Plain and simple: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!
A/N: I will now refer to this story as The Beast, for it was never supposed to be this long! The story is complete so there will be regular updates. First time I've been able to say that in a long while.
My poll will remain open until the end of this story. If you haven't already, I ask that you please vote on my next story. Thank you!
Secret Language: The Kiss
Chapter One - Enrollment
Yuugi was not a man who was averse to learning.
His best friend Jou, however, was a man who approached education as some intolerable yet inevitable chore that was to be manipulated to one's full advantage, preferably in the realm of goofing off.
This was one of numerous differences between the two, and it was a wonder to many that the men got along as well as they did. Having met in grade school, clashed through middle school, and eventually cementing their friendship in high school, the duo known as Jou and Yuugi were a force to be reckoned with.
"Thanks again for coming with me Yug," Jou said, leaning sideways in his chair towards his friend so he could be heard in the crowded room.
Yuugi frowned in response, his eyes scanning the people in front of him. "I don't know why I let you talk me in to these things."
The room the two friends were sitting in was large for a classroom; in fact, it was one of the more spacious rooms at the community college, which in itself baffled Yuugi. Having not expected many people to be attending the one-time seminar, it came as quite a surprise that not only had the impressive room been booked for the occasion, but that sufficient people had attended as to completely fill the space.
"There are a lot of couples here," Yuugi commented after a moment of silent perusal.
"Yeah," Jou nodded, slightly nervous. "There are. But when I called to ask about it the lady said there'd be lots of single people too, and not to worry about it." He crossed his arms loosely over his chest and slouched in his chair, trying to quell his uncertainty.
"Hm." Yuugi straightened himself to get his feet out of the way of a young man attempting to skirt the crowd. "Well, I suppose she'd know." He turned to his blond friend. "She's the instructor, right? The one you talked to?"
Jou shrugged. "No, I don't think so. The class description had some guy's name down as the instructor."
Yuugi glared at Jou for neglecting to impart this piece of information to him. "We need to work on your communication Jou."
"What?" Jou asked incredulously. "Man, woman, it don't matter." He slumped further in his chair, sitting on his tailbone and pointedly not looking at Yuugi. "I'd rather get instruction from a guy anyway."
Sighing, Yuugi ran a hand through his long, black hair, pausing when he was holding the back of his head. He let his eyes float over the room again, taking note of all the other seemingly single people who were congregating towards the outer edges of the classroom while the couples coalesced in the middle and towards the front. "Guess it doesn't matter," he eventually said. "It's not like I'm participating."
Jou chanced a side glance at Yuugi. When Yuugi raised an eyebrow in question he said, "Well, I was kind of hoping you would."
Yuugi blinked, bemused. "Why? I thought you just didn't want to come by yourself."
"I didn't," Jou agreed. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat before resigning and sitting up straight. "But I thought it would be easier if you… you know…?" Jou's thought trailed off into nothingness with the blankness of Yuugi's expression.
"Jounouchi," Yuugi warned.
Jou cringed. "Look Yug, I know it's a lot to ask, but have some sympathy here!" He spread his arms wide – or, as wide as he could without hitting someone – and looked imploringly at his friend. "I'm no good at this! We both know that. And we both know that you are." He paused, hoping the flattery would win him some points. Jou's confidence grew when Yuugi smirked lightly at the compliment. "I'm asking for your help, man," he said more subdued, relaxing into his chair.
Yuugi moved the hand in his hair to cover his face, grinning at Jou's predicament. "I am helping you, Jou. By being here," he clarified when he saw the hope flair on his companion's face. "Learning this from me will get you nowhere because, and let's face it, that isn't ever going to happen, you hound dog."
Jou rolled his eyes in exasperation before leveling a look at Yuugi. "Yeah, but you're not likely to slap me afterwards if I suck."
Yuugi couldn't resist such an invitation. "You sure about that?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Yuugi," Jou said with belied sweetness and a grin that was anything but gracious, "one of these days I'm going to punch that smirk off your face." He stuck out his hand, and the two comrades shook in agreement.
"Besides," Yuugi said as he and Jou stood and made their way to the center of the room at the prompting of the assumed instructor. "The whole point of this is for you to get good in general. There's no point in learning how to please one person if you haven't found him yet."
"Or her," Jou absently corrected, turning his head to look at those around him. "Not all of us are so narrow minded as you."
"Or as vague as you," Yuugi returned, mirroring his friend and looking around at the other single people in the class. They were ridiculously easy to designate, what with their eager ogling of those around them. Yuugi was going to point this out to Jou when he noticed that the blond was far more involved with his gaping than the rest of the students. He groaned. Sometimes Jou could really play the dork.
"See anyone you like?" Yuugi asked, settling his weight on one foot and smiling at the lady beside him.
"Eh, one or two," Jou said. The largeness of his eyes indicated this to be a blatant lie, but he wasn't about to let on how the anticipation was making his nerves dance. When he had finished his gawking he turned and looked at Yuugi with newfound confusion. "Hey, Yug?"
"I thought you weren't participating?"
Yuugi shrugged, turning his head away from Jou's scrutinizing stare to hide the heat he felt rise to his cheeks. "Moral support, remember?"
"Yeah," Jou snorted, "right." He grinned toothily and elbowed Yuugi in the ribs. "Morbid curiosity."
Yuugi grimaced. "Not morbid," he conceded. He turned to Jou and, after a moment, smiled wickedly.
Jou blanched. Maybe inviting Yuugi along to watch hadn't been such a good idea.
Yuugi laughed and, eventually, Jou did also. The two young men settled themselves and turned towards the front of the classroom, where a man just older than them, with curiously long and thick, feathered white hair and deep brown eyes was conversing with a few of the students. There were still a couple of minutes before the class was to begin, and this afforded Yuugi plenty of time to voice his opinion.
"Besides," he said quietly so only Jou would hear him. "It's not like I'm going to put myself out there and make everyone here uncomfortable."
Jou heard the undertone of disappointment and leaned into his friend's shoulder to offer support. "As long as you know it doesn't bother me, Yuugi."
"I know," Yuugi said. He nodded towards Jou, who straightened, and returned his focus to the front of the room. "I know."
"So don't let it bother you. And if any of them bother you…" Jou let the statement hang in the air as he made a display of cracking his knuckles for Yuugi's amusement. He suppressed a grin when Yuugi chuckled.
"Alright everyone, it looks like it's time to start."
The students in the classroom slowly quieted their chatter and turned their attention towards the new, louder voice. Indeed, it appeared that the man with the white hair was the leader of this seminar as he stood confidently on the raised stage that allowed him to be six inches above his class.
"Hello, and welcome! Thank you for coming today. My name is Ryou Bakura, and I'll be the one in charge of you lot and, hopefully, the one teaching you how not to embarrass yourselves or your partner in front of others." He paused for the nervous laughter at the intentionally weak joke. "Now, shall we begin?"
Yuugi looked at Jou out of the corner of his eye.
"I let you drag me to a seminar on how to kiss," he muttered.
Jou didn't bat an eye. "It's what friends are for."
- - -
Ryou clapped his hands together, impatient to begin class. He scanned the upturned faces of his students, inwardly smiling at the mixture of eagerness, fear, trepidation, and boredom that met him. Honestly, there were a few more people than he'd expected. His seminars were usually well attended, but when he'd been handed the roster his eyes had bulged at the sheer number of names that awaited him.
"First things first," Ryou began. "Let me get a look at what we have here. Would all couples gather yourselves to my left," he said while extending his hand, "and would all you lucky singles come over here and be right?"
A few sniggers accompanied the shuffling of the students as everyone made to comply with Ryou's request. There were a few disgruntled pouts when some of the single people realized that those they'd been eyeing moved to the opposite side of the room, and there was one particular blond who looked conspicuously downcast until his shorter, dark-haired companion pulled on his arm and redirected his attention. Once his students had settled Ryou went about the task of counting how many single students he had. He frowned lightly.
"Well," Ryou said thoughtfully, "hm." Not only was there an uneven number of singles, there was also an uneven number of men and women. Though personally he had no problem with this, experience had taught him that it was best to deal with the situation before any tempers or prejudices could flare. From the looks on some of his students' faces, it appeared they were also aware of the problem.
"I just want to say before we begin that I have an open and tolerant atmosphere in my classroom. There is no room for judgment or bigotry, and if I see any sign of it you will be asked to leave." Ryou paused, looking confidently at his students until heads nodded in understanding. "Now then," he continued, readdressing the group of singles with a sociable air. "Any of you have anything against a man kissing a man or a woman kissing a woman?"
"I certainly have no issue with the later!" the blond Ryou'd noticed earlier proclaimed, much to the humorous embarrassment of his friend.
"Good. Because from the look of things, I'd say we're about to see some of the former." Ryou couldn't help but laugh at the resulting disappointment on the blond's face, nor the scheming grin on the dark-haired man. A woman raised her hand and offered to partner with two men if they felt uncomfortable kissing each other, to which two men readily agreed. That left one pair of men, two pair of women, three mixed couples, and…
"And one man left out," Ryou said to himself, placing a hand on his hip and raising the other to his lips. He thought for a moment. "Do any of you consider yourselves good at kissing?"
The black-haired friend of the blond shrugged casually and nodded before his arm was forced into the air. Disappointed that only one volunteered himself from the single side of the room, even if it was involuntary, Ryou turned towards the couples, none of which offered themselves for what was certainly a call for demonstration.
"Jou, stop it already!"
Ryou turned his head towards the hiss, tapping his chin while he watched the blond – Jou, apparently – and his friend engage in a battle of control over the smaller man's arm. "What's your name?" he asked once he was able to gain their attention.
Straightening his shirt, the dark-haired man pointedly turned away from his associate to answer the question. "I'm Yuugi."
"Yuugi," Ryou repeated, nodding in greeting and smiling when the newly introduced did the same. "Would you come up here for a minute?"
Yuugi blinked in surprise, and then stumbled when Jou gave him an encouraging push towards the stage. Glaring at the blond over his shoulder for good measure, Yuugi turned his attention towards the instructor.
"It looks as though we don't have a partner for you," Ryou said once Yuugi was standing beside him.
"Oh, that's no problem," Yuugi said, shoving his hands into his back pockets. "I'm just here to observe and support that lug over there." He winked at Jou when the affronted man gestured at him to the enjoyment of the room.
"Really?" Ryou said, his disbelief of the statement obvious. He was used to his students getting cold feet once the class began, and he wasn't about to let the only self-proclaimed good kisser out of his sight that easily. "Be that as it may, I still have a use for you."
Yuugi's good humor faded as suspicion forced its way in. "What might that be?"
"Well," Ryou said as he turned and addressed the room, "we need someone who knows what he's doing to show the rest of us. Right guys?" He grinned knowingly when the room erupted with encouraging applause, whistles, and one enthusiastic catcall from a certain blond.
Yuugi paled. "But, um," he said, looking nervously from side to side. He never had liked being the center of attention when he wasn't the one seeking it. He latched onto the one fact he hoped would save him from the humiliation. "There aren't enough of us here!"
He winced. Yuugi couldn't have made his apprehension any clearer if he'd painted a sign in red and worn it around his neck.
Ryou pretended to be offended. "There is me. But," he continued, taking pity on Yuugi when he saw him sway at the offer, "I can't very well demonstrate and offer instruction. Hm. This is a pickle."
It was at this moment, while his eyes roamed the room as he tried to think of the best way to utilize the man standing next to him that Ryou saw a familiar head of hair standing outside the open door. Excited, he excused himself for a moment, leaving Yuugi to field the offers of both women and men to be his willing partner. With a final look over his shoulder to see Yuugi bowing and posturing in taunt to the teases he was receiving, Ryou called out to the man he had seen, closing the classroom door behind him.
- - -
Atemu raised his head when he heard his name called from behind him. Looking over his shoulder, he twisted around and, after a long pause, eventually raised his eyebrows in greeting.
"Atemu!" Ryou trotted up to his best friend's side, smiling while he brushed some of his unruly hair out of his eyes. "How's it going?"
"I'm fairing well." Atemu remained still and offered no further greeting.
Ryou leaned forward to get a good close-up of Atemu, accustomed to his friend's clipped responses. "What are you up to?"
Atemu lowered one eyebrow, leaving the other one aloft and indifferent.
"Right…" Ryou said, recognizing the gesture. Asking Atemu questions was a pointless, albeit amusing, endeavor. If the man wanted you to know something, he'd tell you, and not a moment before. Still, that didn't detour Ryou from the challenge of gleaming information from his friend when the younger was unwilling to divulge. He'd yet to succeed, but that was half the fun.
"Okay then," Ryou began. He clapped his hands together in front of him to elongate the moment, his courage building as he was able to hold Atemu's focus. "I need a favor 'Tem. I'm in a bit of a bind."
Atemu' remained stoic, then snorted lightly as he moved his gaze away from Ryou.
"Oh come on!" Ryou whined, moving in front of Atemu to regain the attention he'd so quickly lost. "Listen, it's not that big a deal- no, really it isn't!" he was forced to add at the disbelieving look he was given from beneath flaxen bangs. "I just need to borrow you for a couple of hours."
"Borrow?" Atemu asked softly, in that naturally husky voice of his that set one's mind to Alert whether they were straight or gay. Ryou included.
"Yes," Ryou repeated, his eyes returning to his classroom.
Atemu followed his friend's gaze, his russet eyes landing on the small door. His brows furrowed in thought. "This favor… It has something to do with your seminar?"
Ryou winced at the disapproving look developing on the other man's face. "Atemu-"
Ryou blanched as he watched his handsomely stubborn friend turn and walk away, his mind racing as he tried to conjure a convincing argument for Atemu to help him out. "I'll never ask you for anything again!"
He winced. That was pathetic even by his standards. And apparently Atemu agreed, if Ryou could read anything in the errant glance he received.
"Please 'Tem," Ryou groaned, catching up to Atemu and placing his hand on his arm, affectionately stopping him. Atemu showed his friendship by allowing himself to be stopped, turning and sighing as he waited for Ryou to argue his case.
"Please. Just this once. I have an odd number of people and only one who claims he has any idea what he's doing."
Atemu closed his eyes.
"I know," Ryou said, reading the man's reluctance. "I know this isn't your idea of a good time." He paused, before adding mischievously, "Even if you are damn good at it."
"Hn," Atemu agreed distractedly.
Ryou rubbed his hand along the arm now in his possession. "Listen, I know I'm asking a lot of you, but you know I wouldn't ask if I wasn't in a bind. I'm not asking you to do anything perverse or to be an exhibitionist - okay," he said when Atemu gave him a bemused smirk that lasted but a moment before he returned to his customary blank expression, "maybe I am, but there's nothing wrong with kissing."
Atemu frowned. "I believe a great deal of that depends on who is doing the kissing."
"You won't have to," Ryou quickly promised as he led Atemu back towards the classroom. "The guy says he knows what he's doing, I'll ask him to take the lead."
Atemu's expressive eyebrows rose again at the mention of his prospective partner.
"Of course a guy Atemu. Regardless of what you think, I do pay attention. Best friend sanction and all." Ryou grinned at the resigned groan. "Come here, let me show you something."
Sidling Atemu against the classroom door, and after a few energetic head nods and waggles of his eyebrows, Ryou was finally able to get his friend to look through the small window.
"Well, what do you see?" Ryou asked.
"A classroom sorely missing its instructor," Atemu said, deadpan.
Ryou scowled. "What else?" When Atemu didn't answer, merely stared through the window impassively, Ryou understood that a more direct approach was in order for his intentionally thick cohort. "Anything on stage?"
There was a pause. "A disturbingly theatric blond." If it had been anyone else Ryou would have said that the voice sounded awed, but years of friendship told him it couldn't possibly be true.
"What?" Turning his gaze from Atemu to the window, Ryou sighed in annoyance at the antics ensuing in his classroom. "Him again," he frowned. "I knew Jou was a showboat." He covered his eyes with his hand, placing his other hand on his hip, striking what Atemu had dubbed Ryou's Eternal Self-Pity Pose. Once he felt sufficient time had passed Ryou shook the tension from his body and resumed his pleading. "Do you see the blond's friend?" he asked, though with less enthusiasm. "Anyone else on stage who isn't making a fool of themselves?"
After several moments of silence Ryou looked up from the ground he'd been staring at and towards Atemu. He was surprised to find his friend looking fixedly through the window, with his eyes slightly narrowed. It was the only visible sign of Interest Ryou had ever been able to discern in his best friend, and it was rare that he was quick enough to see it before Atemu hid it behind his famous mask of apathy.
"So," Ryou said into Atemu's ear, having moved behind him to cut off any possible avenue of escape should the shorter man choose to bolt. "See anything you like?"
Ryou grinned as Atemu ignored him completely and made his grand entrance into the classroom, which caused about half the people inside to turn and look towards the door, including the man Ryou had wanted Atemu to notice.
Ryou immediately followed. Now that all participants were present, it was time for class to begin.
To be continued…