Disclaimer: I do not own YuGiOh!. That pleasure belongs to Kazuki Takahashi. This is solely written for fun and not for profit.
A/N - Just a one shot I wanted to get out in time for Christmas. I've been editing it up even though I've been sick with the sore throat and cough from hell (and a headache from lack of sleep due to that cough from hell.) I guess that I might have been able to iron things out slightly better if I wasn't sick, but I think that I'm fairly satisfied with it as it stands.
I was actually going to post this tomorrow, on Christmas Eve, but the sore throat and cough just got a lot worse this afternoon (after being much better this morning), so I may well not be on to post it. :/
I hate being ill at Christmas.
xo xo xo xo xo xo xo
That was the overwhelming thought in Jonouchi's mind; just how cold it was. Of course, he was definitely under-dressed for the weather, only having a thin green jacket as a barrier to the elements because his father, that bastard, had thrown him out of the house and told him not to come back, stating that he was not going to pay to have him under his roof any longer. Jonouchi snorted at that thought as it had been Jou himself that had been paying the bills thanks to his part-time job, at least until the company that he had been working for had gone bust and he'd ended up unemployed. That was what had caused the bastard to throw him out and he hadn't given him the chance to try and find another job. He hadn't even had any time to grab any of his stuff either, the green jacket having been the only thing he'd been able to grab from the coat rack as he'd been chased out of the apartment under the threat of being cut up by a broken bottle. He thanked whatever deity may be listening that he'd already given his friends their presents as he was sure that as soon as the holiday was over that his father would be pawning as much of his stuff as he could get money for.
He sighed as he walked down the road, moving quite briskly in order to keep himself warm. He'd already walked past both Honda's and Anzu's homes and he'd debated asking both of them for help. However, both Honda's and Anzu's parents didn't have a very good opinion of him so even if he had knocked he probably wouldn't have got anywhere as he was fairly sure that they would turn him away. Then that would inevitably have caused unpleasantness between parent and child and on such a night it was not worth causing them the trouble.
He wandered further on down the road, soon finding himself outside the Game Shop which was all decked out with festive cheer. He stood outside, wanting to knock, to accept the hospitality that would no doubt be forthcoming from Yugi and his grandfather, but he could not bring himself to intrude and ruin what was traditionally a time for family. He had no place in that - and that also applied to Honda and Anzu. With a shiver he turned away from the Game Shop and walked on, not having any particular destination in mind, simply walking in order to try and stay warm.
He didn't know how long he had wandered for, but he came up short as he noticed that he was now standing on the street where the entrance to the Kaiba estate was. He slowly walked towards the impressive looking gates, even considering for a moment that maybe he should ring on the bell and ask for help from Kaiba, but that thought had him shaking his head again. Kaiba wouldn't help him. Hell, he hated him and he would probably laugh at the mutt's misfortune. Then he realised that things had to be getting bad if he was considering asking Kaiba for help, so he decided to head back into town and see if one of the local shelters could help him any before he became ill from exposure. Before he did that, he took one last longing look through the gates, up the long driveway and to the lights of the impressive looking house.
"It's such a shame, Seto," he whispered, wanting to use Kaiba's given name just once, even if he could never do it to his face, "we could have been good together, or at the least good friends, if only you didn't hate me." Jou didn't hate Kaiba himself, he never had, but Kaiba had made it perfectly clear on more than one occasion exactly what he thought of 'the mutt' and Jou was never one to take an insult lying down so he always gave as good as he got. He touched the gate with a numb and trembling hand, them moved on lest Kaiba find him here. Yeah, Mokuba would have helped him, he was sure of it, but he was also sure that even Mokuba couldn't talk his brother around when it came to matters concerning 'the mutt'.
Jou let out a shuddering sigh as he shuffled back down the road towards town, determined to put as much distance between himself and Kaiba's home as possible. He didn't get far, however, before a car splashed through a large slushy puddle, totally drenching him to the skin and giving him a shock of cold that he wasn't currently equipped to deal with. Darkness quickly closed in and he collapsed to the floor with all the fight gone out of him. As his consciousness faded, he fancied that he could hear Kaiba's voice calling out to him with panicked concern. He supposed that he must be hallucinating, but Kaiba actually caring about him was a nice thought to take with him into the darkness...
xo xo xo xo xo xo xo
Seto Kaiba sighed as he drove towards home. The weather was absolutely foul and miserably cold and he hated it, much preferring the freshness of spring or the warmth of autumn to the heat of summer or the bleakness of winter. He would have been home much sooner – it was Christmas Eve after all - but some moron at work had stuffed something important up again. It was something that he was getting well and truly tired of as such things only ever seemed to happen when he had something planned or he wanted to be home early. Maybe he should just fire anyone who caused him that particular inconvenience in the future, he mused.
In fact he was so deep into his introspection that he almost missed the shambling figure of Jonouchi walking down the road away from the mansion. What was he doing over on this side of town in this awful weather - and how could he turn it to his advantage?
You see, Seto Kaiba didn't hate Katsuya Jonouchi, no, quite the opposite in fact, but he never knew how to approach the feisty blond and in the end, by using constant insults he had made Jonouchi hate him. He sighed for missed opportunities, then turned the car around and drove back down the road. Then, as he spotted that Jou was just walking past a slushy puddle, he came up with what he considered to be an infallible plan. He'd drive through the puddle, drenching Jou, then he would offer for Jou to come to his home to get dried off and warmed up. It was a plan that could not possibly fail – at least in Kaiba's mind, never mind that it was that kind of behaviour that had caused Jou to hate him in the first place, but Seto Kaiba was nothing if not stubborn. Without giving it another thought, he drove through the puddle at the critical moment, making a most impressive wave of water that crashed down upon Jou, soaking the blond to the skin. He stopped the car, getting out and expecting to see Jou spitting fire at him, only to gasp out loud as Jou collapsed before his eyes, falling hard onto the cold and slushy ground.
"Jonouchi!" he cried, racing over to where the stricken teen lay. "Are you alright, Jonouchi?" When Jou didn't reply he turned him over, gasping at the pallor and blue tinge to Jou's skin. For the first time he took in Jou's state of dress, the t-shirt and thin green jacket that were no proof against the current conditions and he wondered how the blond had come to be out in such unsuitable clothing. But there was no time for that now. Worried for Jou he pulled out his phone and called the Kaiba Corporation private hospital, soon being put through to the emergency receptionist.
"KC Medical, how can I help you?" the snooty voice came down the line.
"My name is Seto Kaiba and I need you to send one of the private ambulances down to Gozaburo Way," he said, mentally cringing that his adoptive father just had to have his ego fed so much that he'd had the street named after him.
"Yeah, and I'm the Queen of Sheba," came the sarcastic reply, shocking Kaiba into speechlessness. "Damn kids, go prank someone else," they said, then they hung up.
Kaiba stared at his phone in disbelief. What the hell was that all about? Still, if an ambulance wasn't forthcoming, then he had no choice but to take Jonouchi to the hospital himself. He supposed that he could call an ambulance to take Jou to the city hospital, but he did not trust the doctors in those establishments as far as he could throw them and he wanted to be sure that Jou would get the best possible treatment. Plus it would probably take too long and he needed to get Jou somewhere warm – NOW! He briefly entertained the idea of taking Jou into the mansion to warm him up instead, but if Jonouchi needed medical care that he couldn't provide... well, that could be bad.
He picked up Jonouchi's dead weight, cringing at the cold feeling of his skin, and manoeuvred him to the back seat of his car. He hesitated for a moment, then pulled Jou's sodden clothes off, knowing that staying in wet attire would not help him at all. He threw the wet clothing into the footwell of the car, then he removed his own warm coat and placed it over Jonouchi's still form. Once that was done, he got back behind the wheel, turned the heating on full blast and high-tailed it towards the Kaiba Corporation Medical Centre.
Just a few minutes later found Kaiba carrying Jonouchi, who was still unconscious and covered in Kaiba's coat, through the doors of the emergency department of the KC Hospital. As he entered the reception area, as expected, the medical staff on duty flocked towards him.
"Mr. Kaiba, sir," one of the nurses drew his attention, "what happened?"
"I... he got splashed with icy water and collapsed from the cold," Kaiba said. "He was also out in totally unsuitable clothes for the weather." He avoided telling his part in the blond's collapse, knowing that it wasn't relevant and he was quite embarrassed by his actions.
"I see," the nurse said as an orderly rushed up with a trolley. Soon Jou was safely on the trolley, covered with a blanket and wheeled further in. "How come you didn't call an ambulance?" the nurse asked as she gave Kaiba's coat back to him.
"I did," Kaiba growled as he put his coat back on, "but the moron on the other end decided that I was a crank caller and hung up on me."
"You're kidding!" the nurse gasped in horror, "I can only apologise, Mr. Kaiba."
"Don't, it's not your fault," Kaiba said, "But rest assured that whoever was responsible will be dealt with." That said, Kaiba made to follow Jou's trolley down the corridor to make sure that he was being treated properly, only to be stopped by the nurse.
"I'm sorry Mr. Kaiba, but I need you to give the young man's details at reception so that we can call up his medical records," She said. "I can assure you that he is being given the very best care, but to aid us further it is very important that we can access his medical history." she added as she could see that Kaiba was about to argue.
He gave her an irritated look, but then subsided, understanding that she only had Jou's best interests at heart. "Yes, of course," he said, turning and stalking towards the desk as the nurse followed Jonouchi down the corridor and to a side room. He quickly gave the pertinent information that he knew about Jonouchi to the receptionist. "Where can I find the person manning the emergency lines?" he asked when that was done.
"They are through in the office behind me," she said, then she stood as Kaiba made to walk through. "I'm sorry sir, but you can't..."
"I can go through there and I will," Seto said coldly, "if you still want to be employed here, that is."
"Y... yes sir," she said, easily intimidated by the powerful CEO.
"I'm glad that you understand. I won't be long," he said with a smirk. He opened the door quietly and walked through, stopping just inside the door to make sure that the people inside were not dealing with an emergency at the time. He was to be surprised as the person who had answered his call was bragging about it to the other person in the office. Seto smirked again, the idiot had just made this a whole lot easier.
"...like Seto Kaiba himself would be calling here on Christmas Eve," he snorted. "So I told the idiot that if he was Seto Kaiba then I was the Queen of Sheba," he laughed, "then I told him to go and prank someone else and hung up."
"Did you check to see if the call was being made from one of Kaiba's known numbers?" the other person asked.
"Hell no," the original moron said. "We've had so many prank and crank calls lately that it's not even worth the effort."
The other operator gasped. "Hiroshi, you idiot," she said, "you are supposed to check. What if it had been Mr. Kaiba on the other end?"
Hiroshi snorted, "Oh lighten up, Ogata," he said, "what are the odds of that?"
Kaiba took his cue. "What are the odds indeed," he said coolly, causing both operators to look at him. Kaiba mentally smirked as Hiroshi paled to a sickly yellow hue. "Funny, you don't look much like a Queen," he sneered. "So, would you mind explaining to me why you decided to ignore my call?"
"I... I..." Hiroshi stammered, "I'm sorry Mr. Kaiba Sir," he said, slipping from his seat and crouching in supplication on the floor. "We've had so many prank calls lately that I never thought it could be you."
"You will be more than sorry if my friend ends up with complications due to your incompetence and inability to follow protocol," Kaiba hissed, then he turned to the other operator. "And why weren't you here with him?" he demanded.
"I'm emergency cover," Ogata explained. "I only got here about 10 minutes ago when I was informed that the second operator had gone off sick. I'm just sorry I wasn't here sooner," she said, giving Hiroshi a filthy look.
"Hmm..." Kaiba mused, thinking about what to do next. He would like nothing more than to throw Hiroshi out on the street right now, but the odds of getting another cover person in on Christmas Eve weren't good and they really did need two people at the very least to man the phones. "Get up," he hissed at Hiroshi. He waited until Hiroshi was on his feet before he spoke again. "I will be speaking to your supervisor at the first opportunity about this," he said in a frigid tone. "For now you will get back to work and you will follow procedure properly. Ogata, keep an eye on him." The woman nodded shortly. "If I hear of anything like this happening again..." he let the threat hang in the air. He would have stayed to remonstrate with Hiroshi some more, but he wanted to get to Jonouchi as he was the most important thing on his mind right now. As he walked out, he could hear Ogata giving Hiroshi a lecture on procedure and he smirked as she seemed to have things well in hand. Then he made to walk past the still nervous looking receptionist, only for her to call him back.
"I'm sorry Mr. Kaiba, Sir," she said shrinking back slightly, "but I still need to know about Mr. Jonouchi's next of kin. Under the circumstances it really is necessary that his family are informed."
Kaiba was taken aback for a moment, but really he should have known that this would be a requirement. "I'll see to it," he said. He walked away and went out to his car where he rummaged around in the pockets of Jou's sodden clothes, soon coming up with a battered old cellphone. He retrieved the number he required from the phone's memory, and dialled it on his own handset. The phone rang a few times then was answered.
"What?" a slurred voice came down the line.
"Mr. Jonouchi?" Kaiba asked in a pleasant tone totally at odds with his current mood.
"Who's askin'?" the man said suspiciously. "Cos of yer one of them debt collector types, then you got the wrong number."
Kaiba stifled a snort at the idiocy of the man and wondered if he was so dense when he was sober – if he was ever sober. "I'm Seto Kaiba and I'm calling with regard to your son..."
"I ain't got no fuckin' worthless son," the man snarled. "Don't call again." The handset on the other end was slammed down, causing Kaiba to jump. Well, that was one down. He picked up Jou's phone again and looked up the number for his mother, then once again dialled it on his own phone.
"Kawai residence," a pleasant female voice intoned.
"Hello," Kaiba began, pleasantly once again. "Are you the mother of Katsuya Jonouchi?"
"Oh, what's he done now?" she asked, the pleasant tone all gone. "No, don't bother telling me, I don't want to know," she snapped. "You should call his waster of a father."
"I already did and he doesn't want to know," Kaiba said, the pleasantness evaporating from his own voice, "but putting that aside, I need to..."
"I don't care," she said, cutting him off before he could explain. "The kid's no good and will only end up a drunk waster like his father. I don't have time to deal with that."
Kaiba had had enough. "Well, with such supportive parents, I wouldn't be surprised if he had turned out that way, but Jonouchi is one of the most honourable and selfless people I know," he snapped. "You are so ready to write him off that you apparently don't care that his father seems to have thrown him out of home with no suitable clothing to his name and because of that he is currently in the hospital with suspected hypothermia..."
"Oh, so this is about money," she sneered. "I'm not going to pay his medical bills..."
"No of course not, not like he paid for your precious daughter's," Kaiba growled. "Don't worry about that, I'll see to it myself. Good day to you." He hung up as the woman gave an outraged squawk, not wanting to deal with her any more. He sighed and slumped against the side of his car, wondering who had it worse; the child that had lost his parents in tragic circumstances or the one that still had his parents although they hated him. He knew that he wouldn't want to be in Jou's situation, however. At least what memories he had of his parents were good ones where he was loved. With that in mind, Kaiba then decided that he should call his brother as Mokuba was sure to be wondering where he was by now.
"Seto?" Mokuba's voice came over the line and he sounded quite upset, "I was just going to call you."
"What's wrong, Mokuba?" Seto was instantly concerned.
"I... I was looking at the CCTV because I was bored waiting for you to get home," Mokuba explained. "I saw Jou come to the gate and he really didn't look too good. I sent some of the guards out to look for him, but he's nowhere to be found. I'm really worried about him, Seto."
"It's fine, Mokuba," Seto said soothingly. "I found Jonouchi and took him to the hospital when he collapsed."
"Is he ok?" Mokuba gasped.
"He's... in with the doctors now," Seto said. "I don't know very much at the moment, but I'll let you know when I do."
"Please," Mokuba said. "Oh... and Jou said something when he was at the gates."
"What was it?" Seto asked.
"He said that he thought that you two would have been good together and it was a shame that you hated him," Mokuba said.
Seto's eyes widened in shock. "Are you sure, Mokuba?" he asked, hardly daring to hope.
"I'm sure," Mokuba said. "I listened to it several times to be sure that I heard it right." He paused. "I know that you like Jou really, no matter what you might say to the contrary, so what are you going to do about it?"
"I... I'm not sure," Seto admitted with a sigh. "I guess I'll just have to see how things go. But... can you arrange for some clothes to be sent over for Jou? He doesn't have anything dry to wear and I'm sure that you can turn up something that will fit him."
"Sure, Seto," Mokuba said. "I'll have something sent over shortly."
"Send some slippers too," Seto said. "I'll try and get home soon..."
"No, don't rush on my account," Mokuba said. "Stay with Jou. I'll have a room made up for him here and... don't stuff it up!" With that, he hung up.
Seto stared at the phone for a moment, then smiled. It would seem that his brother was quite intuitive, realising that Seto would want to bring Jou back with him, but nonetheless it was good to have his approval. He placed both of the phones in his pocket and walked back inside the hospital to inform them of Jou's current circumstances with regard to his parents and to hopefully get some news on him. He also hoped that Jou was going to be alright. Maybe now he would have a chance.
xo xo xo xo xo xo xo
That was the overwhelming sensation that Jou felt on his slow return to consciousness. It was so warm that it felt heavenly. He luxuriated in the sensation of warmth before he opened his eyes to check where he was. Then his eyes snapped open wide as he realised that he was in a hospital – and in a private room at that. He let out a bitter sigh as he knew that his situation had just got immeasurably worse. There was no way that he could afford to pay a private medical bill, what with having no job and no home and the bill was sure to be totally massive.
He sat and thought about it for a while, but he couldn't see any way out of this situation, so he shortly came to a decision; he would simply have to leave. He looked around the room, noting that there were no clothes for him, so he got up, wrapping a sheet around himself and shivering from the loss of the heavenly warmth of the bed. As he shuffled towards the door, he figured that he'd have to borrow some clothes from somewhere before he left the building, but he stopped as the door opened and Kaiba walked in. He cringed slightly as the cold look that he was getting from the CEO chilled him more than the weather had.
"What the hell are you doing out of bed, Jonouchi?" Kaiba demanded, causing Jou to flinch noticeably.
"I... I have to go," Jou said, not looking at Kaiba, the contempt that was sure to be in his gaze more than he would be able to bear at this low ebb.
"Why?" Kaiba asked incredulously. "And where do you think that you are going to go dressed like that?"
"I can't stay here," Jou insisted. "You of all people should know that I could never afford to pay the bill for this place. Just... let me go and I'll never bother you again."
Seto was stunned, wondering where the fiery Jonouchi that he knew had gone, but then he supposed that Jou had just had quite a harsh knock so he could let it pass for now. "Jonouchi," he said in a gentler tone that had Jou looking back at him with shock, "the bill is taken care of. This hospital is part of the Kaiba Corporation group and..."
"But... I can't afford to pay you back either," Jou said, tears beginning to brim in his eyes at the thought of being in debt to someone who openly hated him. "You should have just let me go..." He looked down again, fighting to stop the tears from coming, desperate not to show any more weakness in front of the one who hated him so much.
"I don't want you to go," Seto exclaimed, upset at the thought of Jou going back out into the cold and of possibly never seeing him again. Jou was so shocked at this admission that he didn't resist when Seto guided him back to the bed and got him back under the warming blankets. "I am sorry Jou," Seto said once Jou was comfortable again, "I didn't mean for things to turn out this way and paying the bill for your stay here is the very least that I can do." He buried his face into Jou's hair, holding the utterly stunned blond close. "I really don't want you to go..."
Jou was shocked. Was this just a fanciful dream brought on by the cold? He'd heard that victims of hypothermia actually felt warm towards the end, so that much would fit. "Have I died and gone to heaven," he heard himself wonder, "or am I hallucinating, because they are the only scenarios I can think of where you would actually like me." He sniffed at the thought that this might not be real.
"Jou," Seto said, pulling Jou's gaze up so that he could look him in the eye. "I do like you. I always have, but... I didn't know how to approach you and thanks to my own insecurities I made you hate me. I'm really sorry..."
"I've never hated you and I'll accept your apology," Jou smiled, "if you kiss me." Jou was pretty sure that if Seto were faking he could never lower himself to kiss the mutt, at least not seriously and he had to be sure before he opened himself up to any more hurt. However, he was still surprised when Seto simply smiled in return, leaned forward and kissed him. Jou was in heaven as the warmth from Seto's embrace warmed him more than any blanket ever could.
"Mr Kaiba!" the doctor exclaimed in a scandalised voice as he entered the room without knocking, "I appreciate that you fund this hospital but I cannot condone you taking advantage of an unconscious patient!"
"Ah... I'm awake, doc," Jou said, peeking out from behind Seto's embrace.
"Oh.. well..." the doctor stammered, taken aback slightly, "it's still not the done thing really... but now that you are awake," he turned a glare on to Kaiba, "I'd like to re-examine the patient, and there are a couple of men asking for you at reception."
"Fine," Kaiba said reluctantly. "I'll be back soon, Jou," he said.
"I'll still be here when you get back," Jou quipped.
"I hope so," Seto said with a wry smile, then he left the doctor to examine Jonouchi while he went to take delivery of the clothes that Mokuba had arranged for Jou. While he was doing that, he also arranged for a few men to head to Jou's apartment and see if they could retrieve any of his personal belongings. Even if the bastard that had thrown Jou out were to decide that he could go home, Seto didn't want to send him back into what was obviously at the very least a semi-abusive environment. He knew that Jou had his pride, but he hoped that Jou would appreciate this much help at least. With that done, he went to the car, got Jou's sizes from his sodden clothing, and ordered a few things to be delivered gift wrapped to his home in time for Christmas.
Shortly, he was back at the hospital room where the doctor had finished with Jou and was now nowhere to be seen.
"Hey there, Kaiba," Jou said with an uncertain smile.
"Call me Seto, please." Seto said as he placed the bag on the chair and crossed over to the bed.
"OK, Seto," Jou said, smiling with a bit more confidence now.
"So... what did the doctor say?" Seto asked.
"He said that I only had a mild case of hypothermia and it was more the shock of the cold water that made me collapse," Jou said. "I probably didn't need to be brought here at all..."
"Well, I wanted to be sure that you were OK," Seto said, unable to look Jou in the eye.
"You were really worried about me, weren't you?" Jou said, looking at Seto with wide eyes.
"Don't be so shocked," Seto said, then he changed the subject. "So did the doctor give you an idea of when can you get out of here?"
Jou slumped. "He said that he was quite impressed with my resilience and as long as I stay warm there is no reason that I can't be discharged," he sighed, "but I don't have anywhere to go." He looked down, not wanting Seto to see the stricken look on his face.
"Don't worry," Seto said, placing a hand on Jou's shoulder, "I'm not going to abandon you, especially on Christmas Eve. You can come and spend Christmas with me and Mokuba."
"I don't want to impose," Jou said, hope clearly warring with apprehension.
"Don't be silly, I'd like for you to spend Christmas with us," he said, "and Mokuba will be happy that you're OK. You gave him quite the scare when he saw you on the CCTV system."
"Oh," Jou blushed furiously, remembering saying something about Kaiba while he was stood at the gates. "I'll be happy to then," he smiled gently. "But... I don't seem to have any clothes and I can hardly go out there naked."
"I wouldn't mind," Seto said unexpectedly, causing Jou to jump and blush again, "but I am way ahead of you." he brought the bag over to the bed. "I had Mokuba pack some clothes for you until we can sort something else out."
"Thanks," Jou said, blushing, but he didn't make any move to get dressed. He gave Seto a significant look.
"Oh, sorry!" Seto exclaimed, hurriedly turning his back so that Jou could dress. Soon they had Jou discharged and they were on their way back to Seto's mansion, Jou shivering slightly despite the warm clothes that he was wearing. Noting Jou's shiver, Seto wasted no time in getting Jou inside and installing him in front of a roaring fire with a thick fleecy blanket and a warming bowl of hot soup.
"Are you feeling better now?" Seto asked with some concern once Jou had finished his meal.
"I'm feeling much better, thank you," Jou replied with a smile.
"Good," Seto said with some satisfaction as he took the bowl. "Make yourself comfortable. I have to go and check on Mokuba."
"Ok, see you in a bit," Jou said. He watched Seto leave then he frowned, turning back to watch the fire. This, he knew, was just a temporary reprieve. After Christmas he would have to leave and he hoped that it would have warmed up a bit by then at the very least. With troubled thoughts running through his mind, he succumbed to the warmth and slipped into sleep.
Just over half an hour later, Seto returned to the room. He hadn't only been to check on Mokuba, he'd also watched the CCTV footage that Mokuba had told him about. Mokuba had been right, Jou really had looked bad and it only made him feel worse about what he had done, although he was determined to make up for it now. Then he'd called the director of the hospital and let him know in no uncertain terms what he thought of what Hiroshi had done. The man assured him that he would deal with the problem quickly.
He'd also been to see what his men had been able to recover from Jou's home, which had been a depressingly small amount, his schoolbooks and uniform having been found in a heap outside the back of the building. At least they had managed to save some of his other clothes and some pictures of Jou with his sister, but Seto couldn't help but feel bad for just how little there was. He did take some pleasure in the report that Jonouchi Senior had been quite uncooperative and had to be restrained forcibly. He hoped that it had hurt.
Seto had also taken delivery of several gift-wrapped parcels which he placed quietly under the tree, then once the parcels were placed to his liking, he crossed to the sofa, taking in the form of the quietly slumbering blond. Seto knew that they would have to talk about his situation, but he couldn't bring himself to disturb Jou for now. Instead, Seto carefully sat down next to him, pulling the large blanket over both of them. He was gratified when Jou snuggled up close to him and soon afterwards he succumbed to the pull of sleep himself.
xo xo xo xo xo xo xo
A couple of hours later Jou came back to consciousness, enjoying the warmth that was next to him. As he came more awake, he realised that he was sleeping with his head on Kaiba's chest and he shot awake, sitting up sharply and staring at the CEO who was sat on the sofa next to him.
"Hmm... what is it, Jou?" Kaiba asked as he awoke, "are you feeling OK?"
"Yeah..." Jou said with a hint of fear, worried over how Seto may react.
Seto noticed Jou's demeanour and sighed slightly. "Jou... we really need to talk, don't we?"
"Uh... I guess," Jou said with some reticence, "I suppose you want me to go once Christmas is over?"
"No! Not at all!" Kaiba exclaimed. "I thought I made that much clear earlier on, but maybe I didn't. You are free to stay here as long as you like... but I need to ask," he looked at Jou, "why didn't you go to any of your friends for help? You know that Yugi especially is always ready to help you."
Jou looked down, flushing slightly, "I couldn't bring myself to spoil their Christmas," he said by way of explanation.
Seto was taken aback. "But if someone else had splashed you and left you there you might have died from exposure. Even if you had ruined this Christmas, it is only one year. If something had happened to you, can you imagine what they would have felt at this time of the year, every year?"
"Shit... I never thought of it that way," Jou said, eyes becoming suspiciously damp. "I really wasn't thinking straight, was I?"
"I think that you can be forgiven," Seto said, moving closer to Jou and placing his arm around the blond. "Blame your reaction to the cold if you must, but don't beat yourself up about it."
Jou moved over to Seto, buried his face into his chest and sniffled a touch, "But I don't have a job to support myself and I can't just sponge off you, it wouldn't be right."
"Don't worry, I'm sure that I can find some way for you to pay me back," Seto said with a smirk. He was surprised when Jou stiffened and pushed away.
"I can't be a whore for you," Jou said vehemently, "I'd rather take my chances out there..."
"No, you misunderstand me," Seto said, wondering at Jou's reaction and wondering if someone had suggested that he sell himself in such a way in the past. But that was a question for another time once a bit more trust had been built between them. "I meant that I could get you a position within Kaiba Corporation," Seto clarified before Jou could get too far down that train of thought.
"Oh," Jou subsided. "I feel a bit silly now."
"Nonsense," Seto said, "I should have phrased myself better."
"Heh, yeah," Jou smiled. "So... what are you going to have me doing? I mean, a cleaning job would be fine..."
"No, I can't be having my partner as a mere cleaner." He paused and looked at Jou carefully, "assuming that you want that?"
Jou took in the vulnerable expression on Seto's face, realising that at that moment he had the power to hurt him very badly, but knowing that he couldn't do it. Besides, it would only be hurting himself. "Yeah, I think I would like that," Jou said, "But, what is it that you want me to do?"
"I was thinking perhaps a spot on the game testing team? After all, who better than someone who loves playing games?" Seto said nonchalantly, knowing that Jou would probably jump at the chance. He wasn't wrong.
"Really?" Jou's eyes lit up and he launched himself at Seto. "That would be amazing. Thank you."
"You're welcome," Seto said, pleased that he had made Jou happy, "and it should pay enough for you to afford your own place if you don't want to stay here with me." He wrapped his arms around the blond and held him tight, becoming concerned when Jou's grasp slackened off and he slumped. "Jou?"
Jou let out a sigh. "It's just a shame that I've lost everything," he said. "The teachers are going to be pissed that I've lost all my work and most of them hate me enough that they won't listen to any explanations."
Seto moved Jou off him and stood, pushing the blanket to one side as he did so. "Come with me," he said, holding out his hand. Jou blinked owlishly at him for a moment, then took Seto's hand and followed him as he led him through the mansion and up the stairs to what was obviously where the bedrooms were located. He stopped outside one particular door. "This is your room for as long as you want to stay here," Seto said, bidding Jou to go inside. "Go on."
Jou took a deep breath and opened the door. He stepped inside, then stopped dead as he noticed a neat pile at the foot of the bed which contained a selection of his personal belongings. "Seto, you..."
"Yes," Seto said, guiding Jou further into the room. "After I tried to call your father to let him know about your... circumstances, it became clear that he was the reason that you were out in that weather so I took the liberty of sending a few of my men to your former home to see if they could retrieve any of your belongings. As you can see, they managed to come back with at least some of your things..."
"They even managed to get my schoolbooks and the photo album with the photos of me and Shizuka as kids. That was irreplaceable. Thank you Seto." Jou was extremely grateful.
"Don't be so pleased with me yet," Seto said. "I'm afraid that I shouted at your mother over the phone when I called her." He looked at Jou who was staring at him with a gobsmacked expression. "You have to understand that I wouldn't have bothered calling her at all, but the hospital wanted next of kin to be informed."
"What did you say to her?" Jou asked. When Seto told him, he started laughing. "Wow... did she know it was Seto Kaiba that was telling her off?"
"No, I never got chance to give her my name," Seto said, bemused, but pleased that Jou wasn't mad.
"Oh, that's a shame," Jou said. "She always used to take such pleasure in telling me that I should be more like you. It'd kill her that you told her off." He snickered a little more, then yawned widely, showing just how tired he was. Well, it was early in the morning after all.
"Maybe you should test out that bed?" Seto said with a wry smile.
"Hmm... I'll go along with that," Jou said, not rising to the bait this time. He slipped under the covers and made himself comfortable.
"Goodnight, Jou," Seto said, turning to leave and head to his own room.
"Seto..." Jou said uncertainly, "Would you stay with me?"
"I don't know..." Seto said.
"I... I just want to be held," Jou said with a flush, "nothing else. But I guess that's a bad idea." He looked down and began to pick at the covers.
Seto heard the vulnerability in Jou's tone and quickly surmised that he was in need of some comfort and reassurance and he supposed that he could do with some himself after the earlier events of the night. "I'll stay," he said. "Just give me a moment to change and I'll be with you." He waited for Jou to acknowledge him then he left the room, quickly changing for bed, then he returned to find Jou anxiously waiting for him. He slipped under the covers and pulled Jou into a comforting embrace, both of them shortly slipping into a restful sleep.
xo xo xo xo xo xo xo
Early on Christmas Morning, Mokuba got out of bed, excited at the prospect of it being Christmas Day. First of all he went to Seto's room with the intention of Jumping on his brother and insisting that they go to open presents. However, he was to be confused as Seto was nowhere to be seen and it appeared that his bed had not been slept in.
He left the room, scratching his head and wondering where his brother could have got to. Surely he hadn't worked all night in his office, especially as he had brought Jou home with him. At that thought he had an epiphany, walked quietly to the room that had been assigned as Jou's and peeked inside. As no noise except for breathing was forthcoming he crept further into the room and over to the bed where he stopped dead, a grin covering his face as he took in the sight of Jou and Seto sleeping together in each other's arms.
After a moment, Mokuba crept out quietly, not willing to break the peace that they had found between them. Presents could wait; right now the best present he could give to Seto and Jou was time to be together.
xo xo xo xo xo xo xo
A/N - For anyone who is waiting for the fourth and final chapter of No Vacation, I'm kind of struggling to edit it down (as in I can't even bring myself to look at it... bad Atom.) However, if you go to my profile, there are links to AFF and Dreamwidth where I have posted the chapter as it stands.
One last thing - http:/ /i54. tinypic. com/zkld1e. jpg - I'm sure you all know how to edit that into a proper url. ^_^ Merry Christmas. ^_^