Another stab at a Seto and Joey story. Again, probably not romance, and definitely not canon, but you guys can deal. It's a friendship story about them meeting as children, and how that would have been different. Lots of Mokie in this chapter too – he hasn't made enough appearances in my latest fics. I love that kid! I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh, by the way. That would be pretty cool though.

"Had enough yet, Takahashi?" one of the older boys jeered. Seto watched from the sidelines, struggling against the boy that restrained him. There were a few more boys standing a few feet away, slapping his little brother around. Apparently, the five-year-old had been mouthing off at them earlier at dinner when they teased him about the hole in his sleeve. And they hadn't taken it very well.

"Then come over here, why don'tcha?" one of the bullies jeered. "Help the little guy out. What kind of brother are you?"

Seto's doubled his efforts, but still no luck. The boy holding him back was a head taller than him, and perhaps double his shoulder width. Seto hated this. More than anything. Why couldn't it be him?

"I dunno, Tenshi," the boy holding Seto responded since he had not. "He'd do better just to teach the kid how to act around his betters."

"Seto, don't do it," Mokuba pleaded, as one of the boys shoved him hard enough that he lost his balance. "Don't do it, please… you can just have my lunch tomorrow! No, Seto, make them stop!"

"Leave him alone!" Seto shouted for what seemed like the hundredth time, only succeeding in doubling the amusement of their assailants. As they were laughing amongst themselves, another boy about Seto's age walked out of the mess hall. He watched for a second what was going on, and his eyes narrowed.

"Leave them alone, jerks," he said coldly. The boys stopped their abuse of Mokuba long enough to turn around and gaze at him in bemused surprise.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" the largest of the three boys demanded.

"Somebody telling you to pick on somebody your own size," the new boy insisted. The older boys looked around at one another, snickering.

"For your information, Blondie, everybody around here our size knows not to mess with us," one of them said, crossing his arms.

Instead of responding, the newcomer simply swung back and punched him firmly and neatly in the nose. There was a second of suspended disbelief before a thousand events occurred at what seemed like the exact same time.

The boy holding Seto slackened his hold on him in his surprise, and Seto leapt away from him to aid the new boy who was now facing all of Mokuba's attackers, sans the one whose nose was now presumably broken. Seto noticed the fear in the eyes of this strange newcomer, and felt a surge of pity.

"We can't possibly fight them all!" he exclaimed amidst the confusion. "Come on!"

Grabbing Mokuba's hand, Seto beckoned for the blonde boy to follow them. As the dust cleared, one of the attackers looked up.

"Hey – there they go! Don't let them get away!"

The source of the voice could not be determined, as Seto, Mokuba, and the new boy were all running as hard and fast as they could up the main stairwell, through the double doors, and down the hallway of Dormitory C.

"Quick! In here!" Seto exclaimed, pulling open the doorway to a janitor's closet. Once they were all inside, he slammed the door and pushed a large collection of buckets and mops behind the door and placed some duct tape over the knob so that it wouldn't turn from the outside.

Panting for breath, the boys sat down on overturned buckets and, in Mokuba's case, on the rim of the sink.

"Wow…" he breathed. "That was close."

"Mmmhmm," Seto responded thoughtfully. For the first time, he got a good look at their companion. He seemed to be about Seto's age, but had a different look about him. His expression was a little harder, and the sleeves of his t-shirt were cut off to reveal sunburned, strong-looking arms. All in all, he looked old beyond his years. The only traits that betrayed his age were his mud-stained jeans and freckled nose.

"You're brave," Mokuba whispered to the boy, who laughed. Seto put a finger over his mouth to remind them that they still needed to be quiet, in case the boys decided to check their hallway. No later than he had done this, voices were heard in the corridor.

"Have you checked under all the beds?" one of the voices inquired. His partner sighed.

"Yes, at least twice! They're not in the building; that's all there is to it!"


Now footsteps were heard, and they seemed to be getting closer. The three boys in the broom closet all held their breath as they seemed to come to a stop right outside the door.

"Do you think they could be in here, maybe?"

"I guess so. Try the door."

Seto felt his stomach flip over as the boy rattled the doorknob. He willed the tape to hold out, and after what seemed like hours, the knob stopped.

"Nah," the boy outside said disappointedly. "It's locked."

"Well shit," his companion snapped. "I guess you could have been right about them leaving the building. Let's check the back playground."


A few seconds later, the boys in the closet heard an outside door slam shut, and they all exhaled in enormous sighs of relief.

"I guess the coast is clear, then," Seto observed, getting up. "We can spend the rest of the evening in our room so that we don't run into them again. It's a safe distance."

"But Seto," Mokuba pointed out. "What about our new friend?"

Seto gave the boy an appraising look, and finally nodded.

"He can stay too," he said decisively. Mokuba cheered. Together, the three of them walked the short distance through the building to the room that Seto and Mokuba shared with three other boys Seto's age. Once they arrived, they sat down on the bottom bunk that they shared. The other boy sat down on the floor beside them.

"Thank you for letting me stay with you guys. I'm Joey, by the way," he said, extending a hand to Seto, who took it.

"I'm Seto. This is my younger brother, Mokuba."

"Yeah, I figured," Joey smiled.

"Thank you for saving us," Mokuba said, his eyes wide and serious. Joey shook his head.

"You're a nice kid, but I just shook 'em up a little. Your brother's quick thinking is what got us out of that alive."

Seto shrugged modestly. Joey looked at him, then Mokuba, and then back to him.

"You know, you guys don't really look too much alike," he commented. Mokuba nodded.

"People tell us that a lot."

"It's okay," Joey shrugged. "People say that about me and my sister too."

"You have a sister?" Seto inquired, his interest piqued.

"Yeah. She's a little younger than me – probably just a little older than your brother. You know, that's really the reason I stopped and helped you guys out. If somebody pushed her around, and I couldn't help her, I hope some other guy would come and help her out, too."

Seto nodded, smiling in a way as though Joey's feelings reflected his own in a very reassuring way. Seto immediately assumed that his sister was at a different orphanage, seeing how this facility was all-boys. Honestly, he thought for the first time how lucky he was that he and Mokuba were both boys and could stay together.

"Is your sister at the orphanage across town?" Mokuba asked, apparently having assumed the same thing. Joey shook his head.

"She's with our mom."

Seto gave Joey a look of confusion.

"If your mom is still alive, why are you here?"

Joey sighed.

"It's really complicated," he replied. "They don't know who I should live with, my mom or my dad. They're going to do a custody battle in a week or so, but between now and then I have to stay here."

"Oh," Mokuba said, looking as though he still didn't completely understand. "But that means you'll get to see your mom again soon, right? You'll get to go live with her?"

"It's not that simple, Mokuba," Seto interjected, his expression a little grim. Joey nodded.

"They really doubt that she's going to win," he said. "She'll probably just get to keep my sister."

"Oh. Will you get to see her?" Mokuba asked. Joey shook his head, his eyes tearing up a little bit.

"Probably not, kid."

So I'm going to continue this; and it will probably end up being about three chapters, each about this long. We'll see. I mean, that is if you guys like it. And the only way I'll know is if you review!