covering his mouth. "Hey, moneybags?"
"Y'know what I've heard?" Kaiba sighed—somehow he was sure he really didn't want to know.
"I'm guessing you're going to tell me anyway…."
"You ever hear da ghost stories—about da ol' cemetery?" Kaiba didn't respond, but Jou continued anyway. "Well, I used to hear, when I was younger, dat the place was haunted. The story goes dat a few hundred years ago, 'dere was this guy and girl. And they was in love—but the girl's father didn't like the guy. He had the guy killed, so dat his daughter couldn't marry him. The girl was so upset, she called evil spirits to attack her father, and then to bring back her dead lover. But the spirits were evil, and they turned on her and destroyed da whole village! Killed a lot of people, too. Only a few escaped ta tell the tale." A wind howled by, as if echoing the story's words. "And ya'know what they say? Dat to this day, the evil spirits and the ghosts of da murdered villagers still walk around dat 'dere graveyard and you can see 'em, every Halloween night. 'Course, it's only a story and all, but I heard a few kids say dat they saw da ghosts, moaning and wandering, and da evil spirits, in da form of wolves, prowlin' around, lookin' for more people ta kill." Jou looked at Kaiba questioningly. "So, what'd'ya think?"
"The same thing I always think. You're a loon." Kaiba slid his hands in his pockets, trying to keep them warm. "You and your little dorky friends all are, for believing such nonsense about ghosts and evil spirits."
"Get over yourself, moneybags," Jou replied. Then with a grin he added, "The ghosts always get the non-believers first."
"… Shut up."
They continued trudging forward. As they got closer and closer to the Domino City Graveyard, Kaiba began to notice the few subtle changes around them. The air became an icy bite instead of the autumn chill it had once been. The area was quiet, the only noise made by their own shuffling feet and the howling of a nearby dog or two. The trees were barren, swaying their branches in the air like skeletal limbs. There were hardly any streetlights now, and the houses and apartments looked run-down and disheveled.
Kaiba knew he wasn't afraid of anything. Still, the new atmosphere caused him to wonder if coming this way had been the safest decision….
"It's down dis way." Kaiba saw Jou walk down an alley to their right, and the CEO reluctantly followed. They moved in darkness for a long while, as if the buildings extended for miles. Finally they reemerged at the opposite end, which opened up a small path that led into the Domino Graveyard.
Kaiba looked over the land. Bathed in the light of the moon, it seemed a desolate place—trees like twisted sticks were everywhere, like enchanted sentinels standing guard. The gravestones dotted the rolling fields of green, now gray in the moonlight—it seemed to go on forever and ever, the skyline only showing hints that a city surrounded the perimeter.
Everything was silent—even the grass dared not hiss in the wind, as if holding its breath for something to come. Not even realizing it, the two teens tip-toed their way into the graveyard, starting their journey past weathered tombstones and almost-dead trees. A cloud moved past the moon, casting shadows over the field. A cat yowled somewhere in the alley behind them.
Kaiba gritted his teeth. "You better get us in and out of here quickly, mutt boy."
"Hey, no sweat!" Jou whispered back. "I know dis place like the back of my hand!"
20 minutes later….
"Well, mutt, I guess you don't know the back of your hand very well," Kaiba snapped as he lightly kicked a giant headstone. They had been wandering the area for what felt like hours, taking turns this way and that, Jou leading as if he knew where he was going. Somewhere along the way they made a wrong turn, and it was too dark for the two to see their way out. They were in the middle of the cemetery, now too tired to do much of anything else. The blonde growled a few feet away, his head in his hands.
"Argh! I can't believe we're lost!" Jou complained. The wind whistled about, cooing to the weary travelers. It wasn't much of a comfort. Jou sighed. "I guess things could be worse—"
"Don't say that!" Kaiba hissed, noticing that his breath came out in giant misty puffs. He sat down against the headstone he just kicked, resting his chin on his hand. "Things always get worse when people say that…."Jou perked up—his honey-brown eyes looked at Kaiba, incredulous. Kaiba noticed, and he bared his teeth in discomfort. "What is it?"
"I thought you didn't believe in superstition," Jou replied. Kaiba rolled his eyes.
"I don't," he answered curtly. "That's just common knowledge." Kaiba's eyes felt tired—they were worn from the icy wind lashing into them after so long. His vision was hazy as his eyes watered, and when Kaiba blinked to rid himself of the feeling, a burning sensation was left in its place. His feet ached a little from all the walking, and his body was nearly numb from the cold—so badly did Kaiba feel the need to simply sit there and fall asleep, hoping to wake up in someplace at least warmer. He refused—if he fell asleep, something bad could happen. He had to remain on guard at all costs.
Kaiba could hear Jou slump down close by. Barely opening his eyes the CEO spied the blonde leaning against the headstone neighboring him, his back against the cool granite stone as his legs sprawled out beneath him. Kaiba could hear him sigh, but the sound was barely loud enough to be heard over the howling of the wind.
"So," Kaiba said glumly, "what do we do now?" The nipping cold and achy limbs made Kaiba tired—so much so that his usual petulance had been mollified to a dull roar.
"Dunno," Jou answered. "Just wait till morning, I guess." He shifted where he sat, making a hiss of cloth against granite. "Hey, does your phone have any service now?"
"Hold on." Kaiba fumbled with his trench coat pockets, his numb fingers feebly clutching the small cellular device. Removing it, Kaiba checked his phone; for the millionth time, it read "No Service". Kaiba groaned and slid it back into his pocket. "No dice—I still can't get a signal."
Jou swore. "Morning it is, then," he answered.
"I think we freeze to death before then, mutt," Kaiba replied, feeling touchy as another sharp wind lashed out at him, slicing into his cold body mercilessly.
"Then what do you propose, Mr. I-Know-Everything?" Jou retorted. He sounded just as tired and short-tempered as Kaiba felt. "Ya wanna keep lookin'? Den go do dat. When you get lost, and you're freezin' your ass off, all by yourself, don't come cryin' to me."
"Keh… wouldn't dream of it," Kaiba responded. "It's not like we won't freeze our asses off anyways."
They said nothing to each other for a few moments. Kaiba's senses were lulled away by the screeching song of the trees and the dark shadows cast by the gray moonlight. The cold sank into his bones—he tried to ignore it, but like a thick goo the feeling of ice would not melt away. It was similar to the barrier around Kaiba's heart—only that was self-made, and not even Kaiba would stand to remove it. The cold had become a part of who he was… a part that he could no longer deny.
The quiet was destroyed by Jou's warm voice. "Hey, aren't you supposed ta not be here?"
"Hmm?" Kaiba asked. "Say that again?"
"I said, why haven't you left yet? I thought you said you were goin' to keep lookin' for a way out."
"I did say that."
"Den… why you still here, rich boy?" Jou asked.
"Look, I'll leave when I want to leave, okay mutt?" Kaiba snapped before he even realized what he had said. He didn't mean to sound so irritated—not to Jou, not right now. Even if the mutt was annoying the crap out of him.
There was an uneasy silence; tension choked the air like the bitter temperatures. Kaiba adjusted his trench coat, gnawing on his lower lip as he considered what other options the two of them might have.
Jou snorted audibly, but it sounded more like a sigh. "Hey, why'd ya have ta be like that? Eh, rich boy?" In a lower voice he mumbled, to himself, "Ya can't blame a guy for askin' questions…."
Kaiba chuckled hoarsely, having heard him. "Actually," Kaiba answered, "I can."
"KAIBA…!" Jou growled. The CEO cocked an eyebrow—couldn't Jonouchi take a joke? Perhaps, coming from the CEO's lips, one can never be so sure. He listened calmly to Jou's growing rage. "Y'know what, Kaiba? 'Dere's somethin' I've been meanin' ta tell ya, and I think it's time ya heard it! I—"
Something moved beyond the tombstones, several feet away. The leaves crunched awkwardly, like someone—or something—was crawling nearby. Jou stopped in mid-sentence, and Kaiba held his breath.
"Did… did ya hear dat?" Jou asked quietly.
Skitter-skitter. This time the sound was closer, louder. Kaiba's cobalt eyes darted left and right, searching for whatever it was that was causing the noise. Nothing seemed out of place amongst the dancing shadows and headstones.
"'Dere it is again!" Jou hissed. Kaiba could see him, now on his feet and crouched in front of his gravestone. Kaiba didn't strain to look at him otherwise—he barely made any attempt to move himself, but the fear of the unknown made the hair on the back of his neck stand on edge. His whole body felt rigid.
"It's probably nothing," Kaiba assured him. "Just the wind, moving the leaves." He knew he didn't believe that—the wind couldn't make noises like what he had heard.
Jou shook his head. "Dat ain't no wind, Kaiba." Apparently he didn't trust Kaiba's words either. "'Dere's someone out 'dere… but I don't see anybody."
Finally Kaiba's curiosity got the better of him—stiffly he got onto his knees, then to his feet as he tried to bring some feeling back into his limbs. He peered through the moonlit darkness, but saw nothing other than the shadows the headstones cast. The trees swayed, but nothing else moved.
Jou was right—no one else was out there. But then, what had made those movements?
Maybe I imagined it, Kaiba thought. He shook his head. No, the mutt heard it too. So it can't be coincidence that we both heard the same noise.
"We should go check it out," Jou whispered. He stood up to stand beside Kaiba. "Y'know, to see if it's one of them hobos or somethin'. Maybe it's just a homeless dude, or a stray dog, or… something."
Kaiba nodded absently—why did this situation seem so cliché? It reminded him of Jou's story, about the evil spirits and the dead villagers—could it be that the story was real, and the ancient spirits were still walking the cemetery on Halloween?
Get a hold of yourself! Kaiba chided. There is no such thing as magic and spirits—it's all in your head. There has to be a logical explanation to whatever's near us…and knowing Jou, we're probably going to find out what.
"Maybe," Jou said distantly, repeating Kaiba's previous thoughts like an echo, "maybe, da ghosts from years ago are here, and they're coming to claim our souls—"
"Put a lid on it, mutt." Kaiba carefully walked a few steps forward, his eyes looking for any sign of movement. Jou stood behind him, and Kaiba could hear his ragged breathing. "Look: I don't know what's going on, but I'm going to show you that there are no evil spirits involved. Spirits don't exist."
"What about Yami?" Jou replied dryly behind him. "And Bakura, and Marik? They're spirits." Kaiba sighed.
"Well, they are, but… argh, forget it, that's not the point." He stepped forward a little more, the leaves under his feet crackling with his weight. The wind whispered lightly in his ear. His breathing came in slowly and controlled. "What I'm trying to say is, if there's something out there—which I highly doubt there is—it probably has nothing to do with evil spirits or villagers' ghosts. Maybe Hell will freeze over and you'll be right; maybe it is a stray cat or something. Whatever the case, there's no reason for us to be afra—"
Swoosh! Kaiba's eyes caught sight of a shadow, as it zipped behind a tombstone a few feet away.
"What the—?" Kaiba looked around, trying to find the shadow. All his eyes were met with was darkness, as the moon's light was blocked by the cloudy heavens. Leaves rustled in all directions. "…Where did—?"
"Dere it is!" Jou shouted—Kaiba looked to their right to see the same shadow dart between headstones again, this time a bit closer. The leaves crunched underneath it as it ran, giving away its presence. Kaiba watched it, feeling goose bumps on his skin.
"What the hell is it?" Kaiba hissed.
"I dunno," Jou responded in a slightly-unnerved whisper. "But I know it ain't no homeless dude, that's for sure—"
"Shhh!" Kaiba commanded. He strained to hear for any indicator of the shadow. There was nothing—what was that shadow? Kaiba grimaced—why did he get the feeling that the two of them were being watched? His heart raced, adrenaline pumping through his veins and his skin prickling as feeling returned in his arms and legs. He waited, tense—what the hell was going on?
Kaiba hoped he was right about the spirits.
"Okay, mutt," Kaiba said over his shoulder. He knew Jou could hear him, even through a whisper, because the air was thick with silence otherwise. "I don't know what exactly that thing is, but I doubt we have anything to fear." Stray cat, stray cat, oh PLEASE just let it be a stray cat! "I don't think we need to run. It'll probably leave us alone if we stay put. And before you say anything, it looked too small to be a fuckin' wolf ghost—"
Kaiba wheeled around. "… Jou?"
He was expecting to see the blonde, looking at him with his mouth half open in protest. But there was no one—Jonouchi had vanished.
Kaiba's eyes went wide. He froze, listening, waiting for a sign of the mutt or the shadow. He got no response.
"Jonouchi?" Kaiba snarled. "Jonouchi, I'm not playing games here—where are you?" Quickly Kaiba checked behind the tombstones near him, and studied the yarrow tree that could have been a hiding place. The blonde was nowhere to be found. Kaiba started to feel panicked.
"Jonouchi!" He looked around wildly, every noise making him jump. His nerves were on edge, his breaths fleeting and quick. Why was he so scared? The mutt was just trying to trick him. "Jonouchi, if you don't show your fucking face, I'm going to kick your ass so hard that you won't be able to sit for a week!"
The threat was met unanswered. Jou had truly gone; had he abandoned Kaiba out of fear? Run away because he was scared of the shadow?
Probably… he's such a chicken shit. Kaiba chuckled nervously. But… I'm sure I would have heard him running… no, the ghost didn't get him. There's no such thing as ghosts—how could he…? Kaiba didn't want to admit it—he was alone now. Alone, once in the company of his crush. Now abandoned, about to be eaten by the mysterious ghost shadow—
For the last time, there are no GHOSTS! Kaiba paced, his face in a scowl. There's no such thing as ghosts! There's no such thing as magic! There's no such—
Footsteps. Movement. Close by. Kaiba's eyes caught a bit of a shadow, hiding behind a tree.
Then it vanished.
He paced again, this time shivering a bit. No ghosts! No ghosts! They're not real, just stories, just stories. Only stupid people believe in ghosts—
Kaiba whipped around. He thought he had heard someone laughing. He listened, but all he heard was the ringing in his ears. He looked, but he saw only the cemetery.
He growled, agitated. "Show yourself, you bastard!" There was no answer. There was no one to answer.
Kaiba was on the verge of soiling himself. Was this Jou's attempt at giving Kaiba a scare on Halloween? It was a pretty good try, Kaiba had to admit, but it would be the last thing he did once Kaiba found him. Yet, how could Jou have caused the shadow? How could he have made the rustling noises?
He had looked just as scared as Kaiba had. It couldn't have been him, Kaiba realized. He was innocent. But then, if it wasn't Jou, what was really stalking about the cemetery?
"I can't believe this shit," Kaiba said under his breath. "When I find Mokuba, I'm going to kill him for ever putting me to this! I don't even know how he found out about my feelings for—" He stopped. Something was walking up behind him; Kaiba wheeled around, eyes blazing.
"Who's there?" he shouted. The wind howled, answering his calls, but like before, there was no one behind him. Kaiba stomped the ground with his foot, cursing.
"And now I've lost Jonouchi," he mumbled. His eyes were shifty, still looking for the mysterious shadow, in case it attacked. "I'm alone, in some fucking cemetery, fucking cold, fucking annoyed out of my mind! I'm probably seeing things, going insane… I bet there's not really a shadow! It's just dark! Everything's fi—HOLY SHIT!!" Kaiba grasped his chest, his heart pounding. A dog had yowled in the distance, making Kaiba jump out of his skin. He cursed colorfully, because he nearly wet himself in fear.
Actually, he did wet himself… it just took him a few moments to realize it. When he did….
"Oh my God…" he breathed in terror. "Did I just—? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?" Kaiba started screaming… and screaming, and screaming.
Something inside him had… snapped. Maybe it was too much stress from work, or maybe it was the fact that he almost pissed his pants over a dog barking. Maybe it was taking him a while to realize that he liked looking at male models over the Playboy bunnies. Whatever the case, Kaiba completely broke down, to the point where—when he finally shut up—he sat down, curled into a ball, and rocked back in forth against a tombstone. He didn't even realize what he was doing—the lights were on, but no one was home.
"There's no such thing as ghosts," he mumbled to himself. His eyes were glazed, and he was shaking. "There's no such thing as ghosts; there's no such thing as ghosts; there's no such thing as—"
A hand tapped him on the shoulder. "Kaiba?"
"AHHHHHHHHHH! DON'T EAT MY SOUL!!"
Jou looked down at Kaiba, completely bewildered. "Uh… Kaiba?"
Pause. The CEO stopped screaming, coming back to his senses. His mental breakdown ending, he saw that Jonouchi was standing over him, looking down with concern.
Kaiba glowered at his companion, but inside he was suddenly jubilant. Jonouchi was safe! The ghosts hadn't eaten him!
Jou watched Kaiba, looking at him intently, before chuckling to himself. Kaiba was puzzled—why was he laughing?
"Woo…" Jou said, smiling sheepishly. "Man, if I had known you couldn't take a prank like that I never would have left ya."
Kaiba listened carefully, trying to understand what Jou had said. Then he glared at him.
"… What?" he asked.
Jou started laughing a little louder. "Oh, dude, you didn't know…."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Kaiba asked. Jou couldn't help it—he cackled, wiping his eyes as they started to tear up. Kaiba only watched him, his anger beginning to boil.
The blonde calmed himself, his peels of laughter soft and amused. "Oh, dude… when you started going all commando, I ran behind dat tree over 'dere and ditched ya!" Jou pointed over to a smaller tree that was a little farther in distance than the yarrow tree, but still close enough for him to sneak over to. He tried desperately to suppress his chuckles. "You didn't even see me! I was gone before you even noticed!"
Kaiba's eyes stared daggers into the blonde. "Jonouchi…." The mutt choked back his roll with laughter.
"Wh-What, Kaiba? Can't take a joke?"
A cricket chirped somewhere in the distance.
Kaiba sprang up from the ground, grabbing Jou by the collar of his shirt. "You stupid little bastard! You blonde-haired piece of dog shit—do you know what you just put me through? You fucking scared the hell out of me! I had no idea what happened to you, and you were gone, and there were noises and shadows and crap and—"
"Oh, sorry," Jou choked out. "The giggles were from me."
Kaiba continued, the words pouring out of his mouth in an endless flow. "Did you plan this whole thing out? Lead me here just to put me through that—that—prank? Does everyone know about this? Does Mokuba know about this? Did he plan it? It sounds like something he might do… I swear to mother fucking God if Mokuba put you up to this I am going to stuff him in a trash can until he' forty and as for you I will beat the Hell out of you! How dare you? For once in my entire life I actually get to spend some time with you and here you go screwing it up just like every other mother fucking time like it's really all that simple—you insolent bastard, can't you see I love you? You uncaring, ungrateful self-centered—"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold the phone!" Jou interrupted. Kaiba narrowed his gaze.
"What?" he snapped.
"Did you… did you just say dat you love me?"
Kaiba froze. His cheeks flushed bright pink. … Oh snap.
"You did, didn't you?" Jou asked.
From pink to dark red. For once in your damn life just play stupid, you meddling mutt—
"Kaiba?" Jou's voice beckoned Kaiba to look at the blonde closely. "Would it be any help ta you if, I said I kinda… liked you too?"
Kaiba snorted. "Look, I don't wanna hear your complaints…" he held his tongue. "Wait; can you repeat what you just said?" Now it was Jou's turn to blush.
"… No." Kaiba rolled his eyes.
"Would you say it again if I did this?" Carefully, still gripping Jou by the shirt collar, Kaiba leaned in and claimed Jou's cold lips to his own. He brushed his lips, just as icy, against Jou's, and the blonde responded, opening his mouth a little. Kaiba sought no further entry, though—he pulled away, and looked into Jou's surprised eyes. "Will you tell me now?"
Jou thought for a moment. "… No." Kaiba's gaze turned menacing.
"Why you lame little—"
"Relax, money bags. I think you got da message." Easing out of Kaiba's grip, Jou stood on his own two feet, staring up at the brunette. Kaiba felt as if a weight had been lifted off of him—finally, after a long time, he had come close to what he really wanted… even if he had to have the living daylights scared out of him do to so.
He drew close to Jou. The blonde didn't fight back, until their bodies touched. Then he made face—Kaiba looked at him, confused.
"What's wrong?" he asked. Jou sniffed Kaiba.
"… You smell like piss."
Kaiba flicked Jou's nose. "That's your fault." Suddenly his memory tugged at him, reminding the CEO of something that had been bugging him before. "Oh, Jonouchi?"
Jou was still rubbing his nose. "Yeah?"
"What exactly did Mokuba tell you before we left Yugi's house?"
Jou shrugged. "Oh, he just said that you have problems with alcohol and if we left you alone, you might drink all the beer before you got back." Kaiba's eyes flashed evilly.
"Ooh, I'm gonna ground that twerp till he's sixty now—"
"Hey, lay off it. You'll have to wait till morning to do that." Jou placed an arm on Kaiba's shoulder. "We're still lost in the cemetery, remember?"
Kaiba frowned—there was a downside to everything, wasn't there?
"Great," Kaiba moaned. "Now we're gonna freeze, just when we came to a peaceful understanding—" To his surprise, Jou placed two fingers to his lips, silencing him.
"We can't freeze," Jou said, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "That's what body heat's for, right?" He raised his eyebrows. Kaiba nodded, smirking to show that he understood very well.
"Of course." Kaiba and Jou laid back against a memorial stone, their arms starting to wrap around each other. "Happy Halloween, Jonouchi."
"Ditto to you," Jou replied huskily. "Now… cough me up some candy, moneybags…."
And while the two of them defiled some random person's grave with their new-found love, Halloween went on without them, and Yami was left sober in the company of a drooling Yugi for another couple hours….
"I WANT MY BOOZE, DAMNIT!"
Author's Note: (gasp) Took me… forever to write this. Hope… you like it. (Passes out)
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HAPPE HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!