Pairing(s): Yami + Seto, Noa + Mokuba, Jou + Mai, Yugi + Anzu, Malik + Ryou, Rafael + Valon + Amelda, Ishizu + Karim
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.

This is a SHONEN-AI fic (male + male romantic relationship). If you are offended by homosexual relationships, please do not read this. Flames will be disregarded.

Setup for this arc:
- Since this arc spans several years (starting off with Mokuba and Noa at 15 and ending when they're 18) it may weave in between other existing stories in my Kai-baby / Yami-kins ficverse.
- As a part of the above ficverse, the usual setup holds true - Noa has been brought out of the virtual world, has a new body, and is living with Mokuba and Seto, and Yami has his own body and is separate from Yugi.

Setup for this particular fic:
- This story takes place after "Shake Your Kuri-Bon-Bon" but before "Slippery When Wet."
- Ages of characters in this story: Seto is 21, Yami 20, Noa and Mokuba 15.


Growing Pains

Sixteen (Going on Seventeen) Series


"Oh God, that feels sooo goood…" Mokuba groaned loudly, and Noa couldn't help but smile in response, knowing he must've really hit the right spot dead on to elicit such a reaction.

The two of them were in the bathroom, sharing in a warm bath. Some people would've found the setting romantic… or in Seto and Yami's case kinky, a prelude to sex. But the teens were a little more in control of their libidos – just barely – and far more practical. Because hot water and a good massage did wonders for knotted muscles…

Mokuba sank further into the tub as Noa continued rubbing his calves the best he could. The black-haired teen didn't realize growing up would be so physically painful. He regularly awoke to muscle cramps in his thighs and calves and the soreness often lasted throughout the day. And he'd been feeling pretty clumsy too, like his hands and feet were too big for him, like his limbs were just too gangly, flailing about out of control. Seto had never mentioned going through anything similar. But then again, Seto hadn't ever been the type to complain about discomfort. And he'd been in a coma during the biggest part of his growth spurt, so it probably had been a total non-issue for him.

Besides, Seto had always seemed so impossibly tall, even when they were little. So tall, Mokuba had thought he'd never catch up. And in some ways, he had never wanted to because Seto was the big brother, the one he looked up to in every possible way. But now Mokuba realized that he could still look up to his brother no matter who was taller, though secretly he was glad that Seto remained taller than him for the time being. It just felt right.

Still, Mokuba was proud of his current height. It meant he was almost an adult. It meant people were no longer trying to pat him on the head like some dumb kid, that they were starting to take him seriously.

Noa smiled at his boyfriend. He wondered if Mokuba realized just how charmingly handsome he was. The younger teen had his hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail, the tip of it a shade darker from stirring around in the water. He still had that boyish face that made the younger girls at their school giggle coquettishly, but his chest and shoulders were beginning to broaden and fill out a little more, like an adult's. He'd probably end up with Seto's build… Seto's body, with Mokuba's head.

Okay… I did NOT need that image in my brain! He blamed that errant musing on the fact that he'd been exposed to the sight of his big brother's… exposed body way too many times during his formative years.

But it was understandable that Mokuba would remind him of Seto, or vice versa, whatever the case was. After all they were full brothers, so it made sense. Their parents must've been tall, attractive people.

Does that mean I'll end up looking like my father? At least Gozaburo had been decently tall, though he'd had the sort of barrel-chested build that tended to make a man look stocky.

Noa worried a little about his own physical growth. On some level, it bothered him just a bit that Mokuba was now taller than him. And of course that meant Seto was too. At least he was noticeably taller than Yami, but almost everyone was, so that didn't really count. Noa bet Seto had a thing for shorter guys, what with his ego and all. But maybe Mokuba didn't share his brother's preferences.

"I wonder how tall I'll get," Noa mused aloud, wanting to see if Mokuba would voice his opinion on the matter.

"Dunno. At least as tall as Otogi or Jou, probably."

"But what do you think is the best height for a guy? I mean, for dating…" Noa asked awkwardly.

The black-haired teen sat up a little, pulling his legs back while shrugging. "Taller is nice, but I'm probably only saying that because I keep thinking that everyone's taller than me, or at least part of me thinks they should be. It's weird, you know? Like, even Yugi used to be taller than me, and now… he doesn't even come up to my shoulder, unless you count his hair." Mokuba snickered softly at that, but then he shrugged again. "Does it bother you that I've gotten taller?"

"Of course not."

"… Or that I've gotten taller than you?"

"No…"

That was a lie if ever he'd heard one. "Noa…"

"Well, not really. Maybe just a little."

"Because you think I want someone tall, or because you're older so you think you're therefore supposed to be taller?"

Noa frowned. He didn't want Mokuba to think that his height was a problem. "The former, of course. I like that you're tall. It's…" he trailed off, thinking of the way Mokuba's lean muscled calves and thighs had felt under his hands. If it weren't for that promise he'd made to Seto niggling in the back of his head, maybe he'd have his hands on a lot more. "Well, I like it, you know?"

Mokuba gave his boyfriend a reassuring smile. "It doesn't matter to me how tall you are, or how tall you end up. I want you for who you are. Who knows, maybe I'll slow down and you'll get a late growth spurt and end up being the tallest one in the house. And even if not… at least you're already taller than Yami."

Noa couldn't help but laugh for a moment. But then he grew a little more somber. "But it's not just that. I mean, I can sorta guess what you'll end up looking like because of Seto. But what if I end up… well, looking like my father…? It'd bother you, wouldn't it?"

Mokuba shook his head, his ponytail tossing up a small arc of water. "No. Because your eyes are different."

"Huh?"

"Your… father always looked angry, but distant too. He never noticed I existed, I guess. But you're not like that. When I look at you, and I see you looking at me… Even if you ended up looking exactly like him, I wouldn't ever confuse the two of you."

"… Thanks…" Noa mumbled awkwardly.

"I like that you look at me. I want you to look at me."

The older teen had been looking at his boyfriend all right, but maybe he'd been looking at the wrong things. Or more precisely, looking at things from the wrong perspective. He'd been worrying about all the physical stuff when that wasn't what mattered, when that wasn't what had attracted him to Mokuba in the first place. What mattered was seeing the affection and regard that had once been reserved solely for Seto in Mokuba's grey eyes as he gazed back at him. That wasn't something that could be bought or forced. Noa had tried it in the virtual world and it hadn't worked. Even when Mokuba had been so fully under his sway that he'd thought Noa was his big brother, Noa still hadn't been able to coax any emotion from those eyes…

But the emotion was there now.

"Jeez, I really am stupid," Noa sighed.

"Huh?"

"Nothing. Don't worry about it." Then he reconsidered what he had just said. Mokuba looked like he was expecting an explanation… or maybe a compliment. The latter was far easier and more appropriate. "You're damn cute, you know."

Mokuba beamed. "You too. Well, maybe not cute though. That sounds weird. How about…" One of his feet inched forward in a less-than-innocent slide, and Noa practically jumped when it glanced by the inside of his thigh, just above his knee. "Hot?"

Maybe being in the tub together is a bad idea! Well, bad according to Seto's definition. Still, Noa couldn't help but shift forward just a bit so that his foot could 'accidentally' bump into something that it wasn't supposed to. At least, that's what he was going for. It was hard to aim with the jets going in the tub, obscuring everything beneath an artificial froth.

"Ow! Did you just kick me?"

"Sorry. That wasn't what I was trying to… uh…" Noa stammered. Mokuba was just looking at him funny and not saying a thing. So Noa quickly fished for an ankle in the water, then pulled the younger teen's leg back towards his lap, settling it atop his own thigh as he began massaging the knotted muscles again.

"Mmm… soo good…" Mokuba began moaning again, his previous complaint all but forgotten.

Noa quirked a half smile. Note to self: Stick with what works. It wasn't what he'd been going for, but he still considered it a minor victory of sorts.


Author's Notes:
- As noted above (but I wanted to reemphasize) this is sort of a miniseries within the ficverse that focuses more on Noa and Mokuba, with a bit of a misnomer for a title since it starts with them at 15 and ends at 18. Part of the reason for doing this is I think high school kids go though the most memorable milestones, whether it's a first car, first date, graduation, etc. And so I wanted to follow the development of the characters through those milestones while also passing time in the ficverse because let's face it, Seto and Yami really don't have any issues to work through anymore. So why restrict myself to only focusing on the two of them when there's other characters around?
- I do imagine Mokuba eventually growing to be taller than Seto. Mokuba sleeps and eats; Seto's always sucked at taking care of himself. So he might've stunted his own growth (sounds almost odd considering I have him at 6'1"!) But I love the idea that he ceded whatever extra inches he might've gained to Mokuba, almost like a dad lifting his little boy up to make him feel taller.
- As always, thanks to Nenya85 for her feedback and encouragement. I'm sure I'll be relying on her expertise heavily through this arc : )