I know this idea has been done a bunch of times before (or at least something similar, I've spent many hours reading some really great fics), but I just got this idea and couldn't let go of it! So here it is...
BTW, English isn't exactly my mother tongue, so some things might sound weird (in other words, possible German sentence structure, but I don't always see how apparent it is)... apologies, apologies in advance for anything like that.
I've got one more week of vacation to go, so I'll try to get back to this as often as I can (presuming you want that, of course). Bear with me...
Warnings: boy/boy pairing! (it'll take a while, though) You don't like it? Not my problem.
I'm still abiding by the same rule I set up in one of my other fics: My story, my world, my rules.
Disclaimer: God forbid if I'd ever own Yu-Gi-Oh!... (or anything else, in fact)!
"Guys, I don't see what your point is!"
"Come off it, Joey, you know exactly what we're talking about!"
"Yeah, use your head and think for once!"
"Then what in the name of hell am I supposed to do now?!" a blond teenager bellowed.
Luckily, it was lunchtime, so nobody else heard him besides his closest friends. All four of them were gathered in the deserted classroom, standing around Joey's desk. He was scowling at them, but it was only an attempt to hide certain desperation.
He was a handsome young man, yet he wasn't overly popular at school. He never buttoned up his school uniform and did everything that pissed teachers off. His hair was always untidy, but clean anyhow. Although he often tried to act tough and unbreakable, his friends knew that he really was quite friendly and easygoing. Right now, however, his usually high spirits were tainted. He had bruises on his forehead and on his right cheek, and one of his eyes still showed traces of being swollen not too long ago. He looked wrecked, but hardly anybody dared to ask why that was so.
Tristan, his best friend, propped himself on the desk with his hands and said seriously: "Dude, you can't go back. He'll kill you if you do."
"Where else should I go to?" Joey hissed.
"We'll find someplace. I'd take you, but my parents said it just isn't possible," a girl called Tea said.
"I asked Grandpa, but because we live in a game store, it can't work either," a smaller boy named Yugi said in a small voice.
"I just wish you guys could have come up with a solution before you simply came and packed my stuff, dragging me out of my own apartment," Joey grumbled.
"We'll find you something. We're your friends," Ryou, a white-haired shy boy, reminded him.
"Why couldn't you take him, by the way?" Tristan asked.
Ryou fidgeted. "You know what my other side thinks about other people at our place. If Joey's father wouldn't kill him, my dark side would."
"Shit!" Tristan cussed.
Joey moaned and plunked his head on the table.
"Don't worry, Joey, it'll be alright," Yugi tried to comfort him.
'Are you sure about that?' a voice inside his head asked.
'Not really, but I won't tell him that,' Yugi replied in the same telepathic fashion.
After school that day, Joey glumly walked alongside his friends, still not knowing where to go. He was starting to wonder what it would be like to sleep on the streets like a homeless man.
"Maybe Grandpa would let you stay for a night or two…" Yugi suggested feebly.
"Forget it; I'll just sleep on the streets," Joey sighed listlessly.
"Surely there's another solution?!" Tea cried, raising her hands as if praying to the Lord.
"Like what?" Ryou asked.
Suddenly, a dark limousine stopped next to them. The window rolled down, and a child's face which was surrounded by wild raven hair looked out.
"Hi guys!" the boy said cheerfully.
"Hi Mokuba," Yugi grinned.
"Where are you off to?" Tristan asked.
"Soccer practice. We're having a game in a month's time." Then the child noticed how Joey just stared at the sidewalk. "What's wrong with Joey?" he asked.
"Oh… um…" Tea fidgeted.
"Not much. I just can't go home anymore and will spend the night on the streets, whoopee fuck," Joey answered blandly with a bitter grin, not looking up.
"Can't go home? Why?" Mokuba Kaiba inquired, curious.
Yugi and Tea whispered an explanation: "See those bruises? His dad's been beating him badly again, so we came over, got his stuff and got him out of that place. It has been getting worse, and we doubt that he would've survived it much longer."
Mokuba's eyes got big as he looked back at Joey. "Where's he gonna stay now?" he asked in a hushed voice.
"That's the problem," Tristan interrupted, "We don't know. None of us can take him, we've tried everything. He can't even afford a hotel room or something; his dad never gave him money."
They were all good friends with Mokuba, but there was a special bond of friendship between the blond teen and the black-haired boy. Perhaps that was the reason why Mokuba said as if struck by inspiration: "Hey, he can come to my place!"
Joey perked up and frowned. The others twitched, and Ryou muttered:
"Ooh, that's risky…"
"Mokuba, do you know what you just said?" Tristan asked in disbelief.
"Yeah. So?" the kid asked, arching an eyebrow.
"That would be great if it'd work, but there's one big catch in that plan," Tea explained.
"Your brother," Yugi finished matter-of-factly.
"Hmm…" Mokuba thought for a moment, then burst out: "Don't worry, I'll talk to him! I'm sure he'll say yes! C'mon, Joey!"
"Kid, I don't wanna be mean, but I don't want to be called 'mutt' or 'dog' for God knows how long," Joey remarked dryly.
"Give me a chance, let me talk to him! Pleeeeease?" Mokuba begged, calling upon his notorious puppy-dog-look. It only took one moment for Joey to decide.
"Oh, okay. Let's give it a shot," he sighed in defeat.
"Yay! C'mon, get in!" Mokuba squealed, opening the door.
"Are you sure about this, Joey?" Tristan whispered.
"What other choice do I have?"
"If Kaiba treats you badly…" Yugi began.
"…call on me, and I'll talk to him," a voice that was like his, just deeper, said from right behind the boy. Yugi yelped – it was Yami, the Pharaoh who had been released when Yugi had solved the Millennium Puzzle.
"Geez! Don't creep up on me like that!" the teen squeaked.
"Easy, I wasn't going to hurt you or anything," Yami told him, "Remember my words, Joey. You know how Kaiba can become quite negotiating when I'm around," he told the blond.
"Yeah, thanks, Yami. See ya, guys." Then he got into the limousine, and as the window rolled up again, it drove off.
"I hope he'll be alright…" Tea remarked worriedly.
"If Kaiba does anything to him…!" Tristan growled.
"We'll surely receive word from him tomorrow, so let's just hope for the best. Let's have faith in Mokuba," Yugi tried to reason.
"He's right…" Ryou glanced at his watch. "Oh, heavens! I must get going, or he'll slaughter me...!"
"You ought to teach that bastard a lesson someday," Tristan advised him.
"See ya!" Ryou only yelled and ran off as if the devil was on his tail.
"Ryou, teach Bakura a lesson? Dream on!" Tea huffed.
"Yeah, that's true…" Tristan admitted with an embarrassment blush, scratching the back of his head.
Joey sat on a common wooden bench and watched the other boys of Mokuba's age play soccer. He wished he could also be so carefree, so innocent… although Mokuba sometimes was astoundingly mature for his age. The blond felt sick and full of dread when he thought about even trying to ask to stay at the Kaiba's mansion. Sure, Mokuba could exercise some power over his older brother, but would it be enough?
'Do I even want that?' Joey asked himself dazedly. His conscience answered quite promptly:
--Yes, you do. You don't want to spend the night on the streets. You just don't like the perspective of being called 'mutt' forever.--
'Who would?!' Joey grumbled back and sulked.
He continued to have that weird conversation with himself and almost missed the end of practice. Only when he saw Mokuba darting toward him did he snap out of his absent-minded state.
"Let's go, Joey!"
"You seem awfully happy to see me…" the blond commented as they got back into the limousine.
"Hey, I haven't seen you in ages!" Mokuba beamed.
"You're a jewel," Joey told the young teenager with something like brotherly fondness in his voice. Mokuba didn't miss it, of course.
When they arrived at the fancy mansion, Joey's unease became apparent.
"Don't worry, he's not home yet. He said he'd be later because of his work," Mokuba assured him as they went inside (to Joey's slight discomfort, two maids carried in the two boxes that contained his belongings).
"Is that necessary?" he muttered, "I mean, they can just as well leave it outside, there's no way I can stay here…"
"We'll see about that!"
"Say, if your brother's not here, do the maids make dinner for you?" Joey asked, noticing that they were in a nice kitchen.
Mokuba shook his head. "No, they just clean the house."
"But… what about dinner, then?"
A somewhat sad smile appeared on the child's face. "Well, as you know, my brother works a lot and isn't here often in the evening, so he always has the servants buy lots of frozen food I can warm up."
"That won't do! Sit back, little champ, and let me fix something for you!"
"You can cook?!"
"Sure! Dad surely couldn't, so it was up to me to prepare the chow! Now, what have we here?" he rambled, rummaging through the fridge. He found some chicken and some noodles in a little pantry. "Ha! This'll do!" He quickly found pots and pans, and Mokuba sat down on the counter and watched in awe how skillfully the blond started to make dinner. Like some professional cook, it seemed, he threw herbs into a creamy sauce and all the while watched over the boiling noodles.
"That's amazing!" Mokuba exclaimed.
"Nothing big. I can do more complicated things, but I figured this would do, right?"
"It's more than I would have bargained for," Mokuba told him.
"Here, try this." Joey handed him a ladle with a noodle draped over it. "Taste it and tell me if they're soft enough."
Mokuba obeyed. "Mmh, great!" he complimented.
Joey nodded and took them off the stove. A few minutes later, Mokuba was sitting at the kitchen table, staring at a plate which bore a chicken breast and a heap of noodles, all topped with a creamy sauce. It smelled genuinely delightful.
"Dig in," Joey invited him and pulled up another chair.
"What about you?" Mokuba asked, picking up his fork.
"I'm not hungry," Joey replied with a headshake, "just go on."
Mokuba only needed one bite to give his valuation: "You're the best cook in the world, Joey!"
"That's exaggerated, but thanks anyway!" the blond laughed and happily watched the younger Kaiba eat. He even forgot that he'd soon be facing a person with whom he barely got along.
Mokuba's older brother was true to his word and came home around nine that evening. It was dark outside, and it was raining a bit. Ignoring the umbrella he was offered, he swept right up the front steps in such a rapid pace that he barely got wet anyway. As he opened the door, he wondered what his little brother was doing. His surprise was great when he opened the door, but no one came running to the sound, no happy cry and no welcoming hug. Puzzled, the elder Kaiba set down his silver briefcase and proceeded to search for his sibling. Voices drifted out from somewhere and guided his steps:
"…you never told me he hit you."
That was Mokuba.
"That's something between me and him. No need to get you guys all upset about that," another voice said.
The young CEO of Kaiba Corp. stopped in his tracks. That voice… he recognized it, though he wished it weren't true. It couldn't be…!
"I hope you'll listen to the others; you shouldn't go back."
"How am I supposed to do that? I mean, I can't live on the streets… okay, I could, but that'd be the pits."
"How about if –"
"Good evening, Mokuba."
The boy looked up and exclaimed delightedly: "Hi Seto!"
A tall brunet stood in the doorway to the living room and was looking at them slightly reproachfully. He wore a billowing trench coat that made his appearance quite impressive. His cold blue eyes were fixed motionlessly upon them, and his mouth was a thin, unsmiling line. That expression faded for a very short moment when Mokuba hugged him tightly around the waist; his eyes softened a bit, and he fondly ruffled the raven hair. When he looked up again at the one who was still sitting on the sofa, his icy glare had returned.
"What are you doing here, mutt?" he asked crudely.
"Shut your trap, Kaiba!" Joey growled angrily.
Seto Kaiba sighed. "Mokuba, if you had to bring a pet home, why didn't you put it on a leash?"
"Take that back!" Joey yelled and jumped up. Seto merely smirked.
"Big brother, please listen to me!" Mokuba begged, tugging at the sleeve of the coat, "Joey's here for a special reason! Can he stay with us?" he asked straight-out.
Seto sighed theatrically. "He belongs in a dog kennel, not in this house."
Just before Joey would erupt, Mokuba hurried to explain: "Please! The situation is quite dire! He can't go back home, and he can't stay anywhere else!"
"What about a hotel? Oh wait, I forgot that dogs don't have money," Seto corrected himself sarcastically.
"Kaiba, you bastard…!" Joey hissed, balling his hands to fists.
"Please, please, Seto! You don't understand… his father's been hitting him!" Mokuba burst out. He had realized that that was a very personal and therefore very private issue of Joey's life, but the way things were going, perhaps it was the only way to reason with his brother, although the chances for success remained few.
Upon hearing that from his brother, Seto looked a bit more closely at Joey and discovered the fading bruises. He had seen even more faded ones when he had attended Domino High School, but he had always assumed that they were traces from street-fights.
"Can he stay?" Mokuba almost whispered. When his brother frowned, he activated his puppy-eyes face that was almost impossible to resist. "Please!" he added with a little whimper to strengthen the effect.
"…I'll think about it," Seto finally replied and turned to retire to his study.
"Hurry up a bit; I'd like to be able to look around for a new stay before the werewolves come out!" Joey snarled at his turned back.
Seto looked at him with one dangerously blazing eye. "You're slimming your own chances, mutt. Choose your words carefully." Then he left the room.
Joey spat disgustedly and flopped back down on the couch. Timidly, Mokuba sat beside him. Noticing the kid's discomfort, Joey tried to smile reassuringly.
"It's not your fault. Your brother's just a jerk, pardon my French."
"Do you guys get along so badly?" Mokuba asked sadly.
Joey shrugged. "I don't know what I did wrong. It has been that way ever since we met. Instant dislike, I guess."
"I hope you can stay," Mokuba told him earnestly and hugged his arm. Joey calmed down and smiled at the youngster.
"Thanks, kid," he murmured and hugged him back.
At around 11 that night, Seto was disturbed from his work when his brother poked his head into the study.
"Seto, I wanted to ask about Joey. Can he stay, now?"
The brunet looked up and saw the silently pleading look on the child's face. As much as he hated to admit it, but he felt himself losing the battle to tell him no – he sensed that it would make his sibling very happy, and Mokuba's happiness was the only thing that ranked higher than dueling or work.
"Oh, alright. But it's only temporary – one wrong move and he'll land on the doorstep," he added coldly.
"Thanks, big brother! You're the best!" Mokuba cheered and beamed at him. Then he left, taking care to close the door again.
Seto shook his head, almost disgusted by himself, then continued typing as if nothing had happened.
"This'll be your room," Mokuba said and opened a door.
"Wow!" Joey whistled.
The room was not smaller than either one of the Kaiba brothers – probably a guests' bedroom, Joey thought. It had a queen-sized bed in it with curtains to draw and everything. Like most rooms, it was neatly furnished, with a closet, a bedside table and a few cabinets. There was also a large double-window with a wide sill to sit on.
"You like it?" Mokuba asked.
"Yeah, sure! This is like a five-star hotel for me," Joey marveled.
"Great! I'll show you around the house tomorrow, okay?"
"Um, yeah… but remember that I have school tomorrow," Joey excused himself.
Mokuba smiled. "I know. When you're home, I meant."
"Home…" Joey murmured, looking around his new room.
"Goodnight, Joey. See you tomorrow!"
"You too, Mokuba. And thanks a lot."
When he was alone, Joey first walked around, looking closely at everything. The room was nicer than he had ever pictured it could be, though he was sure that it would be different if Seto had been the one to choose it and not his brother. Joey made a mental note that he owed the kid big time and would make up for it whenever he could. When he finally flopped down on the bed, the digital clock on the bedside table showed quarter past twelve. Groaning as he dreaded the early wake-up, Joey fiddled with the device and managed to program the time he wished to be woken up. Tiredness overcame him, and he barely managed to change into his navy-blue, battered pajamas before he nestled himself into the soft blankets and the fluffy pillow and fell asleep within minutes.
Feel free to review :)
Whether I continue or not, depends on you!