Mr. Wheeler pulled into the driveway of small house with busted windows and chipped paint. Aside from Mr. Wheeler's car were two other vehicles pulled up and Kaiba could see another one sitting in the garage. Loud music, either coming from a TV or stereo, was coming from inside the house. The young CEO couldn't help but wonder why they were there.
"I'm going in for just a minute," Mr. Wheeler said as he unbuckled. "You kids stay in here."
After getting out and slamming the driver's door shut Mr. Wheeler walked to the front door of the house, leaving both Kaiba and Serenity sitting alone in the car.
"Joey, does this place look familiar to you?"
"No. Why, do you recognize it?"
Serenity shook her head and elaborated, "I just thought that maybe you'd been here before."
Kaiba thought that perhaps the real Joey might've known what was up, but since he wasn't around at that moment all he and Serenity could do was speculate. Perhaps it was just because of how the house looked, but Kaiba got a bad vibe from the place.
"Maybe he's buying drugs," Kaiba spoke up.
"Joey, don't joke like that," Serenity scolded.
"I wasn't joking," Kaiba remarked. Okay, so part of him was, but he honestly considered it a possibility.
Serenity let out a sigh and clutched onto her seatbelt.
"I'm sure he's just visiting a friend," she assured.
Just as Kaiba double-checked to make sure the doors were locked Mr. Wheeler came out of the house. Kaiba unlocked the driver's door and let his rival's father get in.
"So why'd we stop here?" Serenity asked. Kaiba had wondered the same thing, but by the looks of the place and the vibe he got from Mr. Wheeler he honestly didn't want to know. It was probably better if he didn't.
"Oh, just visiting a friend, doing some business. Now let's go get some breakfast."
Thirty minutes had passed and Joey had gotten no response from his enemy. He tried calling again and got nothing, then checked the e-mail and got nothing. Finally he decided to just swing by the apartment to see if anybody was home.
The chauffeur was confused by Joey's orders, but he had no choice but the follow them. As they went into the poorer side of Domino City the driver started getting nervous and locked the doors.
"Good call," Joey remarked. "There's some real creeps out here."
The driver came to a stop just outside of the Wheeler's apartment. This was the first time Joey had been back in the past week, and seeing the neighborhood after having spent so much time at the mansion made him realize just how bad off his real life was. He wondered if that was how his sister felt when she visited him.
"I'll only be a minute," Joey told the driver.
Joey stepped out and examined the area. His old man's car was gone, so the whole family probably was too. Joey let out a groan and started heading back to the limo when a voice stopped him.
"Kaiba? What are you doing here?"
A gasp escaped through his lips. It was Yugi. God, it had been so long since he'd seen him.
"I'm looking for the mutt," Joey replied, trying his best to sound like the cold CEO.
"He's not home?" Yugi asked.
"Darn," Joey thought. "Yug doesn't know where he is either!"
"No, he isn't."
"Oh. Well, I was actually on my way to go see him. He's been acting weird lately."
Joey clutched the briefcase in his hand. He couldn't believe that after spending so much time getting onto his case it was Kaiba that was messing things up. Joey swore that the next time he saw him that he'd give him a good smack in the face.
"Weird how?" Joey inquired.
"Well, he's been uptight and keeping to himself. It's almost like something's bugging him."
"Yeah, it's probably that stick in his ass," Joey thought.
"Oh well," Yugi said. "I guess I'll just come by here later. It was nice seeing you."
Joey said nothing as he watched his friend walk off. He honestly couldn't wait to get back into his old body so this charade could end.
Kaiba's eyes widened as they arrived at their destination. Apparently Mr. Wheeler thought that girls in short-shorts and tight belly shirts was part of a balanced breakfast, because he'd pulled into the parking lot of Ta-Ta's, a 'gentlemans' restaurant.
"They serve breakfast at a place like this?" Kaiba asked.
The three got out of the car and headed inside. Mr. Wheeler had a stupid grin plastered on his face and Kaiba and Serenity both looked like they'd need therapy. A busty blonde hostess greeted them with menus in hand.
"Good morning, welcome to Ta-Ta's. How many?"
"Three," Mr. Wheeler answered.
The hostess led them to their booth and handed them their menus. After she left Kaiba looked around and realized that Serenity was the only female in appropriate attire. He couldn't help but feel sorry that a young girl like her was being dragged into that sort of place with her father of all people.
"God, if Mr. Wheeler had raised her she would've been one screwed up girl," Kaiba thought.
The waitress came by and asked what they wanted to drink.
"Orange juice," Kaiba and Serenity requested.
"I'll take a Bud light," Mr. Wheeler said.
The two teens gave him a horrified look.
"Do you really think you should be drinking?" Kaiba asked.
"One beer won't hurt," Mr. Wheeler snapped.
Kaiba rolled his eyes while the waitress finished writing up the request.
"Are you ready to order or do you need a few minutes?" the waitress asked.
"What's the breakfast style chicken?" Mr. Wheeler asked.
"Well, we take one breast and—"
"Just one?" Kaiba remarked. "I figured that this place would serve two."
The waitress stopped for a moment and started to turn pink in the face.
"Uh, anyway, we take one breast, grilled or fried, and serve it inside a biscuit with bacon and a fried egg on top. You get one side with it."
"Yum. I'll take that fried with some grits."
The waitress took his order and turned to face the teenagers.
"And you two?"
"I'll just have a yogurt parfait," Serenity said.
"Yogurt? Only girls eat yogurt!" Mr. Wheeler snapped.
"I—but—I am a girl."
"She'll have the breakfast chicken too! Hell, give all of us the breakfast chicken!"
Serenity let out a sigh and looked up at the waitress.
"I'll have it grilled with some yogurt on the side," she muttered.
"I want mine grilled with sliced apples," Kaiba said.
The waitress scribbled down their orders and walked off. Once she was gone Kaiba blew up.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
"With me? What's wrong with you? You've been awfully mouthy ever since your sister got here!"
"That's because you're completely intolerable! I—"
Kaiba stopped because he saw someone across the aisle. The sight of the blonde woman taking orders made his mouth drop open.
She stopped and turned around, revealing that she was indeed who he suspected. Her and Kaiba stared at each other like deers caught in headlights.
"Oh…Joey…I didn't know you were here."
"Yeah, it was all his idea," he stated, pointing to Mr. Wheeler. "You told me you worked at a new gaming company!"
"I do! At nights. But during the day I, well, you can see for yourself. It's not like I want to work here, but I have to pay my bills somehow."
Mr. Wheeler let out a whistle.
"Hey son, who's this?"
"She's my girlfriend, so don't even think about it!"
"Actually, nothing's official yet," Mai corrected. "Unless; Joey, do you really want us to take that step?"
Kaiba thought for a moment. He and Joey had promised that they wouldn't mess with each others' lives, but the situation was different then. He still couldn't believe it, but he had fallen for Mai. If he put her and Joey together it would complicate things for him when he got his old body back. He didn't know for sure if Mai would give him a chance but he'd be damned if he was going to throw that opportunity away.
"Actually Mai, no. In fact, I don't think we should see each other anymore."
Mai's eyes widened, but she didn't frown, cringe or burst into tears. For a moment Kaiba wondered if she'd heard him.
"You're joking, right?" she asked.
It was after that statement that Mai lost her composure. Her face cringed up and tears started to form in her eyes. Kaiba hated seeing her like that, but once he got back to his body and company he was going to make up for it.
"Yeah Joey, why are you doing this?" Serenity jumped in.
"I'm sorry, but, I don't want to date someone who's going to sink this low just for some cash."
The pain in Mai's eyes were replaced with fury. Her guest was becoming impatient and spoke up.
"Uh, excuse me, are you going to finish taking my order?" he asked.
Mai's fuse finally blew.
"Joey Wheeler, you are an insensitive prick and I never want to see you again!"
A couple of guys had been watching from their booths and broke into applause.
"Yeah, you tell him honey!" a bearded guy cheered.
With that she turned around and went back to her previous task. After she finished taking the guy's order she stormed off into the kitchen, letting the door slam behind her. Although Kaiba was upset about breaking her heart he was glad that she didn't cry about it.
"Joey, I can't believe you treated Mai like that!" Serenity exclaimed.
"No kidding!" Mr. Wheeler joined in. "Don't you have any idea on how to treat women?"
"Well it's not like I had the best example," Kaiba snapped back.
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
"Oh come on! You drink like a fish and have the charm of a skunk! I bet that's why mom left you!"
Mr. Wheeler became stiff. Kaiba had expected him to yell or snap back but he didn't. After a few seconds Serenity decided to speak up.
"Joey, dad started drinking and gambling after mom left him."
"Mom and dad got divorced because of my disease. They were so stressed that they took their anger out on each other and it ruined their relationship. Dad started drinking because of the divorce and because I was getting worse."
Kaiba had heard bits and pieces of the Wheelers' life stories but he didn't know the whole picture. He'd heard that Serenity almost lost her vision but he thought it was because of an accident or because she sat too close to the TV; he never realized it was something she'd been battling almost her whole life.
"That still doesn't explain the gambling," he pointed out.
"I was trying to do whatever I could to pay her medical bills," Mr. Wheeler said. "One day I heard about an experimental operation that could save her sight. I thought that if I could get enough money I could make her better, and once I started I just couldn't stop."
Kaiba opened his mouth to speak but he didn't say anything. Honestly, there was nothing he could say. Some of the guys who had cheered for Mai earlier were listening and startled to sniffle.
"That's the saddest story I ever heard," said a guy wearing a red, plaid sweater.
"I wish my pop would've gambled for me," said the bearded man.
A tall man with long pink hair joined in.
"I zink I vill start a charity for sick children," he said.
"Zigfried Von Schroeder!?" Kaiba exclaimed. "What are you doing here? Don't you have a company to run?"
"No, I lost it because of ze economy. I am looking for sexy ladies to make a girly magazine zat I am working on."
"Are there anymore familiar faces around here?" he inquired.
"Vivian Vong is a vaitress here," Zigfried answered.
Kaiba let out another groan and fell face down on the table. The waitress came by just then with their drinks and stared at him.
"Is he alright?" she asked Mr. Wheeler and Serenity.
"Yeah, yeah, he'll be fine. Now gimme my beer."
A/N: There was really nothing in canon that stated why Joey and Serenity's parents divorced. I know Mr. Wheeler's an alcoholic gambling addict but he couldn't have been like that beforehand or Mrs. Wheeler wouldn't have let him have custody of Joey (at least I HOPE she wouldn't have). I don't know what kind of disease Serenity had that was making her go blind but it's likely that it was something she'd had for years; maybe even since birth. I hope you're all still enjoying the story. Let me know what you think.