Disclaimer – I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!

*Rated M for Mature

Chapter 1

Joey Wheeler woke to the sound of his phone ringing. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was only 3 o'clock in the morning. Groaning, he grabbed his phone blindly and answered it.

"Hello?" he yawned.

"J-Joey?" came a soft, frightened voice from the phone. Recognizing the voice immediately, the blond shot up from his bed.

"Jesse? Is that ya?" he asked hurriedly.

"Yes. Can you c-come get me pl-please," sobbed Jesse.

"I'll come get ya right away. Where are ya?" asked Joey, fumbling around to put on some clothes.

"Domino Park. Please hurry, Joey."

"Don't worry. I'm on my way. Just stay right where ya are, okay?"

"Okay." And with that, the line went dead.

Joey shakily hung up the phone and put on the rest of his clothes. Grabbing his keys, he ran out of his apartment, slamming the door behind him as he ran for Domino Park to find Jesse.

Jesse was an old childhood friend of Joey's. They'd grown up in the same neighborhood when they were younger, going through the same thing: being abused by their fathers. Although, Jesse's stepfather was actually the one who abused him, not his biological father, and the abuse was much worse than Joey's.

When the blond had to move away at twelve-years-old, he promised Jesse that if he ever needed anything, to just give him a call. And Jesse promised that he would.

They'd kept in touch every once in awhile throughout the years, and Joey then realized that Jesse's abuse had gotten much worse.

One night, Jesse had called him, bawling his heart out, screaming that his stepfather had raped him. Joey tried to comfort him the best he could through the phone, feeling a tight pang in his chest, but there was nothing he could really do so far away from him. However, his presence had been more than enough.

So Joey swore to Jesse that once he turned eighteen, he'd move out of his drunken father's apartment and get his own; Jesse was more than welcome to come live with him once he turned eighteen.

According to Joey's calculations, Jesse was just that.

Reaching the park, Joey looked frantically for his old friend. "Jesse!" he called. "Jesse!"

"Here!" Joey whipped his head around in the direction of the quiet voice and saw Jesse huddled beneath a tree in the park. Racing over to him, Jesse stood up unsteadily and embraced Joey in a fierce hug. The blond hugged him back just as fiercely, tears streaming down his face as Jesse began to talk. "He r-raped me again! When I was trying to leave, to come to y-you, he raped me!" Jesse cried.

Joey pulled away and rubbed the tears from Jesse's eyes. "Everythin's gonna be fine now, okay? He can't hurt ya anymore because you're gonna stay with me at my apartment. Understand?" he said forcefully. Jesse nodded mutely and just stood there as if he were waiting for a command of some sort.

Picking up Jesse's meager luggage, which consisted of only one bag, Joey took him by his right hand and led him to his apartment.

It took them a while to get there since it seemed like Jesse was having trouble walking; he winced in pain every now and then, and Joey knew why, although, he kind of wished he didn't.

"Here we are. Home, sweet home," Joey said as he opened the door to his apartment. Leading Jesse inside, he tossed his bag on the floor and sat him on the couch so he could get a better look at him.

Joey knelt in front of Jesse and stared at his slightly bruised face. Jesse's black hair, streaked with light blue, was layered and reached his jaw. His aqua green eyes looked broken and empty. There was a cut above his soft pink lips and his complexion was pasty. Joey was going to put a stop this right now.

"Jesse?" he called, trying to get him to focus on his voice. "Will ya let me clean ya up?" Jesse stared at him for a moment before nodding slowly. Standing up, Joey helped Jesse rise with him; they were around the same height, Joey just being slightly taller.

He led Jesse into the bathroom and sat him on the toilet. "Do ya want to take a bath?" Joey knew he had to ask before he did anything because he didn't want to frighten the other teen off.

"Um…yes," he replied timidly.

Joey sighed in relief. Jesse was starting to talk to him again. He went over to the tub and started filling it with warm water. "Do…ya need help…with your clothes?" Joey asked hesitantly. He wasn't sure if Jesse would allow him to get that close.

The other stood from the toilet and started unbuttoning his shirt. Dropping it to the floor, Joey gasped when he saw the bruises on Jesse's chest; it reminded him so much of his own when he'd still lived with his father.

Jesse noticed his friend's expression and smiled faintly, averting his eyes while subconsciously covering his chest defensively. "Joey…you know…I trust you completely. You can help me…but if I say stop…then stop," Jesse said gently.

Joey nodded then turned the water off. He stepped over to Jesse after he finished removing all of his clothes and guided him into the tub without looking at him. When Joey felt it was safe to look, he grabbed a sponge and some soap and started to gently clean up Jesse's wounds. The blond paused whenever he stiffened and would continue whenever he relaxed.

Finished, Joey let the water out and helped Jesse dry off.

"I'll be right back. Let me get ya some clothes," said Joey, leaving the bathroom. When he returned, he handed Jesse a pair of boxers, and a set of warm pajamas. "Are…ya hungry?"

Jesse's stomach answered for him…and he laughed. Joey joined in.

The blond guessed that he was going to be fine.

Jesse lay curled up next to Joey in his bed, trying to sleep. But he couldn't; he was too restless.

"Joey? I can't sleep. Talk to me," said Jesse, looking up at the blond.

"What do ya wanna talk about?" Joey replied interestedly. He was…happy that Jesse was with him finally. It'd been so long since they'd seen each other and Joey wanted them to pick up where they left off in their friendship.

Jesse averted his eyes for a moment before gazing back at Joey. "Could you ever…love me?"

The blond's eyes widened. That was not a question he'd been expecting. And he didn't want to hurt the other teen, either, but he had to tell him the truth. "I…love ya like I would a siblin', Jesse. I'm sorry if…ya wanted more from me, but…that's how I honestly feel about ya."

Jesse could feel tears stinging his eyes. "Is it…because I was ra-"

"No, Jesse. No. That's not it at all," Joey exclaimed, sitting up. Jesse sat up with him. "I do care about ya, Jesse…just not that way. I love ya like a brother and I will always try to be here for ya…to protect ya and make sure you're okay."

Jesse closed his eyes and sighed sadly. "I apologize for…making you feel uncomfortable, Joey. I guess I just…I wanted you to love me because I…know you won't hurt me. And you understand what I've gone through," Jesse said quietly. "I just think that no one else would want me because I'm…you know...damaged."

"Jesse," Joey sighed, lying back down on the bed. "There is someone out there for ya, who'll love ya regardless of what's happened to ya."

"I hope you're right," Jesse replied, falling back against the bed. "Do you have anyone who loves you like that?" he asked with a playful smirk.

Joey blushed. "No."

"Ooh! You like someone, don't you?" Jesse exclaimed, turning to face him. When all Joey did was look away, he said, "Who is it? Tell me, Joey-love!"

Joey glared at the nickname. "Why should I tell ya?"

"Because I'm your bestest friend in the whole wide world, sweet little Joey-love!" answered Jesse, pouting at him cutely.

"Fine!" Joey growled, turning to smother his face in his pillow. "IlikeSetoKaiba."

"What? I…didn't quite get that."

"I like…Seto Kaiba," he said, turning enough so that Jesse could hear him before hiding his face in the pillow again.

"Isn't that the hot billionaire and owner of Kaiba Corp.?"

"Yes," came Joey's muffled reply.

"Good choice. Have you told him yet?"

"No!" Joey screamed, looking at Jesse, aghast. "He hates me! He always picks on me and calls me dog names and-"

"It sounds like he likes you," Jesse deduced.

Joey looked at him in shock. "How'd ya come up with that?"

"Well…little boys always pick on the little girls they like, so this Seto Kaiba probably likes you."

"There's only one problem with your logic. I'M NOT A GIRL!"

"…I still think he likes you," Jesse replied stubbornly. "And I'll prove it when we go back to school."

"What? Wait…you're comin' to school with me?" Joey asked, paling slightly. Who knows what kind of embarrassin' stuff he'll pull!

"Yeah! What's wrong with that? We've got one week of summer vacation left and both of us will be seniors this year! And then you can introduce me to all your friends and I'll convince you that Seto Kaiba likes you."

Joey groaned. "Are ya sure ya wanna go to my school? Lots of weird shit usually happens around my friends. Not to mention you'll probably get mauled by girls since you're…well…quite…uh, attractive."

"Do the girls maul you?" Jesse asked with another smirk playing around his features.

"No," Joey answered curtly.

"Well, they would if you did something with that blond mop you call hair!"

"It's too much trouble."

"Ooh! Can I give you a makeover then? I love doing that kind of stuff! You'd make an excellent guinea pig…I mean, uh…I'll make you look hotter!" Jesse said excitedly.

"No. You're not comin' anywhere near me or my hair," Joey warned.

Domino High School

Seto Kaiba was furious as he headed toward his first class. It was the first day back at school after a nice, long summer break. He was finally a senior, as well as Yugi and the rest of the geek squad. So what should make this day any different?

Well, let's just say our CEO wasn't too happy with his schedule. He needed one more elective in order to graduate, so he decided to take Computers. He'd wiz through it in no time at all. Besides, he knew more than the teacher. But there were a couple of problems.

The first problem was that he was the only person who'd signed up for the class; therefore, it had been cancelled and he had to find another elective.

His second problem was that just about every other elective had been filled. That only left Dance and Music.

After arguing with the principal that morning on taking Computers on Independent Study, he was…obliged to decide between Dance and Music. Since he really didn't want to dance with some drooling fangirl, he decided to take Music instead.

Heading toward his classroom, he noticed he was the first one there. "Great," he muttered as he sat himself down in the back of the class. Soon the rest of the geek squad and other students arrived, minus Joey.

Well…that was strange. Wasn't the blond usually attached to Yugi's hip or something?

Shrugging it off, Kaiba stared at the wall, trying to ignore everyone's presence. But his blank stare was soon interrupted by a group of squealing girls as they burst into the classroom. He couldn't help but be intrigued when he heard the Mutt's name.

"Oh! Have you seen Joey?" one of them screeched. "He looks so hot! I think he got a totally hot makeover or something!"

"And did you see the guy he was with? He's totally cute, too! I wonder if he's Joey's boyfriend!" shrieked another one.

"They probably are since they were walking so close together! They make an awfully cute couple!" squealed the last girl.

What? thought Kaiba. The Mutt has a boyfriend? Why the hell does he have a boyfriend? Who is it? Why…the hell do I care? Kaiba wasn't too sure how he felt; he felt like he had been…betrayed or something. He looked over at Yugi and the gang. They appeared as oblivious as he was. I'll just have to wait and see if the rumors are true.

"Let go of my hand, Jesse," Joey deadpanned. The teen opted to hold he blond's hand as if they were a couple, swinging their joined hands back and forth.

"Why Joey-love?"

Joey's expression darkened at the nickname. "And stop calling me that!"

"Bad, Joey-love. You should be nice to me. Look at all I've done for you!"

Jesse had managed to trim Joey's hair so that it was easier to tame. It was no longer the mop of messy blond hair. Instead, it was cut about the same length as Jesse's and flipped out. Joey's school uniform was even ironed and buttoned up.

"If ya call havin' half the girls in the school getting' nosebleeds by lookin' at us, then yeah, you've helped me a lot," Joey replied sarcastically.

Jesse frowned slightly, but cheered up when a thought crossed his mind. "Well, how about I hook you up with that Seto Kaiba? Ooh! I know! Let's act like a couple and make him jealous!" he exclaimed, jumping up and down.

"Ya know? How about we just go to class? Does that sound like a good idea? Good! Now let's go!" Joey said urgently, pushing Jesse ahead of him and into their first class, which just so happened to be Music.

The students quieted instantly when they saw Joey and Jesse. But it didn't last long.

"They are so totally hot!" screeched a group of girls near the front of the class. Joey backed away slowly, hoping they wouldn't pounce on them or anything, but Jesse pulled him back.

"Come on, Joey-love. Are your friends here? Introduce me to them," whined Jesse.

"Oh! That is soooo cute! He called him Joey-love! They are dating!" squealed another girl.

Joey closed his eyes and counted to ten. He could feel a headache coming on. It was going to be a long day.

"Um…Joey?" He opened his eyes and looked down at Yugi. "Who's your friend?"

"My friend? Right now, he's a pest," said Joey, glaring at Jesse, who'd linked their fingers together. Joey stared at their intertwined hands as if he were willing them apart.

Jesse pouted at him. "That's not very nice, Joey-love."

"Stop callin' me that! And let go of my hand!" exclaimed Joey, desperately trying to get the teen to let go of his hand. Jesse just tightened his grip.

"Introduce me to your friends and I'll let go," Jesse bargained.

Sighing in defeat, Joey looked to his friends. "Guys, this is Jesse. He's a friend of mine who…transferred to our school this year. Jesse, these are my friends: Yugi, Yami, Ryou, Bakura, Malik, Marik, Duke, Tristan, and Tea."

"Okay! So let me see if I got this right. Yugi is the adorable little chibi, Yami is the intimidating Pharaoh, Ryou is the sweet little Brit, Bakura is the good-looking thief, Malik is the cute tomb-keeper, Marik is the psychotic one, Duke is the hot and sexy dice-man, Tristan is the tough guy, and Tea is the excellent dancer. Am I right?" Jesse smiled.

"Yes. Now will ya let go of my hand?" Joey begged.

"See! I listen! What about your friend Seto Kaiba?" Jesse asked suddenly, a malicious glint in his eyes. Joey fought back a blush.

"He's not my friend," Joey growled.

Jesse roughly glomped him, almost knocking him over a desk, and pouted cutely again. "Come on."

Tristan, not used to someone pouncing on his best friend like that, especially someone so…girly, in his opinion, jolted into action. He grabbed Jesse by the arm and yanked him off of Joey, making him land on the floor…hard.

Jesse whimpered in pain when he hit the floor and cowered.

"Leave him alone, you sissy!" snarled Tristan. But soon, the tough brunet was on the floor, too. Joey had punched him in the face.

"Don't ya ever touch him again, ya hear me?" roared Joey. None of them had ever seen him so angry before.

Tristan put a hand to his pounding face in shock.

Kaiba saw what happened and looked on…stunned. Tristan had just thrown someone perfectly harmless off of the Mutt and then the Mutt had hit his best friend. Glancing at Jesse, he realized that the newcomer was not okay.

Rising from his seat, he cautiously approached the fallen figure. Jesse had pulled his knees to his chest and was crying.

"Um…Jesse, is it?" Kaiba said. When he received no response, he put a hand on Jesse's shoulder.

Jesse yelled and tried to scramble away.

"Kaiba, get away from him please," Joey said anxiously, kneeling in front of Jesse. Kaiba took a step back and watched on in…concern. "Jesse. Jesse. Look at me. It's Joey. You're safe. It's okay. It's just me, Joey."

Jesse turned his tear-filled eyes to him. "Joey?"

"Yes. It's Joey. Come here, Jesse," he answered softly. Jesse threw himself into Joey's outstretched arms and cried. "Come on. Up we go," said the blond, pulling Jesse to his feet. He led him to a seat near the back of the class and sat him down.

Kaiba followed mutely. He watched as Joey wiped the tears from Jesse's face. Sniffling, he took a deep breath and calmed down.

"I'm okay now," whispered Jesse.

"Are ya sure? Because we can lea-"

"I'm fine, Joey. I was…just a little shaken up. That's all."

"Is…he okay?" Joey whipped his head around to see who asked the question. It was Duke.

"He's fine," the blond answered, puzzled. Why's Duke care?

"Do you mind if I sit with you guys then? I…really don't want to be over where Tristan is at the moment. What he did was uncalled for," Duke stated heatedly.

"Um...sure ya can. It's only the three of us," replied Joey.


"Huh?" Joey said, turning toward Kaiba. He'd forgotten he was there.

"There are four of us, Mutt," Kaiba repeated, taking a seat next to him.

"O…kay," Joey said stunned before he realized what Kaiba had just called him. "Hey! I am not a dog!"

"Quiet, Mr. Wheeler!" shouted their teacher, Mrs. Handley, as she walked into the room. "Okay, class! Everyone find a seat!" she announced. "All right. This year is going to be one fantastic year. We're going to start it off with a project. There is a school wide Talent Show coming up and all of you are going to be in it. The Talent Show is in a month and a half's time.

"Now, you will be placed into groups and remain in these groups for the duration of the year. You'll play together, sing together, and make wonderful music together. And the best part is that you'll be picking your groups. You can only have four in a group. Once you're in your groups, start discussing what song you would like to perform together for the Talent Show. I'll come around and listen in and help you if you need it."

We have to sing! There is no way in hell I'm singing, Kaiba growled in his head. He continued ranting in his mind as their teacher dismissed them to find their groups.

"You guys want to be a group then?" asked Duke.

"I think that's a great idea!" stated Jesse, feeling much more like himself now.

"Why not?" Kaiba said halfheartedly. It beat being in a group of his obsessive fangirls. And besides, he'd be able to keep an eye on the Mutt and figure out who this Jesse guy was.

"All right," agreed Joey. "I guess we're a group then."

Suddenly, their teacher approached them. "I'm assuming since you haven't moved that you'll be in a group together?" she asked.

"Yep," replied Duke.

"Mr. Wheeler, I'd be honored if you'd help the three of them out, especially Mr. Kaiba. Maybe you can open him up a little. If anyone can do it, it's you. Besides, it might be fun," she said optimistically.

Joey didn't think Kaiba and fun went together very well. "What? Why? I'm not helpin' him do anythin'!"

"Yes, you will," Mrs. Handley replied threateningly. The glare she sent was even scarier than Kaiba's.

Joey gulped. "I understand."

Kaiba was confused. The Mutt? Helping him? "What do you mean by helping me?" he demanded.

Mrs. Handley hardened her gaze and glared at him. "Can you play an instrument?"

Kaiba paused. "No."

"Can you sing?"

Kaiba paused again. "I've…never tried."

"Then it looks like Mr. Wheeler will be the one salvaging your grade this year. He's quite talented." Joey blushed. "And being in a group with him means you won't always have to be in class. The four of you will be able to leave, but I expect Mr. Wheeler to tutor all of you after school in music. Or no…wait! I have an even better idea!" Mrs. Handley suddenly screamed, appearing quite…frightful.

"And…what would that be?" Duke asked unsurely.

"Oh! This is absolutely perfect! I'll get the paperwork done right away!" she continued to ramble.

Kaiba, growing quite impatient, yelled, "What are you going on about?"

"The four of you are going to be living together! At your place of residence, Mr. Kaiba! If that Seto Kaiba stalker website was correct, you have a music room and instruments at your mansion. Is this true?"

Kaiba, as well as the rest of them, looked at her strangely. Swallowing hard, Kaiba vowed to figure out who these so-called stalkers were and have his revenge. But in the meantime, he decided to just answer her question.

"I do, but these three morons are not living at my mansion!" Kaiba snapped, looking absolutely furious.

"Well," Mrs. Handley began in a singsong voice, "If you don't, then all four of you will fail this class, meaning you'll become…what…seniors again next year?"

"Ya can't do that!" shrieked Joey.

"Why do we have to stay at his place?" Duke added, pointing at Kaiba.

Jesse just looked on in amusement. If they stayed at Kaiba's place, then maybe hooking up Joey with his crush would be easier than he thought.


Mrs. Handley started breathing heavily after her…persuasive answer, her demon-like glare just daring them to challenge her again.

The teens nodded in agreement…unsurely.

"Okay. Off you go then," she said, dismissing them. "I'll have the paperwork ready by this afternoon, and then, after school, you can all move in together."

As Mrs. Handley left, Joey hesitantly glanced at Kaiba. "So…what do ya wanna do now?"

Kaiba stared at him for a bit before replying, still quite frustrated by the fact that his three group members had to live with him. But…he couldn't help but be curious about one thing. "How talented are you?" He was actually quite interested to see what Joey was capable of. This wasn't a side of the Mutt he'd expected to see.

"I can play piano and violin very well…and sing. And I've also taught myself to play a number of other instruments," he answered quietly.

"Hn. How are you supposed to tutor me…us…exactly?"

"I'm probably gonna have to teach ya to play an instrument. Piano may be the easiest for right now…and perhaps singin'. But we can get to that part later," Joey replied, crossing his arms.

Kaiba stared at him for a bit more. "You can use the piano I have at the mansion. Would you like to see that first after school?" I can't believe I just asked him that.

I can't believe he just asked me that, Joey thought. "Sure."

"Fine. You can see it after…the three of you have moved in," Kaiba stated, albeit grudgingly.

"Wait! Don't I have a say in this?" exclaimed Duke, feeling quite left out.

"Not really," Kaiba replied curtly.

"Well, I don't mind. I go wherever Joey-love goes, anyway," said Jesse, leaning back in his seat.

This comment drew Duke's attention. "Are…you and Joey dating?"

Finally! Kaiba thought, relief filling him, although, he didn't know why. I've been waiting to hear the answer to this all morning.

"No," Joey and Jesse answered simultaneously.

This only made Duke more confused. "Then why are you guys so-"

"Joey and I are just really good friends. We've know each other for…almost our whole lives. He's been…helping me through something for the past week. I've been staying at his apartment. He's…the only one…I really trust," Jesse answered quietly, looking distant.

"Jesse?" called Joey, trying to bring him back.

"Hm?" Jesse's eyes seemed to clear. "Sorry, Joey."

The blond just shook his head then gave him a reassuring smile. Duke and Kaiba continued to look on in confusion. Just what was he helping him with?

"So, Kaiba. When...do ya want us at your mansion?" asked Joey.

"Right after school. I'll call for my limo to pick us up. You'll be taken to your place of residence to pack your things and then we'll go to the mansion."

"A limo?" Jesse asked, eyebrows raised.

"Yes, a limo. What? Never seen one before?" Kaiba retorted. "Ow!" he yelped, rubbing the back of his head. His eyes narrowed on Joey. "What the hell did you do that for?"

"Don't talk to him like that. If ya need to mess with someone, mess with me, not him," Joey growled threateningly. Kaiba cast a quick glance at Jesse and saw that he looked a bit distant again. He started feeling guilty. Yes, guilty.

"Hey, Jesse. Can you play any instruments?" Duke asked, noticing the distant look on Jesse's face. Duke smiled when Jesse's gaze focused on him and his eyes cleared again.

"Um…yes. I can play the piano as well, although, I prefer bass guitar. I like singing, too. Joey and I used to play together all the time when we were younger. What about you?" replied Jesse, smiling at Duke.

For some reason Duke felt himself begin to blush. What was it about Jesse that made him feel so…giddy?

"Um…I can play drum set, but I have to admit that I've never tried singing something seriously before."

"Well, I can help you if you want," said Jesse, smiling sweetly at him. He giggled when he noticed the blush staining Duke's cheeks.

Kaiba and Joey watched the interaction in…jealous amusement.

Why can't Kaiba and I do that? Joey thought longingly.

Why can't my Puppy and I do that? Kaiba thought. Wait…what? Why would I want to do that with my Puppy? Did I just say my Puppy? What the hell is wrong with me today? Kaiba argued in his head.

Suddenly, the bell rang, jolting everyone out of their thoughts.

"Um, how about we meet during lunch so that we can discuss a few things about the project and…our accommodations?" offered Jesse, rising from his seat, everyone else following suit.

Joey and Duke nodded in compliance. "Where should we meet at lunch?" asked Duke.

"We'll meet outside under the large oak tree," Kaiba declared, walking swiftly out of the classroom.

Jesse, Joey, and Duke just stood there staring after him in shock.


"Let's go grab some lunch from the Cafeteria first and then we'll head for the oak tree," said Joey.

"Okay, Joey-love," replied Jesse happily.

"Can ya please stop callin' me that?" pleaded Joey as they entered the Cafeteria.

"Why? I think it suits you."

"Fine. Call me Joey-love again and I'll call ya…Jesse-bear," said Joey forcefully. Let's see how he likes bein' called embarrassin' nicknames.

Jesse's eyes widened momentarily before twinkling with joy. "Oh! I like that!" he exclaimed excitedly.

Joey groaned.

When they finally got their food, they were intercepted by Yugi and the gang.

"Would you like to have lunch with us Joey? Jesse?" asked Yugi shyly, still unsure of what to do because of what happened with Tristan that morning.

"Not today, Yugi. We need to meet with Duke and Kaiba about our music project and…livin' conditions. Mrs. Handley is makin' the four of us live together at Kaiba's place, I guess to get along or whatever. She's givin' us the paperwork later on it. So Duke, Jesse and I need to meet with Kaiba to talk," answered Joey quickly. He didn't want to deal with them right now, not after what happened that morning.

Tristan rolled his eyes in annoyance, not really paying much attention to what he said. He didn't like Jesse and it pissed him off even more that he seemed to be getting all of the attention. "What's this Jesse guy to you, anyway? He seems like a total baby to me. I mean come on. He cried when I pulled him off you!"

"Back off, Tristan!" growled Joey.

"And then you go and hit me? What kind of a friend does that? We're best buds, remember? Or did that girly friend of yours turn you away from the people who really care about you?"


"Shut the fuck up, Tristan!" interrupted Duke aggressively, stepping in front of him. "Why don't you get it through that small pea brain of yours that maybe Jesse is s decent guy; that maybe you're making poor assumptions before you know all the facts; that maybe you're being a jerk!"

Tristan was stunned by the outburst. "Fine! Go and have your little foursome. See if I care! But don't come crying to me, Joey, if they all dump your sorry ass!" And with that, Tristan stormed off. A deafening silence fell over the whole gang as they processed what Tristan had just said.

"I'm really sorry to have caused you so much trouble, Joey. I…didn't mean to make you have a fight with your best friend," said Jesse quietly.

"Ya did nothin' wrong, Jesse. Tristan's just…havin' a bad day or somethin'," replied Joey optimistically.

"Yeah. He'll come around in no time. You're a good person, Jesse. Once he realizes that, everything will be fine," Duke said reassuringly, resting a hand on Jesse's shoulder slowly. Jesse stiffened a bit, but when their eyes met, he relaxed.

Joey watched the exchange anxiously, but when he saw that Jesse was fine, he smiled. It seemed like Duke knew to take things slow, really slow, around Jesse. Perhaps…Duke was the one for Jesse. He'd just have to wait and see…and make sure that Duke would never hurt him.

End Chapter