Note: Okay! Sigh.

It's finished. That was a long one. Thanks to everyone who has read my story and a special thanks to those who have reviewed. I hope you all enjoyed it  It's been fantastic.


Chapter 9

"Seto when is Serenity coming back? I like her, she's funny," enquired Mokuba as he attempted to stuff an entire pastry in his mouth. Seto quirked an eyebrow at his younger brother putting down his report to take a sip of his coffee,

"You know, if you eat too many of those, your teeth will rot right out of your head." There was no way he was going to talk about his personal business with the little scheming devil. Picking up the report, he began reading again.

Mokuba rolled his eyes and picked up his glass of milk.

"She's good for you brother. You can't live your life all by yourself. Besides the whole time she was here you were actually a reasonable person." Seto let out a sigh and stood up packing away his papers in his brief case. He pondered briefly whether it was a good idea for him to attend school. It would be the first time in a week and a half since he has seen Serenity and 2 days since he neglected to call her back.

Walking down the corridor towards the garage he mauled over his situation.

"We really haven't seen much of each other in a month. This isn't really working anyways. It's for the best. It was just lust that brought us together, and now it's over." He paused; thinking back to their time together and felt himself get uncomfortably hot.

"She's getting to me. I can't let that happen. If I am to be a successful business man I have to choose power or love I can't have both. This really shouldn't be a hard choice. I don't understand."

T minus 30 minutes before English class. The class she had with Seto. She glanced down at her watch again in frustration and then began rummaging through her locker.

"Stupid Seto! If I had never met him I would wouldn't feel like such a loser. Eh! Am I that gullible?" Grumbling she slammed her locker closed coming nose to nose with none other then Tristan. Startled, Serenity took a step back and gasped trying to no avail collect herself.

"Tristan, what are you doing here?"

"I came to uh see you," exclaimed Tristan taking a small step forward.

"Serenity can we go somewhere else, somewhere more private?" Serenity nodded,

"I guess I do owe him an explaination regarding my actions." A few moments later they stood outside, Tristan glanced nervously around, checking to see if anyone was around.

Walking swiftly over to Serenity he grasped her arms and pushed her against the wall.

"Serenity, I love you. I can't stand to see you with HIM. I would do anything for you. You have to be with me. I forgive you for everything you have done up till now, just be with me again. I really love you, don't you get it! Please Serenity." Tristan pulled her forward, into a hard kiss. His hands were rough against her as he tried to coax her to open her mouth.

Serenity pulled away from him as hard as she could and slapped him across the face. She felt sick to her stomach. She ran as fast as she could away from the school and away from Tristan. She couldn't help the tears from coming, cursing herself for not being stronger.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid."

Finally when she felt she could run no further she collapsed behind a tree at a park near her house and cried. She cried over Seto, and how he had let her think she was important to him. She cried over Tristan and how she couldn't love someone who was nice and normal. And she cried for herself, for not being a stronger person. When she had no more tears she watched the clouds and wished she could forget it all.

The Next Day...

"Serenity you commin?" Yelled Joey from the kitchen. Serenity ambled slowly from her room,

"I'm sorry big brother I'm not feeling very well, must be the flu. Say sorry to everyone for me will you." Giving Serenity the thumbs up Joey shoved the last piece of toast into his mouth before heading to the door.

"Now don't push yourself little sister, and get lots of sleep. Kay," said Joey spewing crumbs everywhere. Smiling as genuinely as she could Serenity hugged her brother whispering to him,

"I love you big brother."

"Just keep smiling, whatever you do, just keep smiling" she chanted quietly in a mantra to herself.

"Huh what was that Serenity?" He asked suddenly concerned.

"I just said good luck today," she responded giving him the brightest smile she could muster.

"Don't cry. Don't cry, please don't cry." Joey walked through the door, closing and locking it behind him. If he had turned around one last time he would have seen tears streaming down her face, hands closed into tight fists at her sides.

"What am I doing this it's so ridiculous. It's not like we were in love or anything, we just," she paused, "he doesn't mean anything to me and I mean nothing to him. We are classmates, friends at the most. I am being so stupid. Why can't I stop crying," she thought a war of emotion ragging within her. Sinking to her knees she banged her fists against the floor.

"Why can't I stop crying?"

At School...

"Where is she?" he thought looking down at his watch again. He had already seen Joey walk by but he hadn't seen her and the bell was going to ring any minute. He looked at his watch again suddenly realizing what he was doing and how stupid he looked standing outside alone on the school grounds pacing and staring at his watch.

"This is the second day." He pondered adding quickly,

"It's not like I care. I don't care." Turning abruptly he walked towards the school looking back over his shoulder quickly before finally hurrying inside.

He stared out the window stealing tentative glances at Joey. He was talking about something stupid Seto knew.

"Come on talk mutt about Serenity, get on with it already," he thought angrily drumming his fingers on his desk.

"Hey where's Serenity," asked Tristan pointing curiously at the empty desk.

"Finally," breathed Seto,

"Something important."

"Oh yah she said she was feeling sick. You know she's been acting strange since yesterday after lunch. I wonder if she ate something weird."

Tristan blanched at Joey's last comment. Joey caught this look and grinned.

"You didn't do anything to her did you?" Joey asked, shaking his fist mock menacingly at Tristan.

Seto watched the exchange with growing trepidation.

"N-no Joey. You know me. She must just be really sick. You know the flu's been goin' around and all. Half the schools out with it," Tristan replied hurriedly trying to move the topic of discussion to a less dangerous area.

"Yah well she was really pale and her eyes were all red and puffy," responded Joey knowingly.

"We'll tell her I hope she feels better soon. Hey maybe I could come over today and help cheer her up. I'm certain she wouldn't mind seeing me," stated Tristan matter-of-factly.

Seto snorted at this remark. He couldn't help it. In turn he received evil looks from both Tristan and Joey. He smirked at them in response, inwardly he grinned.

"Wait, why am I grinning? Serenity and I would never work." Turning back towards the window, Seto tried to ignore the rest conversation. Joey ginned mischievously over at Tristan, maybe you should bring that lady friend I keeping seeing you with all the time.

"I-I don't know what you're talking about Joey," replied Tristan, nervously glancing at Seto. Joey laughed light-heartedly and leaned back in his chair, he had landed on something his friend was uncomfortable talking about,

"Excellent," shouted the malevolent part of his brain.

"You know that pretty brown haired girl," he tapped his nose knowingly,

" I think she was the student body presid-" Tristan cut Joey off,

"Classes are going to start." Tristan turned around, stealing a glance at Seto out of the corner of his eye.

"Good it looks like he didn't hear." Letting out a sigh of relief and focused his attention on the teacher.

It took every ounce of self control in Seto' s body not to get up and beat the information out of Tristan.

"What would she want with Tristan?" He wondered thinking back to their brief interlude. It had been nothing but a headache. In the end he just avoided her. She told him that if he couldn't love her, he would never be able to love anyone.

"What could they possibly be up too?"

"Hey man you sure you wanna come over, she might be contagious or something'?" Stated Joey to a clearly nervous Tristan.

"Y-yes, I'm sure," he stuttered trying to keep his nerve. Joey knocked on Serenity's door as quietly as he could, he didn't want to wake her if she was sleeping.

"Serenity, you awake?" He whispered through the closed door.

"No big brother," she said as she lay on her bed staring out her window at nothing.

"Can I come in? I have a visitor here to see you," he said sounding as cheerful as he could. She knew it wasn't Seto but a part of her wished it was and that part made her heart race against her will as she turned to face the door. When Tristan walked she almost started crying again.

"I'm going to get you some soup kay sis," said Joey before Serenity could object. Now Tristan stood at the door nervously wringing his hands. She hated herself.

"Here is a kind boy and you have to go and like the dangerous one, what kind of person are you. You should be ashamed."

"Uh hi Tristan," said Serenity covering her mouth with a pink stuffed animal so she wouldn't have to smile. She couldn't smile not now.

"About that uh outburst, I, ah was just so frustrated, and I really do love you," he blurted as quickly as he could.

She couldn't give him the answer he wanted. She would be lying to him and to herself.

"I am so sorry Tristan. I hope you find someone some day."

"I see. Get some rest and feel better, okay," was all Tristan said as he closed the door behind him. He stood outside her door for a few moments contemplating his next move. Her reaction had been expected but her actions over the last few days had been unexpected. He had assumed that she would be weak now that she felt she had been used by Seto, but instead she was pulling away from everyone.

"She should have come crawling back to me, begging me to take her back. Serenity isn't smart or confident; she's just a pretty face relying on Joey and the rest of us." Tristan moved away from the door towards the kitchen and the smell of burning. As soon as he walked into the kitchen he caught Joey's eye, giving him the thumbs up.

"Hey man, thanks for letting me see her, I'll see you later." Joey grinned at his friend and turned back towards his soup. Tristan let himself out,

"I have to see her tonight so I can plan our next move," mused Tristan as he was greeted by the cool early spring air.

Seto paced in front of his hand carved mahogany desk. Ordinarily this kind of pacing meant he had just gotten off the phone with another CEO, or there was a major glitch at one of his gaming centres that was being particularly difficult. This time he was pacing for an entirely different reason. He couldn't get what Joey had said about Tristan's female friend out of his head. Ordinarily he would have dismissed anything and everything that left Joey's mouth, but this time his intuition was telling him something was happening.

"I am just doing this because I want to know what's going on. I need to make sure she's okay"

He stopped pacing suddenly.

"Now, how am I going to get them to spill the beans?" After a moment he pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled.


"Hey it's Seto, don't hang up. I need to meet with you. Now! It's about Serenity, I think she's in trouble. Come alone."

45 Minutes Later...

"What do you want Kaiba, this had better be good or I'm going to beat you so-"Threatened Joey an half a metre away from one, Seto Kaiba.

"Don't worry mutt, this is good," responded Seto, trying very hard not to give into his urge to tear into Joey.

"What about Serenity? I've noticed she's b'in spendin' all her time at home now. You know anything 'bout that?" Demanded Joey, roughly grabbing a handful of Seto's coat.

"That's not why I'm here," responded Seto removing Joey's hands from his coat and stepping back before continuing.

"I believe Serenity is being targeted by a rather nefarious individual." Seto watched Joey's reaction, pleased to note that he now had his full attention, even if he had been embellishing a bit.

When he was pacing earlier the only way he could think to make his plan work was with the help of, one of Tristan's friends, and there was no better friend to Tristan then the mutt. And so, here he was telling the mutt his sister was in trouble in order to get to Tristan who was in all likelihood trying to get Serenity back, which was unacceptable.

"This is why Serenity and I don't belong together. If she know I would go to these length's even if it was for her sake she would hate me," reflected Seto morbidly before continuing,

"I have reason to believe this girl is trying to hurt Serenity, but because Serenity is the way she is, she won't tell anyone about it." Joey eyed him sceptically.

"How do you know all this? Who told you these things?"

"I have my sources. It doesn't really matter does it? This girl must be stopped before she can do anything else," counter ed Seto, hopping Joey's love for his sister will blind him to the obvious holes in his logic. Joey looked at Seto, as if trying to decide how honest Seto was being by the look on his face. Joey scratched his head in frustration letting out a sigh,

"Alright, I'll help, but I'm watching you!"

"Okay, bring Serenity to the roof tomorrow at lunch on my cue, and don't take no for an answer, she needs to see this for it to work." Joey nodded once before turning to leave. Taking a few steps forward he stopped not bothering to turn and face Seto,

"She really does love you, you know. I really don't get it. You're a huge jerk, and she's well my smart, pretty baby sister. But, I guess there have been stranger things."

The Next Morning...

He had to plan things perfectly if this was going to work. He needed Serenity there, and he needed to get Tristan to make an appearance, there really was no other way. He had to find out what the plan was so he could stop it before Serenity was hurt. He mulled over his plan in his head, making sure he had everything worked out properly.

"There's no going back after this Seto. She probably going to hate you forever after this," he paused and glanced out the window at the cityscape in front of him.

"This is my parting gift to you Serenity. The monster will bear its fangs to save the angel, and the angel will see how truly terrible he is," whispered Seto to nobody. Turning from the window he pulled out his cell phone and dialled a number he never imagined he would ever dial again.

All of the pieces are set.

"I shouldn't have gotten out of bed grumbled Serenity as she sat in English class sending death glares at her brother, while trying desperately not to make eye contact with a certain person,

"Well, make that two certain people." She winced when she caught Seto staring at her. Turning quickly she met the gaze of Tristan.

As soon as she felt her heart start again she resolved herself to stare down at her work book for the rest of the class no matter what the situation.

"Mission successful," he mind cheered when the bell rang. The chatter began almost immediately; one topic was one everybody lips, Elaine and Seto, together, and they are such a perfect couple.

Serenity couldn't believe it. They had been together such a short time ago.

"Was it so easy for him to move on just like that?" Serenity stood up from her chair, too dazed to notice Tristan's attempt to comfort her. He watched in anger as she left the room without him.

"It wasn't supposed to be this way. She's supposed to need me," he thought, as he stormed out of the room to look for Elaine. Seto watched from the hall as Tristan stomped out of the room. Things were moving well, he had known Elaine would gloat to everyone she knew the moment after he called her, and that it would be around the school by morning. The thing that surprised him most was that in her time of need, Serenity had still been strong.

"I guess I shouldn't be surprised," thought Seto as he walked down the hall towards his next objective.

"This is just a game. And I am the best when it comes to games. I know all of the players and how they will react. This will work. I am doing this for Serenity." He caught Joey's eye as he continued to walk down the hall towards his destination. It was time.

When he got to the roof she was already waiting for him. If Elaine was anything she was predictable. He had to stall for the right moment.

"Hurry up Tristan. I don't have all day." This was the one part of the plan that was the problem. For everything to work Tristan had to make it to the roof right before Serenity. Timing was everything. Seto couldn't tell Joey this part of his plan or Joey would never have participated, he would have demanded more information, information Seto didn't have. So now Seto waited, leaving things up to chance.

She walked over to him slowly; he wanted to yell at her, to get away from him, but he stood his ground and put to use the skills in hiding his emotions his step father had made him practice over and over. She put her hands on his chest. He could feel her finger nails pressing lightly through the fabric of his shirt. He wished he had buttoned his coat. She said something to him, but he hadn't been listening, he was staring at the door. If he believed in a higher power he would have prayed to it them. She leaned in to kiss him.

It felt like time stopped.

The door slammed open. Elaine took one startled step backwards, glaring angrily at the intruder.

"Tristan," she hissed, he fingers clutching defensively around Seto's arm.

"Can't you see I'm busy," yelled Elaine through gritted teeth. Tristan shot Seto a dirty look before stomping up to Elaine, his back to the door,

"I can see you're BUSY. But we had a deal." Seto watched as the door began to open, he quickly shifted his position so he was blocking Elaine's view of the door.

"You do know what a deal is, don't you," yelled Tristan, as he fought to keep his emotions in check.

"I did my part for you, I planted the seeds of doubt in that little whores stupid head. For weeks I spread rumours. If you can't get her to be with you then that's your problem. I got what I wanted. Seto came to me on his own. You didn't even do any work now that I think about it. So leave me ALONE." Replied Elaine tapping Tristan's chest with her free hand.

Seto couldn't believe what he was hearing, she and Tristan's plan had been to break them up so that she could get him and he could be with Serenity. But Serenity had rejected him, which he could only imagine didn't go as planned. Now Tristan wanted Elaine to do something. He pulled his arm away from Elaine and backed away.

Her eyes widened with shock as she noticed Joey and Serenity for the first time standing at the entrance to the roof. Seto looked at Serenity hoping for some sign that she was okay.

She stared blankly forward. No tears.

Tristan followed Elaine's gaze to Serenity and Joey. He immediately turned back to Seto, his face red with rage.

"You did this didn't you, you manipulative bastard. You couldn't have her so no one can have her right. Is that it?" Tristan stepped forward his fists balled at his side. Seto stared at him coldly, his emotions carefully schooled,

"You don't deserve her, you never have, you never will." Tristan leapt forward but Joey was faster, and he pinned his friend to the ground. Joey glared up at Seto as he pulled Tristan's arms behind him and hauled him to his feet towards the exit.

"Tristan is right about something, you are a manipulative bastard." Joey left the roof, leaving Serenity alone with Seto and Elaine.

Elaine was now leaning against the fence a smirk plastered on her face.

"I should have known, this was all too good to be true," she laughed, straightening and starting towards the door. When she reached Serenity she leaned over,

"He really is the perfect monster isn't he? To be able to play the game so easily. It really does make you wonder how many of those rumours about him are true and how many are lies." Laughing she walked down the stairs before Seto or Serenity could respond.

Serenity was in shock, the last few minutes had been the kind of thing you would only see in a soap opera not real life, not her life. She didn't know how to deal with it all. When she had heard Tristan's words, the shock has washed over her in an instant, she had forgotten all about being angry with her brother for dragging her up to the roof in the first place, on the auspice that there was something 'super cool' for her to see, and that he would never speak to her again if she didn't go with him.

She hadn't expected any of what she had encountered, and from her brothers gasps and angry growls, neither did he. But it was Elaine's last comment that had really shook her to the core.

"Had all of this been easy for him? To play them all. Was this his plan, to make her look stupid and pathetic, because it worked? Was he really only with her to play some sort of sick game with her, and then discard her like garbage?"

She finally looked up at him. He had his back turned to her, his fingers grasping the fence his forehead touching the cold metal, his eyes closed.

He was waiting for her to ask the question they both knew she was going to ask.

"Tell me it's not true. Tell me I wasn't just part of a sick twisted game. Tell me," she paused fighting back the urge to run away and cry until she had nothing left.

"Tell me you love me," demanded Serenity, desperation and fear filling her voice.

She was standing behind him now.

He turned to face her, his hands letting go of the fence and falling to his side, his eyes meeting her's for the first time.

He brought his hand to her cheek, running his fingers along the sharp line of her jaw.

Closing his eyes he let his memory of his lips on her skin guide him.