Never a first time
Warnings/notes: Kaiba/Joey, drabble-ish shortie.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.
written at 6th october 2006, by Misura
Joey is in love - and if it feels like he's never been before, then that's just because Joey finds it easier to forget than to forgive, and so every time he falls in love feels like the first time, even if it isn't. He's had six months to get used to the idea now, although it seems to him that he's spent most of that time doing his best -not- to get used to it.
Still, Joey knows defeat when it whacks him over the head and makes him do all kinds of crazy things. Which doesn't mean he's got to -like- his situation any better, of course, because there's plenty of persons Joey thinks he might have enjoyed falling in love with, and none of them are Seto Kaiba.
The fact that Kaiba, too, is in love, and with -Joey-, of all people, is but a small comfort. Kaiba is, after all, rich and brilliant and sort of sexy (if you like the cold-hearted, glaring type of guy, which half the girls in Joey's class seem to do). It's only fair that he gets stuck with something as inconvenient as a crush. Joey, on the other hand, is poor and average and only sexy if you like the enthusiastic, cheerful type of guy, which none of the girls Joey's ever met seem to do. (Mai did, he thinks, only Mai is one of those he's forgotten about, and possibly has forgiven, too, since Mai's just Mai, and he probably was an idiot to think he could change that.)
More than anything, Joey thinks that Kaiba is -scared-, and if he manages to scare the hell out of Joey at the same time, then that's just another proof of how utterly messed-up he is. So Joey's scared, too, kind of, and that should definitely put a stop to this weird thing that's been going on between them for the past half year, only it doesn't. Kaiba's still rich and brilliant and sexy, and Joey's none of those things, but he refuses to back down for a silly reason like that, and, anyway, he's in love.
Joey believes that when he's scared of Kaiba, it just means that he hasn't gone completely insane yet. He doesn't entirely understand what Kaiba sees in him to be afraid of, but he's not half as oblivious as people appear to assume him to be, and Joey knows what fear looks like.
Kaiba never talks about his fears, or his desires or anything at all, really, unless Joey makes him, and Joey thinks there's some things you shouldn't pry into, not unless you know what you're doing, and since Joey's pretty sure he doesn't have a clue about what makes Kaiba tick, he steers clear of the dangerous things, instead allowing Kaiba to talk to him about school and Duel Monsters.
In return, Kaiba allows Joey to talk to him about anything. Every once in a while, he'll make a rotten comment that'll make Joey stop talking and try to punch him, but that's okay, because that's just the way Kaiba is. Joey's not asking him to change, if only since he's pretty sure that Kaiba'd say 'no' and crash another one of Joey's relationships.
Joey doesn't want another crashed relationship, another name and face he'll have to forget about in order to move on. He knows Kaiba isn't the ideal boyfriend, and that what Joey wants or needs won't make the smallest difference to Kaiba if Kaiba decides that it's not the same as what -he- wants or needs, but that's not enough to call it quits.
There's plenty enough for Joey to worry about in the present, without adding the what-might-happens of the future to that list. Some of his worries don't even have anything to do with Kaiba.
Most of them do, naturally, inevitably, because people like Kaiba shouldn't be allowed to get boyfriends, at least not before they've taken a course in saying what they mean and not acting like a carefree, careless bastard all the time, and Joey is too normal not to be concerned and blindly trust Kaiba when he's assured that everything's all right, when Joey knows perfectly well that that's a lie, if ever he's heard one.
He supposes that should give him some hope, at least, except that he suspects that Kaiba lies to him every now and then, without his noticing. He thinks these lies are probably a lot like his own; things said to keep things smooth and pleasant, only Joey's never known Kaiba to use lies like that.
Kaiba doesn't need lies like that, because it's amazing what people will put up with when someone rich and brilliant and sexy tells them to roll over and accept being walked over, or lose his attention. Joey feels it's made Kaiba lazy, this ease with which he always gets what he wants, so he makes it a point to never give in too easily, even if Kaiba is being reasonable or looks at him with eyes that say the exact opposite of Kaiba's tone of voice, and plead where the rest of Kaiba demands.
Sometimes, Joey wonders if this is what Kaiba's afraid of, or if it's even worse, and that Kaiba's afraid of the person he is, to the rest of the world. Usually, he decides that it's neither, and that he's better off not thinking about it, not when he still hasn't managed to stop being afraid that any day now, Kaiba's going to rip out his heart and leave him bleeding, for a silly, stupid reason that makes no sense to Joey.
Joey believes he can deal with people leaving him for rational, sensible reasons, even if part of him disagrees and claims that you shouldn't try and apply things like reason and sense to love, which has got, after all, little to do with either. Before, Joey'd have said that Kaiba'd sooner dump him for a good, excellent reason than for a bad one, but that was then.
Now, he knows it's not that simple, that -Kaiba-'s not that simple, and that the fact that Kaiba doesn't talk much about his feelings doesn't mean they're not there, or don't utterly control the part of Kaiba's life that Joey's successfully gotten himself tangled in.
Kaiba could tell him to pack his bags tomorrow morning, and Joey wouldn't have a clue why. Except that, today, he would, in a sense, because it's been six months since Joey's acknowledged that he's in love with Kaiba, and Kaiba's admitted, vaguely and not altogether loudly or clearly, that he feels the same way. And Joey's late for dinner, while Kaiba's promised to be home early.
There's a thing called Murphy's Law, and Joey's sure it's been in effect for most of his life, especially today. If he'd been in time, Kaiba'd have called around seven to inform him that there's too much work for him to get away, but at least Joey'd have gotten to eat Kaiba's half of dinner, too.
Joey's not in time. Joey trips over the doormat and nearly covers the spotless hallway-floor with the flowers that he wished he hadn't bought.
"You're there," Kaiba says, wearing an apron that makes him look almost normal and not at all like he's just run from the kitchen to the hallway in under ten seconds.
"Sorry," Joey replies, before his brains have caught up with the fact that Kaiba hasn't told him he's late. Not for the first time, Joey wonders if he's ever going to get used to Kaiba being unpredictable. Not for the first time, he regretfully decides that the answer's probably 'no', since what would be the point if he did? "I got flowers." When Joey's in doubt, he states the obvious. It usually doesn't work.
"I can see that." Kaiba's not looking at the flowers though. Instead, his gaze lingers on the muddy footprints that Joey's left behind, and the puddles of water that surround them.
Joey refuses to apologize again. Once a day has become his limit since he began living with Kaiba, and he thinks it's a far too generous limit, considering that Kaiba's limit seems to be zero.
"Here." Joey thrusts out the flowers. They're roses, of course. Joey would never have settled for anything less, which is also why he only succeeded in getting what he wanted in the flowershop that's about as far from the Kaiba-mansion as it could be, without being located in another town.
"Who are they for?" Kaiba asks. Joey can't hear a single trace of irony in his voice, not a single sign that Kaiba doesn't know the answer to his question. It's moments like these that scare him, because it should be so totally obvious, only somehow, for Kaiba, it's not. Or else Kaiba's just a really good actor, which is a little creepy, too.
"For you. Idiot." Joey struggles out of his soaked shoes. "Did you think I'd go out in this kind of weather for anyone else?"
Kaiba doesn't look at the flowers in his hand. "Yes. You'd have done the same for any of your friends, or your family, or even just someone who asked you to."
It's futile to glare at Kaiba, but it does help to make Joey feel a little better. "Would it kill you to show a little appreciation for the trouble I went through?"
Kaiba mumbles something. Joey refuses to believe it's 'possibly'.
"Oh, what do I care anyway?" It's tempting to get rid of his pants, too, since they're as soaked as his shoes, and it's not like Kaiba hasn't seen him without them on before. Plus, Mokuba's sleeping at a friend's.
"Dinner's almost done." Kaiba turns and heads back to the kitchen. Joey follows, finding the towel and the dry clothes on the couch in the living room only after Kaiba's kicked him out of there, claiming Joey was trying to start on their dessert already.
There's a nicely-wrapped package lying on top of them, containing three booster-packs for the new Duel Monsters-series that's only scheduled to go on sale in three weeks, and when they eat dinner, there's a vase with red roses standing in the middle of the table.
Joey comments on neither, ignoring them as pointedly as he ignores Kaiba's comments on the way he uses his chop-sticks, even if the clothes he's wearing are identical to those Kaiba picked for him, and even if there's a towel lying in the laundry-basket that wasn't there thirty minutes ago.
Joey's in love, after all, and he's not going to ruin things for himself by pointing out that he doesn't really like this particular sweater, or that he could jump for joy at getting to play with cards from the new Duel Monsters-set before anyone else.