Disclaimer – I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!

*Rated M for Mature

Chapter 22 – Monday

"You're lying to me," Bakura deadpanned, eyeing his boyfriend suspiciously.

Ryou resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Why would I lie to you about something like this?"

"Because…" The former thief paused, trying to come up with an answer. "Because," he tried again, "you're testing me."

"Testing you," Ryou echoed.

"Exactly! You are just saying I can do this to see if I'll actually do it or not. You might be saying yes, but you're really saying no."

Ryou turned to look at Joey helplessly. The blond, in response, rolled his eyes, about to intervene when a water balloon came hurling past him and nailed Bakura in the crotch. Upon impact, it exploded and generously dowsed the front of the former thief's pants.

Bakura was speechless. He gawked down at himself in horror, but that soon ceased when he heard Yami burst out into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. "You'll pay for that!" Bakura roared, grabbing a water balloon from the bucket beside him and chasing after the cackling former pharaoh.

"So he wouldn't believe ya when ya said he could throw those at people?" inquired Joey.

"Nope," replied Ryou as they watched the water balloon Bakura had thrown smack into Yami's head. "But it will make things interesting when he discovers he can throw snowballs come winter."

Joey inwardly chuckled, excited to see that when it happened. But then his mood became saddened. Today was the last day he'd see his friends until the holidays. And with everyone currently at the Kaiba Mansion for this little farewell party, he couldn't help but wish the day would never end.

"They'll be here come Christmas," announced Seto, noticing the forlorn look on Joey's face.

"Thanksgivin'," the blond responded immediately. "I know it's an American holiday, but I want to expose Jaden and Blair to American traditions since that's part of my heritage."

"That's fine."

"You're okay with that?" Joey replied, somewhat surprised.

"Why wouldn't I be? I'd prefer it if our children were well-rounded in the cultures of the world."

The blond threw his arms around his neck and hugged him something fierce. "Thank ya."

"You're welcome," he replied softly. "But now that our home has been overrun by water balloon throwing imbeciles, I suggest we put a temporary end to it so we can get things under way."

"Things? What things?"

"Like finding out where everyone's headed off to."

"Oh. Right," said Joey. Next, they got everyone together where they would have their last real conversation until the holidays.

Seto sat down with Blair in his lap, while Jaden had climbed up into Joey's, their siblings and friends gathered around them.

"Who wants to start?" asked Joey.

"I do!" piped up Tea. "I'm going to New York to attend a prestigious dance school this fall. And…if it hadn't been for all of your support, I might not have achieved this dream."

Tristan was next. "I've decided to go to Domino Police Academy, so you're not getting rid of me yet. But, had it not been for the tough spots we've been in over the years, I never would have considered it."

"You want to be a cop?" Duke asked, dumbfounded.

"Sort of. They have a branch off program where I can get into security."

"Well, once you finish, give me a call. I could probably use a head of security in the future. Dungeon Dice Monsters has been officially signed with a video gaming company. And we're expanding to America."

"That's awesome, Duke!" interceded Joey.

"And Yugi and I have been requested to do some scouting on behalf of Kaiba," added Yami.

"What do ya mean?" replied the blond, eyeing his lover suspiciously.

"We're travelling the world in search of instructors for Duel Academy. It'll be a challenge, but we're up for it," answered Yugi.

"I thought that if anyone would be able to find worthy instructors, it would be them," Seto said, giving his two cents worth.

"And we're going to England!" Bakura shouted. "Ryou wants to do this whole European tour thing."

Ryou narrowed his eyes. "Actually, I'd decided to take a year off before returning to school. And travelling Europe seemed a good choice. It might open my eyes for what major I want to pursue. As for Bakura, he just wants to go treasure hunting."

"Treasure hunting?" inquired Tea, eyebrow raised.

"I have reason to believe that there are all sorts of buried treasures just waiting to be found," Bakura stated, rubbing his hands together greedily.

"Speaking of treasure hunting," started Malik, "Marik and I have been hired by Pegasus to do a little hunting of our own. Apparently, there have been rumors of hidden Duel Monsters. So we'll be searching for those in order for him to create new cards."

"It all sounds so exciting!" Serenity exclaimed delightedly.

"Yeah. I wish we could go," added Mokuba.

"Oh, believe me. You two will be having plenty of fun right here," Seto stated firmly.

"Huh?" they responded in unison.

"Someone has to test out the dueling exams before they're accredited."

"What? That's not fun!" Mokuba griped.

"I don't even know much about dueling!" protested Serenity.

"It's either that or develop a dueling prep school," the brunet deadpanned.

"We'll take the dueling prep school!" they chose immediately.

Seto was about to clarify that he'd been joking when Joey stopped him. "Give them a chance. They might surprise ya."

Huffing, the brunet conceded. "Fine."

"I'm glad we could have this last final get-together before everyone goes off," started Joey. "I know all of ya will do some amazin' things and start lives of your own. You'll see new places, meet new people, and make new friends. Just don't forget the bond we all share…between all of us."

"We could never forget that. Never," affirmed Yami.

Smiling at his family and friends, Joey took Seto's hand in his and turned his eyes to his lover before looking back down at their children. Times and situations might change, but the bonds they shared would always remain the same.