A.N. I really should be getting sleep for tomorrow's festivities. Or helping my parents wrap the last of the gifts. Or working on homework. So… I'm gonna write Christmas fics until I run out if ideas. Or fandoms, which seems more likely at this point.
Also, if I made any glaring errors (terrible grammar, character slips, wrong name, etc.) please tell me, but give me a break; I haven't read or watched Yu Gi Oh in forever!
Seto Kaiba wasn't a very sentimental person. Nor was he very religious, and certainly not of the Christian persuasion. However, he could understand the bonds of family, despite what the Geek Squad thought, so he allowed his workers to have a week off for the holidays. The board could go fuck themselves, they were ahead of schedule.
Mokuba was obviously delighted that he was home, and had thus far managed to drag him shopping to buy gifts for everyone Mokuba knew, decorate the entire mansion, and buy three large trees that stood in the living room, servants break room and foyer.
(Seto didn't bother questioning the one in the servants room, though it made little sense, as they also had the next few days off of work. Really, he was feeling extremely kind lately. Yugi would claim holiday spirit, after everything happened.)
This, though, was going a bit far.
"Mokuba, why are we here?" They were pulling into the Kame Game Shop's small parking lot, which was nearly full. Good, they could use the business.
"I told you! I bought gifts for everyone, and I want to deliver them early, so we don't miss anyone!" He was bouncing in his seat, already reaching behind him to grab the large bag of presents they'd brought. Seto turned off the car, sighing.
"No, why am I here, specifically. I really don't care about anyone here." Mokuba scowled at him, shoving a few bags into his arms before opening his door.
"You do too, you just won't admit it! Besides, you helped with getting all these, you have to claim credit! Now come on, Yugi said everyone was inside already!"
Well, that would make things easier, if everyone was here. He certainly didn't want to make this trip again, especially if it meant running into…
"Wait, everyone is here? What, are they having some kind of party?" Mokuba grinned at him, before running ahead into the shop, leaving him with an armful of bags and a scowl.
He honestly should have expected this; Mokuba did want him to have some kind of social life, and as they all already knew the bizarre events of the last few months/years/ millennia/whatever, he supposed it was the most logical.
But honestly! They were all damned chipper all of the time! He couldn't understand that optimism, and what he didn't understand frankly annoyed him. It didn't help matters that Jounouchi, his main form of entertainment via fights picked at school, was incredibly withdrawn lately, throwing him into another bout of confusion. Was he bored of the rather ridiculous hostilities? It struck him as odd.
But he really needed to get inside, before Mokuba came out and got angry. Honestly, the boy worried too much, which was funny, coming from him.
He entered the crowded shop, noting several new games on the shelves and memorizing their names. Things in the Kame Game Shop tended to become big sellers shortly after their appearance. Yugi (and Yami, who had somehow stuck around) being the King(s) of Games probably had something to do with that.
Yugi's grandfather looked at him when the bell above the door rang, and as he approached, he smiled and nodded, saying
"You can go to the back; your brother ran through a moment ago." Seto gave a very small rueful grin back, before ducking past into the 'back,' which seemed to be the entrance to their home.
'Everyone' seemed to be the majority of those involved in the various shenanigans in the Shadow Realm; the Ishtars were sitting near the fire, both Bakuras and Anzu sat on the couch, and Yami was standing next to a table where Mokuba was sorting out his pile of gifts, chattering happily. Yugi was nowhere to be seen, but voices from an open doorway that appeared to lead to the kitchen were clue enough to his whereabouts.
Ryou was the first to notice his arrival, and waved, calling out a greeting. He nodded back, walking towards Mokuba and setting down his own things.
"Kaiba. Happy holidays." Yami took the last two out of his hands, carefully setting them aside. Seto was a bit surprised he hadn't challenged him to a duel, and briefly wondered if he'd been forbidden from doing so by Yugi.
"Oh good, you did come! We thought Mokuba might've been joking when he said that!" Seto winced a bit as Anzu noticed him as well. Her voice was just a little high for his ears.
"They're here already?" A new voice came from the open doorway, and he glanced over to see Jounouchi looking through straight at him. Looking right into his eyes, Seto noticed that he seemed oddly tired. What on earth could he be losing sleep over? Granted, he didn't know him that well, but still…
"It would appear so, yes." He hesitated, but gave in to the 'holiday spirit' that seemed to have overtaken him of late. "Happy holidays, I suppose." Jou gave him an odd look, before grinning.
"Back at'cha! Now, I gotta keep the soup from boiling over, so I'll abscond for now." He vanished back into the kitchen.
"Abscond? Since when do you know words like that? What does that even mean?" Honda, unnoticed until now, called out.
Seto responded with "It means to run away," just as Jou yelled that he had read it somewhere,
"And I don't want no comments on my ability to read, either!" Mokuba glared for emphasis, and Seto covered his mouth, grinning behind it. Then he looked around the room again, this time seeing a tree in the corner. Mokuba glanced at it as well, before turning to Yami.
"Should I move the things there, under the tree?" Yami shook his head, spikes nearly impaling Anzu, who hastily retreated back to the fire, sitting next to Ishizu.
"Yugi wants those to be separate, as they're just the family's. Are you and your brother staying for the whole party, or will you be leaving shortly?" Mokuba shrugged, before turning pleading eyes to him.
"Pleeeeeaaaase can we stay?" He took a deep breath, carefully putting on his 'I'm delivering bad news' face, before looking down at him.
"We can stay." Mokuba pouted, and began to say 'please' again, before realizing what he'd said.
"We can? Really?" Seto shrugged, inwardly smiling, but keeping his face neutral.
"I see no reason to do otherwise. We don't have any plans." Mokuba launched himself at him, nearly bowling them both over.
"Mokuba. Enough." HE covered his mouth with his hand, still grinning, before stepping back and running into the kitchen. Seto hoped he wasn't allowed near anything that required cooking; Mokuba's attention span was incredible in it's inability to watch things that were on fire.
It didn't take long for Jounouchi, Yugi and Mokuba to finish dinner, which consisted of the aforementioned soup, rolls, salad, and several pies for dessert. Seto, who everyone seemed to think had been drugged before coming, gave ample compliments to the chefs. Yugi immediately claimed he had only helped, and Jou was the master here. Jou received with a wary grin and immediately launched into a rant of how those who did the smaller tasks were the most important, and that Mokuba and Yugi were clearly responsible.
This led to Honda saying that as he had done nothing, which was the smallest of all tasks, he should be thanked. Anzu smacked the back of his head, while Marik (the dark half of Malik, though he claimed to be 'better now' without the Rod) and Bakura (who made similar claims) nearly fell out of their seats laughing.
They had been herded back to the table of gifts, which seemed to have expanded in their absence. Mokuba and Yugi claimed elf duty, and began handing out the packages on the table. Seto was surprised to find he had several as well, and looked at the labels in confusion.
To: Seto Kaiba
Everyone should enjoy the holiday's together!
You need to lighten up! We're not board members, don't be so stiff all the time.
From: Yugi and Yami
So glad you came over!
To: Kaiba (the big one)
From: The Ishtars
Kaiba, I apologise in advance if there is anything strange in here; Marik and Malik bought it and wrapped it from all of us before I could see it.
From: Ryou and Bakura
Have a little fun, kay Priest?
To: Moneybags (this was crossed out) Kaiba
I figure you can buy whatever you need-
The tag had been ripped in half, leaving him wondering about the rest of the message. He glanced up at Jounouchi, who was apparently sitting next to him on the couch. He looked up at him.
"Yeah?" He held up the package in question.
"Why only half a tag? Didn't feel like finishing the message?" Jou scowled, before peering closely at him in surprise. Seto realized he was grinning again, and tried to frown instead.
"No, don't, you need at smile more. An' the other half is in the box. It'd give away the gift!" He was distracted by Yugi, who was calling out that everyone would just go at once, "so the gift givers don't feel like embarrassed when their gifts are being opened." Jou smiled at him, before carefully picking up a gift from his pile. Seto reached to do the same, purposefully leaving Jou's gift for last.
It appeared that Mokuba had been talking to them more than he'd thought, as he received a pair of gloves he'd been meaning to replace, as well as some new games made for single players (and one for two, presumably himself and Mokuba). The Ishtar one turned out to be a box of sex toys and lube, though a computer game at the bottom looked promising. Ishizu caught a glimpse as he closed the box again, though, and was ratehr furious.
"You said you'd been appropiate! How dare you go and buy things like that for a present!"
"Hey, we got him a game!""Yeah, and he could use the others things!" She glared at the pair, before turning to him.
"I am so sorry for this!" He waved his hand.
"You didn't know. Besides, Marik is right." He waited for a moment, until she was looking at him awkwardly, before adding "The game does look interesting." She smiled, appearing relieved.
"Jeez, that was close. I was worried you were going to leave it at that." He glanced at Jounouchi again, who had a cookbook (which he didn't odd anymore), some new cards, and a large wooden box that was unlabelled. His own gift, and Mokuba's were still sitting wrapped in his lap.
"Perhaps I meant it, and only changed my answer for her benefit." Jou stuck out his tongue.
"I hope not! There was steak-flavored lube in there!" Seto raised a brow.
"And you know this because…?" Jou waved a hand at him, turning to Mokuba's present.
"I'll tell you when you're older." Mokuba giggled, muttering "You say that to me all the time!"
Seto rolled his eyes and began to open the last gift. It appeared to be a mess of cloth, with the other half of the tag on top.
-so, I'll make you something instead!
He pulled it out, carefully, as the cloth fell away to reveal three boxes of assorted fudge and cookies. And more cloth. He pulled the whole thing out, unfolding it so he could see it all.
It was a quilt, of some soft white fabric. He heard some gasps of surprise from across the room, and flipped it over.
This side had a Blue Eyes White Dragon, carefully stitched onto a background of starlit night, wings outstretched in flight. He felt over the layers of thread and cloth, feeling the thousands of stitches that had gone into it's creation.
"Holy shit! Just how long did that thing take, Jou?" Honda exclaimed from the other end of the room, pulling Seto out of his revere. He looked up to see Jou scratching the back of his head, grinning.
"Er… A few weeks? Maybe two months. Just finished it the other night!" He displayed his fingers for them to see, which elicted groans of pity from the others.
"What's with your fingers, Jou?" Well, at least he and Mokuba were both confused.
"I'm really good a' injuring' myself, see? Stabbed with a needle a fair few times." His fingertips were mottled with small holes, and a burn on the left palm.
"Oh… Ooh, is that my gift? Open it! I want to see your face!" Jou grinned at him.
"Hold yer horses, I'm goin'!" He finished tearing off the paper, and revealed the object inside, which was a large Red Eyes Black Dragon plushie. Jou stared at it for a long moment. Mokuba's grin began to fade, just as he looked up at the room at large.
"I'm gonna do something' extremely girly now. Jus' fair warnin'." He took a breath.
"Ooh, it's so cute! Yer new name is Bard, and you and I will be great friends! Thanks Mokuba!" He smiled happily, setting the new toy on his lap. Mokuba sighed in relief.
"What's the name mean?" Seto couldn't help but ask, folding the quilt away while trying to decide if he should display it or sleep with it on his bed.
"It's close to REBD, kinda, so… yeah that's it." He looked at the folded up quilt, before looking away, towards his own things again. Seto frowned, before realizing he hadn't said a word about it yet.
"Thank you for the quilt, it looks very well made. Who taught you to sew? Or cook, for that matter?" Yugi looked up at them from his place on the floor, his own Dark Magician plushie settled in his lap.
"Jou knows lots of weird things, like old music and dancing, how car engines work, bunches of books, and more! Where did ya learn all of that, Jou?" Now most of the crowd was looking their way, and Jou was beginning to look awkward.
"Well, mah neighbors felt bad fer me, what with dad an' the gangs. So they took ta raisin' an' teachin' me things. Since they were mostly housewives and lil' old ladies…" He didn't bother finishing. Seto looked down again, at the baked goods and quilt, then around the room, seeing more boxes like his around the room, as well as other handmade gifts with similar embellishments, though none as extravagant as the quilt.
"Well, they either are very good teachers, or had a remarkable student." He said, quietly, so that none but Jou could hear him. He looked up in surprise, before smiling at him. It wasn't as happy looking as his others, but seemed more truthful.
Seto wondered how many of his huge smiles were fake.
Jou turned back towards Seto's own gift, leaving Mokuba's in his lap but slipping the cards into the box with what appeared to be his other things.
After peeling the paper away and carefully tossing it to the floor with the rest, he opened the box, revealing the backpack inside, decorated already with an assortment of Scapegoats. Inside it were several new cards and, though Jou probably wouldn't find it for many days, an invitation to the next Duel tournament taking place in April. Only champions would be receiving invitations; all other participants would be in large preliminary rounds taking place soon.
Several of the others had also received these invites, but Seto was willing to bet quite a bit that Jou was expecting to have to take the preliminary rounds. He would tell him himself if he hadn't RSVP'd in a few days.
Jou grinned at him, thanking him for the gift, thanking him again when he found the rest of the cards. He put the rest of his things inside the bag, leaving Bard in his lap.
The evening quickly dissolved into singing and joking around, before Jou checked his watch and groaned.
"Aw man, I gotta go! Nice seein' everyone, have some nice hols!" He stood, stretching. Yugi hopped up as well, saying he'd get his coat.
"You really have work tonight? Jeez, do you get any break this week? Christmas is in two days!" Honda complained from the floor, where he'd been talking with Bakura and Marik. Jou shrugged, placing Bard inside his bag with the box of mystery things and cards.
"Yah, someone's gotta pay rent, and I'm livin' alone fer now, so that'll have ta be me!" Yugi returned with the coat, which he pulled on quickly.
"You're living alone? I thought you lived with your father." Ryou looked up at him from where he was poring over some book with Ishizu.
"I did. Moved out when I found a place that'd take me. Anyway, love to stay and chat, but I gotta go!" He picked up the bag, thanked everyone again, and was gone, leaving the room far quieter than before.
Seto frowned, glancing at his watch as well.
"Mokuba, it is getting late. We'll leave soon."
Why did Jou have work at ten o'clock, anyway?
It was Christmas Eve, and Seto was driving home after picking up some food for himself and Mokuba. He wasn't the greatest of cooks, but he was fairly sure he could manage to follow the instructions for pasta.
He stopped for a light, glancing around the street. It was deserted, unusual for this area. No matter the weather, there were usually people out and about, doing things that were probably illegal if anyone cared to look. It was the quickest way to his home outside of Domino, otherwise he'd prefer to avoid the area.
As the light changed and he drove on, he noticed a lone figure walking down the street. That coat looked familiar…
He pulled over, opening the door and calling out to Jou, who glanced up in surprise.
"Kaiba?" Seto rolled his eyes.
"No, that Priest from Egypt. Yes, it's me. You look cold." That was understatement. He looked freezing.
"Yeah, this is an old coat. What're you doin' here, of all places?" Seto gestured for him to get into the passenger seat, wanting to close the door.
"Get in, before you freeze. I'm heading home, and this is the quickest way out." Jou hesitated at the door, before a strong gust of wind had him jumping in and slamming the door. Seto began driving again.
"Where are you headed? I'll give you a lift." Jou pulled his hands out of his pockets, placing them on the heater.
"Home. It's only a few blocks down this way." Seto turned at his direction, hesitating before voicing his next thought.
"Alone?" Jou nodded.
"Yah, I managed to wrangle the next two days off, but everyone's hangin' with their families, so I'm just gonna rest instead. Here we are." Seto frowned, even as he pulled over. Jou began to get out.
"Wait." He rubbed a hand over his brow, wondering where his sanity went.
"Come to the mansion with me. Mokuba will be pleased to see you, and I can't let that comment go like that." Jou stared at him, before slowly sitting back down.
"When did you become such a bleedin' heart?" He scowled.
"Can it mutt, I'm blaming all of Motou's friendship speeches." Jou chuckled.
"Fine then. But if you don't wan' me beggin' clothes offa ya, I'm gonna have to get something' from my apartment." Seto waved a hand.
"Fine, but hurry. Mokuba's waiting for me." Jou nodded, dashing into the building. Seto took the opportunity to call Mokuba.
"Hello? Seto, where are you?"
"I'm picking up a stray for Christmas." Mokuba made a confused noise.
"Jounouchi. He's way too pitiable for my health. We'll be home soon."
"Jou's coming over? Cool! I'll find some movies to watch! Hurry home!"
"Of course. Bye." A dial tone came from the phone, and he tucked it into his pocket as Jou tumbled back into the car, panting a bit and holding the new bag in his arms.
The drive was quiet. Their entrance into the house, not so much.
"Jou!" A black blur came out of the front doors, barreling into Jou. He laughed as they both tumbled into the snow.
"Hey kid. Hope you don't mind me crashin' yer party!" He was dragged into the house by his arm. Seto watched them pass, only to blink when he realized he was attached to this crazy train via Jou's hand on his sleeve.
Several movies later, they were all asleep on the couch, popcorn and pop laying around the room. Seto, the last to fall, didn't manage to draw up annoyance at Jou's head on his shoulder, before dozing off.