"Joey says he's 'L-M-F-A-O'," announced the Pharaoh one day, on a particularly uneventful spring evening of June.
Or maybe it only seemed uneventful to Yugi, since after averting the end of the world and battling dastardly (and potentially inebriated) super villains, Joey hardly seemed the likely cause of a new crisis.
How wrong Yugi was.
He blinked. "Huh?"
"I messaged Joey," the Pharaoh elaborated, holding up Yugi's cell phone, a hint of smugness in his voice from texting without assistance. "He replied L-M-F-A-O," he read again, enunciating each letter individually. Suddenly suspicious, he continued, "Is that an insult?"
Yugi glanced up from his math homework, concentration momentarily lost. Taking the opportunity to stretch, his joints cracked with the intensity of someone having focused for the entirety of ten minutes: an impressive feat for a boy who preferred card games over schoolwork.
"It's not an insult," he answered belatedly, humoring his friend because he naively and tragically thought that the subject would be dropped soon enough.
Briefly abandoning his valiant attempt at parametric equations, he left his desk and plopped down on his bed with an exhausted yawn. It creaked under his weight, or at least, he pretended it did, since it was just slightly insulting that his small physique allowed for little more than a feeble bounce.
"What does it mean?" the spirit persisted, and the smaller boy shrugged noncommittally. "Is it vulgar?"
The Pharaoh awaited his answer with startling anticipation, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. It wasn't a glare, but he clearly expected a reply. Yugi shifted uncomfortably. Sometimes he wondered if Egypt had different standards of 'polite commands'—if there was such a thing—but he credited it to his friend being a benign but slightly spoiled king.
As the Pharaoh's official teacher and guide to the modern world, Yugi gave another shrug. He'd already shown his friend how to use a cell phone, which had taken a generous amount of time given that the spirit hadn't even known what a dial tone was. He had thought that a 'call' literally meant shouting into the device, and Yugi thought it rather unfair that he was expected to explain the entire language of instant messaging, as well.
Not that the sessions didn't have their perks. When introducing his friend to the cell phone camera, the Egyptian hadn't quite understood the concept of his image instantly being frozen and saved. There was no Royal Hieroglyphist of the Egyptian Palace to carve his divine image into a slab of rock, or to overlook his blinks and sneezes.
Joey had spent many long moments in heartbroken silence when Yugi was kind enough to delete the Pharaoh's accidental (and remarkably unflattering) self-taken pictures.
Of course, Yugi might or might not have accidentally overlooked just one or two or maybe three of those pictures, and with the Pharaoh unaware of how to delete them, the respectable king's uncomplimentary expressions were forever saved in the phone's memory card.
Still, the spirit had learned relatively quickly, at least for someone from the wrong millennia. Soon he managed the phone's different options adequately if not adeptly, and Yugi had finally given him the modern-teenager stamp of approval. Now trusted not to destroy the deceivingly simple-looking device, the Pharaoh had free reign of their cell phone.
Unfortunately, Yami had quickly found out that learning the technology was simple compared to deciphering incoming 'texts'.
"Not bad?" the king asked doubtfully, unable to fully believe that Joey had gone one full text message without saying something crude or foul. He'd only been conversing with their friends via phone for a few days, but it took much less than that to learn Joey's typical diction.
"Well, not exactly," Yugi answered vaguely, offering only a self-conscious shrug.
"Then what does it mean?" Yami repeated with admirable determination, analyzing the offending acronym with a dedicated frown. "Does it stand for something?"
"Erm...Yeah?" Yugi agreed, answering the safer of the two questions.
Leaning back against the wall, his pillow ended up just out of arm's reach to his right. With a tinge of dismay, he discovered his legs barely reached the other end of his bed- the short way.
"So?" Yami asked, and the smaller boy offered a sheepish half-smile. "What does it stand for?"
"Well, it means...Laughing...My..." he answered slowly, fidgeting and drawing out the last word and trailing off as he reached the end.
He wasn't sure if the Pharaoh knew the meaning of the word 'F', and he wasn't sure he wanted to explain. Normally he enjoyed when the roles reversed, and he could help his friend and return the favors Yami always provided for him, but in this particular scenario, he suspected he'd rather just leave well enough alone.
"That's the 'L' and 'M'," Yami nodded, not noticing his friend's discomfort and trying to figure out what the 'F' and 'A' stood for. "What about the rest?"
"Err..." Yugi mumbled uncertainly. He shrugged unconvincingly, before finally answering.
"Excuse me?" Yami asked, and it figured that he hadn't heard him. Yugi normally hated explaining such things, but he'd sacrificed his comfort zone for his friend, and the Pharaoh hadn't even been listening. Typical.
But Yugi was patient, so he repeated his answer with staggering clarity. He was all for giving second chances, after all. "It means laughing my fuhgiengosorfa..."
"What?" the Pharaoh asked again, and indeed he deserved pity, because Yugi thought somberly that his hearing must finally be catching up with his age.
"I'm not saying it again," Yugi said defiantly, although it might have come out sounding suspiciously more like a whine. There went what little dignity he had, disappearing right along with whatever hope he had of hitting six feet.
"Oh," Yami said, and Yugi felt an unpleasant mixture of guilt, embarrassment, and sheer determination. "Should I ask Joey, then?"
"No!" Yugi answered quickly, and Yami raised his eyebrows at the abruptly enthusiastic response. Finally becoming suspicions, although with Yugi, it was remarkable the spirit hadn't noticed earlier. Yugi offered a tentative smile as a clever cover up. "I mean, it's not important."
"Yugi, are you sure you don't know?" the Egyptian king asked skeptically, beginning to suspect the reason behind the other boy's hesitance. He could at least recognize when Yugi was feigning a smile.
But before he could ask again, the phone buzzed in his hand, catching him off guard and resulting in a startled jump. Yugi bit his lip when the Pharaoh peeked over to see if the other boy had noticed the jolt, but he had a feeling his amusement was clearly visible anyway. The spirit turned away with a stately pout, carefully clicking through the cell phone's menu to check the newest text.
He wondered vaguely if long distance mind-crushing was possible, and if Yami could do so to the inventor of 'vibrate'. Yugi concluded it was highly unlikely.
"Yugi, I think Téa's phone is broken," Yami exclaimed suddenly, his silent treatment lasting little more than a few seconds.
Glad he wouldn't have to return to his homework because of the sudden subject change, Yugi answered eagerly. He was also relieved that the creators of 'vibrate' had possibly just been spared by the distraction.
"Why do you think that?" he asked curiously.
"Her last message only has two letters, over and over again," the Pharaoh said worriedly, glancing up from the apparent abnormality. Yugi tilted his head in confusion.
"Really?" he asked curiously. The smaller boy leaned over the shoulder of his darker half, peeking at the screen. "Let me see."
Trailing across the screen, Téa's 'Lololololololol!' glinted up at him ominously. Yugi couldn't resist a face-palm.
"Or perhaps she's in trouble, and she's being prevented from sending us a full message. We should hurry, and make sure-" Yami rambled before being cut off by a fit of poorly muffled giggles. "What's so funny?" he asked, affronted.
"I think Téa's fine, Pharaoh," Yugi explained good-naturedly, a longer than normal pause before his answer as he tried to stop laughing. "'Lol' stands for 'Laugh Out Loud. You must have said something funny."
"Laugh Out Loud?" Yami said blankly, utterly baffled. "I don't remember saying anything funny."
"Here, let's look," Yugi took the cell phone, expertly clicking through various menus and checking the last message he'd sent. His brow wrinkled in confusion when he reached his target. "Why were you telling her part of the alphabet?"
Yugi studied the screen in confusion, reading the last message the Pharaoh had sent. The message read: 'LMNOP'.
"I thought that's what she wanted me to answer," the Pharaoh replied, and skimming back to the message before, Yugi saw that Téa had sent him a 'jk'. "She started it."
"Yami," Yugi said slowly, trying not to burst out laughing again. His shoulders shook with the effort.
"Yes?" the Pharaoh asked, oblivious.
"'jk' means 'Just Kidding'," Yugi finally snickered, unable to hold back a grin.
"What?" Yami blurted, incredulous. He had been fooled by an electronic piece of plastic. That wretched technology. "Why can't people just write out the whole word?"
Yugi bit his lip as the Pharaoh crossed his arms indignantly as he continued to chuckle. He meant no unkindness, but he also knew the king disliked being laughed at.
"It's shorter that way," Yugi replied, his eyes still sparkling with amusement. He successfully managed to quiet his laughter, but the Pharaoh was unimpressed.
"It's not funny, Aibou," the king protested, stubbornly refusing to smile. Still, Yugi could tell that his friend wasn't angry, only grudgingly irked. "There are so many abbreviations, the messages are practically gibberish!"
"Don't worry," Yugi comforted him, handing the phone back to the spirit. The black plastic reflected back a crimson reflection of the Pharaoh's eyes as it passed between their hands. "It is confusing, and you're just starting to learn. You'll get the hang of it in no time."
"Life was so much simpler back in Egypt," Yami couldn't help but grumble, ignoring the reassurance in favor of recalling memories of horses and messages, written hieroglyphs and royal scriptures.
"Pharaoh, you're starting to sound like Grandpa," his cheerful partner teased.
"Your grandfather is a wise man," Yami replied grimly, but couldn't help but respond with a reluctant smile.
"A wise, old man," Yugi couldn't help but add with a wicked smirk. Although rather than a wicked smirk, the accompanying cackle resembled more of a mischievous giggle. He never really managed to pull off the 'pure evil' look, or even a 'slightly evil'. It was hard being an imposing villain when he could pass as an elementary schooler.
"Well, maybe you should respect your elders," the Pharaoh sniffed airily, a hint of his former nobility seeping into his tone. "Namely, me."
"Sure, Yami," Yugi agreed brightly. The king frowned; somehow the freely given answer gave him no satisfaction.
"I think you mean, 'yes, my Pharaoh'."
"Is this where you start telling me to fetch you a fluffier pillow?" Yugi asked, rolling his eyes and leaning back to rest his head on the wall behind him. "Did you answer Joey and Téa yet?"
"A fluffier pillow would be nice," Yami mused, earning a light whack from the pillow in question. "But what am I supposed to answer them with?"
"I don't know, just type a smiley face or something," Yugi suggested, looking back at his math worksheet in an attempt to re-focus.
The duelist nodded in assent, fixated on typing out the response. Yugi grinned at the Pharaoh's serious expression. Really, it shouldn't take that much concentration to text something so simple, and he couldn't help but find it pleasantly entertaining.
...Then again, it really shouldn't take that many letters to type something so simple, either. Frowning, Yugi leaned back over Yami's shoulder to see what was taking so long.
Slowly and meticulously, the Pharaoh was typing out, 's-m-i-l-e-y f-a-'
"Pharaoh," Yugi objected, shaking his head. "That's not what I meant! They're going to tease you if you send that."
"What? But I already sent the same message to Téa," Yami replied blankly.
Yugi hung his head in tragic defeat, but quickly recovered.
"That's okay," he said optimistically. "I'll just teach you how to type a smiley face so you can use it in the future. See? You do it like this."
Taking matters into his own hands, he pressed several buttons, typing in ' :) '.
"What's that?" Yami asked dubiously after a brief pause, staring at the offending symbol with distaste.
Yugi hid a smile, knowing the Pharaoh wouldn't appreciate it if his hikari found his disgruntled frown endearing rather than intimidating.
"It's a smiley face," he informed the spirit knowledgeably. He tried not to sound too presumptuous, now that he was the one doing the teaching rather than the watching. He didn't quite succeed, but luckily the Pharaoh seemed annoyed for a different reason.
"It doesn't look like a smiley face," the spirit replied distrustfully, eying the symbol critically. "It just looks like two dots and a curvy line."
"Pharaoh, a smiley face is two dots and a curvy line."
"Yes, but that line is vertical."
"Tilt your head!"
"If I have to tilt my head, it's not a good smiley face," Yami declared haughtily, disregarding the sage advice. Yugi sighed, before trying one last attempt of reason.
"But Pharaoh, there's no way on the keyboard to make an upright smiley face," Yugi said patiently, gesturing to the letters on the phone to prove his point.
The spirit glanced down at the simple keypad, but was undeterred. As the king of Egypt, Yami refused to let even a seemingly insignificant disagreement go without a fight.
"Well, no smiley face is better than a sideways smiley face," the Pharaoh insisted.
"Now you're just being difficult," Yugi shook his head, amused.
"If people want to type smiley faces so badly, they should just invent a new key on the keyboard that makes upright smiley faces," Yami decided, crossing his arms and nodding his head regally in self-agreement.
"Maybe you could talk to Kaiba about it," Yugi conceded. "But really, that's beside the point. Téa is probably going to 'lol' again when she reads your message."
"How do you know?" the Pharaoh asked accusingly.
"I don't know for sure," he admitted. "But it's really unusual to type out 'smiley face', so she's probably going to laugh-"
"No, she didn't," Yami declared victoriously as Yugi was interrupted by a buzzing phone. And this time, the Pharaoh sat regally still, completely unalarmed by the vibrate feature. Well, almost completely unalarmed.
Yugi courteously pretended he hadn't noticed his friend's startled jolt.
"Really?" he asked curiously instead, politely ignoring how the spirit almost dropped their phone. He was, however, genuinely surprised that Téa hadn't found Yami's last text amusing. "What did she say?"
"Well," the Pharaoh said slowly as read the message. "What does 'ROTFL' stand for?"
Yugi felt the corners of his mouth twitch up at the ironic question, but quickly faded as he realized the implications.
Banging his head down on his notebook, Yugi realized it would take extensive effort to teach Yami how to text fluently. And to do so would require his full attention, and complete disregard for his math test tomorrow.
Still, the teen didn't mind. Lifting his eyes and giving his friend a smile, Yugi put down his homework and prepared for a long night.
Review! ...For the sake of Yami's hated sideways smiley. :)