31st December 2013

The end of the year

Joey and Joe are cooking again while Joey is still trying to wrap his mind around the thought that it's just a year ago that he was sitting in his old apartment, all alone and getting ready for a new year party at Yugi's place. Just a year ago Joey didn't know how to afford food for the next few days never mind paying for his rent.

And now he's standing in a huge kitchen with this little girl that he might get to adopt at some point and is cooking for his boyfriend with whom he's living with no money problems at all. On the contrary, he's starting to save quite a bit since Kaiba refuses to take any money for rent and is still paying him a fortune, insisting that a vice president always gets so much to ensure that he or she won't feel the need to sell classified informations about the company.

"Daddy," Joe-Joe asks, "When will they be here?"

"Later, when it's really, really dark outside." Joey replies not for the first time. "And I bet that everyone will bring some fire works too."

"Will Mattie come as well?" Joe-Joe asks.

"I told you that V is coming, so of course Mattie is coming too." Joey replies.

"And Yugi?" Joe-Joe wants to know. "And Yami, Tristan, Duke and Téa too?"

Joey smiles at her again. "Sure." Joey replies, "I told you, my friends and I always meet up for New Year. Usually at Yugi's place. But I thought that since I've got you two here and it would be tough to drag Seto out of the mansion to meet my pals, I'll tell them to come over to this place this year. And to calm Grumpy I invited V since he's not also a friend of mine, but also of Seto's. I sort of hoped that it would put Seto's frown upside down but it seems like it didn't work."

"And Mattie can come too since V is coming." Joe-Joe points out. "Can't they sleep over?"

"I wouldn't mind." Joey says, loving the idea. "But you should ask Seto first. If I invite anymore people without asking him first he might cut out my tongue just to make sure that I can't tell anymore people to come over."

"Pappy would never do that." Joe points out seriously, "He loves you way too much."

"I know." Joey mumbles and thinks about everything Seto had done for him during the year. Not just giving him a job but later even getting him a proper training for a great job. Fulfilling him wishes like visiting Serenity, which Joey would never been able to do without Seto's aid. So much that Seto did for him. "But I still think that we should ask him this time."

"We don't really have to." Joe-Joe points out. "Since you're not inviting anyone else, V and Mattie are already invited."

"But not for the night." Joey chuckles. "So I would have to invite people for the night and Seto would certainly not like it if he's not asked."

"Fine." Joe says "Then ask Pappy and then tell V to stay."

"I think you should ask Seto." Joey grins, "You already have him crawling in the palm of your hand."

Joe looks at her hand and then says, "How? He wouldn't fit in there."

Joey can't help but laugh even though he tries not to laugh at the little girl. "I mean he would never say no to you." Joey tries to explain once he can manage to speak. "He has a really hard time refusing you anything because he likes you sooo much."

"He loves you." Joe stats, "He'd say no to me if you tell him to because he can't say no to you more."

Joey looks at her for a moment with a gentle smile on his face, slightly amused about the little girls way to explain her thoughts. "Maybe he loves me, but you've got that super cuteness that he just can't resist. I'm still sure that you've got the best chances to get them to stay."

"How about we both try?" Joe says, "I ask first and when he said no you'll ask."

"Then I'll doubt I'll have to ask at all." Joey says with a smile.

The two of them continued to cook while Joey wondered if he was right. Who would Seto place first, him or the kids? Joey didn't know who he should put first but would probably choose the kids over Seto if he had to. The kids would definitely need him more. With a sigh Joey decided not to think about that now. There is no reason to choose between them since he might get both. If he and Seto get married they can adopt the two of them together.

Joey remembers the moment on Christmas when he thought that Seto was going to ask him to marry him at any second. With a grin Joey wonders how he'd have reacted if Seto had asked him at the start of the year and chuckles at the thought. Joe-Joe looks confused for a moment but after a shrug she just continues stirring the pudding to ensure that it cools down a little sooner.

The smile doesn't stay on Joey's face when he remembers how he felt when Seto had talked to him on that evening. Telling him that V had said he should provide a certain question. If anyone had told him that V had planned to tell Seto that, he would have freaked and probably run for the hills, certain that he wasn't ready. But in that moment, under the tree with the lights and his warmth so close after such a peaceful and lovely day, Joey would have said yes and he knew it. He wanted it. He wanted Seto to ask him, so he could say yes and kiss his grumpy dragon. But then Seto had told him that he knew that Joey wasn't ready and that he wouldn't ask. Joey had never thought that he could be this disappointed. Especially about something he thought he wanted just that way.

In that moment Joey had thought that Seto had seen his disappointment and would ask after all, but he hadn't asked that night. He had waited for it again and again but Seto hadn't asked him. He hadn't even brought it up and Joey wondered if he should bring it up. Should he hint that he was ready after all or wait for Seto to ask in his own time?

With a sigh Joey wonders why Seto hasn't asked him. He was sure that Seto had noticed his disappointment. He always noticed such things and the way he had looked, he clearly had seen something that surprised him and what else could that have been?

Maybe Seto himself wasn't ready for such a step yet. Maybe he had been happy that Joey wasn't ready because he wasn't ready.

"Daddy?" Joe-Joe's voice called him back from his thoughts. "Why aren't you cooking?"

"Sorry, I was thinking about something." Joey explains, trying to reasure the worried looking girl further with a smile.
She smiles back and says, "Pappy will be happy about the tasty dinner. I bet that will make him let V stay."

"Maybe." Joey mumbles and decides to try and find a moment with V alone to talk to him and possibly find out if Seto said anything about not being ready himself.

Later that evening Yugi and Yami were the first to appear, followed by Duke and Tristan who brought Téa along, the only girl tonight and Joey kind of felt sorry for her, being in the middle of three gay couples who are joined by a single gay guy. Well at least she won't be the only single and Joey hopes that V and Téa will get along just as well as Tristan and Yugi had the night the two of them had been out with V and Joey.

V and Mattie were last to show up and by that time Seto was more or less hiding somewhere. After introducing V to the few of the gang that hadn't met him yet, Joey goes to find Seto and eventually does find him in one of his libraries. "And here I thought you hardly ever use this room." Joey says, "You always read in our room. Let me guess, ya hiding here?"

Seto glares a little at his boyfriend, saying, "Since someone took over my property I'm left with little choice."

Joey sighs, "Is it really so bad to spend a tiny bit of time with me and my pals?"

"It's not bad at all to spend time with you." Seto states to ensure that Joey won't have a reason to be too upset about his answer. "It's your pals that I don't want to see."

"Not even for me?" Joey asks and sits down on his lap to give him a kiss. "I just want my boyfriend and my friends to learn to get along a little better. You can't avoid it forever anyway because no matter what you say, I'll expect my boyfriend to attend my next birthday party and guess who else will be invited that day."

"The geek squat?" Seto states, knowing that Joey has a point. "But that would still give me nearly a month to prepare myself for my doom."

"Oh, come on." Joey whines, rolling his eyes, "You're acting like a kid who doesn't want to share his favourite toy."

Seto can't help but grin a little while wrapping his arms around his waist, "Maybe that's how I feel. I already have to share you with Joe-Joe and Seth even though, to be completely honest, I'd rather have you all to myself, and now you even invite those friends of yours to spend your precious time with them." Seto is still grinning a little, so Joey doesn't take him completely serious. "So I guess that I might be upset about having to share you."

"Yeah sure." Joey says, rolling his eyes. "You dealt with it when I had a boyfriend, even though you still say that ya loved me back then and you didn't even want to hit on me after I was single again. So I seriously doubt that ya have such a big problem sharing me."

"I didn't know how nice it is to have you." Seto points out but then adds a little more serious, "If I fight with your friends you'll be upset, won't you? And you know that once Tristan and I are in the same room, he's bound to start something now that I'm dating you."

"It'll be fine." Joey asures him. "And to be honest, if you fight too much then I'll stop the two of you and I promise that I won't be mad at you."

Seto sighs, "I still wish you hadn't invited them. Especially not today."

"Why not today?" Joey asks.

"Nothing." Seto grumbles but puts the book onto a table next to the comforter he is sitting in and then says, "Let's just get this over with."

Both guys return to the party where Joey's friends where already wondering where he went to, while Joe-Joe is just happy that everyone is there and is trying to entertain the guests on her own. "Daddy," Joe cheers when she sees the two of them walking into the room, "Will we eat now?"

"Sure sweetie." Joey agrees, "And after that we can have a little bit of a fire work okay?" Joey and Seto had decided earlier to have some fireworks right after dinner, just in case Joe-Joe falls asleep before midnight and certain that the fireworks wouldn't wake her up.

Later it turned out that there was no reason for Seto to worry about Tristan and him fighting. Occasionally Tristan did say something to provoke Kaiba but most of the time Tristan simply ignored him. And when he said something Joey or V managed to react to it before Seto had a chance to start anything.

"Pappy." Joe-Joe says, "Can Mattie and V stay the night and play with us?"

"No." Seto replies with a glare towards V, "I'm sure they've got something else to do anyway."

"Not really." V says, grinning with a wink towards Grumpy, "But don't worry Joe-Joe, you can come over to my place whatever weekend you two want to, so you'll have plenty of chances to play with Mattie."

Shortly after the first little fireworks Joe-Joe is already fast asleep and Seth tries to pass the time until midnight by showing Mattie some of his new video games in his room. Joey looks after them when they leave. Seth had spend three ours to decide what to wear today. It had been the same before the Christmas party and Seth seems to be a little upset about Matties reaction to his presents. Mattie seems happy enough to Joey but apparently Seth had hoped for more.

No one had seen the kids since they left and most of Joey's friends are already slightly drunk and dancing to the music while Seto seems to be trying to disappear into the background. Too bad for him that V is present and is constantly trying to get him to interact more with everyone by asking him countless questions.

Shortly before midnight the boys return and they all are preparing for the countdown while Seto whispers to Joey, "I've got to show you something."

"Can't it wait for a moment?" Joey asks irritated that Seto is trying to get him away so close to the countdown.

"No, it can't wait." Seto grumbles, "Please, just for a second."

With a sigh and a roll of his eyes Joey says, "Fine but you better make it fast."

Seto smiles and walks out while Joey follows him. No one says anything about it, because V has everyone thoroughly distracted and is due to that the only one who notices them sneaking out of the room.

Seto guides Joey towards their bedroom and onto the balcony that is outside of it. "And now?" Joey asks.

"Just wait for a moment." Seto orders with a grin.

"I don't have a moment." Joey replies grudgingly, "I have to get back down to the others, it's almost midnight.

"You remember the start of the year?" Seto asks.

Joey looks at him in surprise and then replies, "Sure, I've been thinking about it earlier today actually. But why are you asking?"

"You've been with me when the year started." Seto replies, "It was just you and me in the back of my limousine. I want this year to start similar. Just you and me. I think it brought us luck."

Joey blushes a little but smiles when he says, "Since when are you superstitious?"

There was a strange smile on Seto's face and Joey somehow had a feeling that this is just a pretence to keep Joey right where he is for some other reason. But Joey has no idea what that might be. "I'm not really superstitious, but I heard that if you kiss the person you love under the fireworks when a new year starts, the love is supposed to last for the rest of the year at least. So if we kiss every year at this moment, I'll get to keep you forever."

"And again," Joey says suspiciously, "You're not superstitious." in that moment the first fireworks go off and Joey hears his friends cheer, "Great, now you made me late for the..." He is about to say "countdown" when he looks towards the fireworks and sees that some fireworks write the words "Will you marry me?" into the night sky. Joey stares and even though he has no idea how anyone can get that written up there with fireworks, he sure as hell knows who can make even that happen. He turns to look at his boyfriend with surprise and sees Seto looking deep into his eyes and in his hand he's holding a plain silver ring. His heart is beating overtime and part of his mind can't believe that this is seriously happening while a tiny part is still screaming at him that this is going way too fast when he mumbles, "Aren't you supposed to kneel down?"

Seto is grinning a tiny bit while also looking slightly nervous, "I'll do that if you promise to wear a weeding dress." Joey glares for a moment until Seto asks, "Will I get an answer now or not?"

"Let's put it this way, you can so forget about a dress." Joey replies but then smiles again, "But I do want that ring."

Instead of taking the ring he goes for a kiss though and Seto simply deepens it further, happy that Joey seems to have forgotten all about his friends until they hear someone clear his throat at the door. Both guys look over to it and see a pair of piercing red eyes over a knowing little smile, "I assume this means that Joe and I'll be adopted soon?"

"I guess so." Seto says, "But I don't know how soon yet, since we still need to prepare everything."

"I'm sure Joe-Joe already thought about every little detail, since she can't wait for her dream wedding." Seth replies.
"She can have her dream wedding when she's 40 and marrying herself." Seto points out, "This time it'll be Joey's dream wedding."

"As long as I don't have to wear a dress, I don't give a crap." Joey says shrugging.

"Either way." Seth says looking at Seto, "The others are missing their friend so I fear you have to return your puppy."

"Why does everyone have to call me puppy?" Joey grumbles while Seth leaves.

"Because you are a cute little puppy." Seto points out with a shrug.

"Whatever." Joey grumbles before grinning towards Seto, saying. "By the way, can't V and Mattie stay the night after all? That way Joe will be less likely to run into our room early tomorrow."

Seto is thinking about it for a moment before grinning, "Fine but I do have a little condition."

"And which one?" Joey asks weary and fears to hear something about a wedding dress or worse, a dog costume.

"You gave all my staff tomorrow off as well, didn't you?" Seto asks already knowing the answer, so Joey doesn't bother to reply. "I want V to take the kids with him and all of them gone before noon. That way we can … properly … celebrate our engagement."

Joey blushes, since considering Seto's question about the lack of staff in the mansion, it's pretty clear that he doesn't want to … celebrate … in their room."

Authors Note: Thanks to everyone who reviewed or will review (*not writing names because I'm once again on a work related little trip and won't be back until the 3rd so a friend is updating this for me again*), for all the reviews I got until now and still will get (hopefully) *hold up Joe-Joe who is looking at everyone with super big teary puppyeyes*

I also have a very special thanks to Violet-Eclipse for letting me use his OC's V and Mattie cause they´re awesome and I love you for letting me use them *hug* *gives cookies* *make super delicious meatballs for a meatball-party*

I also would like to thanks those who faved the story for showing me their appreciation for my work that way.

I started working on another story again but I will take my time with it since I'm really busy at the moment and sometimes nearly didn't manage to get this chapters ready in time and now need a little break. I have a huge pile of books that I want to read but couldn't because I wrote 2013 in nearly every free minute (okay, that's more than a little over the top whining, I still read about 3 books since Thanksgiving but I still sometimes felt drained) and I just need a bit of typing rest now. But I will probably do yet another chapter for Chocolate on Valentines day, (not certain yet but I'm going to try and get something ready in time.) I'm probably taking it easy during 2014 and only write a few short stories (unless one or two take on a life of their own).

I hope you enjoyed to follow Joey through his year and laughed and cried with him (hopefully mostly laughed) and that I succeeded in brightening a day or two for some of you during this year. And now bye, bye! *wave*

*goes crying because story ended*