Title: Guard Dog
Author: Icka! M. Chif
Date Started: 8 July 2003
Word Count: 176,809 as of 29 September 2009
This Post: 7,482
Sparing matches had changed in light of Jounouchi's... mutations.
For example, holding sparring matches outside while people wandered around and attempt to keep said anatomical anomalies hidden was generally considered Not A Good Idea.
For another thing, the damn top hat wouldn't stay on the blond's head.
So Seto moved the matches from the gardens into the indoor exercise room. He did not care much for the place, preferring the open air of the gardens after having had a few too many up-close and personal encounters with the hard floor and walls of the closed in room when he had learnt the same martial arts he was using to spar with now. Gozaburou had believed in a strong body as well as a strong mind.
He removed the ill-used exercise equipment and padded both the walls and the floor of the now bare room with foam rubber, much to Mokuba's bouncing, crashing delight. It still did not completely suit Seto's tastes, but it was functional. Jounouchi didn't seem to care one way or the other. Of course, if the blond's eyes went open more than half-mast before breakfast, it was a miracle.
That did not mean that he was helpless. Seto figured that if the pup- if Jounouchi could fight while half awake, he could fight just as well when awake.
Jounouchi had improved greatly since they had first started these sparing matches. However, he continued to keep himself a bit too open for Seto's tastes, but that was Jounouchi all around. Too open, too easily hurt.
The blond's back was wide open, so Seto grabbed the golden furry tail during a pass and gave it a tug.
A monstrous growl filled the room, sounding like either one of the Red Eyes or Blue Eyes Dragons had suddenly appeared.
Seto had just enough time to realise that he was probably not far wrong before he found himself struggling to stay upright in the face of a vicious onslaught.
Then he was flat on his back, pinned, looking up into a pair of furious brown eyes, almost reddish, and a set of fangs less than a breath space away from his face.
"I give." He croaked. The growling continued and he realised he was still staring in what could be considered a challenge. He reluctantly averted his eyes, turning his head slightly to the side, leaving his neck vulnerable in a submissive gesture. It was not a sensation he cared much for.
The growling stopped, followed by a faint puff of breath on his bare neck, and then his upper body was released. "Kaiba?" Jounouchi's usual voice asked, clearly bewildered. Seto looked back up to see the blond still straddling his hips, rubbing his lower back where the tail met spine, his face twisted in a pain filled grimace. "Ite, ite ite... my butt hurts..."
"Then don't leave yourself open like that." He growled, propping himself up on his elbows. "And get off of me!" He snapped, trying to hide his embarrassment for having been pinned so quickly.
"Sor-ry." Jounouchi grumbled, clambering off of him, still rubbing his butt. "Dammit, that hurts! What the hell did ya do?!"
"I tugged on it."
Note to self: Do Not Tug On Tail.
"Yeah, well, don't." Jounouchi grumped, and then extended a hand to help him up. The time of Jounouchi being scared of Seto because the blond had won a match were long past. Seto took the offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.
This plan ran into a faint problem however when he realised that Jounouchi wasn't releasing his hand. Not that he had any problems with prolonged contact with the blond anymore, but it was unusual. "Jounouchi?"
The blond's gaze was fixated on his arm. His left arm, where the fabric covering his forearm had slipped, revealing a sliver of blue-silver skin.
"I thought there was something off about this." Jounouchi commented mildly as he pushed the fabric back, exposing more of the metallic skin which glimmered in the artificial light. "It's from when I got hit with that muck, isn't it? Mokuba said ya caught me."
"Yes." He agreed. Jounouchi didn't appear to be satisfied by just looking as his warm fingers slid from the soft skin of Seto's hand to the thicker, cooler skin on his arm, the same colour and texture of a Blue Eyes White Dragon. It was like armour, Seto had once broken a paper cutter on the silver skin in a fit of anger and curiosity. The skin, if he could call it that, had remained undamaged.
He'd kept it covered not so much to hide it from the eyes of other people, but from himself. He didn't need to keep looking at it to know it was there.
Jounouchi's eyes softened and Seto snatched his arm out of the bodyguard's grasp. "Do not apologise for it." He snapped, pulling the cover back down. Fucking pity. He hated pity. "It is not your fault."
Same as Jounouchi's transfiguration. It wasn't anyone's fault. Either that or it was both their faults; his arm retribution for being unable to prevent Jounouchi's transformation.
Jounouchi appeared to think about it. "Does it hurt?" He finally asked.
"No." Bit of the opposite really. It was a bit like having a permanent armour bracer on his arm, but it certainly did not -hurt-.
"Good." The blond casually moved back into a fighting stance, a challenge gleaming in his eyes. "So we sparrin' or not?"
Mokuba groaned, checking his watch again. 'Niisama was late. Again. Probably was holed up behind his desk, working on some last minute detail thing that 'couldn't wait'.
Jounouchi made a disgruntled noise in his throat as well. The blond hated waiting, sitting around doing nothing as much as Mokuba did.
"Jounouchi!" Mokuba pointed up at the top of the snow covered Kaiba Corporation building, towards his brother's office. "Fetch 'Niisama!"
He meant it as a bit of a joke, something to relieve the boredom until 'Niisama came down. He was -not- expecting Jounouchi to look at him like he had just been handed the Holy Grail, grin, then rapidly scoot out of the warm car and dash towards the building, ignoring the snow and ice as if it wasn't there. "Jounouchi!" Mokuba leaned out of the still open car door, as Jounouchi disappeared inside the doors. "It was a joke! A JOKE!"
Too late, the blond was far out of hearing range. "Ooh..." He wilted, sitting back down in the seat. Teach him to say things on impulse.
A minute later, Jounouchi came back out of the building, dragging 'Niisama who was clearly struggling and arguing with the obstinate bodyguard. There was a huge grin on Jounouchi's face, as if he'd suddenly discovered his new meaning in life. A few security officers trailed after them, clearly uncertain as to what to do about their boss being kidnapped by his own bodyguard.
"Fetch!" Jounouchi cheered, tossing 'Niisama in the car before climbing in as well, closing the door behind him.
"Good boy!" Mokuba quickly pressed the 'lock' button and hit the intercom, ordering the driver to go Go GO! The car took off with a squeal of tires that knocked them all out of their seats.
'Niisama glared at both of them as he straightened his clothing, gathering his sense of dignity around him as he silently promised that he WOULD remember this. Jounouchi was unfazed as he continued to grin hyperactively, bouncing slightly in his seat, his tail swinging in happy circles.
"Well," Mokuba shrugged gamely at 'Niisama, motioning towards his happy doggish bodyguard. "He -is- part Retriever, after all."
"Yo, Yuugi!" The cheerful ringing of the shop's bell accompanied Jounouchi's gleeful yell, forestalling the usual welcoming shout. Yuugi poked his head out of the backroom with a grin as he spotted his blond friend brushing some snow off his long black coat.
"Jounouchi-kun!" Yuugi paused as he saw what the blond was carrying. "You've got a very big package."
"Thanks, Yuugi." Jounouchi drawled back with a broad grin and a saucy wink. Yuugi fought a blush as he smiled back. "Hold the door, wouldja?" Jounouchi requested, motioning to the storeroom door with a jerk of his head as he waved to 'Jiichan. 'Jiichan shook his head at the blond's antics, going back to his newspaper as Jounouchi made his way into the backroom, Yuugi holding the door open for him.
"What's this for?" Yuugi questioned, poking the ribbon that was wrapped around the brightly wrapped box as Jounouchi passed by. More appropriately, -who- was it for? It wasn't his birthday.
"Merry Christmas!" Jounouchi declared, setting the box down on a mostly cleared table. Yuugi blinked, running the dates through his head and realised that Jounouchi was correct... it was Christmas Eve. Okachan had picked up the Christmas Cake earlier that day after 'Jiichan had scolded her for not having picked it up already.
He'd forgotten what day it was in the Christmas and New Year's rush to buy gifts and games for the respective holidays. And it wasn't like Christmas Eve was a holiday he looked forward to anyway, he didn't have a date to parade around the streets with to be all lovey with.
"Open it!" Jounouchi cheered, nudging the box closer to him with childish enthusiasm.
"Jounouchi-kun..." Yuugi eyed the box with a touch of trepidation. "You're not going to tell me that it's from Santa, are you?" He asked suspiciously.
"Of course not." The blond made a mock-serious face at him as his coat swished back and forth from the force of the wagging tail. "Children who don't believe in Santa don't get presents from him. This one's from me!"
Yuugi raised an eyebrow at his best friend, and then stepped forward, hesitantly touching the box. He did want to know what was inside of it... With a small grin, he slowly started unwrapping the present, carefully undoing all the tape and un-creasing the folds, like he was uncovering a rare artefact.
"Yuu~gi!!!" Jounouchi practically danced at him and Yuugi finally gave in to his more immature urges and ripped off the paper, tossing handfuls up into the air in a frenzied multi-coloured cloud of paper scraps. Jounouchi whooped and cheered him on as he did so, grabbing handfuls of the falling paper out of mid-air and tossing into the air again.
"You're helping me pick those up later." Yuugi informed Jounouchi, who gave him a gleefully unrepentant look back. He paused as got to the white box, partly to savour the anticipation of the unknown, partly to draw out the suspense and annoy Jounouchi. Then Yuugi screwed his courage up and pulled off the white lid of the box.
Inside, wrapped in tissue, was a coat. It was completely black, with large cord and leather fasteners and shiny polished wood toggles. "Put it on!" Jounouchi demanded, as Yuugi pulled it out of the box, the fabric unfurling almost to the ground. "I want to make sure it fits!"
Yuugi nodded, petting the fabric for a moment and admiring the softness of it before letting Jounouchi assist him into the coat. "It's wool." Jounouchi explained as he settled the coat around Yuugi's shoulders, the hem stopping just below Yuugi's knees. "I wanted something durable that would be warm and comfortable to wear."
Yuugi caught the note of concern in Jounouchi's voice as the blond fiddled with the hood of the jacket until it lay straight. It wasn't Yuugi's height that worried Jounouchi, but how easily Yuugi tended to get cold in the winter time. He just couldn't seem to keep any fat on his body, which meant he froze in even the milder temperatures. He didn't usually go out in the wintertime because of this, although he did enjoy the occasional snowball fight.
"I can't accept this, Jounouchi-kun." Yuugi said quietly, touching the wood toggles up near his throat. This was obviously not a off the peg store bought coat. Or at least not from any store Yuugi could have even dreamt of affording. "This must have cost a fortune."
"You can and you will." Jounouchi said stubbornly back at him. "What good is getting a stable paycheque if I can't use it on my friends? Besides, I'm not here to keep you warm at night anymore."
Yuugi blushed. When Jounouchi had been living with them, they used to share the bed in the winter. Jounouchi made an excellent space heater. "Yes, but..." He looked down. "This must have set you back a lot..."
To his surprise, Jounouchi laughed and patted Yuugi's head. "Don't worry about that! Trust me, this didn't set me back at all."
Jounouchi shrugged. "Kaiba pays well." He said simply. "I'll give Ol' Blue Eyes that much."
Yuugi fiddled with the jacket cuff. Come to think about it, he didn't know how much Kaiba paid Jounouchi.
"Oh, that reminds me." Jounouchi reached into his own long flared coat, and pulled out a pair of dark blue smooth leather gloves. "This is from Mokuba. He says to say that it's from both him and his brother, and Kaiba didn't argue, so smile and nod, okay?"
"Okay-?" Yuugi ventured as Jounouchi handed him the gloves. Yuugi felt the smooth soft material for a moment before pulling them on. To his surprise, they fit well. Usually gloves were too large in the fingers, the extra material flopping all over the place.
"Kaiba uses this style as well. They're warm, and the leather has enough grip to hold the cards in a duel, so your hands don't freeze if you're duelling in the cold." Jounouchi gave him a slightly crooked grin. With their life, they had to consider that when buying clothing because chances were that they -would- end up duelling in the blistering snow.
Then Jounouchi pulled out a long swath of dark midnight blue fabric and draped around Yuugi's neck with a more mischievous grin. It was soft and fuzzy, made out of some sort of fine hair or fur. "And one last thing..." A pair of ear-muffs were pulled out of a pocket and plopped on Yuugi's head, his long spiky hair practically swallowing the band.
"Jounouchi-kun..." Yuugi stared at himself in amazement. He couldn't accept this!
"Don't argue." Jounouchi scolded, waving his own scarf, dark red, the colour of blood, or the eyes of the Red Eyes Black Dragon, at him. "Mokuba gave all of us a set. Kaiba's is white and Mokuba got eye-gouging orange for himself. And he was glad for the excuse. The kid's got an obsession with dressing people or something."
"I'll have to think of something appropriate to thank him with." Yuugi murmured instead. Jounouchi gave him a broad grin, patting his head.
"Good. And now that you're dressed for it, you can help me get the rest of the stuff off the motorcycle."
"The REST?!" Yuugi squeaked.
Jounouchi laughed as he steered Yuugi out to the front of the store. "It's my New Year's gifts to your family. Nothing as extravagant, I promise."
"Good." Yuugi squared his jaw as they walked back out, ignoring 'Jiichan's amused looks. "Spend your paycheque on yourself too!"
"Oh, trust me." Jounouchi's voice took on a pleased smug rumble that made Yuugi do a double take. "I am."
Okay... That was good. Right? He shouldn't worry about what kind of trouble Jounouchi was getting himself into... Right?
He pulled the jacket closer around him as they stepped outside, Yuugi's boots sinking into the snow. Jounouchi didn't seem to notice as he wandered over to a large sleek dark blue motorcycle parked on the side. Yuugi might have wondered why Jounouchi wasn't worried about it being stolen except for the prominent 'KC' logo on the side. Kaiba's name went far in Domino City.
"The company car!" Jounouchi declared gleefully, opening up one of the saddlebags on the back and pulling out a brown paper shopping bag. One thing Kaiba and Jounouchi definitely had in common, the love of going fast. "Here ya go."
Yuugi glanced into the bag, to find his curiosity thwarted by the presence of more brightly coloured paper. Dangit, he'd have to wait until the New Years before finding out what was in there. Jounouchi laughed as he pulled a second bag out of the other saddlebag. "Sweaters for your Mom and 'Jiichan, warm socks for you."
"I think I love you." Yuugi breathed. One never had enough warm socks. They always either got lost in the wash or wore out. Although sometimes he suspected that most of the ones that went missing were because 'Jiichan stole them.
And he was noticing a definite trend in the gifts. Jounouchi may not have been around as much as he had been in the past, but he was still making sure that he had Yuugi's back safe and protected. Even if it was just from the elements.
Jounouchi just grinned at him, stomping through the snow back to the shop. Yuugi followed, a grin on his own face. Jounouchi held the door open for him as they stepped inside the warmth of the shop, the bell ringing as they stomped the snow off their boots.
"Ahem." 'Jiichan cleared his throat pointedly as they paused in the doorway, giving them a significant look then glancing up.
"'Jiichan!" Yuugi gasped as he realised that his grandfather had hung a sprig of holly and mistletoe over the doorway.
'Jiichan just smiled and shrugged, his expression too innocent for the lecherous old man. "Never know when you're going to get lucky."
Jounouchi laughed. "Unfortunately for Yuugi, I'm not a pretty girl." He said with a smile, before leaning over and sweeping Yuugi up a giant bear hug, his feet swinging off the ground. Yuugi giggled as he attempted to hug his best friend back and found himself blocked by tangled of coats, limbs and bags.
Then he was released, Jounouchi steadying him as Yuugi found his balance again. "I've gotta head back to work." Jounouchi announced, handing Yuugi the bags he was carrying. "Call me about what you're doing on New Years! Later!" And with another jingle of the bell on the door, Jounouchi was gone.
"See?" 'Jiichan said smugly as Yuugi stared at the bags in a sort of dazed shock. "You never know when you're going to get lucky."
Yuugi shrugged back, shifting the bags around. Depending on your definition of 'lucky'.
Hugs were nice, but really, he really kind of wouldn't minded that kiss instead...
Mokuba had been worried about Jounouchi. He'd known that the blond had been avoiding his friends since the lab incident and had been overjoyed to hear that he'd cleared the air with Yuugi.
This meant that since the New Year, the spiky-haired duellist had started coming over for what Mokuba was calling their 'Monthly Movie Night'. The three of them staying up late, eating junk food and watching movies.
It was actually turning closer to a Weekly or Bi-Weekly Movie Night, but since 'Niisama apparently hadn't caught on to that fact, they weren't going to point it out to him.
He and Yuugi were currently the only ones awake, Jounouchi had fallen asleep on the futons in front of the sofa, snoring softly. The blond's shirt had ridden up, showing his belly. Yuugi tsk'd, reaching for a blanket to cover his friend.
Mokuba had a different idea. "Wanna see a trick?"
"Trick?" Yuugi's eyebrows raised.
Mokuba giggled, sliding off the couch and lightly scratched the blond's bare belly.
"Mokuba!!" Yuugi scolded. "Jounouchi-kun is our friend! We shouldn't treat him like a..." The words trailed off as Jounouchi's leg twitched, and then began to move in time to the belly rub. "Can I try?"
"Yup!" He traded places, giggling as Yuugi tried to see how fast he could make Jounouchi's leg move. Yeah, it was probably mean to treat Jounouchi kind of like a dog sometimes, but on the other hand, Jounouchi almost seemed to invite it, if nothing else than as bravado to hide his own nervousness about his abnormality.
And it really was fun.
Yuugi eventually realised that he was rubbing his best friend's belly and stopped, blushing slightly as he guiltily pulled down Jounouchi's shirt and covered him with a blanket. Mokuba giggled.
"We should probably get some sleep tonight too." Yuugi added ruefully, hiding a yawn of his own. Mokuba almost rolled his eyes. It was like being surrounded by a pack of older brothers, really it was.
"Alright." He agreed, turning off the television and sliding off the couch. Yuugi handed him a share of pillows and blankets before stretching out on the futons along side his larger friend. Mokuba grinned sleepily, arranging the bedding until he was comfortable.
"Hey, Yuugi?" He asked sleepily.
"Want to see another trick?"
"Jounouchi." Mokuba grinned. "Fetch 'Niisama."
"Fetch!" In a blur of blond hair and pyjamas, Jounouchi was gone, dashing down the hall.
Yuugi pulled Jounouchi's blanket off of his head, where it had fallen when Jounouchi had suddenly gotten up. "What was that?"
"Jounouchi's got a hidden ability." Mokuba explained.
"Sudden speed ability?" Yuugi mused, putting the blanket back where Jounouchi had been sleeping. "No... he's always been like that around food..."
"Ack! Er, STUPID MU- JOUNOUCHI!!!" 'Niisama's shouts echoed through the corridors. Yuugi sat up straighter, eyes going wide. Mokuba smugly nestled into the blankets, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn't step on him.
Jounouchi didn't at least. Even mostly asleep, he carefully stepped over Mokuba. 'Niisama wasn't quite as quick on the uptake, being too busy trying to free his arm from Jounouchi's grasp and tripped over him, falling on to the futons.
After the first 'Fetch' incident, they'd done some checking on what was going on in the blond's skull. Evidently, 'Fetching' released endorphins in Jounouchi's brain, like eating a really orgasmic piece of chocolate on a bad day would. Jounouchi just thought it was fun.
'Niisama used Jounouchi to Fetch him on occasion too, so it balanced out. Although Jounouchi was usually faintly embarrassed when he realised that he'd just grabbed one of the brothers and run off.
"So glad you could join us." Mokuba yawned, flipping a blanket over his irritated older brother. Yuugi looked on with wide round eyes, but wisely didn't say a word.
"Mokuba!" 'Niisama growled. Jounouchi turned around in a small circle a few times, then plopped down where he had been sleeping, pulling a blanket over himself with a contented sigh. This just coincidentally happened to be on top of some of 'Niisama's limbs, conveniently trapping the elder Kaiba.
"G'night 'Niisama!" Mokuba smiled sweetly, passing his brother a pillow. "Sleep well."
Jounouchi's snoring answered him. After a moment, his brother snatched the pillow away and made himself as comfortable as possible while being partly used as a mattress.
"Pleasant dreams." Yuugi commented, smiling quickly before hiding behind Jounouchi's slumbering form.
"Not one word, Mutou." 'Niisama growled out. "Not one word to ANYONE."
Yuugi giggled in return.
Seto glanced up as the door to his office opened, then quickly slam shut. "What?"
His chair, with him in it, quickly spun in a circle, then stopped, right where it had been, as if he hadn't been disturbed at all. "Eh?" Confusion reigned with irritation, he had work to do.
He glanced down to find a pair of rich brown eyes looking at him pleadingly from a shock of golden hair. Right Between His Legs. "Huh?!"
"I'm not here!" Jounouchi hissed. "What ever happens, I'm NOT here!"
"Jounouchi...." Seto raised an eyebrow. "-What- are you doing under my desk?" Between his legs, no less. He really should spend more time out of the office if this was where his brain was starting to go.
"Hiding from Mokuba." The top hat had been knocked off and Jounouchi's ears were laying flat against his head in a terrified posture. "Love your little brother like he were my own little brother, really I do Kaiba, and if anythin' happens, I will personally roll up the newspaper for ya ta beat me around the head and the shoulders with, but if he asks, I'm. Not. Here."
The door opened again, his brother poking his shaggy dark head in. "Hey, 'Niisama!"
"Hello, Mokuba." His brother beamed at him and Seto detected a hyper-active gleam in Mokuba's eyes. "What can I do for you?"
"Have you seen Jounouchi-kun around?" Mokuba asked, scanning the room.
"I do not see him here." Seto commented evenly, pointedly ignoring Jounouchi's pleading gaze from under the desk. "Do you?"
"Hmm... nope." Mokuba agreed, vibrating slightly.
"Mokuba... do I need to remind you of your promise?" He took off his computer glasses as he tried to adopt his most severe tone, which wasn't easy considering he had Jounouchi's warm presence pressed up against his legs as a very convincing distraction.
Mokuba looked guilty. "Promise?"
"Not to run Jounouchi off?" He tapped a pen against the desk. "Or do we need to find a replacement for your guard dog and reassign you back to the security officers?"
"No! No!!" That brought a panicked expression to his brother's face as Mokuba held his hands and shook his head vigorously. "I'm sure he's around here somewhere, I must have just turned a corner and accidentally lost him. I'm... just gonna go look for him now. Catch ya later, 'Niisama! Bye!"
In a blur of motion, Mokuba was back out the door and gone from the office.
"Whew." Jounouchi let out a deep sigh, his head drooping, hair brushing against Seto's inner thigh. Seto had to grit his teeth to keep from embarrassing himself right there.
He wasn't sure if he should curse or bless the fact he was wearing tight leather pants. Just how good was Jounouchi's sense of smell, anyway? They had never tested that, had they? And the olfactory systems were directly linked to the auditory systems via the sinuses, if Jounouchi's hearing had improved due to the accident, what were the chances that his sense of smell had? Could he smell Seto's arousal? From the blond's location, it would be rather hard to miss...
"Thanks, Kaiba." Jounouchi shifted, his head resting against Seto's leg as the rest of him shifted away. "Gimme half an hour and I'll be outta your hair."
How about a half hour to put his mouth to better use? All he had to do was pull that mop of golden hair closer and...
"What exactly happened?" He asked briskly.
"Someone gave Mokuba a large bag of chocolate covered espresso beans." Jounouchi yawned, sending another puff of warm air against Seto's inner thigh. Seto twitched. "Think it was one of his former baby-sitters, he was talking to a few Security guys before he got the Pixi Stix. Or was that after? Eh. Been chasin' him ever since."
"And how long ago was that?" Seto asked as the blond's head drooped tiredly.
"Hour and..." Jounouchi grabbed Seto's wrist, twisting it towards him and for a moment he wondered if the blond had heard his thoughts. Instead, Jounouchi peered at it blearily before realising that Seto didn't wear a watch. "... I dunno. While ago."
"Ah." Dammit, dammit, dammit.
Jounouchi released his arm, falling backwards and disappearing into the depths under the desk. Seto wasn't sure to bless what ever deities were out there or curse them. "S'big down here. Wake me in a half hour to Fetch Mokuba?" Came the muffled question.
Seto pushed the chair back, leaning down to watch Jounouchi curl up under the desk, almost in a fetal position, arms tucked under his head. A sleepy brown eye glanced up at him. "m'I in yer way?"
"No. You're fine." He reassured the blond. Jounouchi nodded once, then apparently fell fast asleep. Seto watched him for a moment, and then sat up, moving his chair back to its usual place. He refrained from stretching out his legs however, letting the mutt sleep.
It was funny, he hadn't realised that someone could easily fit under his desk before and not be noticed. That opened up a whole realm of possibly he'd never thought of before...
He stopped that line of thought. Employee. Jounouchi was an employee. Therefore Off Limits. Not to mention the fact that the blond was -male-, and -Jounouchi-, the mediocre duellist whom he'd been fighting with for years. Which brought up all sorts of questions about Seto's sanity, never mind the idea that he found the blond attractive at all.
He hit the intercom button for his secretary. "Send a memo to Security, please." He paused a moment, giving her a chance to switch to what ever programs she needed. He'd heard some faint grumblings about Jounouchi taking over Mokuba's protection, a few people were crying favouritism because the blond had known Seto in school, thus allowing him to 'waltz in' and take over that position.
Regardless of the fact that Jounouchi had to train before taking the position and had a better temperament for dealing with Mokuba than the griping idiots there. Which was why Jounouchi had gotten the job in the first place.
And Jounouchi worked hard at what he did. It was also difficult to picture anyone else curled up under Seto's desk fast asleep from chasing after his sugar-hyped brother, snoring slightly and trusting Seto to let him sleep.
"Ready, sir." The secretary chirped at him.
"Anyone caught giving Mokuba any caffeinated or highly sugared foods will be assigned the task of watching over him until the buzz wears off. That will be all."
"Very good, sir."
"Yosh!" Mokuba cheered, sliding out of his computer chair with a stretch. "C'mon, Jounouchi-kun!"
"Huh?" Jounouchi stretched as well, popping the kinks out of his back from being curled up in one position for so long. His tail made an audible pop as he moved, slightly stiff from being curled around him for so long. He'd just now gotten permission to hang out in Mokuba's lab at the Kaiba Corporation Tower while the kid was working, now that he had some control over the tail.
"You'll see." Mokuba grinned mischievously, hanging on the door playfully. Jounouchi grinned back, gamely following him. What a way to spend Valentine's Day. Ah, well. It wasn't like he had a girlfriend to give him chocolates and spend the day with. Although maybe he should give Yuugi a call, see how he was doing.
Mokuba led him out of the labs, and then got into the elevator, humming happily to himself. Instead of heading up, towards the older Kaiba's offices, Mokuba pulled a plastic card out of the locket around his neck. He tapped a panel on the elevator wall that Jounouchi hadn't noticed before, inserted the disk and tapped a few buttons.
The elevator made a whirring sound as it started going -sideways-.
"Mokuba?" Jounouchi questioned, slightly nervous at the sudden change in the formerly normal elevator. Mokuba stopped humming long enough to give him a smile, then returned back to his humming.
Right. No help there. Jounouchi sighed and decided just to go along for the ride. Mokuba was a Kaiba after all, Jounouchi would find out when Mokuba damn well felt ready and not a moment sooner. The elevator decided to change directions and started moving downwards. Or at least Jounouchi was pretty sure it was downwards, it was kind of hard to tell when one was stuck in a metal box whooshing off to who knew where.
The elevator eventually stopped, the doors opening into a dimly lit lab, one that Jounouchi hadn't seen before. It smelled fairly sterile, dust free but with the overlaid scent of electronics.
Mokuba walked into the room, still humming fearlessly, trusting Jounouchi to follow. He did so, ears twitching under the top hat, leery of surprises.
There were shadowy columns coming up from the floor at even, measured places. Hundreds perhaps. Mokuba lead him between the columns, towards the back, stopping in front of one. "Activate." He said out loud to the air. "Authorisation: Kaiba, Mokuba. 'She sells sea shells by the sea shore'."
Machinery started up, whirring and clacking all around them. The columns started to glow with an eerie pale blue-green luminescence, shadows of figures inside.
Monsters. They were surrounded by hundreds of monsters, each one encased inside of a glowing column. "Mokuba?" Jounouchi asked, feeling decidedly twitchy and uncomfortable about this whole place. He recognised it now, he'd been down here before, a long time ago, with Honda during a series of duels to stop the RA Project and save Anzu.
There had been creepy people jumping out the columns at the time too.
"Solid Vision." Mokuba said calmly. "This is where all the monsters are created and tested before they can appear on the Duelling Platforms."
"Yeah, but-" He froze when he realised what, or who Mokuba was standing in front of.
Mokuba was noticeably bigger than Gozaburou's son now, even though Noa was half-curled up inside a glowing column. The green-haired boy smiled, reaching a hand out towards Mokuba. Mokuba smiled in return, their palms not quite reaching each other because of the barrier of light.
"Hey." Mokuba commented, leaning his forehead against the pillar. "Long time no see."
Noa laughed silently, mouthing something in return. The columns made the images inside appear solid, but they didn't supply sound. Mokuba laughed softly.
Mokuba had been working on this for months and finally, his hard work had paid off and he was able to see his other brother again. Jounouchi smiled sadly, turning away to give them privacy.
After his original freak out and banishment from Mokuba's room, he'd gotten some more details on what Mokuba was doing. The base where Noa had been originally stored had been destroyed, by Noa himself. But Gozaburou had a continuous back-up feed to a satellite so in case something happened to the main base there would be a copy of his son somewhere. Or most likely, a copy of himself.
The back-up feed had been damaged in the explosion, and that was what Mokuba had been repairing, deleting and removing all traces of Gozaburou as he did so.
This was the first time the code had been repaired enough for them to meet again, in a way.
Some of the other columns towards the back caught his attention, the figures inside were shaped differently than the rest. Curious he walked closer, examining them.
They were human, not Duel Monsters. There was Mai, Haga, Ryuuzaki and a bunch of other Duellists. Towards the back he spotted Anzu, Otogi, Honda, Kaiba, Mokuba and... himself.
He stopped in front of his friends in the columns, realising that they were images of his friends... what they looked like several years back.
What they had looked like during Duellist Kingdom, when he had first begun learning how to duel. When they had first met the other side of Yuugi.
Where everything had all began, really.
"'Niisama recorded everything he could during all the Tournaments." Mokuba commented quietly. "So that later, there would be an accurate copy of events. There's talk of maybe turning it into a Television show. This way there won't be any disputes about people not looking like they should."
"Ah." Kind of like photographs to remind you, only three dimensional. And possibly solid. He glanced back to see Noa smile and wave at him. He grinned and waved back. Mokuba smiled sadly as well as Noa faded from view, looking like he was heading for a nap.
"He's not completely there yet." Mokuba commented.
"He will be." Jounouchi reassured him, resting a hand on Mokuba's shoulder. "You'll see to that."
He got a bittersweet smile in return. "Yeah."
Jounouchi cleared his throat, looking for a distraction. "So, about these Solid Vision..." He spotted himself, wearing that ancient green coat of his, the old familiar dog tags around his neck.
And wearing what was obviously a head band with dog ears on it.
Mokuba's eyes went wide. "It's not what you think! It's not what you think! 'Niisama did these before everything happened and-"
He chuckled, patting Mokuba's head to let him know there were no hard feelings. "So Ol' Blue Eyes has a sense of humour after all."
"Occasionally." Mokuba agreed. "I'm sorry, I'd forgotten he did that, I'll get it changed."
"Relax, it's not a big deal." He and Kaiba had been insulting each other for years, that wasn't going to completely change because of recent circumstances. Besides, it was fun taunting the Dragon.
He spotted Kaiba's column, with Mokuba's next to it. Just beyond that, he saw... Two Yuugi?
Jounouchi walked closer, verifying that in fact, yes, there were two Yuugi, standing next to each other. Yuugi and his Other Self. Atemu, he corrected. But the Pharaoh had been Yuugi's 'Other Self' for so long, it was still hard to think of him as 'Atemu'. "So Kaiba finally believed it, huh?"
"Yeah." Mokuba nodded. "It got through his thick skull eventually. He still doesn't like the whole Ancient Egypt Sorcery and Mysticism stuff, but he does acknowledge it."
"Good." Jounouchi patted the smooth column holding the image of the sleeping Pharaoh, dressed in leather and chains. It kind of hurt, in an odd sort of way, to see Yuugi's Other Self standing here like this. He wanted to say 'Hi', mess up his hair, talk with him like they used to. But this wasn't the real Pharaoh. The real one had already passed on, leaving a hole in their lives.
Atemu's leaving had really been the sign of the end. Everyone was still friends, but they weren't friends like they had been before. The group's cohesion, former closeness, was gone with their leader missing. "Hey, Mokuba?"
"Don't show this to Yuugi, okay?" To see his Other Self, moving and walking around but clearly not him, it would just be rubbing salt into the still healing injury.
Mokuba looked at him with eyes that were far too wise and sad for a kid. "... Yeah."
Jounouchi snickered to himself, eating an ice cream cone. This was a great idea Yuugi had. Simple and he didn't have to worry about sweating like a dog in the humid spring heat. Summer in the top hat and big coats was not something he had been looking forward to, that clothing was -hot-.
Which meant he could pick Mokuba up at the curb, instead of waiting at the car, like he'd been having to do. Double score. Good day all around.
Except for that giant Blue Eyes White Dragon suddenly appearing over the school yard.
Enjoyment of his ice cream cone forgotten, Jounouchi sprinted for the school, vaulting over the fence around it and running towards the Blue-Silver-White source of the Dragon. Several men were running the other way and he shoved the melted broken remains of his ice cream into one of their faces as he passed and pushed another man over.
The last one wasn't on purpose, really. The guy had just been in his way, stumbling between himself and Mokuba. Then he wasn't. Simple.
There was no one within a wide radius of Mokuba, the Blue Eyes White Dragon hovering over him protectively and making sure that no one came closer. The Dragon made no sound, which was kind of eerie, one would expect something that large and pissed off looking to be growling or something.
"Yo, Mokuba!" He called. The Dragon turned his head towards Jounouchi, showing a mouthful of sharp fangs.
"Jounouchi!" Mokuba waved, looking only slightly mussed. "I'm having some problems here!"
"I noticed." The Blue Eyes shifted, clearly putting itself between himself and Mokuba. Right. Like that was going to happen. "What's going on? And skip the whole 'Goons-tried-ta-grab-me' bit."
"They didn't, they tried to grab my backpack, setting off the portable Solid System prototype." Mokuba grumbled. "And now I can't turn it off."
The Dragon roared soundlessly at him, but he was standing just out of range for it to bite him. "How solid is it?"
"Solid enough to toss one of the goons." Mokuba reported back, his voice a mixture of pride and anguish. Pride at the fact the prototype worked and anguish that he couldn't turn the damn thing off.
The Blue Eyes White Dragon shifted again and Jounouchi moved in return, keeping just out of reach. While he didn't think it could pull a Burst Stream like this, he wasn't going to be the first to find out. And despite their bulk, Blue Eyes could move damn fast.
"Have you tried-"
"I already hit the power button, attempted to disconnect the power source and removed some of the circuit boards!" Mokuba snapped.
"Didja hit it?"
The younger Kaiba blinked. "No?"
"Well, try it!" Jounouchi grinned, dodging a strike from the Blue Eyes White Dragon. Jeez, the damn thing was temperamental. Just like its biggest fan. "It always works fer me!"
Mokuba shrugged, stood up, bumped his head on the Dragon's belly, then kicked the back pack.
The Dragon flickered, then began to fade out. It thrashed in anger, but now it passed through things harmlessly. Jounouchi took the opportunity to duck past it and finally get to Mokuba. "You okay?" He asked, ruffling the kid's hair.
"I'm fine, I'm fine." Mokuba waved it off, doing a brief check of the electrical components in his back pack with resigned air. "But I know I'm going to get detention for this. I'm not supposed to take stuff out of the labs to tinker on."
At the school's request, not Kaiba's. Although some members of the Kaiba Corporation stock holders fussed about their precious technology leaving highly secured premises in the back pack of an adolescent teenager, Kaiba himself really didn't give a flying flip. He still remembered how boring school had been for him. And so Mokuba bringing projects to work on to challenge himself didn't bother the elder Kaiba.
The school on the other hand, was terrified of some of the things Mokuba came up with to make, and so he was requested not to bring any of the 'dangerous' things Kaiba Corporation created onto school premises.
Personally, Jounouchi thought it was because the school board wasn't a fan of Duel Monsters. Evidently some of them had been terrified by the whole 'monsters on the streets' thing during Battle City.
"Not if we run fast enough." Jounouchi declared, grabbing the back pack in one hand and Mokuba's wrist in the other. "C'mon!"
Mokuba let out a breathless laugh as they ran out of the gates and down the sidewalk to where the limo was waiting. People scattered at their advance, no doubt having seen the demonstration in the school yard and not wanting to end up horribly splatted or some such.
The limo driver saw them coming and hit the button for the back door to open. It didn't open up fast enough for them to get in comfortably, but they squeezed through, Jounouchi pulling the door shut after them. "Go!" Mokuba cheered at the driver, bouncing happily.
Thankfully, and almost gleefully, the driver did so, quickly leaving the school behind. Jounouchi sometimes got the feeling that Mokuba's driver wanted to be an Indy sports car racer in a previous job, but hadn't gotten up the nerve to ask. Mokuba sprawled out on one of the limo's seats with a contented sigh. "It's Friday."
"So it is." Jounouchi grinned. Yay, weekend. Maybe they could actually get a chance to sleep in.
Mokuba suddenly sat up right, peering at him. "Nice outfit!" He grinned, pulling the sunglasses off of Jounouchi's head. His ears, freed from the glasses acting as sort of a head band to keep them pressed down and hidden, popped up. "Good disguise too. And it stayed on while you were fighting."
"Yeah, it was Yuugi's idea." Jounouchi grinned, tugging at the long sleeved shirt tied around his waist. It was partially buttoned up, the tail hiding on the inside of it. It was kind of uncomfortable, the fabric bunching up at the base of his tail was a pain, but it worked as effective camouflage. And as Mokuba pointed out, it worked while he was fighting.
Even if it did make him look like some sort of surfer bum. Yuugi had insisted he wear some of his old leather bracers buckled around his wrists to match the leather collar, to give him a more menacing look, but Jounouchi still thought he looked kind of silly, not at all like a threatening bodyguard.
"Have to thank him for it." Mokuba grinned, handing him his glasses back. "And hey, you can wear it while we're in America!"
Jounouchi did a double take. "AMERICA?!"
Author's Note: Nope, not forgotten. 'Guard Dog' has always been our fic to work on when we're brain dead on everything else, so it tends to fluctuate between periods of constant updates and long stretches of nothing.