Under the tree

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Warnings/notes: vague hints at Yami/Yugi/Anzu, Bakura/Ryou and Kaiba/Joey, drabble-ish, ooc, silliness.

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.

written at 24th december 2006, by Misura

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It was, Yugi reflected, probably his own fault. He'd thought he'd been smart, really - he hadn't mentioned Christmas coming with presents (which would have sent Bakura on a shop-lifting-spree with Yami right behind him, yelling about how he was the Pharaoh and deserved tributes, i.e. to get things without needing to pay for them). Of course, he'd bought Yami a little something (a pair of mittens), as well as all of his other friends, but hopefully, when it'd be Christmas again next year, Yami and Bakura'd either have adapted themselves to present-day life, or have forgotten all about it.

Naturally, it had been a bit hard to pretend /nothing/ was going on, so he'd explained the general idea of Christmas, about it being midwinter and thus the longest night of the year. (Bakura'd made a comment about that which had made Ryou blush, but then again, Bakura could say 'good morning' and make Ryou blush. Yugi wasn't sure whether to be jealous or amused.) He'd also mentioned the trees.

Grandpa always ordered one for the shop, and he'd allowed Yugi and Yami to decorate it this year. In an unexpectedly generous gesture, Kaiba had given Yugi a set of the Duel Monsters-Christmas decorations that had been set to hit the stores one week before Christmas, which Yugi now got to see a full week early. (Joey'd grumbled and called Kaiba a cheap bastard, claiming he was obviously only giving the set away to get some free advertising, or else because he knew he'd never be able to get anyone to actually pay money for the decorations, but Yugi'd thanked Kaiba solemnly, and Kaiba'd seemed a little embarrassed by that. Yugi'd gotten him a BEWD-scarf, produced by Industrial Illusions, knowing Kaiba'd never buy something like that himself, and also knowing he'd be getting BEWD-pajamas from Mokuba.)

Yami had scowled at there being four BEWDs and only one Dark Magician, but he'd gotten his revenge by hanging the Dark Magician near the top of the tree, next to the Summoned Skull and the Dark Magician Girl (Christmas-style), and leaving the BEWDs somewhere in the lower branches. Yugi'd contemplated pointing out that most customers would see the middle part of the tree best, only he hadn't felt like spending another hour repositioning the ladder just because Yami wanted each Duel Monster to be hanging the way he wanted them to hang.

After they'd finished, grandpa had given them hot chocolate with whipped cream, and Anzu had come by to dutifully admire the tree and drop off a batch of her home-made cookies. Everything had seemed to go well, and Yugi'd breathed a sigh of relief as he'd managed to kick Joey's shin before he could blab out something about there needing to be presents under the tree.

By the time Ryou and Bakura had arrived, drawn by the smell of hot chocolate, Anzu's promise of cookies, and the sound of grandpa's ancient record with Christmas-carols, Yugi'd been sure nothing could go wrong anymore this Christmas.

He should have known better, obviously.

"Nice tree, Pharaoh," Bakura drawled, sauntering around the tree, grimacing as he caught sight of a Change of Heart-decoration. "Very nice."

"This hot chocolate is delicious, Mr. Mutoh," Ryou said.

"What do you mean, Tombrobber?" Yami shot up out of his seat and strode to the tree. Bakura quickly darted to the other side, effectively making sure that the tree stayed between him and Yami.

"Just what I said: it's a nice tree." Yami walked to the left, Bakura to the right. Anzu and Yugi exchanged a look, while grandpa offered Ryou to refill his mug of hot chocolate.

"Some of these decorations look a little - how do I put this? a little /cheap/ though." Bakura stopped to inspect one of the four BEWDs. "Well, guess there's no accounting for taste."

"They're Kaiba's decorations!" Yami said quickly, having halted as well.

"Yeah, but they're in /your/ tree, aren't they? Tsk, tsk." Bakura shook his head.

"It's not just Yami's tree, it's my tree, too, and grandpa's," Yugi piped up. He was sure Kaiba's decorations were sturdy, yet that didn't mean they'd survive Yami trying to banish them to the Shadow Realm. He doubted if Kaiba'd thought to investigate that, or would appreciate Yugi being the one to tell him where his gift had disappeared to. "And I think Kaiba's decorations are very pretty."

"Would you like a cookie?" Anzu asked Ryou, holding out a plate. Bakura looked up from his study of the decorations, obviously tempted to try and snatch a cookie as well, but Yami chose that moment to move in his direction again, so Bakura slipped back.

"Thank you," Ryou said, blatantly ignoring Bakura and sitting down next to a stack of gaming-magazines.

"Yes, a nice, short tree," Bakura commented.

"Short?" Yami sputtered. "It's not short! It's twice as tall as you are!"

"Which means it's three times as tall as /you/ are." Bakura smirked. "Face it, Pharaoh: my tree's bigger than yours! You lose! Victory is mine!"

"Did you get a tree, too?" Anzu asked Ryou, who shook his head, having just taken a bite of his cookie and too polite to speak with his mouth full.

"You're as bad as lying as you are at stealing, Tombrobber," Yami scoffed.

"My father's in Egypt right now, and it seemed pointless to buy one just for the two of us," Ryou explained to Anzu. "Besides, we don't even have any decorations."

"A mere detail." Bakura crossed his arms over his chest. "My tree /will/ be bigger than yours. Just you wait and see. And Ryou, I'll have something to say to you when we get home! How dare you decide that /I/ can't have a Christmas-tree!"

Ryou squeaked as Bakura stalked out from behind the tree, glowering at him. Yugi protectively moved to stand between the two of them. Yami appeared at his side in a flash, glaring at Bakura.

Anzu opened her mouth to say something before the situation would get out of hand, and such things as cookies, cups and innocent bystanders would be in danger of getting sent to the Shadow Realm or used as projectiles. Before she could think of a way to address both Yami and Bakura without sounding like she blamed one of them more than the other, the bells near the shop-door jingled, to indicate a visitor.

"Hey, merry Christmas everybody!" Joey threw one look at Bakura and Yami, before he spotted the cookies. Anzu quickly moved to block his view. She was still expecting Honda and Otogi to show up, and she knew that if she gave him half a chance, Joey'd clear all five plates of cookies, including the crumbs. Joey blinked, then turned back to the door. "Look what the cat dragged in!"

There was snow in Kaiba's hair. There was snow on his coat, on his trousers, and on his shoes. By some miracle, there was no snow on Kaiba's suitcase, possibly because he'd cleared it.

"All things considered, shouldn't that be 'look what the /dog/ dragged in'?" Bakura asked, a little annoyed at nobody paying attention to him anymore.

"Can I get you a towel, Kaiba?" Yugi offered. "Some dry clothes? I'm not sure if I have anything that fits you, but - "

"I'm fine," Kaiba snapped.

"Touchy, touchy." Joey grinned and winked at Yugi. "I got him just as he came out of that posh car of his. You should have seen it, Yugi! I was actually hoping for Anzu, but then I spotted /him/ and, well, it seemed too good a chance to pass."

"No, I do /not/ want hot chocolate," Kaiba informed Anzu, who'd hesitantly approached him with a steaming mug in one hand, and a plate of cookies in the other.

"Aw, c'mon, Kaiba, take your beating like a man!" Joey swung one arm over Kaiba's shoulder, ignoring the murderous expression on Kaiba's face. "I beat you in a snowfight, fair and square."

"It sounds more like you ambushed him," Anzu said, frowning, extending the plate of cookies to Kaiba.

"Hey, thanks, Anzu!" Joey managed to grab about six cookies before Anzu withdrew the plate.

"Ryou, I demand you guide me to a place where Christmas-trees are being sold." Bakura had snuck past Yami and was now standing in front of Ryou, hands on hips. "We're leaving. Say bye to your friends."

"It's seven in the evening," Kaiba observed, having shaken off Joey's arm and seeming to want to put as much distance between him and the blonde as possible. "I don't think you'll have any luck finding a booth that's still open."

"Why does Joey get to take ten cookies and I don't?" Yami demanded. "I'm the Pharaoh!"

"And you're still a growing boy, too," grandpa added. He'd been pleading with Yami to help him decipher an Ancient Egyptian tablet that contained hieroglyphs nobody'd ever seen before, but thus far, Yami'd refused, claiming they were 'secret'. Yugi suspected Yami simply didn't know their meaning himself; it had been a long time since he'd been Pharaoh after all, and even then, he might not have known all the hieroglyphs and their meanings.

"Is that your way of saying I'm /short/?" Yami growled.

"A booth that's closed will be fine, too," Bakura informed Kaiba. "We'll just take a tree and uh leave the money under a rock or something."

"Joey doesn't have any manners, so he just /takes/ without /asking/ first," Anzu said, shooting an admonishing look at an utterly oblivious Joey, happily munching on his cookies.

"I don't think there'll be any trees left. It's the day before Christmas, you know." Kaiba looked like he wanted to sit down next to Ryou, but seemed to think better of it at the last minute. "You should have gone looking for one sooner."

"You're not short, Yami," grandpa soothed. "Why, in a few years, you'll be as tall as me!"

"And if you eat /all/ of your vegetables next time, you'll grow even more quickly!" Anzu added.

Yami grimaced, obviously not considering the bother of eating vegetables worth the chance of gaining a few extra centimeters in length. Besides, he knew Joey hated vegetables, too - and Joey wasn't short at all. Obviously, Anzu was in league with grandpa to turn him into a simple peasant.

"But I /have/ to get a tree!" Bakura protested. "I told Yami I'd get a taller tree than his!"

"Tough luck." Kaiba gingerly leaned against a display-table for the latest set of Duel Monsters-cards. "Next time, I suggest you plan ahead and not make any boasts without being sure you can back them up in reality."

"Hah! Like you're one to talk, Priest!" Bakura scowled. "When did /you/ ever defeat the Pharaoh?"

"Oh, I think I can quite safely say the Christmas-tree at Kaiba Corp.'s HQ is much, much taller than the modest tree I spot over there. Although I must say that the decorations on this tree are quite tasteful."

"You like it, Kaiba?" Yugi beamed. "Yami helped!"

Kaiba's expression darkened slightly at that. "You've certainly placed my Blue Eyes properly, where everyone can see them, although I'm not sure if Cyber Commander deserves quite such a prominent spot. I'm glad to see you put my gift to use though."

"I'm glad to hear you think that the proper place for your Blue Eyes is at the feet of /my/ Dark Magician, Kaiba." Yami nodded regally at Kaiba. "I suppose Yugi's right when he says there are no fools, only those who have yet to see the light."

"Yami!" Yugi flushed. "I wasn't talking about Kaiba when I said that!"

"All right, everybody, who /except Joey/ wants another cookie?" Anzu asked.

"I challenge you to a duel," Kaiba told Yami. "I'll show you the proper place of my Blue Eyes!"

"Anzu! That's not fair! Yugi, tell your girlfriend to stop hogging the cookies! She's just going to get /fat/ if she - yikes! Careful with that, will you?" Joey ducked as Anzu calmly tried to hit him over the head with one of the empty plates.

"I accept!" Yami replied to Kaiba. "I will deal you another crushing defeat, and then I will gloat!"

"Mazaki, why don't you give my cookie to Joey?" Kaiba suggested.

Anzu blinked and lowered the empty plate. "Kaiba, that's - "

"Suspicious!" Joey said. "Betcha he poisoned them!"

Anzu raised the empty plate again.

"I meant nice! That's nice! Thanks, Kaiba! For the rest of the evening, I'll not call you names, or say what a sore loser you are. My cookie, please?" Joey held out his hand to Anzu.

"I wouldn't want for the mutt to grow hungry and start gnawing on your furniture," Kaiba said to Yugi.

"Uhm," Yugi said.

"Kaiba, you're a bastard," Joey said.

"Has anyone seen my other half?" Ryou said.

Five people gazed around the gameshop, none of them finding Bakura. Kaiba didn't look around; he refused to believe in Bakura's existence, even after Bakura'd picked his pocket once, and gotten a hold on Kaiba's bubblegum.

"Maybe he needed to go to the bathroom?" Yugi suggested hopefully.

"I have no doubt that he has hatched some nefarious scheme that will put the world in grave peril," Yami spoke solemnly. "Kaiba, your defeat must wait until after I have once more saved the world."

"He said he wasn't interested in world-domination anymore." Ryou trembled as Yami sent him a look. "He really said that!"

"Undoubtedly, he was lying," Yami said.

"/I/ wouldn't mind ruling the world," Joey sighed, rubbing his right wrist where Anzu'd slapped him when he tried to grab another cookie.

"We need to find the villain and stop him once and for all!" Yami struck a dramatic pose.

Kaiba's cell-phone rung.

"Ryou, do you have any idea where he might have gone?" Yugi asked.

"No, I'm sorry, Yugi." Ryou shook his head.

"Guys, let's not jump to any conclusions!" Anzu shoved a half-full plate of cookies in Joey's direction. "You can't just assume he's up to his old tricks again! We need some sort of proof!"

"This person you're looking for, he looks like you, doesn't he?" Kaiba inquired of Ryou, who nodded. "In that case, Mazaki, I have your proof. My security-people report a white-haired teenager having somehow snuck into Kaiba Corp. HQ. He's standing in the central hall at the moment."

"But what would he be doing there?" Yugi wondered aloud. "And why tonight?"

Yami slapped his forehead. "The tree! Kaiba, you idiot!"

"I challenge you to a duel," Kaiba said.

"He said he wanted a Christmas-tree bigger than the one we have here, and you /told/ him he wouldn't be able to buy one anywhere anymore, and that you had a really big tree at Kaiba Corp.'s HQ. You were all but /begging/ him to come and steal it." Yami sneered. "Kaiba, you're a fool."

"I /like/ the tone of this conversation," Joey said.

"And how, pray tell me, does he expect to be able to 'steal' a Christmas-tree that's over twenty feet tall?" Kaiba sneered back. "Oh, wait, I know! He's going to use /magic/. Of /course/."

Yami and Yugi exchanged a look.

"Can he really do that? Could you?" Yugi's eyes sparkled as he imagined the many uses Yami could put such an ability to. His days of lugging home heavy grocery-shopping-bags would be over for good!

"I couldn't do something like that," Yami admitted. "He might, though. I'm not sure."

"Well, we can just wait and see, right?" Joey said cheerfully. "If Kaiba's tree goes 'poof!' then he can do it. And if he just keeps standing there and nothing happens, everything's cool."

"That tree is property of Kaiba Corp. and I will /not/ sit around while some /madman/ tries to - yes, what is it /now/? He did /what/? You're fired!" Kaiba fumed. "I must go. Yami, we'll duel some other time. My presence is urgently required."

"Chicken!" Joey called.

"Kaiba, do you want us to come, too? Is there something we can do to help?" Yugi spurted after Kaiba, who was headed for the door, suitcase in hand. "At least tell us what happened!"

"Your so-called friend made my tree go 'boom!', to put it in simple words that even a dog could understand. /That/ is what happened. Now, unless one of you knows some magical spell to put my hall back together, I'm going to survey the damage with my own eyes," Kaiba snarled.

"I'm coming! I gotta see this!" Joey grabbed his jacket.

"Yami ... ?" Yugi made a pleading gesture.

"Very well." Yami rubbed his temples. "I'll see what I can do."

"Can I come, too?" Anzu asked shyly.

"Mazaki, everyone else is coming. You might as well come, too." Kaiba's expression was sour. "Maybe you'll be of some use to keep the rest of them in check."

Yugi grabbed Ryou on his way out, while Yami snatched his deck of cards, and Joey stuffed another two cookies in his mouth.

"Wot? Dey're weally ood!" Joey said to Kaiba, who looked at him disgustedly.

The bells at the door jingled as they all trooped out and headed for Kaiba's limousine.

Grandpa sighed as he nibbled on one of the few cookies that were left.

"Merry Christmas, indeed."

OWARI

Well, I suppose it's not really 'the end', but it's three days post-Christmas already, and who'd want to read a Christmas-story in /January/? Besides, I'm not really sure about the style I used for this one, so ...