Title: Insider Trading

Chapter: Hard Time

Word count: 28,702

Rating: Mature

Disclaimer: All the characters of Yu-gi-oh! belong to someone who is not me. These fan fictions were written for fun, not profit. However, this story does belong to me. Please don't snitch it.

Warnings: Probably a little of everything. Fighting, Blood, Gore, Bad Language. Japanese Legal system, which does NOT resemble America in any way.

Parings: Joey/Seto

Summary: Seto manages to get himself sent to prison for insider trading. How he and Joey manage to get along

Author's notes:

I don't know much about Japanese prisons, but, as my spouse is in Law Enforcement, I know a lot about American ones. This story is based on that knowledge, a bit of knowledge of Japanese people and the needs of this story. If anything isn't exactly right, just remember, it's a story. Enjoy. Remember, the Japanese court system is very different from the American one. They don't have jury trials for one thing. As to the rest of the fic. See below.

These are my resources for the fic.

1. http://books. in a japanese prison&sourceweb&otsuWUkhDnUj&siggRI1cIJPy68cJoFpo9b7jfEFi78#PPR18,M1



Insider Trading. Ch 1

Seto just stood as a cold chill washed over him. He was still trying to clear the ringing in his ears as they led him away.

He had thought that they would put him on probation when he'd taken the blame. Insider trading was frowned on but nearly everyone did it,except Seto. Mokuba was too young to realize the seriousness of the charges so Seto had taken the fall. But it seemed that the judge had wanted to make an example of someone and so Seto's sentence included prison time, two years to be exact. A possibility that his principal lawyer had failed to mention until it was too late to do anything about it.

Seto had forbidden Mokuba to be in court, he had also made Yugi Muto his guardian until he was released. Seto was well aware that Mokuba could give his game away with one word. He was also well aware that Mokuba was perfectly capable of managing Kaiba Corp. for as long as necessary. He, Seto, had been training him foryears to step into his shoes at a moment's notice. The moment was here.

The guard took Seto by the arm and tugged gently. There was no use getting rough with him, the guard was used to dealing with people feeling the shock of their sentence, he'd move when he could.

"Come on, son. No use standing there. Best to just get it over with."

Seto stepped down from the dock and allowed the bailiff to lead him into the back corridor, the one that led to intake. His lawyer followed.

Seto wondered why they took his finger prints again, since they had them from when he'd turned himself in. When the desk Sergeantcompared the new ones with the record, he understood.

"Yup. That's him. Ok. We got game."

Mr. Kobayashi frowned. "This is serious. Not a time for levity, if you ask me."

The Sergeant looked up from his paper work, accidentally hitting the wrong key in the section he was working on.

"Sorry, didn't mean to offend,but when you do this 40 times a day, you get a bit - callous, I guess"

Mr. Kobayashi gave a short nod, saying, "Well, that's ok, I suppose. Just remember, for some people this is a very traumatic moment in their lives."

The sergeant nodded. "You're right. Well, here you are. Go through that door and strip. Put all your belongings in this. I understand that you want Mr. Kobayashi to take possession of all if it?"

Seto nodded.

"He'll wait outside this door. So, when you're done, go on through the opposite door. We'll hear the lock buzz and then the backside door open. He'll collect your stuff from this side."

Seto nodded his understanding, accepted the print out the computer spat into the tray and walked through the door.

The guard who met Seto on the other side snorted when he saw Seto standing in just his shorts, the basket holding his clothing at his feet. "Off with everything,shorts too, it's not called a strip search for nothing."

Seto flushed heavily and dropped his shorts to the floor. The guard motioned him into a small side room.

"Ok, here's the drill. Just relax, follow directions, and don't tense up. I'm not one to get rough if I don't have to. So first just sit here."

The guard motioned to a small stool. Seto sat, waiting, while the man snapped on gloves. He turned and ran his hands through Seto's hair. Then he looked in his ears and rather embarrassingly, up his nose, using an otoscope to do so. He set it aside and picked up a sealed Strip-pac. Opening it, he took out a plastic tongue depressor.


Seto opened his mouth. The examiner flattened his tongue, then pushed it to each side. After that he used the depressor to pull his cheeks out.

"Ok. Stand up." Seto stood, flushing again. "You're doing good. This is the worst part. Don't take it personal."

The man used the depressor to lift Seto's penis and then push his testicles to one side then the other. "Lift your bag." Seto blinked, then understanding what the man wanted Seto cupped his genitals and pulled them up against his abdomen so the guard could see under it.

"Good. Now turn around and bend over."

Seto couldn't help his sarcastic, "Should I cough?"

"No. I'm just checking for contraband. Don't give a fuck if you've got hemorrhoids yet.Pretty as you are, you'll have 'em soon enough."

Seto cringed at that. "Don't think so. Things like that don't happen to me."

The man sighed, where this pretty boy was going, things like that did happen.

"Well, you'll see. Now, bend."

Seto bent over and tried to relax. He only partly succeeded so the exam hurt a bit. He grimaced but made no objection

"Fine,your new clothes are on the bench. The rest of your stuff will be issued on the other end. Good luck, son, you're gonna need it."

The examiner left Seto to dress in peace, for which Seto was grateful. He needed time to collect himself.

While he tried to gather his nerves, he inspected his new clothing. He'd been told that, once he was transported, he could have casual clothing of his own, but he had to wear a jumpsuit for traveling. He grimaced at the bright orange jumpsuit. He retrieved his shorts from the floor and then pulled on the white cotton socks. The jumpsuit didn't fit but, thankfully, it was a size too large instead of being too small. The legs were also too long, a thing that he found surprising. He picked up the boots, which were GI, and sighed, they were also a bit too big. But with the heavy socks they didn't rub.

When he was finished dressing, he went into the hall and stood by the door as he'd been instructed to. He didn't have long to wait, it was only a few moments until a third guard came to shackle him.


Seto handed the man the two sheets of paper and waited to be told what to do next.

The guard glanced at the papers, looked at Seto and shook his head. "Don't know what the hell they're thinking. That bunch will eat you alive." He checked the paper again. "Well, come on. Bus is leaving in just a few minutes."

Seto obediently followed the guard onto the bus and sat down on a bench. The guard fastened a chain to a ring on the floor, ran the chain through a heavy ring in the leg irons then fastened it to the handcuffs.

"Relax, sleep if you can. It's going to be a while. Hour and a half drive." He left Seto to his own devices.

Seto leaned back in the seat, this was not going well. He knew something was wrong. His lawyer had told him, when he'd agreed to this, that he was going to go to a 'country club' prison just a few miles outside Domino. That drive should only last twenty minutes in good traffic. He started thinking furiously.

The only thing he could think was that someone, somewhere, had messed up. But where? Or was it a plot of some kind. He finally decided that the only thing he could do was get hold of his lawyer at the earliest possible time. And call Mokuba. At least then someone would know where he was.

Two other prisoners were led onto the bus. Seto ignored them both, as well as the rest of the men.

Seto managed to avoid a confrontation with anyone on the bus by pretending to be asleep. He didn't like the looks of most of the man on the bus but he assumed that they were headed somewhere else. He still held out hope that his feeling was wrong. It wasn't.

The ride took nearly two hours. Seto watched the scenery out the window through slitted eyes. He wasn't that familiar with the area but he could read. And he was seeing signs that all said, "Prison"

He was sure that wasn't the name of where he was supposed to be going.

Intake was the hell he'd expected.

He was finger printed again. Then strip searched again.

After that, he was issued his 'duffle.'He was measured by a trustee who didn't really care if his clothing fit or not. He'd wanted to tell the man that, if his clothing didn't fit, he'd live to regret it. Instead he contented himself with telling the man his sizes.The man had rolled his eyes, but Seto had put on the glare that Mokuba swore would set your hair on fire and the manhadwritten down the sizes that Seto gave him.

He was issued three jump suits, socks and underwear, and flip flops. He refused to give up his boots. He was also issued a pillow, two twin sheets, a towel and a wash cloth. He was informed that he had to buy his toiletries. Since he didn't have any 'book' yet, he didn't get any.

He was given a cardboard box and told to follow the guard. It turnedout that he now had to attend orientation. All the new prisoners were lined up, given a small booklet and told to memorize it. Seto glanced at the first page or two. It was a simple list of rules and punishments for breaking them. The guard called him to attention and he tucked it into his pocket.

"The discipline here is harsh, but fair. If you mind your business, you should be able to stay out of trouble. If you get into trouble, you will suffer for it. We don't abuse you, but corporal punishment is used when necessary. Do not get into a fight with another prisoner. If you do, you'll be allowed to fight it out. Unless someone pulls a shank. Then the user will be put into solitaryfor 90 days. You can work if you like. If you don't want to work, you'll be confined to your cell for the work period. If you have any questions, ask. The personnel here are highly trained and you will respect them. Read yourbook. Know your book. Obey the rules and things will be easy. Be disrespectful, disobedient or lazy and you will not prosper."

The speaker nodded to someone out of sight and walked away. A bell rang and they were led out of the room and into the population. Each man was given a tier number and a cell number. He was also given a plastic name badge with a bar code and number on it.

Seto looked at his badge and immediately memorized the number. He also memorized the other numbers.

He was wondering how he was going to find where he should go when a guard came up to him and said, "Followme. "We've got a decent cell mate for you. He's young, but street smart and mean as an adder, but if you don't mess with him he won't mess you up."

Seto sighed and followed. He kept his mouth shut as it was all he could do to keep from making some very ill advised remarks.

Joey Wheeler settled on his bed and sighed. He was tired. Sticking labels on jars and bottlesdidn't sound like hard work but it was. At least he had a job. Many here didn't. But he couldn't stand being forced to sit on his bunk for eight hours, contemplating whatever.

He was working the early shift which meant he was up at 5:30 a.m. to eat his breakfast and be on his job at 6:00am, but that allowed him two hours of private time before he started having to fight for his, he snorted, virginity. He wasn't about to bend over for anyone. But everyone here wanted a piece of him. They weren't going to get it easy or at all if Joey had anything to say about it.

He was going to have problems too. He now had a cell mate. Someone who was either going to be a real help or his butt monkey, or both.

He wondered if he was ever going to be anything other than an utter failure. This conviction wasn't going to do him any good at all. He'd come in from work in a bad mood. He'd had to spend the last of his money on groceries which meant that he was going to have to walk the mile and a half to work for the next four days. When he'd barely gotten in the door his old man had started in. He'd blamed Joey for the fact that there wasn't any food in the house, but who was it who was supposed to be supporting who? When Joey had bent down to take off his shoes, the idiot had blindsided him, scattering groceries all over the floor. Most of the containers had either popped open or split. That had been the final straw as far as Jounouchi Katsuya had been concerned. He'd given the old goat a sock right in the head. Then he'd left. When he came back, the police were waiting for him. He'd gone with them without a fight.

His trial had been almost nonexistent, all he'd done was gone before a judge who'd taken a look at the pictures of his father, listened to his father tell him that he'd been a member of the Mako's and that had been that. Eighteen months for assault and battery. Joey Wheeler, A.K.A. Jounouchi Katsuya was now a felon. He hoped to get his record expunged when he came of age. Right now all he was worried about was surviving his sentence with body and mind intact.

He was also very tired of not having anything. He didn't have anyone to send him money, so all he had was what he could earn and half of that was kept by the prison. He didn't now what they were doing with it all he knew was he didn't have use of it.

And the Yakuza were becoming a problem as well. Could his life get any more aggravating?

It seemed it could.

He turned around at the guard's call, to see that his new roomie was none other than Kaiba Seto.

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

Seto stepped into the room and put his duffle down onthe bed without sheets. "Enjoying my introduction to the Japanese penal system."

Joey snarled. He was now going to have to put up with this? Perfect.

"Fine. Stay out of my face. I don't have to put up with you. Here, you're no better than I am. So get over yourself."

Seto gazed at Joey for a moment, then decided. "Look, we're stuck with each other for the duration. What's your sentence?"

Eighteen months for assault and battery on my old man. What's yours?"

"Twenty-four months for Insider Trading."

Joey couldn't help his jaw dropping. He'd heard Seto rant about that several times.

"No way! I know how you feel about that. What's really up? And why are you being polite to me."

Seto shrugged. "It doesn't seem very productive to call my cell mate a mutt. We have to get along or we'll both be miserable. We're going to be miserable enough without adding to the problem by fighting. I propose a bargain. A contract if you will. You don't start anything, verbal or otherwise, and neither will I. In return, I'll see what I can do for you when we get out. Deal?"

Joey eyed Seto for a moment. He didn't like Seto, disliked him intensely at times. But he did know that, when Seto made a bargain, he kept it.

"Ok, deal. I'll keep my yap shut. I'll even help you as best I can. I don't like you much. You're not a likeable type. But then neither am I."

"Thank you. Could you begin your help by teaching me to make a bed?"

Joey had been thinking that living with Seto would be a sore trial of his patience. But his rather shame face expression and polite request made him hope for something different.

"Yeah, I can. But I want to know a couple of things."

"And those are?" Seto knew what Joey was going to ask, just as sure as he was standing there.

"What's up? You hate me. So, why?"

"I already told you. It's counter productive to call you names or get sarcastic. And I don't hate you. I've managed to keep you off balance in all our duels by being an ass to you. It worked. Now I have to ... change tactics. I need you strong, not weak. We have to show a united front or we're going to be eaten alive. I'm surprised that you lasted this long. Understand?"

Joey put his not inconsiderable intelligence to work. He realized that Seto had indeed kept him off balance by insulting him and belittling him. But he wasn't the third best duel monster card duelist in Japan for nothing.

"Yeah, I do. I don't like you. I doubt that I ever will. But we'll work together, protect each other. But you gotta understand something now. I'm top. I'll always be top. You wanna do this, you're uke to my seme. Got me?"

Seto grimaced. "I hear you. Why?"

Joey looked at Seto for a moment. "Let me show you how to make this bed. Then I'll tell you a story."

Seto started to object, he wanted answers now, but a strange look in Joey's eyes made him reconsider. "Fine, show me."

So Joey showed Seto how to make his bed, mitering the corners so tightly that you could have bounced a coin off it. Then he ripped it all off and made Seto do it himself. Seto didn't complain. This was the only way to learn. He did it right on his second try.

"That's good. So sit down." Seto sat on his newly made bed. "I used to be a Mako. Then I really got into trouble. I had a choice to make and I tried to make the right one. I changed schools, got to be friends with Yugi and turned my life around. But old reputations have a way of haunting a guy. Pop ... he's a damn drunk, and a nasty one. He and I got into a fight an' I cracked his head. So here I am. But I built on my rep from the Makos, used to call me 'The Fist' I was an enforcer. Enforcers don't bottom. Ever. If we're going to make it, you're mine. Not the other way around. Now. What's it going to be?"

Seto bit at his lip as he applied his powerful intellect to the problem. He couldn't see any way around it. He was sure of what Joey had told him. One of the reasons he'd held Joey in contempt was he'd known quite a bit about his former life. Now that life was going to help both of them. He demonstrated his utter ruthlessness by saying, "This for real or can we fake it?"

Joey eyed Seto speculatively, evaluating something Seto wasn't sure of. "If we fake it there's a chance we'll be busted. Then we're both in for it, big time. I'd rather not."

"Ok, how do you want to play it?Am I a pet, a conquest? What?"

"I'm not sure. I want you to have respect. It's really important. Let me think about it tonight. And memorize the rule book. It's no use trying to get out of it. The guards will quiz you on it. If you can't answer, they'll beat you."

Seto just nodded and settled on his back on his bed and stuck his nose in the book.

Joey flopped onto his bed and went so still that Seto thought he'd gone to sleep. Seto went back to his book. After a while he realized that there was no way he was going to be able to avoid at least one beating, probably more. He resigned himself to the experience, it wasn't like he'd never been beaten before. Gozaburo had not been a gentle man, in any sense of the word.

Joey moved and Seto's attention snapped to him at once. That was one of the things that made him so dangerous in the board room, he caught every tell at once. If you made any movement he knew. It was also what made him so good at duel monsters. Almost everyone had a tell of one kind or another. A tell was some unconscious gesture that a person made when they had a good or bad hand of cards, or they had made a decision. You had to know your person to know what the tell meant and Seto was very good at figuring that out quickly. Joey only had one tell, he bit his lip just before he committed himself to something, good or bad. Not much help.

"Seto? I want you to be ... um ... the explanation you'll understand the best is, junior partner with benefits. That means we have to fight. And we'll be beaten for it. Can you do it? Or would you rather be my girl. That means you're on the bottom of the pecking order. You'll have to stay right by me all the time. And you'll have no freedom at all. I'll have the right to ... do anything I want. Not that I would, but it's not the position I want for you. You're too smart, too valuable a resource, for that. I want you to be my lieutenant, not my butt monkey. So, think about it, tell me who you can be in the morning."

Seto just rolled over to face Joey. "I can tell you now. I'll fight you. But what if I win? What then? And, as to getting beaten? Been there, done that, survived just fine, thank you."

Joey just raised an eyebrow. "Gozaburo?"


"Huh. And what makes you think you'll beat me? And beside the fact that I doubt it. You can't. You don't know the system."

Seto snuggled into the thin mattress. "Years of martial arts training. But you're right. I'll have to throw the match. Oh, and when can I make a call?"

"Sixty days." Seto reared up in surprise. "If you really need the call made now. Once the punishment is over, I'll make it. I got calls out the ass. No one to take a call so I just collect them."

"Sixty days!" Seto let his dismay show. No sense in hiding anything from Joey. If they were to be working partners, he couldn't afford secrets. "I want to call Mokuba and tell him where I am. I'm not supposed to be here. Insider trading isn't a blue collar crime. I'm supposed to be in some country club prison somewhere. Tell him to have my lawyer come here to talk to me. Ok?"

Joey shrugged. "Sure, but once you're here, it's real hard to get out again. The legal system bein' what it is. They won't admit that you're in the wrong place. They'll lose too much face. What do you want to start the fight about?"

"Why put up that sort of smoke screen? Why not let everyone know that we staged it just to establish dominance?"

Joey thought for a second plainly trying to formulate his explanation so that Seto would understand. "Because, if it's plain that we staged the fight, or they figure out that you threw it, we've got a whole bunch of guys asking the wrong, uncomfortable kind of questions, with their fists. See?"

Seto admitted that he did, and he admitted that Joey was right that he should be the driving force behind their relationship. "Ok, so, my thought is, we argue about duel monsters. It's something we have always argued about. If they know us at all, and I don't doubt that there's someone in here who duels, that would be the one thing no one would have a problem with. Maybe we should bet publicly on who's going to be uke to who. What do you think?"

"I think it's a great idea. I'll just bitch at you that my Red-eyes is more powerful than your Blue-eyes. It was a guaranteed fight two years ago. No one'll question it now. Unless you've got a better idea."

Seto shook his head. "I don't. When's curfew?"

Joey shrugged. "Whenever the baka's decide to turn the lights out. Right about ..." the lights went out. "Now, we can talk, if we keep our voices down."

Seto stripped off his jumpsuit, groping in the dark to fold it. He pulled back the sheets and crawled in. "I'd rather sleep, if you don't mind."

"I don't. I'll probably fall asleep pretty soon too." The rustling sounds told Seto that Joey was getting ready for bed too.

The next morning was difficult for Seto, he hated dragging himself out of bed before he had coffee.

"I don't suppose the routine includes the staff bringing coffee, does it?"

Joey snorted. "No. And you better be out of that bed and have it made before first count."

Seto grumbled as he levered himself out of bed. "I know. I memorized that damn book last night." He swiftly made the bed. "There. Is that good enough?"

Joey glanced at the bed, which was perfect and nodded. "Better than good enough. There'll be inspection, then we go to breakfast. It's just rice gruel and tea but it'll do."

The door opened just then and two guards entered. They didn't touch either Joey or Seto. They just examined the room, beds and footlockers. One nodded then they both left. Seto relaxed slightly.

"That all?"

"Yeah. When the bell rings we can go to breakfast. Then you have to come back here while I go to work. I stick labels, when we get you settled a bit more I'll see if I can't get you a job there too. It's boring, but it pays a bit and it's better than sitting in a cell for ten hours a day with nothing to do."

"What about our fight? When do we have that?" Seto was anxious to get that over with.

"Breakfast. Or just after. That's free time and I won't have to miss work. I don't want to take the chance of losing that job."

Seto considered this for a moment. That job seemed very important to Joey. "If it'll endanger your job, maybe we should figure out something else."

"No. One of the reasons I've got it is, it's so bad no one else really wants it. That's why I think I can get you one fairly quickly. Come on." Joey led the way to breakfast as soon as the bell rang.

Breakfast was as miserable as Seto had thought it would be. They formed long lines and shuffled forward a few inches at a time. They were all given the same thing. A bowl of rice gruel with a few flakes of bonito in it and a cup of weak tea. Seto and Joey carried theirs to a corner and settled to eat. Seto started to say something, then remembered that they weren't allowed to talk during meals. He supposed that was so that different factions wouldn't start fights, he found it annoying.

That was one of the things he was going to really miss, his conversations with Mokuba. Dinner was the time he'd reserved just for them, unfortunately it was often not possible to have dinner together, business and social functions made it difficult. When Mokuba had been younger, he'd had to leave him home. Now that he was old enough, they often conversed with each other to the exclusion of their table mates. He'd been looking forward to building a relationship with Joey. He scowled sourly at his breakfast.

When they got up to leave, Joey pushed Seto. Not hard enough to knock him down, but hard enough that he stumbled.

"Watch it!"

"What did you say about my Red-eyes?"

"Oh, that. Just, it's a wimp. My Blue-eyes is much better."

"Bite me."

Seto thought for a second that he'd love too, then turned to finishing starting a fight.

"Not a chance."

Joey slapped him, and didn't pull his blow.

Seto slapped Joey back. Joey blinked once then grinned. Seto wasn't sure he liked that look. It didn't set well on Joey's usually cheerful face. Seto had time to think that he hadn't seen Joey smile since he'd gotten there, then all hell broke loose.

Guards separated them. Seto had thought that they would be rough with him, but they weren't. They just got between him and Joey, making a wall of bodies. Neither of them tried to fight with the guards. They didn't want a stint in solitary. Besidesthe fact that that wasn't the point.

"If you want to fight, we'll arrange it correctly. Once the fight is settled, that's the end of your troubles. Understand?" The last comment was aimed solely at Seto. He nodded his head and followed the guard who had spoken to him.

Seto was surprised to see that there was an actual matted ring set up, right in the middle of a basket ball court. He was led to one side of it.

"Attention! There has been a challenge issued to Jounouchi Katsuya by Kaiba Seto. No one knows what it's about. No one cares." He motioned to Seto and Joey to come to the middle of the ring. "No gouging eyes. No blows to the throat. No blows to the genitals. No blows to the spine. No weapons. Fight until the match is called. Then stop at once."

Seto realized that those were the only rules. He took up a defensive stance that lasted all of three seconds. Joey stepped inside his reach and flattened him with one hard punch to the solar plexus. Seto went down, but got back up again, in a flickering shoulder kip that made the surrounding men hoot. He got in one blow of his own which bloodied Joey's nose. Joey nodded to him in surprised respect then finished the fight. Seto was never sure exactly how he wound up on his belly with his arm twisted behind him and Joey a heavy weight on his rump.

"Enough! Get up!"

Joey immediately got off Seto. Seto scrambled to his feet, keeping his eyes on the floor. He'd lost, not thrown the fight but genuinely lost. Somehow it made him feel better, not worse. When Joey cupped his chin in one palm, he raised his eyes to look Joey in the face.

"You're mine now. You lost, fair and square. You do what I say. You understand?"

Seto tried to nod, Joey's grip on his chin tightened. "Yes, sir,I understand."

"Good. Come on."

Seto followed Joey to their cell where Joey examined his face for bruising, found none then told him that he was confined to the cell unless he, Joey, was with him. Seto sighed, nodded and agreed that he wouldn't go out unless a guard took him somewhere.

"I got to get to work. I'll see if I can't get the boss to take you on. It's boring, tedious and basically a time waster. But it's money."

Seto thought for a moment, head bowed. "I'll have money as soon as Mokuba knows where I am. I'll share with you, if you like."

Joey rubbed his face with one hand. "I'm glad you said that. See, anything you have is now mine. Your book, your brain, your body. I won't take advantage but I have to show my dominance. I'll see you."

He left without looking at Seto. Seto managed to sit down before he fell down. What he'd done was finally beginning to sink in.

Joey settled at the small table and started to work. It was boring, all he did was stick paper labels on jars. But, as he'd told Seto, it was better than sitting in his cell all day and it brought in money.

He asked his boss if Seto could have a job and the boss said he could. Joey bowed slightly and thanked him.

"I'll like having Kaiba Seto work for me. Even though it's here. What's he doing here by the way? And why do you care?"

Joey thought before he answered, "Insider trading. We go back a way. We had our fight and he's mine. I want to keep him close."

"Oh, I see. Well, bring him this afternoon. Go now. I want my lunch."

Joey left, headed back for his house. Seto jumped him the second he got in the door.

"I thought you said we'd be disciplined for starting a fight. What's going on?"

Joey jumped from the sudden demand then settled. "Lunch in ten minutes. We better get in line or all the good food will be gone. I'll explain on the way."

Seto nodded and followed Joey out the door.

As they walked down the hall, Joey explained. "We're not going anywhere so there's no rush. The admin is reading over our jackets and deciding what to do right now. Since you're mine now, they'll keep it easy on both of us. Wouldn't do to antagonize the whole population by splitting us up and sticking us in solitary this early in a relationship. But we're both in for some lashes. Not sure how many. Can you take it? Or am I going to have to nurse you? I don't care either way. Well, I do. I don't want you hurting but I can't do anything about it. If you're going to have a problem, let me know, so I can make arrangements."

Seto just stopped and stared at Joey. "Excuse me?"

Joey grabbed him by the arm and hauled him into motion again. "If you're going to collapse or something, I'll do a trade and get a warm body or two to carry you back to the cell. I won't be in any shape to do it myself. And I can get my hands on some medicines. Not much, but some. I just need to know."

Seto sighed as he hurried along beside Joey. "I'm no stranger to a beating. Gozaburo wasn't a kind man. And his idea of discipline was harsh. I can take it."

Joey swore softly. "Asshole." Seto made a soft sound. "Not you. Him! How old were you when he adopted you?"

Seto shrugged awkwardly. "I was ten and Mokuba was almost five.I'll tell you all about it some day, but not now. It always upsets me and we don't need that just now. Ok?"

Joey got in the lunch line, nodding at the same time. "Ok." He changed the subject to food. "Here's the deal on the chow. You take what you're given. If you want something they didn't put on your tray, you probably aren't going to get it so don't ask. Eat all you can. If you can't finish, I will. I'm always hungry here. If we had money we could pay for better food but I don't have any book at all right now."

Seto shuffled forward. "I know you explained it but I didn't understand and that pamphlet didn't do a good job either. How do you get this 'book' and what is it exactly?"

Joey rubbed the back of his neck. "Book, is short for ledger book. The prison won't let anyone have actual money, it's too easy to steal and a guy can get stabbed for fifty yen. So you have money on the 'book' and the bursar writes an IOU called a scrip. With that you can buy extra food, soap and other stuff. Including cigarets and gum. Writing paper and pens. All that is our money. I don't smoke at all but I keep cigarets and gum. I don't have anyone to write to, so my paper and pens go for medicine and extras. If you have someone on the outside to send you money, it's good. But if you don't, you work a job to get money, but only half goes on your book. The other half goes into savings so you'll have money when you get out. Understand?"

They'd been shuffling slowly to the front of the line while they talked. Seto turned his head to see how close they were then turned back to continue their conversation. "Yeah, I do. You call Mokuba and have him put as much on my book as the place will allow. Then we need to ... hum ... I'll want a lot more questions answered. Later. We're at the head of the line."

Joey nodded. "And no more talking now. They'll take us out if we do."

Seto just accepted the tray of rice, steamed vegetables and pickles he was handed. It was mostly rice. There was also a mug of cheap green tea. He was astonished to see that there was only a plastic spork to eat with. When they got seated, he waggled it at Joey and raised an eyebrow. Joey gave him a smile that was more grimace than not. Seto knew that Joey had registered the question and would answer it when he could.

They ate silently and Seto did wind up giving Joey part of his food. Joey took the tray, eyed it and shook his head. Seto knew that he was going to get an ear full the second they got to their cell. He'd given Joey most of his vegetables, all he'd eaten was rice, pickles and tea. He wasn't very hungry and wouldn't be for a while. By the time he was hungry he hoped that they'd have a different diet. He didn't like squash much.

When they were finished eating, they took their trays to a small window and placed them on the counter. Seto started to leave but Joey stopped him. The trustee in the kitchen clattered things around then slipped Joey a small package, just something wrapped in a napkin. Joey scooped it up and tucked it in his shirt pocket then they left.

Seto was surprised that they didn't go back to the cell instead Joey led him to a small room on the next floor down. The minute they walked in, Seto realized that this was where Joey worked.

"Did you get me a job?"

"Don't know yet. Boss said to bring you down. I hope so. It'd relieve my mind a lot. I don't like us being apart. The chances of something happening ... I don't like our odds, that's all."

Seto nodded. "Yeah, someone want's to ... er ... make bones off you and I'm the object lesson."

Joey made a face. "Please, don't."

"Don't what?"

"Try to talk cant." At Seto's puzzled face, Joey elaborated. "Prison lingo. You're no good at it. To make bones you have to kill someone. And no one makes their bones by taking out Joey Wheeler."

"I thought ... well, never mind."

Joey turned to the older man behind the desk. "What's the what? Can Seto work here?"

"I understand that he's your property now. If that's the case, yes, I'll need a stipend of 20 of his first three paychecks."

Joey nodded. "You got it. I'll show him the ropes."

"You pay for his supplies, just like you do your own. I know you don't have the money right now, so I'll loan it to you. 40 interest. Pay at the end of the week."

Joey just shrugged. "You know I don't got it. What ya want?"

"Fight for me. One time. I got a good match. We'll clean up. I'll call it quits on every yen you owe me. How's that for a deal?"

"Steal of a deal. Who'm I fighting? And when? I'm up for a flogging so I'd like time to heal."

The old man just shrugged like it didn't make any difference to him. "I know. Next weekend ok?"

"Sure. I'll get to work now."

Joey just took Seto to the long table in one corner. "Here. Sit down. I'll show you what to do. We're lucky right now. It's all fairly big bottles and some sort of fancy jar."

Seto kept his tongue until the old man left the room, which didn't take long.

"Joey, those interest rates were ... usury. Who ... how ... damn."

Joey just kept sticking labels on the jars. Seto was doing the bottles as they were easier. It wasn't hard, just picky and Joey hadn't actually had to show Seto how to do it, one look was all it had taken.

"He's cheaper than most. It's ... a sellers market. Anyone who has money, lends it at high rates. You got to bribe everyone for everything. If I had money ... well, I'd be a prince in here. I know how to work the system and I can take care of myself. And you."

Seto bit at his lip. "And I know how to run a business, even a loan sharking one. I've got an idea. I'm just not sure it'll work. Talk about it later. When can you call Mo'?"

Joey thought. "I'm entitled anytime I want. Probably can't until after the punishment. Two days, tops."

Seto nodded absently, fingers still busy with his task. Joey smiled a bit bitterly. It was really bad when your best friend and confidant in prison had been your worst enemy outside. But what was, was. No sense fighting it or fussing over what might have been. He set himself to finishing his work.

They finished a bit early as there wasn't quiteas much work as you'd have expected but Seto assumed that the old man hadn't expected Seto to be working for him. Joey headed for their cell, which he called their 'house'.

Seto strode along beside Joey matching his every move. They made an interesting and intimidating pair, speculative eyes followed them as they walked.

Joey told Seto things he needed to know, finishing, "I know how ruthless you can be. Turn it on high. We'll either come out on top, or we'll be everyone's butt monkey." They reached the cell. "Fuck." Two guards were standing there, waiting.

"Come." Joey made a face but turned to follow the guard. Seto fell in behind him and the second guard took up the rear. No one seemed in the mood to talk.

It didn't take them long to reach the Warden's office. Seto expected a lecture on the lines of 'I'm disappointed/appalled/disgusted at your actions' but all he got was a hard stare. The Warden looked at Joey for a second, "I hope you've settled your differences." Joey just gave a jerky nod. The Warden searched Joey's face then Seto's. "Good. There's to be no more trouble between you. You're cell mates, act like it. Ten lashes each." He pointed to a door to one side of his desk.

Joey turned and walked through the door. Seto followed.

The proceedings were simple. Joey took off his shirt and handed it to Seto. He walked over to a framework and allowed the guards to tie him to it. It was a sturdy A shaped thing made of heavy beams of some sort of dark wood. They tied his wrists to the top of it and his ankles to the legs.

This left him on an incline, partially supported by the frame.

Seto shuddered, this was all so matter of fact. Gozaburo used to lecture him in a cold, dispassionate voice, or scream. Either one had left Seto feeling flayed, more so than a simple beating.

One of the guards noticed Seto's shudder and poked him in the shoulder. "Don't worry. We're not going to cut him. We know what the fight was about. Dominance fights don't get much of a punishment. We want you all complacent, not ready to fight it out with every guard in the place. But we have to establish order and fighting can't go unpunished. See?"

Seto nodded that he did see.

While Seto and the guard had been talking, another guard had given Joey a quick exam. He held his hand in front of Joey's face for a moment then walked away. Joey moved his jaw around in a way that puzzled Seto.

The guard came back with a rattan pole about as big around as Seto's index finger. It was wrapped on one end with a piece of suede leather, bound on with cross hatchings of leather strips. The other end was bound for about an inch. Seto assumed this was to keep it from splitting.

Joey remained silent while the guard gave him ten lashes across the heavy muscle under his shoulder blades. The marks went from there down to just above his kidneys. Seto nearly sighed with relief. It wasn't going to be that bad. Gozaburo had given him much worse for a great deal less.

The guards took Joey down and one of them held his arm for a moment to be sure that he wasn't going to fall. Joey then reveled what the guard had given him, a mouth guard. A plastic device that kept him from gritting his teeth too hard and chipping them. Seto started when his guard poked him in the back.

"It won't do you any good to just stand there. I don't have to drag you, do I?"

Seto shook his head. "No. I was just distracted. You're all ... being very nice about this."

The guard shook his head. "We're not being nice. We're being smart. Wheeler is one of the hardest of the short timers. If we antagonize him too much, we'll have a rebellion on our hands. We don't need the trouble. If you take my advice, you'll do everything you can to please him. He's dangerous. Very dangerous. I've never seen a man, even full grown and hardened, take a beating like he does. He almost seems to toss it off."

Seto stepped up to the frame and let the guard tie him. He didn't help, he wasn't that sort, but he didn't resist either. He looked over his shoulder at Joey, who gave him an encouraging nod, then accepted a clean mouth guard. He worked it into position and bit down on it.

Seto closed his eyes so he wouldn't see the shadows on the wall. He didn't want to know when the cane was coming. It just made it worse. The urge to dodge was instinctual. He bit down hard on the mouth guard.

The ten lashes were quickly over, none of them were nearly as hard as Gozaburo would have hit him. He waited until the guards untied him, offended when he heard one of them say, "He's probably out cold. On the first lash too."

Seto stood up, took his shirt from a smirking Joey and put it on. He noticed that Joey had his on too.

"Tough bastard." Joey watched as Seto started to button his shirt.

"You know it. We going?" Seto finished with his shirt.

Joey looked at the senior guard who nodded. "I'll make note of the proceedings. Wheeler? Did you want to make a call?"

Joey nodded. "I just turned in the request this morning. When can I make it?"

The guard shrugged. "You're here now. Phone's over there. Your piece can stay, if you like."

Seto flinched a bit when the guard referred to him as a piece, but he kept his mouth shut.

Seto gave the number to Joey who dialed it.

Joey waited while the phone rang, and rang. Finally someone picked up the receiver.

"Hello? Kaiba residence."

"Hello. Joey Wheeler. I want to speak to Kaiba Mokuba. About his brother."

There was a soft gasp on the other end then, "I'll get him right away. He's in his office."

Joey waited only a few moments, when Mokuba answered all he said was, "Wheeler, what do you know about Seto?"

"He's right here beside me."

"I want to speak to him. Now!"

Joey replied softly. "Sorry, Mo', I can't let you. He's in Sakura prison with me. We're cell mates. Listen, there's nothing I can do about you talking to him. Get your lawyers on why he's here, instead of wherever it is he's supposed to be. I'll take care of him until you can do your thing. Ok?"

Mokuba made a sound suspiciously like a sob then announced. "I understand. I'll have our legal team on it right away. Tell bro to write to me. And, Wheeler? Thanks. I'll return the favor. I swear."

"Thanks, kid. And put money on Seto's book as soon as you can. He needs stuff."

Mokuba agreed to do that as soon as he could. Joey traded pleasantries with Mokuba then hung up.

"Well, that's that. He's on the job. Sorry you couldn't talk to him. Come on, we need to get back to the house. Got some arrangements to make."

Seto had managed to overhear the whole conversation, not that Joey had tried to keep him from it.

They headed back for their house with purposeful strides, Joey telling Seto, "Never wander. Always look like you're going somewhere. And, unless you have some definite time to be somewhere, and an excuse from me, on paper, stay with me. Unless you enjoy being butt fucked by half a dozen Yakuza and a sumo. Got me?"

Seto turned his head to look at Joey for a second then turned to face forward again. The expression on his face made a man much bigger than he step out of his way. "You are kidding me, aren't you?"

Joey's grim expression said he wasn't. "Not a bit."

"Well, fuck, and not me, except for you.When do you want to establish your claim?"

"Already have. Got you a job, but we'll have to do more ... and let everyone hear it ... sorry."

Seto sighed. "You won't really hurt me? I hope."

Joey let Seto go into the cell first. "I don't want to. I'm not going to if you'll cooperate. You everhad a man before?"

Seto shook his head then flopped down on his bed. "No, but I know the general procedure. So here's hoping you're as skinny there as you are everywhere else. Sorry. That really didn't sound good."

Joey laughed softly. "I'm sorry too. Mai said I'm hug like a horse. Only, I'm not really. Just ... er ... sort of above average, if you know what I mean. And I'm going to get lube, that's one of the things I need to make arrangements for, won't take long."

Seto blinked several times, not looking at anything in particular. "Um ... sounds stupid, even in my head, but ... can I see you? Damn, I sound like a nervous virgin."

Joey choked a bit then laughed. "Well, I can see how, as you are. Nervous and a virgin, to men at least. And, yes, you can see me." Joey unashamedly dropped his trousers and let Seto get a good look at him. Seto gulped once, then again. Joey was soft right now, but there was no way he was going to fit. Seto whimpered softly. "It'll be ok. I'm good. I won't hurt you, as long as you relax. And I'll help you do that too. Do you think some hooch would help?"

Seto dragged his eyes away from Joey's groin, mostly because Joey pulled up his trousers again. "Hooch? ... oh, whiskey! Yes, that might not be a bad idea. I don't drink a lot and I don't want to be drunk. I might panic and then you'd have to ... er ... subdue me and that wouldn't be good. Dammit, Wheeler! ... Fuck!"

Joey settled on the bed beside Seto. "I'm really sorry. Way too late to go back now. But I won't hurt you. And the stuff they got here don't qualify as whiskey. Or even booze. Look, we don't have to do this tonight. Tomorrow or the next day will do. If anyone makes fun, I'll just rap 'em in the jaw."

Seto knew he was acting like an ass, he also knew that Joey was his only shield against a community he didn't know how to live in. "I'm sorry. And that's the last time I'm apologizing, it's just ... dammit, you're huge. And ... never mind. I'm shutting up before I make aneven bigger a fool of myself. We'll do it tonight. If I think about it too long, I'll probably ... I've never backed down on a challenge yet. I'm not going to do it now. Just do whatever you need to and come back. Ok?"

Joey gave Seto a long, speculative look then nodded. "I'll get some hooch and lube, talk to a couple of people and be back in half an hour. We'll ... do our thing after dinner. Might try meditating or something. Don't worry about anyone bothering you. I put a guy on our door long time ago. Little weasel, but he's loyal."

Joey went straight to Stillman's house and told him he wanted some of his best by tonight. Stillman promised him he'd have it by 6:00pm. "Best I've got. Not straight out of the still, aged a whole week. Great stuff." Joey just nodded but scowled at his next words. "Get that bitch of yours a bit drunk and you won't have to tie him to the bed."

"Yeah? I know him from before. Won't need to tie him up at all. Get that hooch to me on time. Hear?"

Stillman realized that he'd offended someone who had the ability to take over a significant portion of the underbelly of the prison. And reason too now. "Sorry, sorry. Just makin' small talk. It'll be there on time. Two cartons a' cigarets."

"I'll send it on Commissary day. You want an IOU?"

"No, no. not necessary. You're a man of your word. I know that."

Joey gave a satisfied grunt and went to find his second target, which was the infirmary trustee.

This guy was easy to deal with all you had to do was ask him for almost anything. He'd sell his mother for drugs. Why he was in the infirmary was a real mystery to Joey. "Hey, Musaki, how the hell did you get assigned to the infirmary? I always wondered."

Musaki turned to grin at Joey. "I was a pharmacist's assistant and I took EMT training. I can sew a cut and dispense medicines. It's just that ... well, I got no self-control when it comes to opiates. We don't got none here, of course. If you hurt, you get Tylenol. What can I do for you?"

"I need a big tube of K-Y Jelly. Got me a friend. I don't want him hurting. And some pain pills. We both caught a beating and I'm sore, so I know he is too."

"Nice boy. Won't do your rep much good."

Joey gave Musaki a fierce glare. "I want it easy, and I want it a lot. An' I don't fancy a wrestling match every time I want a poke. If I don't hurt him, he's not going to be sore. If he's not sore, I get more. Got me?"

"Yeah, an' it even rhymed. So, I'll get you ... damn, I only got small tubes right now. I'll just give ya half a dozen. And I've got some sample packets of extra strength Tylenol, that do?"

Joey snickered. "Yeah, half a dozen ought to do for the night."

"Fuck it, Wheeler, half a dozen times? You get it up that often?"

"Yeah, you better believe it." Joey just rolled his eyes at the man. He'd never get used to the fact that most men thought just because it was big he could keep on forever. He had stamina, he'd admit that, but six times was beyond what even he could manage. Twice was just about right.

He stuck the K-Y and Tylenol in a pocket and strolled out the door, thinking about his last stop.

Joey whistled then waited to be invited in. He whistled because it's very hard to knock on a door that's just bars. When Fujiwara, his boss, called, Joey went in.

"Sit, sit. I hear ya got it bad for that fight. Don't look bad."

Joey just took off his shirt. Fujiwara examined his back, shook his head and got out a spray can from somewhere. He sprayed the analgesic mist on Joey.

"Thanks. I'd like the rest of the can for Seto. I'll pay you on Commissary day."

"Sure thing, kid. That guy better be worth it s'allI got to say."

Joey put his shirt back on, fished some of the Tylenol out of his pocket, swallowed the pills with some bottled water he was handed, then said, "Kaiba Seto is worth every bit of it and then some. Hot ass. Smart. And he's a really fresh fish. Real fresh. Need advice."

"About? And when do you want to talk about the fight?"

"Sex. And now."

"You need advice about sex? You a virgin? Geeze, wouldn't have thought that."

Joey cracked his knuckles, making Fujiwara wince. "Ok, ok. Not makin' fun, just sayin'"

"Yeah, I'm a virgin. With guys, that is. I don't want to hurt Seto. This gets around and I'll know where it came from. Got me? And, as to the fight, I don't care. Tell me at lunch and I'll be ready for that night."

"I see. Well, here's the thing ..." and Fujiwara proceeded to explain homosexual sex to Joey. Then he set up a fight for the night after.

Seto waited for Joey as patiently as he could.While he waited, he picked over Joey's books and reexamined the cell.Not that there was much to see. His earlier explorations had proven that all Joey had was one shelf and a foot locker. The shelf contained a few books, an art pad, and a bottle of shampoo. Seto refrained from rummaging the trunk as it was locked. Instead he took down Sung Tsu's Art of War and began to read.

He read for about an hour, until almost dinner time. He put the book down just in time for Joey to come in and call him to go eat. Before they left Joey handed him two foil packets of Tylenol and told him to take it all. Seto didn't argue, he'd managed to ignore the pain but it was really wearing on his nerves. He swallowed the pills with a handful of water from the sink. Joey took his second allotment of pills dry. After that Joey sprayed the remaining contents of the analgesic on Seto.

Dinner was much the same as lunch, except that there was a bit of fish on top of the rice. Seto eyed the food with dismay. There wasn't enough. He gave his fish to Joey.

"What are you doing? There isn't enough for you, but you're giving it to me?"

Seto gave Joey a level look. "I'm not fighting for both our lives in a day. Eat it."

Joey started to say something, changed his mind and thanked Seto. He ate the fish and was glad for it. He was also glad the guards hadn't caught them talking. The men sitting on the other side of the table glared at them. If they got caught talking, the whole table could be punished.

They collected another series of envious stares as they returned to their house.

Seto settled on his bed to rest after the strain of dinner. His stomach was upset.

"You ok?"

"Upset stomach. Tension. I'll be ok. Oh, and you promised to tell me why we only get plastic sporks to eat with."

Joey grinned, a rather vicious expression which didn't set well on his usually open features. "Ever get stabbed with a chopstick? You stick a guy in the right place and he'll die. Throat, eye, heart. So, sporks. Hate the damn things."

Seto nodded. "When I get out, I'm buying myself ebony ones in their own holder. I'm never eating with anything plastic again ... ever."

"Me neither."

Joey rolled over and grumbled, "Where's my damn book? I know it was here."

Seto coughed softly and said in a rather embarrassed tone. "Looking for the Art of War? I've got it. Sorry."

Joey rolled back and pinned Seto with a laughing mock glare. "Hand it over. I want to look up something. And ... after lights out, we'll ... do our thing. Ok?"

Seto handed over the book, thought for a moment then just shrugged. "Any time. I ... this is just so weird."

"Yeah, it is, but ... well, I kinda like the idea.If you laugh, I'll punch ya."

Seto decided that any remark he made would be the wrong one, so he remained discreetly silent.

Joey changed the subject to an explanation of the rules of what Joey called 'the Mix' Seto listened carefully. Some of the things he wanted to know were included, some weren't. Joey answered all Seto's questions without a complaint about giving up his reading time.

Finally, Seto asked Joey if he'd be quiet for a little while as he thought things over. Joey just grunted and went to sleep. The noise outside their cell made thinking hard. Doors clanged and banged, things slid, clattered and thumped. Men cried, shouted, chattered and argued. The sound of scuffing, clomping feet was everywhere. Seto wondered how he'd managed to sleep the night before. He was sure he wasn't going to sleep tonight.

"Joey, what do you want out of this relationship? I can't ride your coat tails."

Joey wriggled around until his was half sitting up, looked at Seto then gave him a feral smile that didn't reach his cold, new copper penny eyes. "I want to own as much of this place as we can get away with. You're an organizer. I'm muscle. Between us, we'll do good. You know about how to make things work. I know about the Mix. See?"

Seto nodded. "Deal. First thing. We have to make sure that your fights are productive. Not just monetarily. We also needed to add to your face, which adds to mine as well."

"Yes, face is important. I've got a rep as a bad mother fucker. Don't mess with me, or I'll mess you up. Like that. But I don't have much pull because I don't have much commissary. If Mo' comes through, we'll have more pull. We can bribe the guards for better food first off. And use some of the stuff to get better privileges and help out the 'makers'" Seto gave him a puzzled look. "The guys who can make stuff. Hooch, drugs; not that I use them, but they're money here, and useful stuff like mirrors and ... not sure what all. I'll do some bargaining, when I have stuff to bargain with."

Seto sat up straight. "No drugs. I won't filthy my hands with them, even in here."

Joey waved his hand in a quick gesture of negation. "I won't either. Just ... you need to know that it's out there. And how to keep someone from slipping you something. You don't ever take a drink from anyone but me. And don't leave anything unattended. Got me? Roofies are a real problem."

"Date rape? What the ... never mind. I assume that some of these guys are really hard up." Changing the subject, Seto got back to planning. "Mo' will get me money as soon as he can. How soon do you suppose he can manage it and how do I find out about it?"

Joey picked at his lip for a moment. "If Mo' manages to get it deposited today, we'll know about it tomorrow afternoon. We can't spend any of it until Saturday, but we'll know how much we have and we can plan on what to buy with it."

"Ok. You find out who wants what. I'll find out what we can get. Can we get care packages from outside? And how do we get better food in that hall?"

"We can get care packages, they don't even bother to open them. They just x-ray them. Most guys can't afford banned goods any way. And, if we can afford the bribes, we go to a different dinning room. And, you need to be really careful in there, it's full of Yakuza, high-ranking one's."

Seto snorted. "I'll have you know that I've probably dealt with some of them on a social basis. I've managed to keep my knee caps intact up til now. I don't think I'll make the social gaff of offending some Oyabun."

Joey just grunted, 'Good' and punched his pillow. He grumbled then fished the rest of the Tylenol out of his pocket. "Here. Take two more then put the rest in your foot locker and lock it."

Seto nodded and did as he was told. He was going to have to get used to taking orders from Joey, much as it rankled. They were going to get along. Joey didn't seem to be having any problems. Seto quashed his desire to be snarky with Joey with such ruthlessness that he nearly forgot it. He was going to survive this.

Joey got up. It was past midnight and as quiet as it was going to get. If the place had been a hotel, he'd have checked out months ago. He could still hear banging doors and shouts. The man in the cell across the hall was snoring and another down the way was crying. Joey pulled the blanket off his bed and used two pieces of string to tie the corners to bars in the door, stretching it across the bars. Everyone would know what they were up to but they'd have the illusion of privacy.

"Seto, wake up, it's time."

Seto opened his eyes. "I'm awake. How do you want to do this?"

"We'll pull the mattresses off the bed and put them on the floor, that'll give us room to maneuver. Here." Joey hauled at his mattress, Seto moved to help.

It didn't take them long to get the mattresses onto the floor. Joey spread one sheet over the mattresses and tossed another loosely over that. He put a blanket on top of the sheet. When he started stripping off his jump suit, Seto joined him. They both folded their garments and put them both on a small stool. Seto's beneath Joey's.

Joey settled on the mattress and got hold of Seto. He flinched.

"Dammit, Joey. How the hell can you see anything in this ... stygian gloom."

"You're breathin' ain't ya?"

Seto made a frustrated sound and gave in. He settled himself beside Joey by feel, obviously Joey could see much better than he could. Seto tried to relax against Joey, this wouldn't go well if he was tense.

"Easy there. I've got you." Joey wrapped his arms around Seto and rubbed his arms. "Cold?"

Seto shivered again. "A bit. It's cold as hell in here."

"Yeah, they don't waste money on much of anything. Let me rub your back, turn to face me."

Seto obediently moved around to face Joey. Joey tentatively kissed him, missing his mouth a bit. Seto laughed softly. Joey nipped his lower lip in revenge.

They rolled around on the mattresses a bit then Joey eased Seto onto his back. Seto didn't balk but he wondered, "Uum ... aren't I supposed to be in a different position?"

"Yeah, and no. I just want to kiss and stuff a bit. Let us both kinda get used to the idea. Have our drink and relax. Then you can get on your knees so I can get you ready. After that, it's sort of, whatever. And I know a position that's easy on both of us. If you don't like it we can change around. I don't want you scared or tense. I won't hurt you."

"That's good. I ... um ... I don't think I like the ass-in-the-air position. Doesn't seem very dignified. I'll give you my money, my ass and my brain. Leave me something. Ok?"

"Ok, here, take this." Joey pressed a paper cup into Seto's hand. Seto smelled it and winced. The smell of raw alcohol was harsh. He took a sip and shuddered. He managed a healthy swallow but gagged slightly.

Joey laughed softly. "That bad?" Seto heard him take a sip of his own. "Oh, man, that's just nasty. I'll get Stillman for this. He swore it was aged."

Seto snickered, the alcohol was already going to his head a bit. The stuff was strong enough to dissolve the cup. "Aged how long? A whole day?"

Joey snickered, "He swore a whole week." He managed to sound indignant but spoiled it by snickering again.

Seto emptied the cup and set it aside. "I don't think I'll need anymore of that, thank you. I think I'm ready, if you are."

Joey grunted what sounded like assent so Seto eased back onto his back. Joey lay down half on top of him. Joey initiated a kiss that he hoped would curl Seto's toes. Seto replied with one that surely curled his. Joey started to relax a bit. Seto relaxed a lot. If Joey was going to the trouble to make sure he liked his kisses, Seto was sure Joey would make the rest as pleasurable as possible.

Joey fumbled a bit as he reached for Seto's nipple but he found it and stroked it with the rough side of his thumb. Seto idly wondered how Joey got it then forgot that as the sensation it raised reached his brain then his groin. He whimpered slightly. Joey leaned down and tongued the other nipple and Seto had to hold himself still by pure force of will. He really wanted to rear up and grab Joey's ears. When Joey let his mouth drift lower, he nearly did.

When Seto came back to himself, he realized that Joey had managed to sneak a finger into him while he was dazed by lust. He clenched down instinctively.

"Relax. Can you turn over and get on your knees? Or would you rather be on your side? Easy, don't hurt yourself."

Seto managed to get to his side by rolling away from Joey while pulling his top leg to his chest at the same time. Joey wriggled his finger carefully and found what he was looking for. Seto stifled a yelp. There was some shouting from outside the cell but they ignored it.

Joey murmured soft words of praise as Seto relaxed more, allowing two fingers into his core. Seto clutched his shin with both hands and breathed into the thrusting fingers. It wasn't so bad, in fact it was turning out to be very nice, especially when Joey rubbed his fingers over that special spot. That spot that sent sparks dancing up and down his spine.

Seto encouraged Joey with soft whimpers and murmured yes's. "Oh, Joey, that's good. Really good." He rubbed his shoulders against Joey's chest. "More please."

Joey obliged him, only telling him to wait a moment. "I got to get more K-Y, so I don't make you too sore."

Seto got demanding. "More, now. Please, I don't think I can wait much longer."

Joey wriggled his fingers a bit, trying to check that Seto was sufficiently prepared. He thought Seto was and so did Seto. Joey eased into Seto's hot core so slowly that Seto tried to push back. Joey didn't let him, instead he held him still. "Wait, get used to it. I'm only half way in. Hold still or I'll blow now. Try to relax."

"I am, but it's hard. It's starting to hurt. Go slow."

Joey groaned but complied. "Ok." Joey eased in bit by bit, then stilled himself again. "Keep tryin' ta relax. I'm about to lose my mind here."

Seto sighed and did as Joey said. It finally felt good. He nodded. "Move now." Joey gave a little whimper of his own. "Move, or I swear I'll ... make you regret it."

Joey snickered. He began to thrust, carefully easing in a bit more each time. Seto relaxed and accepted. Joey moved faster, thrusting harder. Seto moaned louder.

Seto was just getting used to the urgency raging through his body when it peaked, surprising him with a sudden slam of lightening. He started to climax and tried to stop it. Joey reached over his hip and grabbed him. He began to stroke him quickly. Seto didn't have enough brain cells left to wonder where the slick had come from.

Joey gave a shout and started to jerk, losing his rhythm to Seto's convulsions. "Oh, man ... Seto ... I'm..." Joey exploded, bathing Seto's insides with heated fluids. Seto yelled. Joey shouted. Half the cell block told them to shut up with various degrees of heat.

Seto let his leg ease down as Joey withdrew. Joey groaned. "Oh, man, that felt so good. Seto, you are so hot."

Seto let his smirk color his voice. "Thank you, Joseph. You're hot too. And that felt fantastic."

Joey rolled over to pick up the wet wash cloth he'd managed to prepare without breaking the mood. "Here. Wash up a bit."

Seto accepted the cloth and wiped the mess off his belly. He reached over to clean Joey who flinched then gasped. "Cold. Oh, man, cold. You don't have to do that. I'll take care of myself in a second."

Seto just continued to wash Joey. "No, it's alright. I've got it. Here, toss that, will you?" He handed the cloth to Joey who tossed it into the sink.

"We'll have to get up early. If the guards see this in an official check, we're in trouble."

Seto mumbled something Joey didn't understand. Joey pulled the sheet and blanket over them. They fell asleep in each other's arms.

Seto woke first the next morning, the results of male on male sex making themselves known.

He took care of his business with a flushed face and a few grumbles. Joey didn't stir, to Seto's relief. He took some Tylenol for his backache and tried to forget the slight soreness.

Joey watched Seto from between his eye lashes. He didn't seem overly hurt, just embarrassed by the results of their activities. He kept his breathing even and slow. Let Seto take care of his needs in peace. It was cold comfort but all Joey could offer. They were about to take on a gauntlet of their fellow prisoners.

Seto turned to Joey. "We better get this mess cleaned up before check. Come on."

So they wrestled the mattresses back onto the beds and made them. Joey rinsed the wash cloth out and hung it over the head board of his bed. They squared everything up and stood at the foot of their beds, waiting for check.

The check didn't take long. The guard stuck his head in the door, glanced around at the cell and grunted. He made a check on his clip board and went away.

Seto led way to breakfast. They were followed by hoots, howls, and suggestive remarks. Joey glowered around, Seto ignored them stoically.

A man approached Joey, put a hand on his shoulder and whispered in his ear. Joey cold cocked him, nearly breaking his jaw. Seto gazed at the man with mild interest.

Breakfast was another trial. One man tried to take Seto's breakfast. Seto stood up and punched him. Joey glowered over his shoulder. The man scrambled away muttering apologies.

"Good punch."

"Thank you. I take it I'm not supposed to be womanish enough to depend on you for all my protections."

"No. I watch your back. You watch mine. But someone had to be the bitch. Since I'm an enforcer it had to be you. We'd both be flat on our backs if it wasn't for my rep. Damn, here comes a guard. We're in for it now. Talking and fighting."

Seto sighed, he was still sore from yesterday. This was not going to be pleasant.

But the guards had seen the whole thing. They dragged the offender away and gave Seto a warning. He listened with grave courtesy, nodding and murmuring, "Yes, sir." at appropriate intervals. Another guard gave Joey a talking to about speaking in the dining room. He was apologetic and expressed thanks for being let off with nothing but a lecture.

They both stuffed down their breakfast and hurried to their job.

Joey greeted his boss with a nod. He went to his place and motioned to Seto to sit beside him. Seto took up the place and settled in to start work.

"Now we can talk. Was it good? I didn't have a chance to ask."

Seto rolled his eyes. "It was good. In case my screaming like a girl didn't clue you."

Joey laughed. "I didn't think you screamed like a girl. More like a well fucked guy. I screamed like a girl."

Seto laughed back. "Did not. Sounded more like a wolf to me. How soon can you find out about my money?"

Joey shrugged and replied. "It's called commissary or book,don't sound so much like a fresh fish. Don't try to talk tough either. Just be you. I'll see if I can't get some info through the grape vine."

"Ok. How much more work is there?"

Joey turned to count the cases of bottles and jars. "Two ... three days. Why?"

"We have to work?"

"No. But it's really boring if we don't."

"Won't be, if we're allowed out of our cells during the day."

Joey thought about that. "If you pay the proper bribes, we can do pretty much whatever we want. As long as we don't get into a bunch of fights."

"Joey, I need access to certain people. That means I have to be able to move around. Who do we bribe? And ... I thought you said ... you're fighting tonight? How do you get away with that?"

"Sanctioned fights are one thing. Random acts of violence are another. I'm going to be fighting one of someone's stable of martial artists. It's arranged through all the proper channels. Fighting in the yard will get you lashes, fighting in the gym will be ok. See?"

Seto nodded, stuck a label on a jar and examined it critically. "Yeah, I see. You can do almost anything with the right 'papers' and bribes. I get it. Now, I need to know who the loan sharks are and what they charge in interest."

"Ok. I know all that. Here's the low down." Joey started telling Seto about who was who and who owed who. When he was finished, he turned to Fujiwara. "Hey, Boss, you got any idea when Seto will have book?"

"I checked before you came down. You got book, big time. I don't even want to know who bribed who or how much it cost." He wrote a number on a piece of paper and handed it to Joey. Joey eyed it and whistled. He handed it to Seto, remarking, "Ok, here it is. Now what?"

"We set up a loan sharking business of our own."

Joey felt a wave of disappointment wash through him. "After all I told you, we're going to try to ... it won't work. I don't have the juice. I'm not sure what I was hoping for so I guess I'll settle for what I can get."

Seto sighed, he'd been afraid of this. "Yes, it will. Listen to me. We under cut all the sharks by at least ... two percent. And we offer debt consolidation loans. You know that some of the guys here owe two or three different sharks. We also offer real protection. Real, not, pay me or we break your knees stuff."

Joey just sat there, absently rubbing paste onto a well-pasted label. He started and stuck the label onto the bottle.

"Ok. I see. The yakuza are going to go nuts. Unless ... um ... I'm going to have to do a few fights, unless we can scare them off with the first one."

"I was afraid of that. What can I do?"

Joey grinned a bit sadly at Seto. "Be my corner man."

"Don't know what that is, but I'll do it."

Joey explained what a corner man was, Seto just shrugged.

"Well, it looks like I'll get to use my EMT training."

"When the hell did you have time to study that?"

"When I wrote the rule that every department had to have at least one trained EMT in it. I'm the designated EMT for my department. Mokuba is the other." Noticing Joey'sblank look Seto just snapped. "How am I supposed to enforce a rule I won't follow? Be glad. I'll be able to stop the bleeding quickly. And I know exactly how long to leave on an ice pack. Hand me the glue, will you?"

Joey handed Seto the glue with a slightly bemused expression. Seto just went back to work.

They worked until lunch then Joey glanced at Fujiwara who nodded at him. "Looks like Da Man has already come through for both of us. Fujiwara-san just gave me the nod. We're in the good dinning hall now. Come on."

Seto shrugged, glanced at Fujiwara, who didn't seem to be going anywhere for lunch and asked, "What about him? Where does he eat?"

"He eats in the staff dining room."

"He's a prisoner, isn't he?"

Joey nodded but shrugged a bit sourly. "Yeah, but he's a trustee. He eats there so he can pass along bribes and information. He's useful to me, so I haven't busted his head, yet."

Seto added this information to his data and started figuring things out. "Joey, with your knowledge of The Mix and my knowledge of finances and leverage, we're going to own this place in ... not more than three weeks. If I'm here that long."

Joey ran a hand through his hair, a gesture of frustration that Seto was very familiar with. "Seto, I hate to bust your bubble but ... you're not going anywhere for at least three months, probably more." Seto just turned his head to raise an eyebrow at Joey. "The board of Governors doesn't meet but once a quarter. All transfers have to be approved by them, unless the warden requests a transfer for some reason. And they just met about three weeks ago. If Mo' manages to bribe them all, they might approve your transfer earlier, but I doubt it. I'm really sorry. You know how people like that are about saving face. They'll never admit that you shouldn't be here. Never mind that it could get you killed."

Seto kicked the wall, swore then sighed. "Ok. What is, is. I'll just have to take this place over. You with me?"

Joey snorted. "With you. Behind you. In you. You name it, you got it. Come on, let's go get some decent food."

Seto followed Joey into the dining room and realized that many of the men seemed to be talking, quietly it was true, but noone seemed to be objecting. This was good. Then he took a second look and sighed. Most of them were Yakuza, he even knew some of them. He edged closer to Joey.

Joey just nodded to the Kumicho table and led Seto to a small table in a corner. "We'll sit here. If we're invited to sit with anyone, we'll be lucky. Most of these guys are yaks or wanna be's."

Seto nodded carefully to the men he knew as he sat with his back to one wall, Joey sat with his back to the other. The table was really in a corner which made both of them happy as each of them had a wall at their back. This left two places open but no one seemed interested in taking them.

Joey tapped his fingers on the table as he waited for the signal to eat. Seto looked around, wondering what was going on.

"What's up? I'm hungry, why aren't we eating. Why isn't anyone in line yet?"

"We wait until the highest rated Kumicho goes through. You want a real fight on your hands, buck the Mix."

"Not me. I like my head where it is. How long before he decides to get in line?"

Joey looked around. "He's not even here yet. But he won't make anyone wait so long they can't eat. He'll be here soon."

Just then a small, rather grim looking older man walked in the door. He walked down the center aisle with a firm tread and picked up a tray. The second he touched it a younger man took it from his hand. That seemed to be the signal for everyone to join the line. Seto waited for Joey to join the line before he fell in behind him.

Joey took a place in the line that was well above what others in the room thought was his station. They joined the line right behind the head Saiko Komon. He turned and looked at Joey, then let his eyes travel to Seto. He stared at him for a moment, Seto stared right back, the arrogant tilt of his eyebrow daring the man to say anything. The Saiko Komon just turned back to the front of the line, motioning his tray bearer to go ahead of him. Seto picked up two trays but Joey took one and handed it to the man behind him. Seto didn't bother to object, he was sure Joey wouldn't let him go hungry.

It turned out that both their portions went on the same tray. Their food was served family style. All the rice in one bowl and the meat in another, a third for the vegetables and so on. Seto noticed that there was plenty for both of them. He followed Joey back to the table.

"Well, at least we get proper utensils to eat with. And the tea is decent." Seto served Joey his tea and waited while he took his portion first. Seto noticed that Joey took half of the meat. He shook his head and put most of his portion in Joey's bowl. It didn't leave him much meat. He didn't complain though, Joey was going to fight tonight and needed the protein.

Joey kept an eye on what Seto ateHe didn't get enough meat this meal , but he ate his fair share of the rice, pickles and vegetables. He also put sugar in his tea, a thing he usually didn't do. Joey vowed to make sure that Seto got the lion's share of the fish that would be served tomorrow to make up for missing out on protein in this one. He knew that Seto was letting him have most of the beef because of the fight and only let him get away with it because it was beneficial to both of them.

When they'd finished eating, Seto stood to take the tray to the kitchen window but a wakashu came to do it for him. He looked up at the head table and a komon there nodded at him. He bowed slightly back.

"Be careful. What is he up to? What does he want?" Joey eyed the man with a combination of caution and warning.

"He owes me. I'll collect. There's several men in here that I've done favors for in the past. I think we'd better be very careful what kind of favors we ask for, though."

Joey gave him a slightly contemptuous glance. "Ya t'ink?"

Seto shuddered. Every now and then Joey slipped and his accent got thick. Then he really sounded like a Yakuza. He tended to use the less formal forms of you. But when he got angry he'd say 'kono yaru' or 'kasu' instead of 'omae'. The fact that he even used the word you was problematical enough. He was also prone to call himself 'ware'.

Seto glanced around himself and realized that most of the men here called each other asshole or worse. He shook his head, all he wanted to do was survive until he could get out.

"You ok?"

Seto turned to Joey. "I'm ok. I just had a frisson."

"A who? What language is that?"

"French. A cold chill. Like a goose walked over my grave. I don't like it here."

Joey gave Seto a snide look. "Who does? But we got to survive. I've only got 12 more months, then I'm free and clear."

Seto shrugged irritably. "And why did you get any time at all for self-defense?"

"Judge declared me a violent offender. Said it'd teach me to control my temper. Baka!"

"I see. Seems to me that you always had control of your temper. I couldn't make you really lose it, no matter how hard I tried. All you ever did was yell."

Joey's sour face said, 'Tell that to the judge.'

"Come on. We need to get back to work."


Joey turned a heated, near homicidal glare toward a man who was trying to get his attention. "What do you want?" Only what Joey said, 'Nani, kon'aro' actually meant, "What, you bastard."

Seto flinched slightly in startlement.. Joey turned hard eyes his way. "You gotta problem?" His second glare sent the man scurrying away.

Seto shook his head, making his bangs flop. "No, no. just waiting for you to come back to work with me. You're such an asshole."

Joey glowered at Seto for a second then shrugged. "Need the rep. And so do you. Put on your mad executive face and come on."

Joey whirled on his heel and headed for the door, long strides eating up the distance quickly. Seto had no trouble keeping up with him. Hardened men scrambled to get out of their way.

Seto had no idea that all the men were calling them the twin dragons. He'd never seen his own 'pissed off' face. The one that scared even Mokuba. He was wearing it now.

Fujiwara smiled as they came into the room. He handed Joey a piece of paper and settled back in his chair.

Joey read the paper and grinned back. "Ok. We got approval. Who'm I beating into the mats tonight?"

"Some gaki Yatsura came up with. Don't even know his name. He's big, dumb and slow. All he's got going for him is a punch like a wrecking ball. You keep out of his way, punch him around a bit and do him in the third round and we'll all clean up."

Joey nodded. "I'm keeping out of his way. I don't want my jaw broken. Third round? Ok, I can do that."

"Good, good. Now get to work."

Seto frowned for a moment then just sat down in his place and started to work. Fujiwara didn't care if they talked, all he cared about was whether or not they got their work done.

Joey settled beside Seto and reached for a bottle. Seto pushed the paste closer to him. He slapped a label on a jar with unnecessary force.

"Thanks. You wanna talk about it? What ever it is?"

"Yeah. As soon as I decide what I want to say. And can say it without screaming."

"Mahmah, mahmah." Joey's soft, slangy 'take it easy, take it easy.' made Seto grind his teeth.

"I'll take it easy when we have enough face to let you quit that shit. I don't like it."

Joey laughed softly. "How do you think I've managed to keep my sanity? I can't play cards here, so I have to do something to get rid of my anger. So I fight. Don't worry about it."

"Well, I will. I'm not worried about the actual fights, you said you could handle it. But how am I supposed to take care of you without supplies? We don't have anything we need. I don't even have a kit. If you're going to be doing a lot of fighting, I need to be able to take care of you."

Fujiwara just snorted. "I'm working on it. It'll be late this evening, just before the fight before I have it. They won't give it to me any sooner."

Seto just nodded to the man and went back to sticking labels and thinking.

Finally he announced, "After this fight, you let me negotiate all fights. Got it? You don't deal worth shit. We've got more leverage now than god."

Joey shrugged. "You got it. I'm the boss, but you're the brains. I'm just smart muscle."

Seto wondered if their more than slightly odd relationship was going to work. Or were they going to go up in flames.

After they finished dinner, which ran much like lunch, Joey led the way down to the gym where he was to fight.

Seto looked at the 'cut' kit. "I don't like it that there's some things missing."

Joey sighed a bit but explained. "You're not going to have to set a bone or something. All you have to do is stop the bleeding and swelling until the fight is over. But don't worry too much. I don't intend to do much of either."

Seto rummaged through the kit, examining things. He found a strange blade. More like a razor blade stuck sideways in a toothbrush handle than anything else. "What's this?"

Joey glanced at it. "That's a cutter. If the swelling gets too bad, you use that to cut through the middle of it. The blood in the tissues flows out and the swelling goes down. If I think you need to use it, I'll tell you. And don't try to pocket it. They'll check for it before they let us leave."

Seto tried to put it down, but it tapped against the box several times as his hand shook. Joey covered Seto's shaking hand with his own. Seto realized that either his hand was freezing or Joey's was fevered. He sighed and put the instrument away, making Joey let go.

"I won't cut you. That's ... that's barbaric. It's ..."

Joey pinned Seto with a hard glare. "You'll do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. Got me? No argument. If I lose this fight because I can't see, we're in trouble. I'll have to pay all the bets and I don't think we have that much commissary."

Seto bit his lip. He was more worried about the lossof face than he was the commissary. "I'll do what you say because you know better than I do about this. But, we've got commissary enough for anything. Mo' will have set it up to replenish my account the second it goes below some amount or other. Probably a fairly high number."

Joey blinked for a second. "I need to find out how much I've got available. It could turn out to be really important. If I have ... I have to know what I can promise. You know?"

"I do know. Leverage is everything."

They were interrupted by a rumble from the crowd of watchers. Joey's opponent had come in. Seto sighed. The man was already dead, he just didn't know it yet.

Joey examined his opponent with a calculating expression. He was big, muscular and hard. He was also dumb as a box of rocks. His expression was phlegmatic, to be polite.

"He looks like an ox. In more ways than one." Joey grunted.

Seto put the small corner stool down for Joey and crouched near him. "He's going to be really slow, if looks mean anything. But he's really strong too. You can't let him get a glove on you. How the hell are you going to manage that?"

Joey accepted the mouth piece Seto offered him then mumbled around it. "Gonna run 'im to death. He'll want to keep me outside his reach so he can punch me. I'm going to try to stay inside his swing so he can't get to me. He might wrestle me, but I doubt it. He's probably going to rely on his strength. He's not smart enough to figure out how to get me outside his swing or keep away from me. I'm gonna body punch him til he can't stand. Three rounds. I'm gonna be really tired. Keep me plenty of water."

Seto nodded. "You got it. And I'll have a cold towel for you too. Fujiwara said I could have anything I want."

Joey worked the mouth piece around until it was seated to his satisfaction. He nodded and stood up. Seto pulled the stool to the edge of the mats and examined Joey. He looked good.

The referee glanced at both fighters then snapped his clacker. The two flat pieces of wood smacked together with a sound like a pistol shot. The fight started.

Joey grinned, showing his purple mouth piece. He back peddled and let his opponent'scharge passhim by. Seto idly wondered what the man's name was. The referee hadn't announced either one of them.

There was a grunt from the ring and Seto snatched his attention back. Joey had just punched, Seto decided to call his opponent the Ox, in the stomach. Ox was standing in the middle of the ring, arms dangling at his sides with a startled expression on his face. Joey backpedaled again, the Ox tried to follow but he couldn't seem to get his feet coordinated.

Seto wondered what would happen if Joey couldn't keep his opponent going for the three rounds. He decided he really didn't want to find out. It probably involved pain.

The first bell rang, actually a loud snap of the referee's clacker, Joey returned to the 'corner' and sat on the stool. Seto took the mouth piece and dropped it into a cup of water. He gave Joey a drink and then held the spittoon for him. "You're going to have to run him more and punch him less. He's not going to last three rounds otherwise. He didn't lay a glove on you yet either."

Joey hunched his shoulders and cracked his neck. "Not going to. I'll run him some more. Egg him into charging me a few times. Maybe duck under his punches."

"Ok. Just be careful. I don't want your head knocked off your shoulders. It looks so much better there."

Joey just nodded, took the mouth piece and stood up.

The referee signaled the beginning of the second round with two slaps of his clacker and Joey was back at it. This round he baited the Ox until the man was nearly out of his mind with rage. He charged Joey, Joey danced out of reach. They made several rounds of the mats with the crowd laughing, betting and chanting 'Kick! Kick!' Seto wondered what they wanted.

Joey kept the Ox moving, he feinted until the fool charged him then danced out of the way. He got close enough that the Ox thought he had a chance of hitting him then ducked under his punch. Seto had to admit that the man was a decent fighter, he didn't rely on roundhouse swings but punched from the shoulder. Not that he was fast enough to get to Joey. The second two minute round finished with the Ox in the crowd and Joey laughing like a maniac.

Seto watched Joey carefully as he came over to sit on the stool again. He wasn't sure he liked this Joey. He was tense in a way Seto had never seen. The fight seemed to turn him into a stranger, especially now that he was totally invested. This round was the last one. Seto thanked whoever was looking out for him.

"Joey, you ok? You look ... off."

Joey smirked at Seto, the purple mouth piece looking very strange. "Don't sweat it. I'm in the zone. I haven't flipped out or anything. If you're going to be a downer, don't talk to me. I can't afford to be distracted. If you're too nice, go back to the cell."

Seto realized that he was distracting Joey from the fight. "Sorry. I'm just a little freaked. Here." Seto handed Joey a bottle of water. "Drink as much as you can." Joey rinsed his mouth again and then drank the rest of the bottle.

Seto felt a presence hovering over his shoulder and turned. It was a saiko komon. Seto got out of his way.

"Kaiba." The saiko komon acknowledged Seto. "Katsuya-kun, the boss says to end it now. This is a farce. It adds to your face, but not his. Do not allow the Butcher to touch you. Thank you for your time." He bowed and walked away.

Joey snorted. "He just wanted time to make his bets. I'll finish this quickly and we can go back to the house. Ok?"

Seto just nodded, saying softly. "Sorry I turned into a girl on you. It's just ... never mind. Go knock out that ox."

The referee smacked his clacker three times and Joey bolted off the stool. Seto gave the referee an evil eye. The man had obviously shortened the interval. Seto was going to find out why, later.

The quick start didn't faze Joey at all but it confused the Ox just enough that he stood near his corner. He seemed to be waiting for instructions that weren't coming. Joey taunted him softly. No one would ever hear what Joey was saying to him. They didn't need to. The Ox reacted rather badly to whatever it was. He charged Joey and launched a powerhouse punch. One that missed spectacularly. It shot over Joey's shoulder and Joey dipped that shoulder even more. It balanced him as he fired off three hard kicks to the man's ribs. Seto winced in sympathy.

The other fighter staggered back, recovered and tried to punch Joey again. This time with a left jab. But he held it too low and Joey closed in. A quick one-two and a rising spin kick and it was all over. The Ox went down like he'd been pole axed.The referee hurried to check on the man, Joey hovered over his downed opponent in case he wasn't quite as out of it as he seemed.

The Ox was out cold. The referee waved his clacker in the direction of Joey's corner. Joey retreated to Seto's side. There was some yakking, some money changed hands, the guards announced that everyone should return to their cell blocks and it was all over.

Seto handed Joey the cold towel and a bottle of water. He waited until Joey had finished the bottle and wiped his face with the towel.

"Look. I'm really sorry I freaked out on you. I've just never seen you so ... intense. So focused."

"You never watched me fight. Remember, I was an enforcer for the Mako-gumi. To do that, you have to be a real fighter. Yugi said I look like some sort of demon. He said my eyes got ... funny. Fighting isn't like dueling. When I duel, I can mouth off and stuff. It's fun, but this is life and death. I get real intense when my skin is on the line." Joey's chuckle was a bit off."

Seto just shrugged. "I should have known. Anyone who could fight his way up to third in the world, has to be able to focus. Again, I'm sorry. Let's go back to the house, after I find out about that short interval"

Joey grinned, finally relaxing, and rubbed the towel over his face again. "Need another towel. I'm still feeling too hot. And don't sweat the interval. I arranged it ahead of time. I hoped it'd confuse the dummy, which it did."

Seto handed Joey another from the cooler that had appeared in their corner after the first round. Joey tossed the warm towel on the floor and took the cold one from Seto. "Thanks. Soon as this is hot, we'll go back."

They headed back for the cell, walking side by side in a way that made everyone step aside. Seto decided that being Joey's 'boy' wasn't going to be that bad.

The minute they stepped into the common room of their block he changed his mind.

"Hey, Jounouchi, I'll give you three cartons for an hour with your bitch." Seto cringed.

Joey just walked over and grabbed the man by the throat. "I'll give you your life to shut up." Joey shook the man then dropped him. "Come on, Seto, let's go."

Seto got closer to Joey. "That's ... not good."

"Seto, calm down. I'm not sharin' and the next man that asks is in deep shit."

"Won't you get in trouble for attacking that guy?"

Joey shook his head. "Who's going to rat me out? Most of these guys are Yakuza. I'll have a word with that guys' Kumicho. He'll be offering me yubitsume tomorrow. Everybody knows that you're exclusive. I don't share." Joey glared around, still hyped from his fight. "Anybody wanna take me up on the next challenge?" Heads shook all over the room. "Didn't think so."

They made it to their cell without further conflicts.

"I'll just..." Seto rummaged in his trunk. "Here. Take these and drink some more water." Seto handed Joey some Tylenol and more water. Joey took the pills with the water and sat on his bed. He pulled his shirt off over his head and tossed it on the floor. His trousers followed quickly leaving Joey in boxer-briefs. He flopped back with a sigh.

"Do you need anything? I'll ... um ... what do you want me to do?" Seto was at a loss as to what he was supposed to do next.

"Nothing. Just relax. I'm too tired to do anything. All I want to do is sleep. I'm gonna be stiff as a board tomorrow."

Seto rummaged in his locker again. He found what he was looking for and turned to Joey. "Roll over on your stomach." Joey obeyed without protest and Seto settled on his thighs.

Joey's started, 'Huh?' was followed by a soft groan as Seto smoothed the hand warmed baby oil over his shoulders. "Where'd you get that?"

"A guy gave it to me for a bribe. He wants to talk to you tomorrow. I said I'd see what I could do."

"Started being my wakagishira already, I see. When did you have time to take a bribe? You've been with me all day."

Seto smirked at the back of Joey's head. His thigh pockets were full of bribes. "When you were in the can. You had me guard the door. Remember?"

"Yeah. Ok, so what's on line so far?"

"Couple of interviews and a request for protection. I'll fill you in tomorrow. And I've got to find you a place for meetings. Where do you suggest?"

"Right out side the cell. That table just there." Joey lifted one hand to point to a table right in front of their door about ten feet away. "As soon as we can get moved, we'll have the meetings right in the cell. But why meetings? What meetings?"

Seto found a knot in Joey's shoulder and started working it out, using his thumbs. "The meetings you're going to have with people who want debt consolidation loans at eight percent instead of three or four loans at twenty or thirty percent. We're going to under cut everyone in here. We just have to keep the other sharks from eating us alive." Joey just groaned. "You ok? I didn't hurt you?"

"No I'm fine. Feels good. Don't worry about the sharks. And you'll handle the meetings. I just sit around and look like a boss. If anyone gets stupid, I'll swat them. And we need to get some hired muscle."

Seto moved down Joey's back to the heavy muscles under his shoulder blades. "Ok. Why don't you take care of that? I'll handle them after. It'll give them some face that you talked to them yourself."

Joey snickered softly. "I thought you didn't know anything about boryukadan."

"About what?"

"Boryukadan. Another word for Yakuza. Only don't use that word around them. You'll get your throat cut. You really sound like you know what you're talking about."

"Sure. Yakuza muscle is like any other employee. The bigger the boss that hires them the higher up the order they are. We need guys who'll be totally loyal, what better way to ensure that than to have the Oyubun hire them?"

Joey blinked, he was an oyubun? A kumicho? "Well, shit."

Seto finished his massage and capped the bottle. "Go to sleep. We'll worry about that in the morning. Good night." He put the bottle away and stripped off his clothing. He picked up Joey's stuff and put all the dirty things in a small cardboard box. He'd see about getting it to the laundry in the morning. Seto settled in his bed and listened to Joey rustle around, getting as comfortable as he could. "If you want anything, wake me up. It wouldn't do for anyone to think I don't take proper care of you."

"Good night, Seto." Joey's sigh wasn't loud enough for Seto to hear.

The next morning, Joey managed to get them seats at a large table. Another group started to approach but Joey glared them off. There was some muttering but no one challenged them. Seto managed to relax and enjoy his breakfast.

"We better get going or we're going to be late for work." Seto glared at the clock on the wall as if it had personally offended him.

"Don't have to go to work today. I thought I told you, no work after a fight." Joey was still a bit stiff, Seto could tell by the way he moved.

"No, you forgot to mention that fact. If I'd known, I could have set up some interviews for today, instead of tonight. But ... what's done is done. More tea?"

Joey just nodded once. He was checking out the room, trying to see who was a threat and who might be a help.

A man came over and bowed. "My kumicho would like to speak to you. Please."

Seto nodded in that arrogant, elegant way of his and said. "Please, tell him we'll be glad to consider a meeting. As soon as you tell me who he is." He managed to look down his nose at the man even though he was sitting down.

"My bad, sorry, sorry. My boss is Yamato-sama. Shall I tell him you'll speak to him?"

Seto looked at Joey. Joey nodded, one curt jerk of his head. Seto turned back to the man. "We'll speak to him."

"No, just Jounouchi-sama. You stay here."

Joey examined his finger nails. "What did you say?"

"Excuse me. But Yamato-sama wants to speak to you privately. Not with your bitch hanging around."

"My so called bitch is also my wakagishira." The gaki just gave Joey a blank look. Joey sighed. "Just go back and tell Yamato-kun that Kaiba Seto comes or I don't. In fact, never mind that. Tell him to come to me. I'm insulted."

The underling bit his lip then nearly whimpered, "Look. I'm sorry, but the boss said, just you. I'm just the messenger."

Joey shrugged negligently. "Don't give a shit. You go back and tell him my wakagishira comes or I don't. Got it?"

"Yes, sir, boss. I got it. I'll tell him." The man scurried away while Seto snickered to himself.

"That went well. You better not back down from any of them or we're screwed."

Joey cracked his knuckles absently. "You think I don't know that? I'm not stupid, no matter what anyone thinks. Now we got trouble. Yamato will have to either lose face and come to me or try to repair face and beat us down. We're in for a fight pretty soon. Just watch my back."

Seto sighed. One thing about his life outside, he didn't have to worry about his physical well being. Financial and social yes. He rubbed his face with one hand. "Shit."


"We're going to have to fight someone on a serious basis, aren't we?"

Joey looked around the room, giving each man a speculative glare. Most of the men looked down or away, a few looked back. Joey marked them carefully. He looked at Seto out of the corner of his eye. "Fraid so. There's about four in here that could be trouble. A dozen or so from all over. The really big fish don't get involved in prison politics, they just clean up everyone else's messes." He sighed. "I'd really like to be on that level."

Seto nibbled at his lip for a moment. "How do we get there?"

"Leverage. We fight our way up. We need soldiers and money."

"Hummm. Money we got. Soldiers ... how do we get them?"

"Fight for them. I'll manage that. With my rep, I probably won't have to fight more than two ... maybe three guys. And, there's a few guys we can buy off."

"Point them out to me when you get a chance."

Joey nodded. He looked over to the table where their 'arranger' had crouched over a man's shoulder. The man stood up and started their way. Joey nudged Seto's thigh with his knee. Seto went silent and glanced around. He saw the man coming over and recognized him from a cocktail party about a year ago.

The man was a high-ranking wakagishira from a small clan. He'd gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar and here he was. Seto eyed him speculatively, this could give them everything they needed in one package. He just hoped Joey handled it right.

Joey did more than handle it right.

When the wakagishira approached, he rose and pulled out the chair across from Seto. "You'll be speaking to my man, Kaiba-sama. I'm not that good at negotiations and I'd hate to insult you in some way. Please ... tea?" He gestured elegantly to the small pot of tea on the table. A gesture Seto recognized as one that Joey had always used.

Seto poured the tea at the man's nod. He quickly racked his brain and remembered his name. "Yamato Tomino? Yes, I remember you. We met at a cocktail party about ... oh, a year ago? Pleasure to see you again, although not such a pleasure due to the circumstances. You were asking me for ... a donation to some ... sorry, my memory. Please tell me about it again. I wasn't able to do anything then, prior commitments, you understand."

Yamato-san said that he did. He told Seto about the fraudulent scheme again. Seto shook his head. "Come to me when I get out and we'll explore our options then. If you like, I could provideyou with some advice and a little help in the here and now. You know. I'm very helpful, if I'm in the right sort of mood. And I'm in the mood to be helpful right now. Jounouchi-dono is too. Aren't you, sir?"

Yamato's eyed bugged out. Kaiba Seto was seconding this man and calling him 'sir'?

"Well, well. I see that you have a very powerful sponsor here. I ... was thinking of asking you to be one of my komon, but perhaps I should ... um ... allow you to be my saiko komon instead?"

Seto poked Joey unobtrusively, Joey glanced at him under the guise of pouring more tea. He gave the prearranged raise of an eyebrow that was the signal to accept. Joey handed over the cup, poured more tea then announced, "That is acceptable. Kaiba-kun will be my kaikei as well as my wakagishira. Any objections." His expression said that there'd better not be.

"Oh, no. whatever you think is best, I'm sure. I'll expect reports at proper intervals. Excuse me." He just got up and walked off. All three of them knew that Seto and Joey had just taken over his territory.

"Well, you're now his second in command and I'm the accountant. How often are we going to report to him?"

Joey snorted into his tea cup. "Never. He just walked away from his territory and you know it as well as I do. We allowed him to save face, barely."

"I was sure that was the way of it, but better safe than sorry. ... how much trouble are we going to have over this?"

Joey glanced around. "Not much. He has some muscle, but not much. And they're all sick of him. He's a bit of a ... pussy. They don't like him much and only stay with him out of clan loyalty. He's effectively sold them down the river for a bowl of rice. I'll make contact with them now."

Joey got up and cruised the four tables he knew were occupied by the Yamato-gumi. He realized that they were now his group. He stopped at one table and talked with the senior wakashu, who recognized him and calmly said that he'd wondered how long it would take Joey to run a scam on someone. Joey laughed softly, gave him an evil glare and announced that he didn't scam.

"This is the real deal. I'll take care of my own. You got giri, it comes to me now. Your obligation to him is passed to me. I'm not a fool. Kaiba Seto is my second. You need, you go to him. If he can't arrange it, no one can. Spread the word."

The man bowed slightly. "Sure thing, boss. I'll report to you?"

Joey nodded. "Yeah, me or Kaiba-sama. And don't get smart with him. He answers to me, and he's under my protection. He's also my bitch."

The men gave Joey some very awestricken looks. They all knew who Seto was and the fact that Seto would submit to him so completely gave him enormous face.

The next two weeks were spent in working, solidifying their position and making loans of all kinds. Seto made promises that Joey knew he'd back up. Joey cracked a few heads. They also had incredible, and loud, sex.

Seto settled at 'their' table and eyed the styrofoam cup, he hated it. But they weren't allowed china or stone ware except in the dinning hall. He liked their new cell. For one, it had a solid door. Second, it was in a different cell block on a different floor. Joey had given up his job pasting labels yesterday. He'd given it to a man who really needed it. The bribe had been from another Kumicho. They now had a favor from him, on demand. Seto thought of all the favors they owed and were owed. The books balanced fairly well. They owed just a bit more than they were owed but that wasn't bad for a beginning business.

He sipped his tea and figured out who they should approach next. They had four minor bosses under them now and plenty of muscle. Muscle that Joey kept under stringent control. He didn't allow them to get a millimeter out of line. Seto worried that this was going to cause discontent sooner or later. Joey told him that some of the men got their entertainment from beating up the helpless loners. Seto agreed that this had to stop. Joey saw it more as an exercise of his authority than an actual help. Most of the men were natural victims, but Joey agreed with Seto that they shouldn't allow their men to be out of hand. It didn't look good.

"You come with us." Seto turned to look at the man, suddenly wishing that he hadn't sent his bodyguards off on collections.

"I don't think so. Someone wants to talk. He comes to us."

The largest of the men grabbed Seto and managed to get his arm twisted behind his back. "No, you come with us."

Seto kicked and struggled, even managed to get in a few good blows. But in the end, he went with them.

They tied his hands and hooked them over something he didn't see. He wound up suspended by his wrists with his toes just touching the floor enough that he didn't dislocate his shoulders. Seto sighed, Joey was going to be really pissed. Seto wished he'd been more careful.

It took the men a while to decide to send one of their number to find Joey and present their demands. The little ratty looking man whimpered and cringed. He didn't want to go but the leader finally slapped him and told him to go. Seto wondered if he'd survive the experience.

Seto hung around for nearly an hour more, his hands fell asleep and his shoulders were wells of fire. The yakuza slapped him around some and body punched him until he ached all over. He wasn't hurt badly but it was embarrassing. While he was wondering when Joey would show up he heard the soft click of the door handle and got ready for whatever was to happen.

Joey cruised in the door like the room belonged to him. He nodded to Seto.

"Seto. I'll deal with you in a minute." Seto shivered, Joey's eyes were flat and cold. "As for you." Joey turned to the obvious leader of the group. "You're a dead man. You touch what's mine. You hurt. But leaving him hanging like that ... you're dead."

Two of the other men tried attacking Joey at their boss' order. They managed to get in each other's way. Joey let them sort themselves out then slammed one into a wall and kicked the other in the nuts. They both went down and stayed down. This left three kobun and the one who fancied himself to be an okashira. Joey feinted toward one man who cringed, then he attacked the only one who really counted. It didn't take long to put him down, a swift kick to the head then a punch to the eye put the guy's lights out. The three kobun dropped to their knees, begging for mercy.

"I'll expect a small yubitsume from each of you. You don't offer, I'll take more than you'll like. Pick up your asshole boss and get out. Oh, and tell him I want a full yubitsume from him. If he doesn't, I'll cut off his dick instead. Got me?" The three men nodded vigorously. "And send someone in to take out the rest of the garbage. Go." Joey kept his voice flat and soft. This was one of the things that made him so frightening. He didn't yell like most of the bosses would, he always kept his voice soft. Seto realized that he yelled when he was annoyed, when he was truly angry he nearly whispered.

Seto grimaced as Joey lifted him by squatting, wrapping his arms around his hips and lifting him. He wriggled his bonds off the hook and grunted, "Ok." Joey let him slid to the floor. Seto held out his hands to be untied. Instead, Joey examined the cords, stuck a finger under them and then just hauled Seto out the door by one arm. Seto refrained from comment. Joey was furious and Seto knew that he wasn't going to listen to anything he had to say. This was not going to be good.

Joey dragged Seto through the corridors and back to their cell, everyone they passed either looked away or down. No one wanted to seem like they were challenging Joey. When Joey kicked the cell door closed, Seto finally objected.

"Joey, I know you're pissed at me, but could you untie me, please? These cords have really cut off the circulation."

Joey released the cords with a snarl. "Seto, dammit. I know I told you never to be alone. Where were the guys I left with you?"

Seto had the wisdom to flush. "Um ... I sent them to make a couple of big collections?"

Joey froze then turned to glare at Seto. "You. Sent. Them. For. Collections. Oh, yeah, I am gonna bust those kono yaro's asses.As for you ..." Joey untied Seto and sat down on the bed. "You complete idiot. Get out of those filthy cloths." Seto shivered, Joey's voice was still very soft. He peeled his clothing off quickly, dropping the stuff in the box. His shoulders screamed in protest but he didn't let them stop him from moving. He was sure that Joey didn't care about how sore he was just now. He was much too angry.

Joey pointed to Seto's bunk. "Get dressed." Seto managed to scramble into clean shorts and shirt. "Sit. Now." Seto gulped but moved to sit on his bunk.

Joey scooted back on the bed a bit more and leaned against the wall.

Seto sighed, he thought he knew what was coming next. This was not going to be pleasant.

And it wasn't. Joey explained to Seto in exquisite detail exactly what could have happened to him. It made Seto feel sick. Then Joey called him an idiot. He slapped his thighs as he stood up.

"I'm going to talk to, and punish, the group that was with you. I'll be back soon. You need anything?"

Seto almost said nothing, but decided not to be childish. "I could use some liniment and something for the pain. They weren't gentle with me, you know."

Joey rubbed his face. "I know. Dammit! I'll send someone to see to you."

Seto didn't have long to wait.

"Hey! Katsuya-sama sent me to take care of you. What's the problem?"

Seto levered himself into a sitting position, canted over to one side to spare his screaming ribs. "Well, hanging by the wrists while being used as a punching bag leaves me with a catalogue of hurts. Do you want them head to toe or by level of damage? And, what the hell is your name? This shit of not introducing yourselves is really getting on my nerves."

"Oh, um ...most guys don't introduce themselves because they figure you don't care to knowthem. My name ... well, that's sort of ... depends on stuff. You just call me Doc, ok?"

"Sure, sure, whatever. You gonna do something for me or just stand in the door and gawk?"

"Ouch. Lay down and I'll start. You tell me what hurts as I work."

"My shoulders hurt, feel like they're on fire. Ribs, one is cracked, the rest bruised. Generalized soreness in the abdomen. I don't think they ruptured anything. Didn't hit me that hard. Just hard enough to make me hurt. So, that's the catalogue."

Doc just started with what he could see, he examined several bruises high up on Seto's back. They were all more or less fist shaped. He carefully rubbed some ointment on them.

"Ok, boss, roll over. How's that feel?"

"Good. Except for the rolling over part. That's going to hurt."

"Sorry. I've got some pills I'll give you, but you gotta sit up to take them or you'll choke."

Seto managed to sit back up, swallow the pills then lay back down on his back. Doc looked Seto's front over in a clinical manner that reassured Seto of his credentials. The medic applied the ointment to the rest of his bruises without comment and capped the jar.

"Well, that's about all I can do for you. I'll tell Katsuya-sama that you need a massage. I'm not qualified for that and I don't intend to step on any toes. When those pills take hold, you should feel a lot better. Um ... and, keep your bodyguard with you from now on. Those men are in real trouble. I wouldn't put it past Katsuya-sama to break something ... or other. Sleep if you can."

Seto settled under his sheet and blanket and did his best to do exactly that. He wondered how much trouble his bodyguards were in. He felt bad about getting the men in trouble then decided that they could always have refused to go do the collections. Seto finally fell asleep, still waiting for Joey.

Joey returned late, just before lights out. Seto was in that gray zone between sleep and wakefulness.

"Seto? You awake?" Joey sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Sort of. What's up?"

Seto's hiss of pain made Joey touch his leg. "Talk to me."

"I still hurt. My shoulders are really stiff and sort of sore. Hanging around like that didn't do me any good. The Doc said I needed a massage but he couldn't do it. Said something about toes?"

"Roll over. I'll give you a massage while I fill you in on things."

"Ok. Thanks."

Seto rolled over and sighed. Joey fished the bottle of baby oil out of Seto's foot locker and returned to find Seto on his stomach, before the lights went out he saw the bruising all over his ribs. Seto sighed when he heard the odd growling sound.

"Seto, why didn't you tell me they beat you?"

"I kinda tried but you were too upset to listen to me. I decided to take my medicine like a man and wait until you were ready to listen to me. If you want a real rundown you need to talk to Doc. All I know is I'm not a good punching bag, I break way too easily."

Joey finished warming the oil he'd poured into his hand and applied it to Seto's shoulder. Seto moaned softly as Joey began working the soreness out. "Well, I'm really sorry. Should a' spoken up."

Seto sighed. "Right there. That feels wonderful."

"Doc leave anything for your bruises?"

Seto thought a moment. "I don't think so. I wish he'd left some liniment too. I'm still going to hurt in the morning without it. And that cracked rib just has to heal on its own."

Joey worked on Seto's other shoulder in silence. Seto decided that trying to make real conversation with him wasn't a good idea and kept silent too.

Joey finished his massage, stood up and put away the bottle. Seto heard the covers rustle and turned his head. He could just see Joey in the dim light that filtered into the cell from the safety bulb at the end of the cell block. He watched as Joey stripped, dropped the clothing onto the floor and eased into his bed. He thought Joey had fallen asleep until he sighed.


"Seto? The next time you put me in the position of having to demand yubitsume, I'm going to belt you. I mean it. I don't like being put in a position like that. You scared me half to death. I don't deal well with it. Don't do it again."

"Yubitsume? I don't recognize the term. What is it?"

"Apology by way of self-mutilation. Depends on how bad the fuck up is how much of a finger gets offered."

Seto felt sick. "My bodyguards?"

"No. I smacked them around good and told them next time. But I did demand it from all the guys who kidnapped you. And what I'm actually going to do with the bits, I don't know. I just hope I don't throw up. Ugh."

"I'm sorry. I won't do it again. I didn't think they'd do anything like that."

"No. You just didn't think, period. You don't go wandering around on the streets without body guards, I'm sure of that. And some places you don't need any at all. But this is a prison, not safe streets. You gotta think like a yakuza. You gotta remember that you're not walking among sheep, people that knuckle down to fancy suited muscle boys, you're dealing with wolves. They'll eat ya alive. Don't do it again."

"Well, sorry. I don't think like a yakuza!" Seto immediately regretted his sharp tongue.

"Dammit! I'm sorry too. I should have realized. My bad." Seto heard Joey sigh. "Can I come over there? Or will it hurt you too much?"

Seto just lifted the covers and said, "Come on. You over being mad?"

Joey eased into the narrow bed with Seto, careful of his ribs. He draped his arm over Seto's shoulder. "If you scare me like that again, be prepared for a funeral." Seto made an enquiring sort of noise. "Mine. I'll just have a heart attack and get it over with. Fool"

Seto snorted. "You're right. I don't know where my head was. I was just thinking about getting our cigarets and stuff before they spent them somewhere else. You going to punish me?"

"Your punishment is having to deal with the yubitsume." Seto made a gagging noise which made Joey snort. "Be glad I can get away with it. You need anything?"

Seto shook his head against Joey's shoulder. "No. I'm still sore but I'll sleep it off. Thanks anyway."

Joey gave Seto's shoulder an awkward pat. "You need me, call." He scooted out from under the blanket and returned to his own bed.

Seto listened as Joey shuffled around, evidently getting comfortable. Seto listened long after Joey started snoring. He had a lot to think about. Joey was evidently shielding him a lot more than he'd thought.

The next morning Seto woke up when Joey shook him.

"Huh? Wa?"

"Get up. It's early but we need to be up and around now."

Seto scrambled to connect and just barely made it before Joey was dragging him to the showers. Seto kept his mouth shut and his ears open. He hated the showers. The water never got more than luke warm and there wasn't a bribe on earth that could get them better than what there was.

He also didn't like the fact that there were no partitions. He wasn't body shy, most Japanese weren't and he'd been to all the famous baths so community bathing wasn't a problem. No, the reason he didn't like no partitions was, it didn't give him any protection. There was no way he could protect himself and get clean. He and Joey took turns washing. As they did this morning.

Joey got a really good look at Seto and snarled in wordless fury. Seto actually felt like covering himself.

"Don't look at me like that. I'm ok. Really. It's just really embarrassing. I ... want to see my bodyguards. Please?"

Joey nodded. "At breakfast. I smacked them around a bit. They'll still be your guard. Do. Not. Send. Them for. Anything. Got me?"

Seto nodded hurriedly. "Yes. I won't, I promise. Here's the soap."

"Gonna bend over to pick it up if I drop it?"

Seto smirked at Joey, breathing a silent sigh of relief at this sign of forgiveness. "No. Public fornication isn't my thing."

"Mine neither."

Joey glanced around, all the other occupants of the showers were very cautiously keeping their distance. He glared at one, who seemed a bit too curious. The man immediately looked at his feet. Joey looked away.

When they were both done showering, they dressed and headed for breakfast. Seto knew he wasn't going to like this much. Now that he knew what yubitsume was, he wasn't sure he even wanted breakfast. Joey pointed to the seat at the front of the table.

"Sit there. When someone brings a small box. Ask who it's from. Then bow to whoever delivers it, open it, make sure the contents are real then hand it off. Got me? It's part of your punishment. Don't puke."

Seto nodded. "I understand. I won't. ... puke, that is."

"Better not. The insult would ... well, just don't."

Seto didn't ask why not, he had a good idea. This was not going to be a fun day.

The first Yubitsumi was the worst. The boss of the group didn't even come to breakfast. The offering was brought by some gaki that Seto didn't recognize. Seto bowed elegantly, took the box, opened it and saw the pinky finger nestled in its bed of cotton. He gulped harshly, nodded, announced, "It is acceptable." and swallowed until the need to vomit faded.

The next one wasn't that bad. When he opened the box there was only the first joint of a pinky finger in it. The rest of the boxes were the same. Each one was offered by the offender himself. Seto maintained a cool expression, bowed slightly and took the box. After checking it he passed it to the waiting hand without looking to see who it was. He carefully didn't wonder what was going to happen to the amputated part.

Joey maintained a cold, relaxed attitude all through this. He ate his breakfast and sat, drinking tea, when he was done. He kept a careful eye on Seto, the kobun, and the senior yakuza. No one interfered, or even commented. A few averted their eyes when Joey met them. When the last tribute had been presented and accepted, Joey stood.

"Do I need to tell the whole story?" He glanced around at the shaking heads and down cast eyes. "Good. I was lenient this time. Next time, someone will die. Don't mess with what's mine."

Seto kept his eyes down cast, his demeanor humble. He had to grit his teeth all through it but he managed. Joey turned to him.

"You better eat. I don't want you sick on me. I'll be circulating. Do not go away from this table without me."

"Yes, Kumicho." Seto bowed to exactly the proper degree then sat down to eat. He had to force every bite past the lump in his throat but he managed. He also managed to keep an eye on Joey as he moved among the upper rank men. They showed him respect by nodding at him even though he hadn't approached them. Seto relaxed a bit, it looked like Joey's show of strength and ruthlessness had gained them respect and added to Joey's face.

Joey spoke to three men, lower echelon men. These men would take his words to their bosses, who would pass the information along. If the Kumicho in question was willing, he would pass word down to a wakagashira-hosa who would pass it along. Seto knew that the usually impatient Joey would be chafing at all this maneuvering and regretted that he couldn't be there to help. But he was in disgrace and everyone knew it. He had to make amends somehow. He just wasn't sure how.

"Joey? Are you still mad at me?"

Joey settled back at the table. Joey had paid the bribe needed to allow them to stay in the dinning room as long as they liked.

"No. I was never really mad. I was scared. I get pissed when I'm scared. Why?"

"I need to be at your side so I know what's going on. You're doing really well. But if you have to negotiate, are you going to have the patience to do it? I don't want to put you down, but ... I need to know."

"I'll lose my patience pretty soon. I don't have much and all this smoozing is really getting on my nerves. You go pour oil around. I'll sit here and look ... impressive. Signal me if you need me. I'll be ready. Now go."

"Do I need to ... make a yubitsume? A forgiveness offering?"

Joey glanced around. "No. And the only yubitsume there is, is a finger, or at least a joint. I don't want you to do that. But I think I know what you're asking. You need to make some sort of expression of submission. To save my face. Right?"

Seto nodded, glancing around. Everyone was watching them with interest. "Right. There is no true forgiveness without some sort of offering. They all know you spanked me. But ... it isn't enough. I can tell by the looks on their faces. They don't understand why you're so lenient with me and so strict with the others. So ... now what?"

Joey shrugged. "I'm not sure. Let me think about it for a while. No one will question my putting off your punishment until you're healed. They know I conserve my resources carefully." He turned to walk off, then turned back. "Oh, and while I'm thinking about it. When do you want to talk to your lawyer?"

"As soon as you can arrange it. I thought I couldn't see him for ... sixty days?"

"I arranged it. You can see him anytime you want. Cost plenty but it was worth it."

Seto ground his teeth at this casual remark. He didn't care how much it cost. It just griped him no end that Joey could manage something he couldn't. He decided to get over it.

Joey had to smile a bit, Seto was handling his position well, but he could tell it rankled that Joey was able to do things he, Seto, couldn't. Joey wondered what he should do about Seto's public apology. It had to be done, even though he didn't like it. Seto had disobeyed a direct order and gotten his bodyguard into trouble as well. Something had to be done and soon.

He turned when he heard someone clear their throat. He bowed gravely to the old man. This was one of the high-ranking kumicho. What he was doing in prison wasn't really clear, some thought he'd taken a fall for someone even higher up than he.

"How may I help you?"

"Come. Sit with me."

"As you wish." Joey bowed again then followed the man to his table. A guy pulled out a chair and Joey settled in it.

"You have a problem. I have a solution."

Joey sighed. "How much?"

"Oh, this one is free. The next one will cost. Not much, just enough. After you think about my advice, if you take it, we'll talk again. What do you say?"

Joey stared off into the middle distance for a moment. "Let me hear your advice."

"You don't want to punish your kaikei, so don't. If anyone makes a thing of it, smack them around. No one should influence the way you treat your people. You'll lose more face by doing something you obviously don't want to do than by leaving well enough alone. Think about it."

With that the old man winked at Joey, got up and walked away. Joey stared after him for a moment then slapped his hands on the table, got up and headed for Seto.

When he approached the table, Seto looked up. The grim expression on Joey's face made him shiver.

"Come on. Let's go."

Seto stood up, straightened his shoulders and followed Joey.

"Where are we going? Are you going to ... um." Seto couldn't bring himself to say it.

"We're going to the library. I got us passes. Permanent ones. And ... no, I'm not. You've been punished enough. If someone thinks they got better ideas than I do. Well, I'll convince them otherwise."

Seto felt something inside him loosen. "Oh, thanks. But what are we going to do in the library."

"My deck's there, if you had one on you, yours is there too. The admin tries to keep us entertained as much as possible. Keeps us out of trouble. We can have board games, card games ... art supplies. Lots of stuff." Joey turned to grin at Seto. "If you can pay the bribes."

Seto just shrugged. "If we run out of money, let me know. I'll call Mo'. Um ... and how are you accessing my commissary?"

Joey laughed, a hard bitter sound. "I'm still running on the stuff we got last day. I'll take out more next commissary day. And I'll have to have you sign for some cash transfers. But we're going good. I got some favors coming in too. We're doin' good. Hurry. I want to duel."

Seto bit at his lip for a second. He didn't remember having a deck on him. But perhaps Mokuba had sent one over for him. He hoped so. He didn't want to disappoint Joey. Things were going way too well.

"Joey? I really need you to find out when I can see my lawyer. I want you there too. So ... how long do you think?"

"I haven't had a chance to arrange it yet. The guy sits in the yard most days but he wasn't there yesterday and he's not there today."

Seto rubbed his neck. "And how the hell do you know that? You haven't been near the yard in days."

Joey gave Seto an exasperated look. "I've got eyes an' ears, don't I? I don't have to go looking for myself. See?"

Seto did. Joey had extended his reach more than Seto thought possible in such a short time.

"I do. But I need to know all your contacts, all the favors you have promised and who owes us what. As the accountant, it's my job to keep it all straight. To make sure no one gets forgotten. You see?"

Joey nodded in what could only be called a regal way. "I do. We'll sit down and I'll tell you everything. While we're dueling?"

Seto nodded. "If I have a deck."

It turned out that he did. Mokuba had sent one out.

Seto and Joey dueled for two hours and Joey filled Seto in on who owed them, who they owed and where the bodies were buried. Seto was amazed to realize what Joey had done with some cartons of cigarets and some gum. He said so and Joey just grinned.

"It's all in your rep. I keep my promises and everyone in here knows it. And I've got the muscle to back it up if I have to. Fighting in the ring makes sure that everyone knows I can do what I say I will. And now that we've got komon, we can really put on some heat."

Seto nodded. "Protection has to be real. Not some scam, right?"

Joey nodded. "Don't need the problem with the guards that you get with the other. Why?"

"Just need to spread the word a little more. When's lunch? I'm starved."

Joey laughed softly. "Soon. Then we need to go into the yard. I want to see if I can't find out where The Arranger is. And I'm sick of the smell in here. Let's go on the prowl."

Seto just stayed by Joey's side. He was a bit confused, he was supposed to be Joey's bitch, but Joey was treating him a great deal more like a trusted partner. He was glad this was so but he wondered how much trouble it was going to cause them. He decided to let Joey worry about it.

They moved through the corridors and down stairs like two horses in harness, used to working and pulling together.

When they entered the yard, heads turned. They looked like young lions, proud in their strength and arrogant enough to get away with it. Several older kumicho smirked into their sleeves, things were going to get lively. Very amusing.

Joey looked around and saw The Arranger. He was seated in a shady spot near a heat register. A perfect place for a man like him. The spot had belonged to a tough by the name of Shuga. Joey didn't know where he was and didn't care. He summoned his 'eye' and snarled, "I thought I asked you if The Arranger was in the yard. What's up?"

The idiot smirked at Joey. "No, you asked me if he was in his usual place. He wasn't, so I said so. You got a problem?"

Joey was so mad all he did was glare at the man for a few seconds. Seconds Seto used to act. He wasn't a wimp and he intended to prove it.

"No Jounouchi-kun doesn't have a problem, you do." Seto got hold of the man's hand and broke one of his fingers before the man could pull away. Seto turned his head to look at Joey. "Another?"

Joey just shrugged. "Up to you. You're the kaikei, Seto-wakagashira." Seto broke another.

"Account closed." The man whimpered, clutching his damaged hand. "Next time. Do what you're supposed to do. Git." Seto kicked the man, who scrambled away.

Joey sneered at him and glared around the yard. A few men took offence, Joey noted them, most just either looked away or made some gesture of peace. Seto glanced at The Arranger to see what he had to say.

The Arranger, who didn't seem to have any other name, nodded to Seto. Seto touched Joey's arm and jerked his head. They sauntered over to talk to the man.

"I want to arrange a meeting between Seto and his lawyer. It's early but I've paid the bribes on the outside. Who do I pay in here?"

The old man took the cigaret from between his lips, blew the smoke away from them, then replied. "Me. Four cartons. And three packs of gum. Got any pens?"

Joey nodded. "I can get you a whole box. And paper too if you need."

The Arranger looked pleased. "I do. How soon do you want to see him?"

Seto tipped his head as Joey whispered in his ear. "How soon can you be ready?"

Seto just whispered back. "I'm ready now. Tomorrow?"

Joey relayed the message. The Arranger just nodded, saying, "Tomorrow it is. You'll find out exactly when from the guard. That do?"

Joey allowed that it would. He turned to a man who was discreetly hovering. Seto had noticed him but, since Joey wasn't bothered, he'd ignored him. "You heard?" The man nodded. "Well, don't just stand there, get the man his commissary." The soldier hurried off.

Joey and Seto bowed to The Arranger and sauntered off in tandem.

They made a round of the yard, nodding to a few men, bowing to others. On the beginning of the second round a fuku-honbucho approached them. He asked them if they'd mind speaking to his boss. Joey nodded, one sharp jerk of his head.

The meeting was a simple request for a loan, an outside one. The shateigashira, number three to The House of The Tiger, admitted that his wife was in financial trouble. He needed the loan to make sure he didn't lose his house. Joey conspicuously turned to Seto, asked him what he thought. Seto nodded, "He seems like a good risk. Do it." Joey nodded and told Seto to see to the arrangements, also telling him to see that the payment went directly to the bank. It seemed the woman had a gambling habit.

Seto added that to the list of things he had to arrange with his lawyer. He was going to need more than the allowed two hours. He decided that he needed to make a written list.

"Joey,I need to make a written list to give to my lawyer. I've got way too much stuff to discuss with him to cram it all into two hours."

Joey shrugged. "How long do you think it will take?"

"I don't know. At least three, probably more."

"I'll see to it. I know I can manage four hours without a complaint. He's my lawyer too. We just see him together. That gives us four hours. You think you'll need more?"

Seto shook his head. "Don't think so. What if he brings an aid? Sometimes he does."

"We'll get to see him too. Don't sweat it."

Seto poked Joey in the ribs with one finger. "Baka!"

Joey flinched away from the probing finger, laughed and announced with a grin, "Insolent aho."

They laughed together.

Seto eyed his lawyer with a sour expression that made the man tremble in his Gucci's. "Mr. Kaiba, I'm really so sorry about all this. I have no idea how you wound up in this ... place."

Seto sneered, the man was nearly wetting his pants. And Seto wasn't happy. Why he had, what he considered a third level paper pusher, instead of one of his high level attorneys was a question that he would get an answer to.

"I don't care why, I care about how I'm getting out of here and to where I'm supposed to be. And here, here's a list of things for you to do. I want them done within 48 hours. Understand?"

"Yes, sir. I understand. I'll take care of it immediately. I'm so sorry that I'm the only one here."

He snatched up the three pages of neat kanji and tucked them into a red folder. Seto recognized it as one of the color coded folders that only came directly from his desk. It was Very Important, Do Immediately. Seto had hopes that the man was competent to do the job.

"You understand that every single job on that list is top priority? Make sure that you don't break my word." Seto tapped one finger on the table to attract the man's complete attention. "And, Wheeler goes with me. Wherever I wind up, he comes too. Got me?" The man nodded, shuddering at the look he got. "Third, where the hell are the rest of my lawyers? What is more important than this?"

"Well, um ... three are in court to keep Master Mokuba from being sent to a foster home. Master Muto isn't old enough to be a guardian, according to the board of directors. And two are in court trying to arrange a sympathy leave so you can get back to work." The lawyer's attention seemed to wander for a moment. "But they're not having much luck. It seems that your principle residence is too far outside Tokyo for the e-leash to work."

Seto snorted. "You know I have an apartment on top of Kaiba Towers. That's right under the antenna for the police station. I hardly ever use it because it stinks of Gozaburo's cigars. Have it fumigatedand tell that team I want on the program as soon as I'm eligible for it."

"Yes, sir. I'll be right on all this. The head of the department, Tonohana-sama, said that I'm responsible for handling all your requests from here. Is there anything else I can do for you, or Mr Wheeler?"

Seto just announced that Joey should have his own commissary as long as he was inside. And they should find out why Joey had gotten a sentence of 18 months for self-defense. The lawyer took notes.

Joey fidgeted through most of the meeting, finally he demanded, "What is your name? I hate not knowing who I'm dealing with."

"Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm just a junior attorney. I'm not used to anyone wanting to know my name. Sorry. Sorry. It's Fujiwara Kenji. Thank you so much for asking. Can I ask you a question back?"

Joey just nodded. "Sure."

"There's some confusion as to your name. Could you tell me all your names? Thank you."

"Joey Wheeler is my American name. Jounouchi Katsuya is my Japanese one. No other AKA's."

Fujiwara scribbled quickly then nodded. "Thank you. I'll get on all this right away. Is there anything else?"

Seto looked at Joey who shook his head. "No. Neither of us needs anything else. Thank you." Seto stood, gave the man a bare nod of his head and sent to the door. Joey bowed a bit lower than he really should have, smiled at Fujiwara and followed Seto. He turned at the door and smiled at the poor man again.

"Don't worry. He appreciates it, but he's too much Gozaburo's son to know how to admit it. If you don't mess up, you'll be fine."

Joey didn't hear the man mutter, 'Just don't mess up. Do everything exactly right. Sure. Thank you so much.' He tossed the last of his papers into his briefcase and left.

Joey settled at 'his' table, he had several people who wanted to speak to him. Seto brought tea and flopped beside Joey.

"Well, that was graceful."

"Shut it. I'm exhausted. I had another meeting with our lawyers, several people stopped me in the corridors and The Arranger needs to see us as soon as we're done here."

"Great." Joey's expression said that it was anything but. "Who wants what?"

"Long list. When we're done here, I'll give you a full run down."

"Ok. And I want to know who we own and who we owe." Joey settled more comfortably in his chair. "Here comes the first ... what did you call him?"

"Supplicant. Nice way to say beggar. Just relax, smile just enough to keep him worried and leave the rest to me."

Joey squeezed Seto's knee. "You've been saying that to me for the last week. Good advice, but I think I can remember it by now."

Seto just laughed lightly and prepared himself to be annoyed.

The first man wanted enough money to bribe his way into a job. Joey shook his head. Seto refused him gently. He got a threatening glare for his trouble, which Joey matched and raised. The man scurried off, grumbling.

The second one owed Joey and had come to make a payment. Seto took the gum and soap, made a mental note of it and put it into the hands of the waiting komon. Joey ducked his head as the man stopped to whisper in his ear.

Joey nodded at the man's suggestion that he have some of the tribute removed to their storage. One of the lower level men had a single cell, in other words, he was the only one in it. They were using most of his cell as storage for their goods. The man benefited by being allowed two packs of cigarets and one of gum a day. He also got Seto's help to write letters home.

Seto looked up as two men began removing some of the tribute. He glanced at Joey who nodded to him. He went back to his work.

They met with several more people, all wanted money for bribes for better food, more privileges, all sorts of things. Some got what they wanted. Others didn't. Joey wasn't frivolous in his refusals. He had specific reasons for what he did. Sometimes it was a signal from Seto that the man owed too much already, other times it was because he knew the man was unreliable. Either way, he didn't make any friends of the ones he'd refused. The one's he granted favor to, owed him.

That was how things worked here. Who owed who. Who could grant the most favors. Seto had pull now, through Joey. Joey had 'working capital' from Seto. They were coming up in the world, quickly. Not a good thing, in many ways.

The older guard Yakuza didn't mind. They were all short timers, due out in only months. The ones who really objected were the long timers, the lower-ranking men and men who were not yakuza at all. Short timers in positions of real power were a threat to the stability of the population, when they left, they left a power void. Nature abhors a vacuum. The fights to fill the void were dangerous to everyone. No one liked that, not even the guards, especially the guards and administration.

Seto could feel the eyes on them. It bothered him a lot. It bothered Joey too.

"Seto, we got to talk soon. Something's up."

Seto let his glance slide around the room. "I know. But what?"

Joey shrugged, looked at one man who seemed to be watching them too intently and turned back to business.

The watcher took the glance as the warning it was and got up, left the room and headed to report to his boss.

"Joey, what's going on. Why is that man watching us?"

Joey paced the six steps from one end of the cell to the other. He rubbed his neck as he paced, thinking hard. He added the details, weighed all the variables and came to two conclusions.

"Ok. One, we've offended one of the high kumicho somehow. Or two, we're a threat to the administration. I vote for two. If it was one, we'd have gotten some sort of warning from someone."

"How can we possibly be a threat to the administration? That doesn't make sense."

Joey sighed. "We are. Somehow I don't understand. I'm sending you and two gaki to see ... mmmm. Who? Who would know? Not The Arranger, he's not an answer man. He's a fixer. Who?" Joey began to pace again, Seto just watched him for a moment.

"Well, who should we ask to find out who to talk to? And what bribes will we need."

"I don't know. I think I know who to talk to but he's not interested in bribes. He's a lifer. He's more interested in entertainment."

Seto sighed, after his weeks in this place, he knew what many men considered entertaining. "Would he want to watch us fight or fuck?"

"This guy? Fight. He's not interested in gay games. I'll send you to see him."

Seto straightened up from his lounge on his bed. "When?"

"Don't know yet, got to make arrangements, don't I?"

"Yeah, sorry. I just need to make sure that I've got an ironed shirt. Wouldn't do to meet with someone like him, rumpled."

Joey pulled Seto into a hug, amazing how quickly they'd gotten past any awkwardness. "I'm sorry too. I don't mean to snap at you. It's just ... this has me really worried. Things are going well. We'll own this place in another month. It's been ... what? How long?"

Seto glanced at the calendar at the foot of his bed, not that he needed to. "Fifty-six days. And ..." Seto ran a hand through his bangs. "I don't ... this is so stupid. But you don't take me anymore. Don't you like me? I mean ... damn. If we don't do something soon, it's going to look like I'm fair game again. I don't want that. And ... I was hoping ... well, that this might go somewhere. I'm wondering, a bit, why you've left me alone solong. I know this is just business but I'm willing to put in the effort to make it something more."

Joey goggled at Seto. "Well, once we established my claim and got you a place in the Mix, I figured you'd rather not. You're straight, I know, so I sort of let things go. Don't want to ... alienate you any more than necessary."

Seto blinked at Joey for a moment. "And who said I'm straight?"

Joey blinked back, looking like a young owl. "Um ... girls, lots of girls. Every time I saw you, you had girls hanging off you."

Seto smirked at Joey in a sympathetic way. "I'm bi. I never had any experience with men, because girls were always throwing themselves at me. I never even realized it until I had ... you made it really good. Glad you had some experience."

Joey nearly hurt himself, he laughed so hard. When he calmed down he said, "I've always known I'm gay. But I never had a chance to do anything about it. Life was just too hard. I had to work like a dog to get to school and do my homework, as well as work a paid job to pay all the expenses of the apartment. Pop didn't do shit. And if anything was behind and he started getting duns, he'd bust me up."

Seto froze, glaring at Joey. "You mean to sit there and tell me we were both virgins? Holy Crap!"

Joey snickered. "Well, yes ... now that you ask. I got some advice and ... just did what I would have liked. You mad?"

Seto sighed then chuckled a bit. "No. How could I be mad. It was mind blowing. I really like it and ... well." He turned his head away, blushing.

"Me too. So I ... we'll ... need lube." Joey blushed too.

Seto gazed at Joey for a moment. Joey stared back. Suddenly it was just too much, they both nearly fell off their beds, laughing hysterically.

The next month was as exhausting as the last. Several meetings with various lawyers were nothing but frustrating. The administration wasn't admitting that there was any sort of mistake in either Seto's placement or Joey's sentence. But their business was thriving.

Loans were booming. They'd undercut all the competition by about 3, not much but enough to cause a flap in the community. They now had four body guards apiece, threats against their health and welfare were so common they had a man to read them and sort them by threat level. The Arranger now worked for them. The fixers came to them for materials. The Kumicho all allowed this with tiny smiles. Joey knew that they would take over the organization when he and Seto left. He just hoped they left well enough alone until then. He wondered at their motivations but decided not to worry about it unless he had to. He had enough on his mind as it was. The feeling that something was coming wouldn't go away. Seto's meeting with the informant hadn't produced any results, even though Joey offered 'entertainment.' He still had his ear to the grapevine, but, so far, nothing.

Seto knew, more or less, what the Kumicho were up to. He and Joey would do all the work then leave. The Kumicho would step into the void and have a well setup, organized system without the trouble of doing it themselves. He didn't mind. It gave him something to do and kept Joey out of fights.

Their relationship was recognized now. No one fooled with either one of them. Joey had smacked the few that asked to rent Seto. Seto had taken care of the one who tried it on his own. The results hadn't been pretty, especially after his body guards got done. The whole thing puzzled some of the other prisoners and infuriated others. Neither Seto nor Joey gave it much thought. What was, was. And anyone who got in the way was in dire straights.

The old kumicho just shook their heads. The younger ones snarled in frustration. The middle guard just stayed out of the way, this was all going to come to a head sooner or later. They all hoped for later, possibly when Seto and Joey were already gone. They were doomed to disappointment.

Joey was walking to the laundry, which he now controlled, when a group jumped him and his four guards. The guards took the brunt of the first wave. Two went down at once, one got his knee cap shattered, the other was stunned. Joey got one of the remaining men at his back and the other on his left.

"Keep them off me." Both men expected him to run. They were surprised when he took the fight to their attackers.

His punches were like hammer blows, his kicks devastating. He got low on his first opponent and kicked him in the ankle, breaking it. This crippled the man, who dragged himself away. The next two men each got a punch in the chest that left them breathless and gasping. After that it turned into a full out brawl, Joey's two remaining guards joined the fray and the three of them took on the last four attackers in a flurry of blows that put the remaining men out and down.

Joey turned to his men. "Who's hurt bad?"

"Ando has a bustedknee. I got a smack on the head. It's spinning still but I'll be ok. What now, boss?"

Joey cracked his neck. "You two bumped into each other on the stairs. He fell down them, wrecking his knee. You called those two to help you get Ando to the infirmary. I'll wait here until more guards can come. Tell them I'll be under the stairs. Go."

The four men hurried away, Ando carried by the two men who weren't hurt.

Joey didn't have long to wait for new guards to come. He went on to the laundry to find that no one there knew anything about a meeting. He'd been set up. The feeling had finally come to fruition.

Seto had a similar experience on his way to talk to The Arranger. His attack was very similar but the results were a bit different.

Seto walked through the door first and got a hard blow to the stomach. He doubled over but managed to roll out of the way. One of his guards took a blow to the head that put him completely out. Seto staggered to his feet and managed to gasp enough air into his lungs to fight back with a completely unexpected fury. His martial arts training rushed to the fore and he chopped one man across the throat with the edge of his left hand while he grabbed another with his right. His hold on the man allowed one of his guards to punch him in the groin. Seto kicked the feet out from under a third man, who went down only to struggle up again. Another of the guards kicked him in the head. And that was that.

"Anyone hurt?" Seto checked his men. The one who'd been hit in the head was still out. "Check him out."

"Got a lump on his head the size of my fist." After a quick check of the downed man's eyes, the gaki announced. "Not concussed. He'll be ok as soon as he gets his wits back. Yeah, he's coming around now. Probably ... damn." The man jumped back as the injured man vomited. "I'll stay with him. We can say he slipped on a wet patch. The floors just been mopped. I'll stay with him. You go on to your meeting. Two guys will do for just the time it'll take me to get you more muscle."

Seto agreed and headed for The Arranger's sheltered spot. The man didn't have any idea that Seto had been told to come to him. Seto had been set up too.

Joey lay on his back on his bed, biting his lip and thinking. Seto paced back and forth like a caged tiger.

"Joey, we have to do something. If we don't, we'll never walk safe again. But ... what?"

"I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'. Gimme a break. I'll figure out something. Just gimme some time."

Seto kicked his bed in frustration. "And what if the admin finds out. I don't fancy a flogging because some jealous asshole tried something."

"The admin can't do anything because no guard saw anything. They won't take a con's word for something like this. Relax on that one."

But a little rat had seen enough.

The warden sighed and rubbed his eyes. "We can't do anything much to them. They didn't do anything that we can prove. And they were both set up. We need to get them both out of here before something bad happens. I was hoping that Kaiba being here would bring some benefits to the whole population but ... it's just too difficult. I'll see what I can do about expediting Kaiba's request for transfer. And Jounouchi as well. Send them together. That'll remove both problems at once. And prevent trouble from Kaiba when he's separated from his lover. This is not good. Not good at all."

The warden's secretary privately agreed with him so he made sure to send all the appropriate paper work as quickly as possible. Two men sharing that much power in a closed environment was just asking for the kind of trouble that led to riots.

Yubisume - Apology by cutting off a finger or a joint of one

Oyabun - head of clan also called

Kumicho - supreme boss

saiko komon - senior advisor

wakagashira - #2 man (you go to him to see the kumicho)

komon - advisor

kaikei - accountant

shaieigashira - #3 man

wakashu - young man or very junior leader

giri- obligation or debt

kono yaro - that guy or asshole

boryokudan - another word for yakuza, but if you use it you'll get into a fight