Will Do Favours
Jounouchi Katsuya was not having a good day. In between his little sister announcing her engagement (just how the hell was supposed to guard her purity after THAT?) and Yuugi Moutou announcing that he was going to Egypt for six months on an archaeological dig, the last thing Jou needed was to be arrested for solitication.
I.e., the charge of selling his body to strangers.
Me love you long time.
False charges! False, stupidly outrageous charges!
What happened was, his bike ran out of gas. And Jounouchi, aware that it was Friday and he was not being paid until Monday, had been somewhat stranded. In kind of a bad neighbourhood. It was at this point he realised that some time during the day he had also lost his cellphone.
So there he sat on a street corner, wearing a bright red tank top and torn up jeans – torn not for the sake of fashion but because he couldn't afford new ones. On the bright side, these ones at least showed off the tanned muscles of his thighs when he moved. He perched on his dead motorcycle and wondered what the hell he was going to do.
After a while, he pulled his green jacket on, feeling a chill in the evening air. He looked up at the sky. It would have been just his luck for it to rain, and sure enough, there were black clouds gathering.
He had been pretty damn pleased when a limousine pulled up, too. He hadn't really thought about why a limo would stop for him, just maybe that it was some rich guy with a heart of gold and cash to spare; a lucky break in a crappy day. The limo had glided towards him, coming to an almost magical stop with its back window right in front of him.
But when the black-tinted window half-lowered itself and the voice of Seto Kaiba emanated from behind it, Jounouchi's feelings moved from relief to the other end of the emotional spectrum.
"Well, well, well – look what's still sitting in the gutter."
"What an articulate response! I tell you, Jounouchi, there is not a single person on this world who I would MORE expect to find desperate on the corner of a busy street."
"I ran outta gas!"
"Is that a euphemism of some sort for the state of your life, or are you telling me that you're actually so wretched that you would resort prostitution for petrol?"
"'Will do favours for money'?"
"What're you talking about, Kaiba?"
"Your sorry excuse for a jacket, Jounouchi."
"Huh? What's wrong with my clothes? Just 'cause they don't come from hoity-toity-land like all of your "coo-ture" doesn't mean – "
"Are you telling me that you don't know what's on your jacket?"
"If you're not going to help me out here, will you go to hell?"
"I didn't say I wouldn't help you, but I would like you to clarify whether you are genuinely so stupid that you don't realise you look like a cheap male whore, or whether you are genuinely so hard-up for money that you are in fact a cheap, male whore."
"I am not a whore!" Jounouchi snapped. "And screw you; I don't need your help. I don't know how stupid you think I am, exactly, but you've gotta give me more credit than to think I can expect CHARITY from Seto Kaiba."
Jounouchi had grabbed his defunct motorcycle and begun to push it down the footpath.
The limousine crept along beside him.
"Maybe you're not as stupid as you look, after all. I do appreciate your offer to screw me, by the way. I'll consider it at some length. Get in."
The car hopped to a standstill.
"Jounouchi you mongrel, get yourself in this car before somebody sees you and arrests you. Your crap-covered excuse for a motorcycle will fit in the back of my limousine and if you'd rather walk through a red light district at night begging for a few dollars while dressed in THAT, you are more stupid than even I ever thought you were."
Jounouchi tilted his head. He had to get home somehow, but was getting hassled in the red light district worse than an hour in a car with Kaiba? Probably not.
"And just for your edification, that's about the brainpower of a pretty little starfish on a coral reef somewhere."
"Fine, open your door."
"...You do realise that starfish don't have brains?"
"Well, at least you called me pretty," Jou said, and he yanked open the limo door himself.
It turns out that it's not prostitution until you actually sell yourself, and two policeman who had been carefully watching Jounouchi to see if he were as blatant about his profession as it appeared made their move shortly after Seto Kaiba's limousine left the curb.
They took just long enough to do a radio check on the licence plate number, and realise that this was about to be the bust of their career.
And that is how Jounouchi wound up in jail.
Jounouchi had not quite believed Kaiba's prediction that they would be out in seconds but it had been entirely accurate. This was not because Kaiba was ridiculously wealthy and could buy his way out no matter what the charge, but because it had taken him exactly one minute and forty-three seconds to explain to the police that his team of lawyers were about to prove extensively and conclusively that he and Jounouchi Katsuya (who would have thought Kaiba could say his first name without choking?) had been 'friends' for many years – since highschool, in fact – and were frequently in contact, and the charge that he would pay a man well-known to be his friend for some sweet sweet loving (the exact words, believe it or not, that Kaiba used) after going to the inexplicable rigmarole of picking him up off a street corner was not only ludicrous but one of the most imbelic acts of policing in the recorded history of Domino and he would personally see to it that the arresting officers would be bumped back to parking duties so fast they wouldn't be able to say "Blue Eyes White Dragon."
But that didn't mean they avoided the press. Kaiba had one of the officers fired anyway for notifying the tabloids of his arrest moments after the fact, and an embarrassed Jounouchi was seen hurrying out of the building after a stone-faced Kaiba on every channel's first news story that evening.
"You are coming with me."
"Why?" barked Jounouchi. "You have no idea what kind of day it's been, and I just wanna go home. You've done enough 'helping'."
"You are coming with me because it confirms our story that we are in fact 'friends'." Kaiba pronounced the last word as though it left a sour taste in his mouth, leaving no question that if it hadn't been for the problem of a little arrest, he would have been loath for anyone to think he could ever possibly deign to be Jounouchi's pal.
"And don't blame me for this. I am not the idiot who stood on a street corner offering myself for cash."
"I still don't understand what the hell you are talking about! Why did they think I was a hooker?"
Kaiba was silent. His piercing blue eyes narrowed. "You really don't understand."
Kaiba tugged at Jounouchi's sleeves.
"Hey, man! What're you doing!"
Jounouchi tried to wriggle away from the strong grip of the taller man, but Kaiba yanked him still.
Their faces were inches away, and Jounouchi's breath hitched when he made a mental association of the legal allegations and Kaiba's attempt to undress him.
Kaiba pulled the coat away, and Jounouchi stood, feeling far more naked than he was. Kaiba flipped it.
"You have never noticed this?"
"You can't READ this? Did you somehow manage to get through highschool illiterate? Because that would explain one hell of a lot."
Jounouchi's mouth drooped. "There are words there?"
"Yes, there are words there."
"They say 'Will do favours for money', don't they?"
"Yes, they do."
"... Are they red?"
Kaiba usually level gaze seemed to go over a road bump. "... You're colour-blind, aren't you?"
Jounouchi sighed. "Yup. Red-green colour-blind. In other words, I can't see red on green."
Kaiba tilted his head to one side, in a movement that usually implied thoughtfulness, but when accompanied by his blank stare was a lot more inscrutable.
"I didn't know," he said.
"Well, now you do."
Jounouchi yanked the jacket back out of the other man's hands and pulled it on. "Let's go."
Back in the limo for the second time, Jou toyed with the buttons on the handle of his door. They rode in silence, until Kaiba said, "I apologise for calling you a cheap whore."
"Ah, I've been called worse. Though I am surprised the word 'sorry' is in your vocabulary."
"I guess there are plenty of things we don't know about each other, then." Kaiba said.
"Hey, what were you doing in the red light district, anyways?"
"Looking for Mokuba."
"Mokie? Ah, how is the kid?"
"A woman-chasing hellion."
Jounouchi snorted. "Figures."
"Watch your tone."
"I didn't mean nothin' by it. It just doesn't surprise me he'd grow up to be a ladies' man. I bet he's good lookin', huh? You could tell even was a kid that those Kaiba genes would make him a knock-out."
Kaiba slowly turned to stare at Jounouchi. "Did you just tell me that I am a knock-out?"
"No, I said I thought you were a knock-out in highschool," Jounouchi clarified. He winced. Why had he just said that? Well, shit, everyone knew that Kaiba was a hunk of man-muffin, didn't they?
"What am I now? Haggard and wrinkled?"
"I'm just sayin'... Time has ravaged your once youthful face."
Kaiba stared. "Was that a joke?"
"I guess not, since you ain't laughin'."
"It wasn't bad."
"Well, it had several flaws."
"Like the fact that you could buy more chemical injections to your face than the third world can vaccinations."
"I do generally prefer to sponsor medical programmes in Africa than spend it on my face."
"And then there's the fact that you're only – what, twenty-five? Hardly what you could call 'once-youthful'."
"Something like that."
"Not to mention you are still gorgeous."
Jounouchi glanced at the stiff billionaire where he leaned towards Jounouchi in the backseat. They were closer together than he'd remembered.
It was actually true that Kaiba had aged a lot since he'd last seen him in person. There were wrinkles in the corners of his eyes which Jou didn't remember seeing before – but they didn't make him look old. They made him look like he was a ridiculously smart guy who had been the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation since before he'd left highschool. The affect of time made him look... More distinguished. Like he'd earned his company, not been handed it – whether he wanted it or not.
"You're just as I remember," Kaiba said. He sighed.
"Whoa. Whoa, whoa, WHOA."
"What?" Kaiba snapped.
"Did you just SIGH?"
"...I suppose I did."
"You can sigh now?"
"I couldn't before?"
"Well, a sigh would kind of suggest that you might have... HUMAN FEELINGS."
"Stranger things have happened."
"No, Kaiba. No, they haven't."
Kaiba narrowed his eyes. "Why are you being so playful?"
Jounouchi cocked his head. "It's been one hell of a week. I could piss and moan and snarl, but it wouldn't get me anywhere."
"That's an attitude I have never before adopted . I think you will recall that snarling is one of my favourite past-times."
"You're too dignified for 'pissy' though."
"'Self-righteous' is more your style."
Kaiba leaned over and flicked Jounouchi's ear.
"Ow! What the hell was that for?"
"Being a smart-ass."
"Oh, so you finally admit that I'm smart, huh?"
"Emphasis on the ass."
"Why, Kaiba! Thanks for noticing! You can touch all you like, but you break it; you bought it."
Kaiba's cellphone rang. With a purse of his lips, he pulled it out of the pocket of his tight-fitting pants (some things never changed), and flipped it open.
Jounouchi watched the conversation peripherally, without really listening to the words. It started with a snarl, though after a few sentences, Kaiba's bolts seemed to come a little loose. He ran a hand through his soft-looking chestnut hair. He even started to smile, before he glanced over at Jounouchi and frowned again. Jounouchi wondered who it was. Maybe it was his girlfriend. Did Kaiba have a girlfriend? Hell, Kaiba could have a wife and Jounouchi wouldn't know it.
"Hey, Kaiba," Jounouchi said.
"I know you're on the phone and all, but it occurs to me that we're drivin' around and I have no idea where you're driving me to. Are you takin' me home or what?"
Kaiba passed his phone to Jounouchi, wordlessly.
"Jou!" shrieked a man's voice down the line. "Jou, how are you?! I saw the news!"
Kaiba leaned forward. "It's Mokuba," he helpfully supplied.
"Mokuba? Damn, kid, I haven't heard from you in a long time!" Jounouchi was thrown by the adult voice coming through the phone with the hyperactive tones of a teenager.
"Well, I've been busy."
"Yeah, there are a lot of women in this town, and they all seem to want to spend some quality time with me."
"You little punk."
"I'd send some your way, but y'know... From what I can see, you're busy with my brother."
"Oh yeah, that was some mix-up," Jou said politely.
"Mix-up?" Mokuba laughed. "What are you two doing now?"
"I dunno... Driving around?"
"Have a nice night, Jou. You two enjoy yourselves."
"Uh, sure. You enjoy yourself, too."
Mokuba hung up, abruptly.
"Your brother is a little weird."
"It runs in the family."
Jounouchi stared at Kaiba. "Is that a joke?"
"I guess not, since you aren't laughing."
Jounouchi shifted in his chair, suddenly at a loss for something to say. He had been enjoying teasing Kaiba, but when Kaiba initiated it, he wasn't sure what to do. Instead he said, "Do you really give shots to kids in Africa?"
Kaiba seemed surprised by the question, though Jou wasn't sure what gave him that impression. The other man's stoic expression didn't lend itself easily to surprise, though perhaps what Jounouchi was noticing was the delay in his response – the lack of reaction. Maybe it was possible to read Kaiba after all. With practice.
"Wow. ... Sometimes I give my pennies to bums in the subway," Jou offered.
"If you take into account percentage of income, my generosity is probably equivalent to yours."
Jounouchi snorted. "There you go, trying to pretend that you don't have a heart."
Again, there was no reaction for a moment.
"I have a heart," Kaiba said. "And I was actually trying to belittle your earnings."
Jounouchi laughed. "They sure do be little." He poked absently at the especially large hole in his jeans that was just above his knee.
"What do you do, Jounouchi?"
Jounouchi looked out the window. They seemed to be slowly cruising through Domino with no particular destination in mind. It was getting dark outside, and the city lights were all springing to life in neon colours. The sidewalks were still full of people, although it had started to rain. The droplets splattered on the limo's tinted windows, dark and full. There might be a real storm, in not too much longer. Jounouchi certainly felt something in the air.
"At the moment? I cook."
"Nothin' much. Just café food. Burgers, salads, sandwiches. It comes out all right but it ain't gourmet."
"Do you like it?"
Jounouchi shrugs. "It pays the bills. I'm surprised I got the job, really. I don't have any qualifications."
"But do you enjoy cooking?"
"Yeah. I guess I do. I'd like..."
"You'd like...?" Kaiba seemed genuinely interested. His clear blue eyes were sharply focused on Jounouchi.
"It's nothin' important. But I'd like to... Go to, like, cooking school or something. And learn how to make the kinda food that you see and it makes you want to roll over with your mouth open. The kinda food that just makes you want to eat all day long. Not a meat pattie in a bun with fries on the side."
"Would you like to come back to my place for a while? And hang out?"
Jounouchi felt his mouth go dry. He looked down at his jeans, his fingers still looped through the frayed strands of fabric. Kaiba's hand was on the car seat next to him, almost but not quite touching Jounouchi's thigh. If Jounouchi could move just a little, Kaiba's hand could - must - actually brush some of the exposed skin.
"That might be cool," Jou said. "I don't have any plans tonight."
Kaiba exhaled. "All right," he said. He told the driver to head for home.
"Does Mokuba still live with you?" Jounouchi asked.
"Of course. He's got his own wing."
"That must be nice. My sister moved out about a year ago. I still miss havin' someone there when I get home. Now she's getting married."
"Are you happy?"
"No," Jounouchi replied, sulkily.
"Okay, I guess I'm happy for her. I just... I don't see her much, and I miss being the only guy lookin' out for her."
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
"No. Do you?"
"Women must throw themselves at you, huh?"
"Yes," Kaiba said.
Jounouchi couldn't stand such a succint answer. He shifted in his seat and then they were touching, hand to leg. Kaiba's fingers felt cold, which made Jounouchi feel flushed, hotter than he really was. It was a brief contact, and illict first-date kind of feel that made Jounouchi wonder if it made Kaiba wonder, and if Kaiba wondered did he wonder if Jounouchi was wondering too? It was confusing, and electric.
Kaiba did not look down where they touched. Instead he looked at Jounouchi's face. Jounouchi tried to look as blank as possible.
"Is this a game?"
Jounouchi knew he could pretend he didn't understand and then Kaiba would pretend he didn't ask. He felt like he was breathing too hard; like his chest was constricted.
Instead he said, "I already told ya; you can touch all you like."
Kaiba slid his hand up onto Jounouchi's leg, and his fingers almost slipped into the large hole Jounouchi had been playing with.
Kaiba's face was not questioning. Jounouchi tried to keep any expression from his face, in case it was the wrong one. Kaiba angled towards Jounouchi.
"I don't mind playful, but I don't like to play games," he said.
Jounouchi cracked a nervous smile. "Good thing you don't, like, own a gaming company then, huh?"
Kaiba pulled back and Jounouchi bit his lip to keep his face from falling. This was stupid. A dumb, dumb, dumb idea. This was arrogant jerkoff Seto Kaiba, who thought he had the IQ of a starfish. Kaiba, the super-human billionaire whose fanclub was bigger than most other celebrities in Japan's put together. Seto Kaiba, who was completely, devastatingly hot.
Jounouchi bowed his head, hoping that his hair would cover his face. "That was just a joke, Kaiba."
"It's not a joke to me," Kaiba replied tersely.
Jounouchi took a deep breath. He couldn't – he didn't know how to say it. He couldn't just reach out and touch Kaiba's thigh, though the other man seemed capable of that level of aggressiveness. He could only drop his hand to where Kaiba's lay limp on the car seat. He willed it to move, but it wouldn't. After a moment of almost crucifying self doubt, he said, "Fuck it," and grabbed Kaiba's hand. Now Kaiba reacted with genuine surprise. Jounouchi didn't have the finesse to caress the hand, the delicacy to intertwine their fingers. He just grabbed Kaiba's hand and squeezed it.
Kaiba said, "If I never knew you were colour-blind, I certainly never knew..."
Jounouchi stared down at his own knees. "What's to know?" he mumbled.
Kaiba slipped his free hand back onto Jou's leg.
"You don't – " Jounouchi's tongue was like a lump in his mouth. "You don't..."
"I don't what?"
"I'm not an idiot, you know?"
"I didn't know," Kaiba said, honestly. "I've never heard you talk like this."
Kaiba said, "Like you have a sense of humour. Like you have flaws. Like you have goals, ideas, an internal life of any kind."
Jounouchi raised his face to look at Kaiba properly. "You never gave any of us a chance to talk to you. Well, other than trash talk."
"Are you the same now?"
Kaiba leaned forward, into Jounouchi. Jounouchi could feel breath warm on his neck, and it gave him goose-bumps. He felt Kaiba's lips brush his ear when Kaiba said, "Are you?"
Jounouchi turned his head, and his face was so close to Kaiba's, he didn't know how they weren't touching already. He opened his mouth to reply, but Kaiba closed the last space between their lips and kissed him, instead. It was neither soft, nor hard; gentle nor fierce. It was quiet, open, exploratory.
Kaiba pulled back a moment later and Jounouchi felt as though his head was spinning.
"This doesn't make sense," Jounouchi said.
"Yes, it does," Kaiba said, and kissed him again, with more certainty but a feeling of restraint. This time Jounouchi responded in full, slipping an arm around Kaiba's waist, another up around his neck, into his hair.
The two pulled back from each other, breathless.
"You're right," said Kaiba. "This doesn't make sense. An hour ago you were nearly charged with solicitation for getting into my car and it was the most ridiculous thing in the world."
"An hour ago my day – my week – sucked," Jounouchi said. "But things are looking up."
"That's crude," Kaiba said.
Jounouchi laughed. "I didn't mean..."
Kaiba grabbed Jounouchi, pulled him close and kissed him again; no longer gentle at all.
"All right, already," Jounouchi said when he could speak. "Let's go to your place."
"All right," Kaiba said.
"Hey," said Jou. "If this makes it into the media, that whole arrest thing is going to look like some weird sex role-playing."
"I already told you; I don't do games."
Jounouchi snorted. "And as I already pointed out, all you do is games."
Kaiba smirked. It was a smirk, but lurking somewhere behind it was the potential for the kind of smile Jounouchi had seen on the phonecall to Mokuba. He wanted that smile directed at him. Though the smirk alone did strange things to his insides; Kaiba's confidence, his arrogance was still there, and Jounouchi's heckles rose to meet it – among other things.
"Well..." said Kaiba. "I guess we'll see, then."
"Now I know THAT'S a joke."
"...Am I laughing?"
"I am not."
"Don't be juvenile."
"If you kiss me again, I'll shut up."