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Journey of A Thousand Steps

A/N: This arch takes place after the 2008 Olympics in which the lives of five young athletics are portrayed. It happens after the heroes return home victorious and finishes with the 2012 games.

" In Five Rings, One Heart" we know that Tea becomes Mrs. Seto and embraces the two brothers dearly in "No Tree for rent" We also know that Joey goes on and becomes a legend, yet the journey to this is the journey of a thousand steps . . . . enjoy

Chapter 1: Passionate Embrace

"Look at him go . . . . Man that boy is flying," Joey nearly gave his position away with his excitement, he wanted to dig his heels into the smooth surface of the track and run. It was a warm summer night and a pair of old friends were watching as a young boy finish sprinting across a track field that was supposed to be closed. Yugi slapped Joey on the shoulder and asked the question which weight on their minds.

"Hey, he's trespassing, it's past curfew, he broke into the locker room, and he stole some shoes," Yugi had a list so long of the kid's transgressions, it was horrid. Neither boy wanted to chastise the kid especially Joey, so Yugi moved from under the protection of the bleachers and walked on to the track prepared to do the dirty work.

A hand reached out into the darkness and pulled Yugi back, "Listen Yu, let the boy alone. He kinda' reminds me of myself back in the days. Remember you guys helped me out a lot. You gave this curly hair boy track shoes and the courage to reach for a dream. I gotta do the same for the Joey's of the future."

There was a twinkle in Joey's eyes that could mean only one thing. Some hair-brain plan was brewing in his head and trouble would surely follow; his friends always came to his rescue.

"Yeah, he's stealing," Yugi whispered.

"Call it a loan," Joey winked at his friend.

They followed the boy from a safe distance into the locker room and watched as he wipes the shoes clean including the inside. Next he placed them back inside the locker and sat down on a bench. He lifted his feet up to his knees and the boys noticed they were callused, swollen, and cracked. Yugi and Joey let out a horrible gasp as they watched him pull out a pair of old tennis shoes that had been patched on the sides with bandages. The boy turned towards the sound and immediately started to run. He stumbled over a water bottle which he'd place on the floor, but kept running.

"Hey . . . . . get your little thieving butt back here'," Joey voice trailed behind. "Don't think you can get away because I'm Joey and I got the fastest legs in Domino, you little brat."

The boy stopped in his tracks and dropped to the floor, "I'm so sorry, I just wanted to run, Joey –sensei. I'm . . . . So sorry. I swear, I didn't take nothing . . . Please don't tell them. Please . . . ."

Joey lifted the boy up, shaken by his tears and pleas, which were totally unexpected. His clothes were a tattered, and it was clear he hadn't bathed in a few days. Joey's hands circled around the boy's waist; he was as light as a feather.

"Calm down man . . . . We just want to talk," Joey whispered as they led the boy back to the bench.

"Aren't your parents worried . . . .?" Yugi turned to the boy looking for answers, but he stiffened up his body in defiance. Yugi recognized the gestured form his childhood days with Joey and glanced toward his friend.

"Look, man you ain't got nothing' to fear especially running like that," Joey's eyes roved over his pitiful shape.

"Really," the boy asked.

"I'm looking for a team, you know the junior Olympics tryouts are coming up next year." Joey titled the boy's chin up and stared him in the eyes.

"Stop teasing me . . . . I don't have no money, no clothes, and I live on the streets with my mom. My daddy lost his job and left me and Mom alone. If the social welfare finds out they will separate us for good. I come here because running makes me happy. I'm just a street mutt." This time his pride broke and tears flowed freely down his cheeks and onto Joey's shirt.

"Hey Yugi, that pizza you ordered is pretty big. Think we could use a little help,"

"Ah . . . what pizza," Yugi whispered a bit late on the up take.

"Why don't you take a shower and come and join us," Joey winked, "unless you got something better to do."

"Really, its ok, Joey-sensai," the boy looked up at his idol.

"Just call me Joey and what's your name," The blond asked.

"Ah Noah," he blushed.

"Cool, we're going to be friends, and you ain't got to worry about the welfare freaks. Joey's on the case."

The boy's eyes lit up and Yugi sigh. Thank goodness the pizza joint was across the street from the gym. While eating the pizza Joey realize the true meaning of winning his metals.

One year later Joey had renovated two old buildings on the south side of town and opened it up to young kids in need of a place to stay, no questions asked. He even had accommodations for parents in emergency situations, which allowed the families a chance to stay together. The City High School allowed Joey the continued use of its track and field facilities; it was a win win situation and just the beginning of his empire. Yet all the fame couldn't replace the loneness he felt right now looking out of the window of his newly acquired penthouse.

Joey rolled his eyes upward as he listened to the ring tones coming from his phone. Tea had insisted he install "The Phantom," Gosh how he loathe that song which had Kaiba's name written all over it. Joey refused to answer and placed the phone on mute. However that didn't stop the invasion of his privacy because someone was pounding on the door, so next he walked into his bedroom and closed the door, in hopes whoever was outside would go away.

"JOEY. . . . JOEY I know you're in there, so you might as will come out, because I'm not leaving until you do." Yugi's voice projected all the love born from years of friendship.

Quietly he activated the door and waited for Yugi to enter.

"It's about time you appeared. You disappeared two days ago and Tea's been trying to reach you for hours." Yugi stood in front of Joey and waited for an answer. "Joey you're like a brother to me, I always got your back and besides Tea is worried sick."

"Tea this . . . . . Tea that . . . can't you speak a sentence without bringing that fish into it or should I say "Aqua Spirit." Joey flopped on top of his huge bed and buried his head under a fluffy pillow. He knew that his actions were that of a ten year old kid, but he didn't care, his heart had a small tear in it.

Yugi chuckled and Yami pushed forward in his mind and refreshed his light's thoughts on the last words Tea spoke. 'Try not to mention Kaiba's name; it doesn't rime with friendship . . . ok'

"Well she's your little mermaid, so what the deal," Yugi pulled the pillow away from Joey and tossed it on the ground.

"Why he'd have to go and build that oversized swimming pool with fountains spraying pink scented water all over the damn place. He calls it Blue Lagoon and it's got that silly "Aqua Spirit" statue that looks so freaking like Tea it makes me gag. Man I couldn't did that and a lot more, but he's some super hero. I hate him!" Joey screamed. "Man he's a show off of the worst kind, why he'd have to stalk my little mermaid? Today should have been my day, but everybody is at some stupid water show he's putting on for a group of high school swimmers."

"Joey, Tea is your best friend and that will never change and besides they're only dating," Yugi could see all the color drain from his buddy's face.

"AHhhhhhhhhhhh . . . . . I think I'm goin' dump! Dating, mating what's the difference, he's all she talks about. I'll never forgive Mai."

"But it was you who brought Mai into Tea's life, you know so she could learn girly stuff." Yugi couldn't contain his laughter.

"Yeah I know, but I don't gotta like it," Joey started to destroy the pillow with his fist.

"Hey man wanta grab a burger after all it's your birthday. I'm not Tea, but I love ya too. Tristan's waiting for us at the grandpa's." Yugi charmed Joey with his huge puppy dog eyes and the blond melted.

It would have been a short trip to the game shop but Yugi wanted to stop at Domino High and pick up some papers he needed for a special news paper article. "Come on Joey, it'll only take a minute, beside when was the last time you been inside this building."

"Hey, the way I remember geeks inside, real men outside, I needed sunshine and fresh air." Joey's spirit started to lift just being with the little guy so he played along. 'Who needs women anyway?'

Moments after Joey and Yugi stepped inside the building his life took another step . . . . .

"JOEY, JOEY He's the Man . . . . . HAPPY BIRTHDAY . . . . . . " Voices chanted throughout the hallways and balloons floated down from the ceiling. As if by magic the doors to the auditorium opened and there crowds of students, adults, and kids from his hometown continued to scream his name.

Standing on the stage and singing above the crowd he could hear the voice of his dearest friend Tea, his heart beat loudly in his ears and tears flowed down his cheeks.' You didn't forget,' he thought.

"Good grief," Mia chanted, "turn off the water works before you have us swimming in tears." Escorted by Yugi she beckoned for the blond to come forward and next handed him a handkerchief.

Tea's smile mended the tear in his heart. The old sparkle returned to his eyes when she started to speak. "Well friends and family I guess we sure fool our favorite hero. . . . I think he's speechless." Tea smiled again.

"Yeah that's a first . . . . . Joey's trap closed, Mai continue to tease the blond.

"Forever would be a miracle," Kaiba snapped.

"I heard that, but I don't care; because I'm the happiest man on earth surrounded by all my friends," Joey countered.

"Yeah, give me some skin . . . . Up high and down low," Tristian called out.

"You're the man, well next to my big brother," Mokuba added.

"Friendship . . . . . ." gang chanted.

"Tea . . . . Please you promise to keep it short," Kaiba broke in, but she just glared at him and continued.

"Joey you've been an inspiration to us all. In your honor this statue will be displayed in the new Domino Hall of Champions along with our Metals. It's a testament to the determination of young kids around the world. Tea unveiled the statue of the young blond, hair flying in the wind. After a few more words the assembly moved down the hall and placed the head bust in its new home and moved to the gym; food and dance followed well into the night.

"Yugi have you seen Joey," Tea asked.

"Well I think he stepped outside, you know grilled hotdogs," Yugi commented.

"Ok, what are you doing up here," Tea asked. Some things never changed and next to the sandbox this was their special place, the roof.

"Ah . . . I was just thinking about a lot of things." Joey rubbed his hands together and started to twist a stray lock from his bangs. It was a nervous habit from childhood. Tea knew he wanted to talk.

"Remember the first time we met, I thought you were big baby." Tea laugh.

"Well, I was and you were a kiddy Amazon girl from hell," Joey ducked out of habit.

"Was not"

"Was too . . . freaky girl boxer," Joey giggle, something he only did in front of Tea.

"Curly, girly, curls," Tea smirked.

"Yeah, that used to make me cry . . . . Anyway you became my best friend. Tea I gotta ask you something and don't laugh."

"Can't promise that, but it's between us."

"Tea I wanta do it. . . . ."

"Joey . . . . You wanta do what. . . Ahhh . . . I don't want know that"

"Tea. . . . Damn it, not that. You got fish in your brain." Joey grunted.

"Well . . ." Tea blushed.

"OH my God. . . You and Kaiba OMG. . ." Joey screamed out loud.

Tea bobbed him upside his head, "moron I haven't done anything with anybody, that's for marriage."

"Tea, I want to do the Triathlon."

"Joey that's Swimming, Cycling, and Running," Tea arched her brow. She could see passion in his eyes, and its flame burn brighter than the candles on his birthday cake.

"Yeah . . . . ." Joey's eyes sparkled. "I need you."

Tea took his hands and held them tightly, "Let's do it." She knew this would be the biggest challenge of his life and he'd need all his friends to face it.

I know Tea is not the most loved girl in Fan fiction, however give her a shot. I really enjoy writing the story "Five Rings in which here desires for Kaiba blossom. Now rest assure I believe he truly belong to Joey or Amelda but I guess Kaiba has enough love to spread around.

Enjoy . . . .