Right then... here it is, the final chapter of We Are Family! The first part came to me when I listened to "What I've Done" by Linkin Park...
And another thing: This first part is really based on my own experience; I was also ca. 15 years old when it happened. It was an issue that has been bothering me for years, and now I could finally get rid of it. Hope nobody's too offended - I support NOTHING whatsoever that has to do with the Third Reich and National Socialism! I know, it's disgusting that a teacher would teach you to do... well, see for yourself.
Still, I think that it is important to get a laugh out of stuff like that every once in a while. Allow me to give you an example: imagine that you're in one of those quiz shows (e.g. "Who wants to be a millionaire"), and this is the question: What was Hitler's first name? (Easy, right?) Well, the contestant says: "Heil..." (my brother said he saw this on the Internet!) -lol- (Sorry if anyone's offended by this, but I just find it hilarious!)
Solo's Orca: Well, when I wrote that, I was trying to bring it to an end that would sort of fit the flow to the last chapter, so I decided to make it short and sweet and kill him off. No big loss, in my opinion (maybe I'm cruel, but like one of my buttons says: "I tried to be kind, but it is much easier to be cruel")... Hmm yeah, but it'd have to reach the bottom of his neck, 'cause I've very rarely seen good-looking guys with shorter hair - maybe the Swiss men just aren't good-looking, who knows...?) Glad you liked it, BTW.
XxTypoMasterxX: Why, thank you very much! Hope you'll like this (admittedly, I'm kinda worried what people will think about this one, but I know that I don't have the will/power to come up with something different)... Hehe, yeah, puppyshipping rules 'em all!
sweetchica55: Thanks. Well, I thought that according to the fact that he still was their father, after all, he deserved a bit of respect (I mean, my grandma wasn't exactly nice to Mom either, but the funeral was lovely anyway)... I'm sad too - this story has been such a big part of the last six months, I'm actually kinda lost now that I'm done -sniff- But thanks again for your compliments, I always like to hear that :) And I thank you very much for all the reviews you gave me!
RomanGoddess4eva: -wails- I almost began to cry too when I realized that it would really be over! I mean, I practically felt like a robot in the daily life, but this story kinda offered me some sort of shelter, if you know what I mean... Ye Gods, I'll miss it... Hehe, well, I didn't want to allow him to hurt Joey again, so I thought: Hey, kill him off, at least he will have played his part :D Yeah, ich liebe dich is German for "I love you" (BTW, did you know some American artists said in an MTV Masters about German that it's an aggressive language and that not even ich liebe dich sounds... you know, nice and smooth, sorta...? In Swiss German, it certainly doesn't, 'cause we make lots of scratchy noises in the back of our throat when we talk -lol-) I'm glad you liked it, I was bracing myself for the fact that someone might be offended by it ;) (don't ask why, it was just some sort of feeling)
dragonlady222: Exactly, and remember how Serenity was worried too back in chapter 16 and how Seto said he hoped that she wouldn't worry someday anymore? Well, that day has come :) In my book, those memories will definitely help. That's true... after all, the fact that he was his father is undeniable, and like he said, it wasn't always bad...
Arisa Akita: Mixed feelings... yeah, I guess that's what some other readers who said that we'd almost have to be grateful to the man (because after all, if it hadn't been for him, Seto and Joey wouldn't have gotten together) would say the same thing. Actually, I hadn't really planned to expand the party like that, but I guess I didn't do it too bad. Ooh yes, I totally agree, I'd pay big bucks if I had them for those two to rock the joint -cheers-
Just so you know in advance: no matter if people are -ahem- offended by the first part, I will not change it or anything. I have no regrets. Ich bedaure nichts. Je ne regrette rien.
You guys have been so great, I've enjoyed all your feedbacks from the very start! No words can describe how much I thank you guys - all credit goes to you!! You made me such a happy girl... (P.S: they will never read this, but I thank my parents as well for being "walking encyclopedias" for me and helping me out whenever I wasn't sure about some expressions and prepositions... Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
Mokuba stared at the ground as he walked up to the mansion. He was hopelessly lost in thoughts.
'What exactly did we do back there? It… It didn't feel… right…'
He usually didn't initiate conversations that had to do with school, but this time he was actually desperate to talk about it with somebody. And he did have a certain target in mind as he opened the door and carelessly dropped his backpack next to the door before heading straight for the living room. To his dismay, it was empty.
"Joey?" he called.
"In the kitchen!" a cheerful voice called back, and Mokuba followed it. Sure enough: in the kitchen, Joey was in the middle of getting himself a glass of orange juice. "Hi kiddo. Had a good–?" He faltered when he saw the boy's expression. "What's wrong?"
"I… I need to talk to you. About school."
Joey raised his eyebrows – such talk from Mokuba was unusual. Especially that tone of voice; he sounded lost and almost fearful. "C'mon, let's go to the living room. Then you can tell me all about it," he suggested, and Mokuba simply nodded as they went back to where he had been before. "So, tell me about it. How was it, anyway?" Joey asked, flopping down onto the couch (miraculously not spilling his drink).
"We… We started the subject of the Second World War in history," Mokuba began.
"Ah. That's interesting, though kinda brutal, as you will see…" Joey grinned anyway – being happy and showing it – and motioned for him to carry on.
"You remember what I told you about our 'substitute' teacher, right?"
Now the blond frowned. Something definitely wasn't right. And yes, he remembered how Mokuba had had his doubts about that teacher (personally, he still referred to him as an old geezer, mostly), the one who had been assigned to tutor them for longer as planned after the previous teacher had ended up in the mental hospital for reasons the school didn't want to make public. "Yeah…" he said slowly.
"He made us do something… and I have a bad feeling about it." The raven-haired boy shuffled his feet uneasily.
"What did he make you do?" Joey asked and had another long sip of the juice.
The boy took a deep breath, then stood upright and stiff like a soldier, held out his right arm in a salute and said: "Heil Hitler!"
Joey choked on his juice, and because of his coughing, the glass actually fell out of his hand and shattered when it hit the floor. The juice began to spread out, partially soaking the carpet. That might just leave a stain, much to the joy of the cleaning maids…
"Joey! Are you okay?" Mokuba asked worriedly as he patted his friend's back.
The older teen tried to say something, but first he had to stop the coughing. Finally, he regained a hold of himself. Horror-struck, he stared at Mokuba. "He made you do that?!"
"…It is a bad thing, right?" the younger Kaiba asked guiltily.
"Oh yeah; it's awful, in fact. I can't believe it…!" Joey replied hotly. When he noticed the downcast look of the boy, though, he put his hands on his shoulders. "Mokuba, I need you to promise me something."
"Yes?" he squeaked.
"Please don't ever do that again. If anyone would see you doing that, you would get into a shipload of trouble."
Mokuba looked thoroughly miserable and confused. "I somehow knew that it was strange… I'm sorry, Joey…"
"Hey, it's not your fault," Joey murmured and comfortingly hugged him. He could feel the other's unease. He himself was deeply troubled now as well – and when he tried to imagine a class of 20 kids, all Mokuba's age, doing what the kid had just done, he even started to feel sick.
(A/N: Yes, this happened to me when we were introduced to that subject. Believe me, my parents hit the roof big-time, but because the teacher was almost finished with teaching us, they didn't look to have a conversation with him or something. They almost did, though, when I had the test on WWII: we had to draw the flag of the Nazis... -fidgets- Even today, I wonder about that incident; I mean, anybody who would have passed the school would have seen us…! Anyway, so this is where my personal experience ends, and what comes now is purely dreamed up.)
That evening, he tried to watch the news, but what had happened earlier on just wouldn't quite leave his mind. In the middle of his brooding, the phone rang, and he answered it.
"Hello, my sweet puppy," a deep voice answered him, and Joey's heart felt a bit lighter. He heaved a sigh of relief and said in a calmer, easygoing tone of voice:
"Hey there, Seto, how are you?"
"Oh, the usual. Meetings here and there, business day in and day out… and always missing you, of course. But what about you? What is the reason of that sigh I just heard?"
"Oh… um…" Joey fidgeted. He knew that it would be best if Seto would know the reason soon, though he wondered whether Mokuba would have wanted to tell him in person. As if the brunet had sensed his unease, even overseas, the voice became more stern and demanding:
"Joey, what is going on?"
"Well… it's Mokuba."
As he had expected, Seto's voice immediately acquired a tone of worry; after all, his "little" brother (actually, Mokuba had grown quite a bit) meant the world to him, and Joey knew that it broke his heart whenever the kid was sad or worried. "What is with him?"
"He said that they moved on to the Second World War in history today."
Miles away, Seto frowned. "…And?"
"He came home, and Jesus, he was so upset… So he told me something about that teacher –"
His lover interrupted him harshly: "Just tell me what happened, dammit!"
Something that was a cross between panic and desperation arose in Joey when he heard that intonation (it had been quite a while since he had last heard it), and so he simply blurted out: "The teacher made them do 'Heil Hitler', Seto!"
For a moment, there was nothing else but dreadful silence, in which Joey realized that he had said it just like that, without a warning. He had intended to explain it more gently, but no… Now, all he could do was brace himself for the storm – and it came before he could get properly started with that preparation:
Yes, Seto Kaiba was yelling. Screeching, in fact. His voice was so loud that Joey held the receiver at arm's length from his ear, startled by the sudden increase of volume. Then he heard a strange noise at the other end and pressed the phone back to his ear.
There was a scuffling noise and lots of yelling. And as far as Joey could tell, it was a tirade of curses that would have made him proud back when he had been in a street gang. He could almost picture Seto walking back and forth in the hotel room, eyes ablaze with anger and not making any effort to conceal it. Then he said something that Joey heard perfectly well, although the brunet wasn't even speaking directly into the mouthpiece:
"Joseph Wheeler, you had better not be lying – or worse yet, joking!"
Now he began to get angry. They had argued quite a few times over jokes he had made that Seto didn't find funny, but to think that he had such a twisted, sick sense of humor (not that there was anything humorous about it) – or that he was lying, even…! No, he couldn't accept that. He began yelling too:
"Who the hell do you think I am?! For fuck's sake, I'm not that sick! That's just damn wrong! You should know me better by now!"
He wasn't even sure if Seto heard that; just then, the elder Kaiba screamed in utmost rage, and for the second time that day, Joey heard the sound of breaking glass: Seto must have either swept one of the standard hotel room glasses off the table or flung it against the wall. Both options were highly possible. Another silence followed (Joey welcomed this; he preferred the silent Seto over the yelling Seto), and then a voice that shook with anger spoke again, though more quietly:
"…You're absolutely… sure?" Ah yes, the wild hope that he had misheard or was just dreaming…
Sadly, Joey answered: "Positive. Seto… he even…" He swallowed. "He even did it. He showed me."
A stressed breathing was audible, and then Joey was forced to do nothing more than listen to how his boyfriend started crying – out of anger, that was. He also heard a fist being slammed onto a table. "M-Mokuba…!"
"Seto, please!" Joey whined, hating to hear that immense distress, "Please stop crying…! Please…" He already felt his eyes become wet as he fretted over his helplessness and the distance that was between them. He wished for nothing else in the world than to simply hold Seto and comfort him, touch him, whisper in his ear, to kiss his tears away…
After a few agonized moments, the CEO managed to speak again. "God, Joey… I… I can't believe it… Where is he? How is he doing?" That last bit sounded frantic.
"Upstairs," Joey whispered, "He said that he wanted… to think about it. Alone. I haven't seen him since." He listened to how his lover took a deep breath before saying firmly:
"Listen; there are two things I ask of you. First, I want you to go see to him. Tell him that you informed me about this. You shall not leave him until you're absolutely sure that he is as alright as one can be in his situation. And tell him that I don't want him to spend another hour with that man. He can learn through you, if he wants, but I do not want to have him exposed to anymore of… of that. Second, I want you to call the parents of his classmates and find out if they know about this as well. Understand?"
"You got it."
An angry growl reached his ears. "That teacher will get his ass fired, even if it's the last thing I ever do!"
Joey didn't reply to this – boy, he knew that whenever Seto said something like that, it happened sooner than later.
"I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I know that you'd never lie or joke about something like that. I didn't mean to insult you…"
The blond smiled sadly. "It's okay. Hey, if I had been in your place, I probably would have done the same thing. I just wish that I could be with you now…"
Seto sighed heavily. "The feeling's mutual. I'd come home right now if these meetings wouldn't last another week."
Joey decided that he could take the liberty of trying to change the subject for a while – they both would be thinking about the whole salute-incident in the back of their minds anyway, but at least they wouldn't be talking about it for a couple of minutes… "So, are those meetings really as boring as some people say they are?"
"I seldom have time to be bored, but you would be, puppy."
Joey managed a small laugh, and at that sound, he almost believed to hear Seto chuckle too a bit. They had a bit more small talk, but what they had discussed before just disabled them from having a conversation like they had intended to. Soon, Seto excused himself:
"Forgive me, Joey, but I think we should stop now. I… I have an important meeting tomorrow…"
"Yeah, I understand. I hope you'll sleep well," Joey sighed.
"Mmh-hmm. Goodnight, puppy. I love you so much," he whispered wistfully.
"I love you too."
Across the Atlantic, Seto cracked a pained smile. "I love you more."
"No, I love you more."
"…Give my regards to Mokuba, okay? Hold him for me. Tell him that I love him."
Joey bit his lip. "Will do, Seto. …Goodbye." They hung up at the same time.
In America, Joey sighed yet again (the part of him that was responsible for his jokes considered calling up the Guinness Book of Records because of that), then went upstairs to fulfill his promise. He found Mokuba lying in bed, his brow furrowed in thoughtfulness and the grey eyes almost black with heavy, guilty feeling. On the desk, the computer was running, so Joey concluded that he might have been doing some research on the dreadful salute. He sat down on the bed and spent almost an hour with the younger Kaiba, sometimes talking, sometimes not. And although he visibly strained not to do so, Mokuba cried when Joey told him about Seto's reaction, and the older teen did his absolute best to comfort him as he passed on the brunet's regards and love. Joey also passed on the suggestion that he would teach him a couple of things until Seto sorted things out with the teacher, and Mokuba agreed to it. Later on, the blond called the other kids' parents; some of them knew about the ordeal and others didn't, but they all assured him that they would like to see the teacher get fired. Now that he had done what had been asked of him, Joey went to root through his school stuff for the notes he had made on the subject…
In Germany, Seto numbly walked to his bed and lay down on it. He looked at his hands, which were trembling slightly. With a frustrated moan, he covered his face with them and breathed deeply a few times. Then he turned his head to look at the picture on his bedside table. It was a portrait of Joey and Mokuba; they looked so happy, so carefree… The picture became blurred as he felt tears well up in his blue eyes. His brother, the most innocent thing he had ever seen… doing the Hitler salute?! No… In that moment, Seto didn't feel anything like the CEO of a flourishing company or one of the richest men in America – he simply was Seto, Mokuba's older brother and guardian. To realize that he had let something like that happen to him felt like betrayal, like failure; especially when he recalled Mokuba's doubts about the teacher ('And I had told him to show respect, for Christ's sake!'). Now he understood that those doubts were justified. In the darkest corner of his mind, his imagination conjured up a picture of the raven-haired teen: the cheerful face was rigid and unsmiling, the grey eyes expressionless and yet hateful, the right arm being raised and… When he heard his mind make that awful picture say those two words that sounded so wrong, Seto quickly rolled onto his stomach, buried his face in his pillow and started crying again. He sobbed with anger, bewilderment and sadness. The thought of Mokuba's innocence being tainted so shamefully nagged on him so much, so dreadfully much…
He found no restful sleep during the few remaining hours of that night. His mind just couldn't let go of the matter – it kept tormenting him with that image of Mokuba as one of them – and when he did fall asleep at one point, all he got was a nightmare about his brother, Joey and Nazis… hearing that salute over and over again, sometimes spoken by familiar voices and sometimes by unfamiliar ones…
A week later, on a Monday, Mokuba and Joey were at the airport, waiting at the arrival terminal with other people. They had gotten there far too early because they simply couldn't wait to see Seto again, but they had found plenty of things to do while they waited, such as drinking a cup of hot chocolate and letting their excitement get the better of them as they chased each other around diverse objects, giggling like sugar-high kids. Some people cast them strange looks, but they didn't notice that at all. The flight from Berlin appeared to have landed on time, and now they waited in the front row for the passengers to arrive.
Mokuba tugged excitedly at Joey's sleeve when he finally saw his older brother, who was walking amidst the other first-class passengers, pulling a black suitcase behind him. The boy did his very best to stay put until his sibling would have reached him, but shortly before that, he just couldn't take it anymore and slipped underneath the barrier to dash towards the tall brunet and latch himself onto him, happily crying out his name.
"Seto! Finally, you're back! I missed you so much…!"
"Mokuba…" Seto sighed softly, right away petting the black hair with his long, slender fingers. Then he ushered his brother along so they wouldn't be in the way of other passengers. After getting out of the arrival section, Seto fully embraced his brother. To hear the kid's melodious laughter again made him so happy… there was only one other thing in the world that made him just as happy, and the reason for that stood before him when he looked up again.
Joey was at a loss for words. He simply didn't know what to say. Seto had been gone for 6 months… He had thought that he would cry out his name, thanking the Gods out loud that he had returned, but somehow everything he had imagined to say had run away, and he just stared at him, an overjoyed smile plastered on his face. For a moment that seemed to last forever, they just looked at each other, and then Seto broke the silence:
Those two words, that simple greeting, seemed to sweep his temporary numbness away, and with a cry that resembled Mokuba's, Joey flung his arms around Seto and hugged him so tightly that the other teen gasped a bit at the sudden lack of oxygen. But when the CEO hugged him back, it was his turn to be short of breath. They drew back just a bit and were practically nose-to-nose.
"Seto…" Joey murmured.
He loved to hear the blond say his name. He liked it, no matter whether it was screamed with enthusiasm or whispered in the tone of voice that said 'I belong to you, you and nobody else'. "I'm so glad that you're still here waiting for me, my puppy," Seto said honestly.
"Where else would I be?" Joey asked him with a grin. Whenever Seto had gone on a business trip, he had been waiting at the airport when he returned; except when he had school, and in those cases Seto would be waiting in the limousine at the school when classes were over. And this was how it had been for –
"Three years; and still you're not fed up with me?" Seto asked with a smirk.
Joey laughed when he realized that he must have spoken those thoughts. "Of course not! I love you, silly!"
"That's good, for I love you too," was all Seto said before capturing his lips in a kiss. They took it to the brink of where innocence merged with pure and wild passion before Seto slowly ended it. With a smile, the elder Kaiba softly petted his hair once before looking back at his brother. Mokuba was all smiles, as he had been ever since they had laid eyes upon each other again.
When he gazed at the teen that looked just like Seto liked him best, he remembered what he heard from Joey a week ago. He felt himself tense up as he just stared at the boy's face, returning back to the point of not believing that he had performed that dreadful salute…
"Big brother?" Mokuba asked, noticing a look of sadness and yet anger on his sibling's face. And suddenly he understood. "Seto, I'm so sorry…" he mumbled, averting his gaze.
"You aren't the one who should apologize," Seto said as he placed his hands on the youngster's shoulders, "I'll make that teacher pay for what he did. I will see to it that he won't do that to any kids ever again. I just want you to promise me that you'll never do that again, you hear?"
"Good. Now, can you smile again for me?"
Mokuba looked up and did as it was asked of him. Satisfied, Seto hugged him, then linked arms with Joey as they proceeded to the exit. Things went as they always did – at least, until they were back at the mansion. There, they had barely gotten to the living room when Seto said:
"By the way, puppy, I have a present for you."
"A present?! Why? It's not my birthday…" Joey replied, confused.
"I know it isn't." Seto handed him a little present wrapped in gold with a blue ribbon. While Joey removed the paper, Mokuba got an excited glint in his eyes and looked up expectantly at his brother, who just gave him a small, mysterious smile. A moment later, Joey was holding a black box in his hand. When he opened it and saw what it contained, his eyes widened and his jaw dropped. Mokuba bit his lower lip with anticipation. Seto patiently waited until Joey finally turned his amber eyes to him with his mouth open but no words coming out of it before saying:
"Joseph Wheeler, will you marry me?"
It was all Mokuba could do to not jump up and down and squeal with joy. Joey gazed at the craftily made silver ring with the (not overly large) diamond again before looking up again. He sounded as if he still couldn't quite believe it when he answered:
"Yes, Seto Kaiba, I will."
Now Mokuba didn't hold back with showing his pleasure as he danced around them as the two lovers kissed passionately after Seto slid the ring on Joey's finger. Needless to say, on that evening they celebrated this new step in their relationship, and for the first night after 6 months, Seto could finally seduce his puppy again.
The following day, Mokuba was still smiling as if there was no tomorrow to come when school was out. His friends had asked him what was going on, but he fortunately had managed to stay quiet, knowing that his brother and Joey would announce it soon enough, and it should be a big surprise. When he walked through the front doors, though, the smile ran away from his face when he saw his two brothers (well, one would be a brother-in-law) approaching the building. Seto had a dark look on his face; he looked as if he were ready to kill. Joey looked rather worried, and Mokuba knew that his purpose was to interfere if Seto's rage would get the better of him.
"Seto! Joey! What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Come, Mokuba; there's still a score that needs to be settled," Seto growled as he swept past the teen, heading straight for the teacher's lounge. The students shrank against the wall in fright as the CEO came along. Mokuba hurried alongside Joey to keep up, trying to ignore the looks of the other teenagers that said 'You must be insane to go along with him'.
Unceremoniously, Seto flung open the door to the teacher's lounge. Currently, there was only one teacher sitting at a desk. He looked up through his glasses (which were on the lower half of his nose) and frowned. The way the skin of his face sagged a bit told a story about his age. He looked like one of those stern teachers you didn't dare to trifle with. Mokuba inched a bit closer to Joey as they entered the room behind Seto, who walked right up to the desk and got straight to the point.
The brunet slammed both hands down on the desk, his face livid with anger and started yelling as memories of his nightmare came back to him. Mokuba cringed at the loudness of his brother's voice, and Joey lightly patted his shoulders.
"…upsetting him like that! I should have you arrested on the spot! Didn't you think about what you would do to the kids by teaching them that?!"
The teacher glanced at Mokuba, then back at Seto. "Mr. Kaiba, I presume?" he asked, though not sounding very interested, "You should understand that that is a part of history and part of basic knowledge when it comes to the Second World War."
"Maybe to know it, yes, but just knowing how it looks like! It is not intended that one should learn how to do it!" Seto bellowed.
"Calm yourself, Mr. Kaiba," the teacher retorted.
Narrowing his blue eyes (and by now really looking scary), Seto leaned over the desk so the teacher's face took up all of his hate-filled vision. "What are you, some kind of bloody Neo-Nazi?!" he snarled.
The man gave him a look of disbelief and replied in a remarkably calm voice: "Perhaps I should meet up with your parents and explain to them why I included that in my learning schedule. Perhaps they will listen decently to me without making such outrageous, false accusations."
Seto grinned wickedly. "Our parents are dead, so you will deal with me!"
Now Joey appeared at his side and gripped his arm, ready to hold him back in case he really would lose it. "Seto, perhaps you should calm down at least a bit! You're scaring Mokuba!"
To his relief, the tall teen paused and briefly turned around. Sure enough, Mokuba looked badly frightened, as if wishing that he could be somewhere else and to have his brother back, but calmer and not in an outrage.
"Please, Seto, I said I wouldn't do it again! Can't we just go home…?"
For a moment, Seto looked torn, and Joey and Mokuba knew what was going on in him: part of him wanted to stay and finish what he had started, but another part of him wanted to give in to his brother's wish – the last thing he wanted was to see his sibling being frightened of him.
'It's for his own good… and the good of the other students as well… Well, I'll pull the strings in the background. He'll be gone before Mokuba's next history lesson.'
"This is not over yet!" he hissed at the teacher, then whirled around and left the office as quickly as he had come. Mokuba followed right away, not looking back. Joey hesitated a moment longer, casting a final glance at the man – especially since he was now seeing him in person, he wondered what on earth had driven the man to teach the class that salute – then he left as well. The teacher looked at the empty doorway a moment longer, then went back to correcting some tests.
As Seto had vowed to himself, the teacher was fired the day before Mokuba's next history lesson. The class and especially the teenagers' parents were very relieved.
And yet… shortly after the school hired a new history teacher, Seto had a restless sleep. His mind brought back images he had hoped to never see again: vast armies of Nazis, and among them, Mokuba marched along… a swastika on his uniform… then he was doing that salute… and some other soldier faintly looked like Joey… To make it worse, there also were words… "Heil Hitler!"… "Wir müssen die Juden ausrotten!"…
"Stop, stop it!"
Seto's eyes snapped open, and he felt as if it were 120 degrees hot in the room. He was breathing as heavily as though he had just run a marathon. The first thing he thought about was whether he had said that "Stop, stop it!" in his dream or here in the present. 'Oh God, that dream… not again…!'
"What… Seto?" a voice mumbled next to him.
He wanted to say something in reply, but his voice was gone. A hand touched his bare shoulder, and it felt pleasantly cool…
"Seto, what's wrong? You're…" A yawn. "…You're burning up…"
He still couldn't reply, so he slowly turned onto his back. At his side, Joey sat up and leaned over him. Seto saw how downright concern had already chased away most of the sleepiness in the amber eyes.
"You're not falling ill, are you?" the blond asked softly.
Shaking his head, Seto whispered: "No… I had a… a bad dream."
This situation was new to Joey; throughout the last three years, he had comforted Mokuba when the kid had had a couple of nightmares, but he had never seen Seto have one before. Unlike some really narrow-minded people, though, he hadn't considered that to be impossible. He decided that he might as well apply the same method he used on the raven-haired boy: he motioned to Seto to sit up, and the brunet did the next step all by himself: he just hugged Joey, practically clinging to him like Mokuba too did when being scared.
The other teen returned the embrace in the same fashion, except that his touch wasn't one of desperation, but rather of comfort. Slowly and tenderly, one of his hands rubbed his lover's back. Seto shuddered and held him even tighter.
"Ssh, Seto…" he heard a whisper very close to his ear, then he felt a soft kiss on his neck, "That's it… calm down…"
Seto guessed that this was how Mokuba felt when he was being comforted after a similar experience. The shock of what he had seen in his dream gradually ebbed away; it was replaced with calmness, gratitude and trust. 'So this is what it's like to wake up with a fright and have someone to chase it away…'
"Joey… thank you…" he breathed.
"For what? This?"
Joey drew back and gave a chuckle of amusement. "What did you think I'd do, laugh at you? Or do nothing?"
"I… didn't know. And I didn't intend to wake you up."
"Hey, I'm not complaining, wondrous as it may be," Joey replied brightly, then brushed a hair strand out of the other's face.
"Indeed." Seto sighed. "You know, this isn't the first time I had that dream…"
"No. I had it back in Berlin before – you know, right after you told me about Mokuba and that salute."
"Oh man…" Joey muttered heavily, "What was the dream about, anyway?"
"It was an army of those blooming Nazis… and Mokuba was one of them…" He shook his head a bit. "He said those words over and over again… I saw him do the salute again and again as well… and you too," he added faintly.
"Me?! Oh, I'm sorry… if only I hadn't said it just like that when I told you about that incident…!" Joey apologized.
"I'm the one to blame: I didn't let you try to explain it in a more elusive way," Seto argued, "But it's over now. That man is gone, and I really hope that we'll never have to deal with something like that again."
"I bet we won't," Joey assured him with a smile, then he looked at the alarm clock. "Two am… you can still catch a couple hours of sleep before work tomorrow – same goes for me and school. Lie down…" Gently and yet decidedly, he pushed Seto back down, and once that was done, he lay down as well, bedding his head on Seto's shoulder.
"If you stay there, I won't feel my arm in the morning," the CEO said quietly.
"Aw… don't make me go…" Joey mumbled, not exactly willing to open his eyes again.
For a moment, no answer came as Seto gazed tiredly at the other's hand that was on his chest – the hand with the engagement ring on the ring finger. A smile dawned on his face.
"It's okay, puppy. Do you really think I'd send you away?"
"Hope not." The murmur was now barely distinguishable.
Seto took Joey's hand in his own and kissed the blond's forehead. Once again, he was witnessing his fiancé's incredible ability to quickly fall asleep just about anywhere within a short time. As he closed his eyes, he couldn't help but think that he could barely wait for the next morning; a kiss didn't replace his beloved coffee, but it definitely helped to start the day well.
A year and two months later, their time at Domino High School was over, and they all graduated successfully. Two weeks after that, Seto and Joey got married. They only invited their closest friends: the 'geek patrol' (when Seto called them that as they made the list of guests, Joey just laughed, for by now Seto really only used that term as a joke), Serenity, Solomon, Carol and the Kaiba household staff. Davis got the honor of making the wedding pictures (later on, he described it as an incredible experience that easily rivaled the CEO's coming-out). Mokuba took great pleasure in being Seto's "best man" while Tristan did the same for Joey. When the priest had spoken the final words to seal the ceremony and the newlyweds kissed, the chapel was filled with rapturous cheers and also some tears (tears of joy, naturally).
"It was so wonderful… I'm so happy for you!" Serenity said to Joey afterwards.
"And you've never looked so smart before," Tristan grinned, plucking at his friend's sleeve.
"Maybe, but it's weird… a bit, you know…" Joey sighed. Of course, on this very special day, everybody had reminded him plenty of times that this was not the time to not tuck the shirt into the pants like he usually did…
"Bakura, what did you do to these pictures?" Ryou wondered out loud as he looked through them.
"Why? Are they fuzzy?" the thief asked, leaning over to get a look.
"There! There it is again! The finger!"
Bakura waved his hands in front of him in a defensive gesture. "What, no, it can't be! These," (he moved his middle fingers), "were just busy holding the camera!"
"I told you to make sure to keep it away from the lens –"
"What are you two arguing about again?" Seto asked, laying a hand each on their shoulders.
"The finger," Ryou explained, "It happens every time he operates the camera…!"
"Well, you are the one who takes forever just for one bloody picture!" Bakura retorted, "If you had done it, we'd only have one by now…!"
"May I?" Seto asked, then took the camera from Ryou after getting an affirmative nod. He had a quick look at them, and suddenly his white-haired friend pointed.
Seto looked at what looked like a smudge on the picture. Ah, so Bakura must have – probably accidentally – put his finger on the lens. Sometimes, the "smudge" was more apparent, and sometimes less… Now that he was fully in the picture, the brunet laughed shortly. "It's nothing that can't be fixed with a little cropping on the computer, don't worry about it."
Ryou looked somewhat abashed. "I'm sorry, Bakura… I had just thought…"
"You thought that by now, I'd be smart enough to avoid that little mistake," the tomb robber finished jokingly.
"Please don't say that; you know I don't think you're stupid! You're just… just…"
"…somewhat untalented when it comes to technical devices," Seto finished helpfully, and Bakura shrugged.
After settling that minor conflict, they all went to the Kaiba mansion, where the celebration continued. Sometime throughout that, Marik and Bakura (they really were practically as inseparable from each other as they were from their Hikaris) asked:
"Have you already decided where you want to go to on your honeymoon?"
"You're lucky," Marik continued eagerly, "You could do something cool, like go to the moon!"
"The moon?!" Joey repeated, "Wow, that's really far away…"
"The moon?!" Bakura playfully cuffed his Egyptian friend, "Are you nuts? What kind of honeymoon would that be? Don't you know that those spacesuits would be in the way of kissing, sort of? And it would take much longer to undress…!"
Clearly, Marik had only thought about how they would have a spectacular view of the Earth. "Oh… you're right… must've slipped my mind…"
"It's an interesting question, though: where do you want to go to, puppy?" Seto asked.
"Hard to say," Joey answered thoughtfully, "There are so many possibilities…"
"I'll follow you wherever you want to go," Seto whispered before kissing him.
"Aw, don't make me make this decision on my own!" Joey whined, using the puppy-eyes.
Bakura and Marik watched amusedly as Seto feigned resistance. "Give me one reason why," he suggested, moving away just enough so Joey couldn't quite kiss him.
"Because you love me," the blond told him with a wink.
Seto moved back to him. "That's a very good reason. The best, in fact. Okay, we'll decide together."
"Thanks," Joey smiled and ended the conversation abruptly for now by kissing him.
Bakura and Marik grinned at each other and decided that this was the perfect time to go look for their Hikaris – and so they made a silent getaway, letting Seto and Joey have the affectionate moment all to themselves.
In the many years that followed, Seto and Joey always attended the weddings of their friends as well. And like every couple, they experienced their ups and downs; sometimes, they got close to breaking up, but Mokuba and Serenity (his new assistance) always eventually managed to bring them to their senses. Many years later, Mokuba left the Earth before his two brothers, and it wasn't long before they followed as well. However, they were reunited in the afterlife and could be together again, this time forever. Forever happy. And forever a family.
So... This is where WAF ends. I know, the ending was probably totally, terribly/horribly/incredibly (etc, you pick an expression that suits you best) sappy and uber-cute, but I just couldn't help it, not after it had started out so... darkly or whatever. Hey, I'd wish Seto and Joey and all the others a happy ending any day :)
God, I'll miss working on this (my little "masterpiece" - it is the longest thing I have ever written!)... aside from school work, it was a major part of my life throughout the last six months. -blows nose- Well, they say that nothing lasts forever, after all...
This is the last time that I ask of you to review if you can spare the time - and since this is the last chapter, I'll personally reply to each and every one (via PM, not like what I've done throughout this story).
Looking forward to hearing from you guys, and hugs and kisses galore for your support,
P.S: Just for the heck of it, I'd like to list up most of the songs that inspired me throughout this story (some are explicitly mentioned, others aren't, but they're in chronological order and all are highly recommendable -hehe-) - music was incredibly important when I had writer's block...
"Life Is A Magic Thing" (Johnny Clegg)
"Wilbury Twist" (Traveling Wilburys)
"We Used To Be Friends" (Dandy Warhols)
"La Camisa Negra" (Juanes)
"All Night Long" (Rainbow)
"Rock DJ" (Robbie Williams)
"This Flight Tonight" (Nazareth)
"This Moment Is Eternity" (Nightwish)
"Your Guardian Angel" (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - thanks to blackorchid143 for that recommendation, it really suits Seto and Joey well and is now one of my favorite songs!)
"The Christmas Waltz" (Yuletide Carolers/Holly Players Orchestra)
"Piano Man" (Billy Joel)
"As The Years Go Passing By" (George Thorogood)
"Wonderful Dream" (Melanie Thornton)
"Heaven Is A Place On Earth" (Belinda Carlisle)
"Born To Be Wild" (Steppenwolf)
"Catch Me If You Can" (Ana Johnsson)
"Ending Theme" (from the game Snowboard Kids, no idea who did that soundtrack...)
"Empty Walls" (Serj Tankian)
"In The Army Now" (Status Quo)
"I'm A Believer" (The Monkees)
"Bright Eyes" (Art Garfunkel)
"Bang Your Head (Metal Health)" (Quiet Riot)
"Juke Box Hero" (Foreigner)
"Footloose" (Kenny Loggins)
"Boogie Wonderland" (Earth, Wind & Fire)
"Let's Spend The Night Together" (The Rolling Stones)
"I Was Made For Lovin' You" (Kiss)
"Walk Like An Egyptian" (The Bangles)
"What I've Done" (Linkin Park)
If you have any questions or comments other than reviews (e.g. WTH was inspirational about song XXX?! or major errors in the text), feel free to PM me!