Disclaimer: All Yu-Gi-Oh! characters and references belong to their respective owners. Story elements © Hideki LaShae. No money was gained in the writing of this story.
Living to Die
By Hideki LaShae
Chapter One – Reasons to Live
Seto Kaiba grabs all his books from his locker. He puts as many of them as he can into his briefcase, but he still has a large handful that he has to carry in his arms. He walks out of the school building, and he starts down the street. Normally, he would come out of the building and climb right into a limousine that would take him to his office at Kaiba Corp. Today, there is no limo in sight.
Joey Wheeler waves to his small group of friends as he runs out of the school building. He smiles as he hurries down the street. He sees Seto up ahead of him walking fairly slowly due to the amount of books that laden him down. He thinks about their classes and starts ticking off which ones gave homework over the long weekend and realizing that they only had one small report to do.
Seto trips over the curb, and his books spill out in front of him on the sidewalk. He cusses silently as he kneels down to pick up the books.
Joey watches Seto for just a moment as he thinks about what he should do. He realizes that Seto wouldn't want his help. They aren't exactly friends after all. Heck, they hate each other, or so they say. He takes a deep breath and makes his decision. He secures his book bag over his shoulder and steps up his pace to quickly reach Seto. He bends down and starts gathering up the books. "Hey, Kaiba."
"Hey, Wheeler," says Seto simply as he grabs the last book and stands up.
Joey stands up with the books he's holding. He looks at Seto and sees the same thing he's seen for the past few months… no sign of life.
Seto holds out his hand for the stack of books that Joey holds, but Joey tucks them under his arm and looks at the street corner.
"So which way, Kaiba?"
"Which way to what?" asks Seto.
"Your office or your house? Where ever you're headed with all these books," says Joey keeping his eyes off Seto, "I have nothing to do anyway, so I'll walk you there. That way you don't have to carry all these books."
"You're not coming home with me," says Seto, "Give me my books."
Joey takes a deep calming breath. "You want 'em that bad huh?" he asks glancing at Seto, "May I ask why?"
Seto turns his eyes away from Joey's glare. He starts to walk down the street.
Joey steps up beside Seto and walks alongside him. He hesitates for just a moment so that he falls a step behind Seto, a place that he feels Seto might be more comfortable with him being in. "So what's the deal taking all your books home? We didn't get that much homework, Kaiba. And where's your limo?"
"I wanted the exercise," lies Seto, "So I gave him the weekend off."
Joey nods his head un-phased. "Yeah. You are starting to look a little flabby, particularly around the midsection."
"Leave me alone, Wheeler," says Seto dejectedly.
"What? No 'mutt'! No insults? Who are you and what have you done with Seto Kaiba?" asks Joey with wide eyes.
"I thought you didn't like it when I called you 'mutt'," says Seto.
"I hate it, but that's why you always call me it! You like getting me all riled up!" exclaims Joey, "It's not like you to quit doing something just because other people don't like it! Are you sick or something?" He raises the back of his hand to Seto's forehead. He expects Seto to push his hand away, but Seto just keeps up his pace alongside Joey and lets him check his temperature. He pulls his hand away. "Well… you don't feel like you have a fever. What's wrong?"
"I'm fine," says Seto.
"You're not fine. You may not be sick, but you're not fine," says Joey meakly, "Do you want to talk about what's bothering you?"
"There's nothing," says Seto.
"Fine," says Joey, and he walks alongside Seto in silence.
Seto leads Joey to his mansion, and together they walk down the long driveway. He opens the door. "I can take my books now, Wheeler."
"I've always wanted to see the inside of your mansion!" exclaims Joey pushing past Seto and entering the large mansion. He walks through the entrance hall and whistles as he looks around.
Seto walks into his house and closes the door. He drops his briefcase and the few books from his hands on a small table along the wall.
"Impressive pad, Kaiba!" exclaims Joey, "You gonna give me a tour or what?"
"You are going to leave," says Seto.
"No… I don't want to," says Joey slowly, "Unless you're going to have some of your servants come throw me out!"
"They all have the weekend off," says Seto.
"Oh, yeah… and where's your brother, Mokuba?" asks Joey. He turns towards the stairs and shouts, "Hey, Mokuba! It's Joey Wheeler! Come on out and say hi why don't ya!"
"He's staying with a friend over the weekend," says Seto.
"So we're all alone," says Joey. He runs his hand through his hair nervously.
"Well, that works, I guess," says Joey walking off to the right of the staircase, "What do we have over here?"
Seto follows Joey into the large, luxurious living room.
Joey drops the books onto the coffee table and lowers his book bag to the floor. He plops down on the couch and sinks into the soft cushion. He stretches out and smiles. "Nice couch. Come sit down, Kaiba! You look dead on your feet!"
Seto walks slowly towards the couch and sits down on the cushion beside Joey, but he tries to keep as much distance as he can from the shorter, blond haired boy.
"Okay… now I know something is wrong with you, Kaiba, and I'm not leaving here until you open up about it," says Joey looking directly into Seto's cerulean blue eyes. He notices that the eyes don't have the appearance of ice like they normally do.
Seto takes a deep breath, but he doesn't speak.
"You think you're the only one with problems?" asks Joey, "Gods! That's so like you, Kaiba! Now I know that you're…" He sighs. "I heard the teacher talking to you today. You're flunking math! You are the class genius! You're the financial wizard of the entire country, maybe even the world! You couldn't be flunking math unless there was something really wrong! And just look at you… You look like you haven't slept in months, and when was the last time you had a solid meal?"
Seto looks away from Joey. "What makes you say that?"
"Heh! I know a thing or two about depression… not saying that's your problem. I'm not a psycho-nut that could diagnose it properly," says Joey placing his hands on his knees with his wrists up. He slides his arms forward so that the long sleeves of his school uniform shirt slide up. He looks at his arms. His voice sounds much sadder as he continues, "Yeah… maybe just a thing or two about depression…"
Seto glances towards Joey and sees the exposed wrists. His eyes widen as he sees the slash marks and the corresponding scars on both wrists. He looks into Joey's honey-brown eyes. "You tried to kill yourself? Why would you try to kill yourself?"
"Lots of reasons actually," says Joey, "but we're not talking about me! We're talking about you, Kaiba!"
"My name is Seto, Joey," whispers Seto.
"Okay… Seto it is then," says Joey with a small smile.
"Why did you try to kill yourself?" repeats Seto.
"I was having a bad… life…" Joey hangs his head. "I had just had the biggest fight with Mai that I've ever had in my entire life. My sister, Serenity, told me she never wanted to see me again. Then there was my dad… My dad has had a hard time since his divorce from my mom. He's often unemployed, and he drinks a lot. When he drinks, he gets violent. And he'd been drinking a lot, so I got the worst beating I've ever gotten. It was when he broke my arm. That was the only time I ever had to go to the hospital because of him. I think I just hit my final breaking point because of something you said. You called me a mutt, told me I was a worthless duelist, and that I didn't deserve to share the same air as someone like you."
"You didn't take me seriously!" exclaims Seto.
"I did," says Joey, "I thought you were right. I had no reason to live. I didn't want to. I wanted it all to end. No more life, no more pain. All I really wanted…" He sighs. "What does it matter what I wanted. You don't care!"
"Maybe I do."
Joey locks Seto's eyes into a stare. He takes a deep breath. "All I really wanted was someone to love who would love me back. Everyone should have someone like that, but I didn't. That's all I wanted."
Joey and Seto sit together in silence for a long moment. Neither one bothers to break the gaze that they share.
"You're dating that female Duelist, Mai Valentine, aren't you?" asks Seto.
"Well… no… We were, but then we had a huge fight, and she learned… I sort of told her… I'm not interested in girls that way," says Joey blushing.
"You're gay?" Seto raises his eyebrows.
"Yeah, Seto… I am," says Joey blushing even redder, "but we're not talking about me here! We're talking about you! I know that something's wrong! Now will you at least tell me what is bothering you?"
"No!" exclaims Seto turning away from Joey.
"How about we make this arrangement?" suggests Joey hesitantly, "I'll tell you something private about me, and believe me… I have some really, really good blackmail material on myself… that I will tell you about, but you have to tell me something about yourself. For everything I tell you, you have to tell me something."
"That… sounds fair."
"Okay, great!" exclaims Joey, "So… where should I start? I… uh… I almost got Mai pregnant."
"What?" asks Seto as his eyes widen, "You almost got her pregnant!"
Joey nods. "Yeah… I was a virgin before we started going out together… And you know I really liked her, but just as a friend and not like a lover. But when she offered herself to me, I took her. We were sleeping together because I was still in denial about being gay. We stopped having sex after she got a pregnancy scare. She got her period two weeks late, and she was so scared that she was pregnant. Luckily she wasn't. It wasn't long after that… that I opened up to her about being gay. Now… your turn."
"I… I tried to rape Mokuba," whispers Seto.
"What?" asks Joey, "When? Why? Did you force him to have sex with you?"
"Your turn," says Seto.
"Hey! You can't just tell me something like that and then not elaborate!" exclaims Joey sitting rigidly.
"You made up the rules to this game," says Seto.
"Okay, I'll tell you something else about me, but your next thing about you has to answer my questions," says Joey relaxing into the cushions again.
"Agreed," says Seto.
"I paid Tristan to sleep with Serenity," says Joey.
"You paid Tristan to sleep with your sister?" asks Seto.
"Yep," says Joey biting his lower lip.
Seto sighs. "It was a few months ago. Mokuba just got out of the bathtub, and I had to go to the bathroom, so I walked in on him. I hadn't realized he was in there. Then I saw him, naked and dripping wet. I wanted him so badly. I grabbed him and pulled him into my arms. I kissed his shoulder. I was just about to drop my pants and take him when he squirmed out of my arms. That's when I realized what I had wanted to do to him, and I berated myself for it! I had been planning on raping my own little brother, the one person I swore to always protect. I let him put on his robe and leave the bathroom."
"That was about when you started to get depressed, wasn't it?" asks Joey.
"But you didn't actually rape him?" asks Joey.
"No, and he doesn't suspect that I wanted to," says Seto, "Now, why did you pay Tristan to sleep with Serenity?"
"Long story," says Joey, "Tristan used to love Serenity, but then… he just sort of fell out of love with her. Serenity was heartbroken. She had wanted Tristan to love her so much. I had sworn to always protect her, just like you did to Mokuba. So… I talked to Tristan about her, and he no longer had feelings for her. So I asked him to do me a favor. I gave him all the money I had at the time, and he agreed to have sex with Serenity. And he did it. He took her virginity, and when she found out that I had paid him to do it, she told me she never wanted to see me again. That was why she was mad at me. She hasn't spoken to me since."
Seto watches Joey to see if he will continue to speak, but when the other boy doesn't say anything else, he opens his mouth to say, "I want to die… I don't want Mokuba to ever know that I had those impure thoughts about him. I don't want to run Kaiba Corp anymore. I don't want this house with all its empty rooms and no one around! I don't want to eat or sleep or even breathe! I just want to die so that all the pain goes away! And I want what you want! I want someone to love me! I don't want to be alone! I want someone who will hold me and tell me that everything will be all right! I want to love someone who loves me! I want someone to love! I don't want to be alone anymore!"
Joey reaches out his hand and pats Seto on his shoulder. "I know, Seto… I understand how you feel. I really do! But death isn't the answer!"
Seto bursts into tears and buries his face in his hands.
"Um… Seto, would you be upset if I hugged you?" asks Joey blushing.
Seto shakes his head.
Joey slides closer to Seto and wraps his arms around the taller boy. He runs his hand through the silky brown locks of Seto's hair.
"It's your turn," chokes Seto through his silent sobs.
"Oh, yeah… let's see… it has to be something good," says Joey, "Hmm… Two years ago, I made a bet with Serenity, and I lost. So I had to go to a Halloween party dressed up as a prostitute, a female prostitute, wearing a tight miniskirt with a padded bra and panties. She even made me wax my legs and bikini area! You should have been there! You would have thought it was hilarious!"
Seto sniffles as he tries to laugh and cry at the same time. "I'm also gay. Your turn."
"Oh, man! Another one already?" asks Joey, "Oh, wow!"
"Have you ever been in love?" whispers Seto leaning back away from Joey and wiping the tears from his cerulean eyes, "I mean real love."
Joey looks away from Seto and blushes. "Yeah… I've been in love… with a guy who doesn't even know I exist."
Seto places his hand over Joey's lips. "My turn, Joey… This is the last one. I'm tired of this game."
Joey nods, but he tries not to move away from the hand on his mouth.
"I'm sorry, Joey, but I…" Seto closes his eyes, preparing for the undeniable response to his next words. "I love you!"
Joey sits there on the couch blinking. He takes a deep breath. "So… how long have you known that?"
Seto opens his eyes and looks at Joey. "I've seen you… how you act around your friends. You look so happy, and you care for them so much. Slowly, I started to wish that you would be that way with me, but I hated wanting to be your friend! I hated wanting to be near you! So I treated you like dirt, and I'm sorry for that. If you hate me even more now, I'll understand."
Joey slides a little closer to Seto and rests his head on his shoulder. "Um… Seto… for my last confession… I love you too. I started to fall for you after I met Mokuba. He brings out the real you, you know."
"I planned to kill myself this weekend," says Seto, "That's why I brought all my books home and gave everyone the weekend off. I didn't want them to find me until I was dead. I planned on slitting my wrists this afternoon and just letting my life slip away with my blood."
Joey's eyes widen, and he bolts upright. "You can't! I don't think I could go on living without you! Not after a confession like that!"
"If I had told you how I felt about you sooner, would you have tried to kill yourself?" asks Seto.
"Hell no… because I would have wanted to live for you, just for you!"
"Then that is why I will live, just for you!" exclaims Seto. He wraps his arms around Joey and pulls himself to him. He buries his face in Joey's neck. "Could you… would you… please, stay with me?"
"I'll stay with you for as long as you need me to," says Joey holding Seto tightly and stroking his back gently.
"How about forever?" whispers Seto.
"Sounds fair to me." Joey strokes Seto's hair. "Oh, wait! It's Yugi's birthday on Sunday, and he's having a party! I promised him I would be there! Will you… come with me?"
Seto nods against Joey. "As long as you're there with me… boyfriend?"
"Boyfriend," says Joey smiling.
Seto's stomach growls.
Joey chuckles. "I think someone's hungry! Me too!"
Seto starts to move. He presses his lips to Joey's quickly before he pulls back blushing.
"You're cute when you blush!" exclaims Joey smiling.
Seto blushes even redder.
"Let's go get something to eat!" exclaims Joey, "Before we both starve to death!"
"There's nothing prepared and I don't know how to cook," says Seto as Joey pulls them both to their feet.
"Great! I'm cooking!" exclaims Joey, "Trust me, Seto! I'm a great cook! You will not regret this! Which way to the kitchen?"
Seto leads Joey into the kitchen.
"Okay, have a seat, Seto!" exclaims Joey pulling a stool out from the breakfast bar, "And watch a master at work!"
Seto sits down on the stool. He looks at Joey as he moves around the kitchen looking through cabinets and cupboards.
Joey pulls out several items and moves to the refrigerator. He opens the freezer and digs through it until he finds a package of ground chuck. He lays it aside on the counter and closes the freezer door. He opens the refrigerator door and starts swaying his hips slightly. "Veggies, veggies, veggies! If I was a vegetable, where would I be?"
Seto smiles as he watches Joey's backside.
Joey sighs as he closes the door. "I guess that's a no on the vegetables, so we'll have to do without. We'll have to do some shopping. If I'm going to be cooking for you from now on, you're going to be eating healthy!"
"You want to cook for me from now on?" asks Seto, "That's what I have a cook for!"
"A cook who isn't here right now," says Joey, "A cook who hasn't been doing a good enough job. You know that comment I made about you getting flabby… well, I didn't mean it like that, but… you aren't looking… very well fed. I noticed in gym class. Your ribs are showing."
Seto touches his ribs with one hand, and he feels them through the cloth of his shirt. "I haven't been taking care of myself very well. I didn't see any reason to."
Joey washes his hands in the sink and puts a large pot of water on the stove. He turns it on so that the water will start to heat. Then he unwraps the hamburger and places it into the microwave to defrost. "So, Seto… do you still see no reason to take care of yourself? Or do you think now that you might have a reason worth living for? I want to be that reason, if you'll let me. I don't want to lose you like I've lost everyone else that I love."
Seto stands up and moves over to Joey. He wraps his arms around the shorter boy's waist and pulls him up close so that their bodies touch. He looks into Joey's brown eyes and smiles for the first time in what feels like forever. "You are a wonderful reason, Joey. I want to take care of myself… for you. I want to look good for you."
Joey smiles. "First thing we have to do then is get some meat on your bones!"
"You have plenty," whispers Seto kissing Joey, "May I borrow some?"
"Hey! I'm not fat!" exclaims Joey in between kisses.
"You're not," says Seto.
Joey closes his eyes and kisses Seto as deeply as he can. He pulls out of the kiss.
"I should let you get back to cooking," says Seto after the microwave beeps, "but I don't want to let you go."
"I'm not going anywhere. You can hold me to your heart's content later," says Joey pulling himself away from Seto reluctantly. He moves to remove the hamburger from the microwave.
Seto returns to his seat on the stool and stares at Joey as he adds egg, crackers, chicken noodle soup, and various seasoning to the hamburger and kneads it in with his hands.
Joey makes meatballs and places them into a baking dish. He slides them into the oven so that it can start cooking. Then he checks the water. His eyes widen as he turns to look at Seto. "Uh, this may be a bit too late to ask, but you do like spaghetti, don't you, Seto?"
"I think I might," says Seto.
Joey sighs with relief.
"Don't be so worried, Joey," says Seto as his stomach growls again, "Right now, I'd eat anything you put in front of me."
Joey blushes as he turns away. He opens a box of spaghetti noodles and adds them to the now boiling water.
"Oh…" Seto blushes as he realizes the double meaning of his words.
"Oh, what, Seto?" Joey glances back, and Seto catches a glimpse of the blush on his cheeks.
"Well… while I think I'd be willing to eat anything you offered me, I don't think I would get much nutrition from eating you," whispers Seto, and his face turns into a bright crimson red as he blushes even deeper.
Joey turns towards Seto with a smile. "So… you noticed what you said. We'll get to that later. I think we should wait until some of the strength you've been starving yourself of returns."
"You know best, Doctor Wheeler," says Seto smiling.
"Dr. Wheeler?" asks Joey reflecting on the words as he says them. He smiles. "Nice dream, Seto… but my grades aren't good enough for med school! Nine years of school? I'd go nuts! Besides, I could never afford it anyway."
"You're with me now, Joey. You don't have to worry about money anymore," says Seto.
"I do if your company goes out of business! And with you gone for so long, who has been running the business?" asks Joey.
"Mokuba," says Seto.
Joey turns quickly and opens the freezer again. He pulls out a loaf of French bread and sets it on the counter. "Do you like garlic cheese bread, Seto?"
"Yes," says Seto with a subtle nod.
"Great!" exclaims Joey ruffling through the cabinets for another baking pan. He pulls the bread from the package and splits it in two. He drizzles it with butter before sprinkling garlic powder and Parmesan cheese over the bread. He pulls some fresh mozzarella cheese from the refrigerator and sprinkles it on top of the bread. He checks the meatballs and tests them to see if they are done. Then he pulls the pan with the meatballs from the oven and places them on a hotplate near the stove.
Seto sniffs the air hungrily and licks his lips.
Joey places the bread into the oven. He looks in at the spaghetti noodles and stirs them around the pot with a spoon. He looks towards Seto. "It won't be long now, Seto."
"I would like it to be done now," says Seto licking his lips again.
Joey smiles. He opens a drawer and pulls out two forks. He sets one aside on the counter and uses the other to pick up a meatball from the pan. He turns towards Seto as he blows gently on the meatball.
Seto swallows hard as he looks at Joey teasing him with the prospect of food. His eyes look pleadingly at Joey.
Joey walks towards Seto and pulls out the stool beside him. He sits down next to Seto and holds out the fork so that the meatball moves close to Seto's mouth.
Seto parts his lips and takes a small bite of the meatball. "Mmm…"
"Is it good?" asks Joey raising his eyebrows.
"See for yourself," says Seto before taking another small bite. He pulls Joey into a quick open-mouthed kiss and uses his tongue to deliver the piece of meatball into his boyfriend's mouth. Then he takes another bite of the meatball for himself. He smiles as Joey chews up the meatball.
Joey smiles as he swallows. "Very nice…"
"It's delicious," says Seto, "You are a good cook."
"Didn't I tell you I was a great cook?" asks Joey pulling the meatball back away as Seto tries to take another small bite of it.
"Yes, Joey, you are a great cook," says Seto.
"Good boy, Seto," says Joey removing the meatball from the fork with his thumb and forefinger. He holds it out for Seto to take it from his hand.
Seto takes the rest of the meatball from Joey's fingers and licks them quickly before sitting back to eat the food that was given him.
Joey smiles as he stands up and heads back to the counter. He sets the fork down and washes his hands in the sink. He pulls down two plates from the cabinet and sets them on the counter. He checks the noodles and tests several to make sure they're done. He strains the noodles and adds the sauce and the meatballs. He stirs them together as they heat up again. Then he checks the bread to see how done it is.
Within the next few moments, Joey pulls the warm bread from the oven and sets it down on a hotplate. He turns the fire off beneath the spaghetti. "Seto, would you get us something to drink while I dish up the plates?"
"What would you like?" asks Seto standing up.
"Well… I think anything would work," says Joey lifting a plate and scooping up the spaghetti and meatballs onto it. He cuts the bread into slices and places two onto the plate before setting it down with a fork by Seto's bar stool. He quickly fixes up his own plate and sets it down at the next seat.
Seto, meanwhile, pulls two bottles of strawberry-white grape juice from the refrigerator and carries them over to the breakfast bar. He passes a bottle to Joey and sits down in front of his plate.
"Bon appetit, Seto!" exclaims Joey smiling, "Dig in!"
Seto lifts his fork and starts to eat the spaghetti hungrily, wolfing it down as if he had never eaten in his entire life.
Joey stares at Seto for a few brief moments before he also starts to eat hungrily from his plate.
Seto quickly empties his plate. He grabs a paper napkin from the napkin holder in the center of the breakfast bar, and he wipes his mouth. Then, and only then, does he take a long drink of his juice. He looks towards Joey and chuckles.
"What?" asks Joey with his mouth half full of bread.
"You're a pig," says Seto using his napkin to wipe the sauce from Joey's cheeks and lips. He smiles. "But at least you're my pig."
"In comparison, I think I'd rather be your mutt!" exclaims Joey after swallowing the last bite of his bread. He chuckles lightly. "Call me anything you want, Seto, as long as you call me your own."
"You are mine… my puppy… just as I am yours," says Seto.
"Your puppy?" Joey thinks over the words for a moment. "I like it."
Seto looks at his empty plate. "More?"
"You got it!" exclaims Joey lifting both plates and carrying them over to the stove. He dishes the plates up just as full as before, with spaghetti and garlic-cheese bread. Then he returns the plates and takes his seat again.
Seto lifts a long noodle. "Puppy?"
Joey cocks his head towards Seto. "Yeah…?"
"Have you seen that movie with the dogs? That American animated movie?"
"Lady and the Tramp?"
"Yeah… It's one of Mokuba's favorites," says Seto looking at the spaghetti noodle curiously.
"I've seen it," says Joey blushing slightly.
"My favorite part is when the two dogs are eating spaghetti and they kiss," says Seto. He blushes.