4. Fan Mail
The first bit of fan mail Seto Kaiba had ever gotten was back in the orphanage. He had fired one of his child minions because they didn't pull Mary's pigtails correctly during snack hour and, apparently, Mary was extremely grateful.
Her letter was written on a bright pink heart with pebbles pretending to be jewels. 'I wish you can pull my hair instead, Seto.' That was all he could remember from it really because he tossed it right into the trash. But girls were naturally attracted to assholes, so after he heartlessly tossed away Mary's confession, five more popped up in its place the next day. It kind of snowballed from there when he got obscenely rich. And obscenely sexy.
These days, he received over ten grand a day. A fucking day. Unless his fans were writing ten extra ones per bag, it should be virtually impossible. But there you had it.
Joey Wheeler, however, was never popular of a main character enough to warrant his own fan mail. How Bakura, who couldn't even count as a side character, received tons of mail a day was still a mystery to the blond.
"Probably because he's British," Joey had growled after rubbing two brain cells together. "Like LittleKuriboh."
But not today. Now that his first album launched for the Japanese public, Joey had been waiting eagerly for his first bag of fan mail and, much to even Kaiba's surprise, managed to procure his first impressive bag of letters by the week's end.
"Look at this!" Joey yelled and dumped the bag right on Kaiba's desk. "My first fan mail bag! Jealous?!"
Kaiba took one unimpressed look at the bag and then nodded at the window behind him. "See those two trucks outside, handsome?"
Joey tilted his head to the side. It was so obliviously cute. Fortunately, Kaiba was three-quarters immune to it. "Yeah so?"
"They carry my fan mail out every day to the city dump." He shoved the bag off of his deck and returned to his laptop. "So yes, Wheeler. I am extremely jealous. Getting rid of your mail must cost a lot less for you."
Sputtering indignantly, Joey gathered his bag and set up shop in the leather couch. "Thanks dear. You are the wind beneath my wings." Kaiba snorted back and that was that. The rest of the afternoon was met with the constant sounds of clicking keys and the occasional rustle of paper.
Or, it would have, if Joey's expression didn't slightly sour for each letter he opened. But that would imply that Kaiba gave a damn and occasionally looked over to check on him. Which didn't happen. Nope.
It reached the point where his morbid curiosity got the better of him. He gave Joey his best business smile in the hopes to rile him up. "So... how's the fan mail going? Any offers to sire bastard children?" Joey responded with the middle finger before opening another letter.
"Okay, someone's fucking with me!" Joey angrily tossed what looked like his hundredth open letter across the room. Kaiba's lips curled into a threatening sneer when it hit an expensive Byzantine vase and wobbled dangerously on its pedestal. "This is all HATE mail!"
He couldn't help it. Kaiba started to snicker. Then chuckle. And then it became a full-blown howl of laughter once he raised his head up. "Why am I not surprised?! Your music is shit, Wheeler! It's about time the common people saw reason!"
"It has NOTHING to do with my music!" His husband snarled. "It's about YOU." He tossed one of them right at him. Kaiba caught it with a cool ease and opened it.
Wow. Graphic. He raised an eyebrow while reading. "'How dare you make Kaiba gay, you piece of shit! Why don't you direct him to a real woman or better yet, a real man?'" Not very clever, but it successfully got to Joey. He can see his husband's shoulders visibly shake in anger while he read it out loud. "Big deal." Kaiba tossed it into his wastebasket. "It wasn't even a good insult."
But it took a lot of balls to get someone like Joey Wheeler visibly disturbed. With a sigh, he closed his laptop and gestured for another letter. This time it was a postcard.
"Greetings from Nagoya." Well, this one started out nice. "Wheeler, your music sucks and you suck for marrying Kaiba. He can do so much better. Like me." At least this one talked about his music. Seto flipped the card over. "There's a picture of her flipping you off."
"Thanks for the narration." Joey growled.
This was almost humorous. Almost. Kaiba ordered another letter to read through. This wasn't even addressed to Wheeler! "'Setou ur teh only thing wurth aneeting in the hole wde werld. I luv u! Leaf Joey Weller!' Huh. I never thought I'd see someone who was worse at grammar than you. You learn something new everyday." But Joey said nothing and simply tore through the bag hoping for at least one positive letter to his name.
Kaiba watched his fruitless attempts for a bit. Was every single one of these letters just hate mail for Joey? Deciding that breaking his husband's spirit was enough for the day, Kaiba returned to his laptop because really, Joey reading all of those did his job for him.
"Dear Joey Wheeler, divorce Seto Kaiba before I visit your house and kill you." Kaiba clicked his tongue at the letter, strangely amused AND annoyed. "You might want to start screening your fan mail for anthrax."
Joey groaned. He shoved the second bag off the bed and tried to drown himself into the pillows. "How am I supposed to harness a fangirl army like you or Bakura when they hate me for sleeping with you?!"
"You really want to go there?" He took off his reading glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Joey's mood had become so low-key the past few days, Kaiba was starting to wonder if he was on downers. Not even when he was currently trying to appeal to Joey's megane kink was it improving the blond's mood. "It's not all it's cracked up to be. Most fangirls are more of an inconvenience to deal with, Wheeler. They squeal, they cling, they write shitty fanfiction by inserting their avatars to compensate for their teenage sexual frustrations... and they never end. Sure they grow up and go on to do productive things, but they will always be replaced by the next generation. And the next. It never ends!"
Joey tossed a pillow at him. "Thanks GI Joe. Any other Sesame Street morals you want to teach me?"
"Leave the asshole sarcasm to me, Wheeler." Kaiba glared, feeling a bit offended. "It doesn't suit you." A suffering muffled groan was Joey's only response. He let out an exasperated sigh. "Maybe you're not appealing to the 'right' kind of fans. Ever heard of yaoi?"
His husband poked his head out of the pillows, eyes wide open with wonder. "Is that some kind of sushi?"
The problem was that with each day Joey religiously read his new mail, the more subdued his response time was whenever Kaiba passed by. This was why Kaiba never read his own fan mail. To let someone else's words affect his moods only empowered them. And he'd rather die than let complete strangers have power over him.
But Joey did. Or, to put it succinctly, he gave a shit about his haters. The more he read them, the less confident he was that he was going to get something positive.
And seeing the man deflate day by day was slowly pissing Kaiba off. No one was allowed to beat Joey's self-worth into submission but him.
"Just ignore the damn thing!" He snapped on the sixth day, disturbed by how quiet Joey seemed to be at dinner. Especially since Kaiba went out of his way to fly the pizza all the way from Chicago. And yet this ultimate act of kindness hadn't cheered his husband up the slightest. It was maddening. "Who cares what a bunch of idiots think about you?"
Joey slowly pushed his untouched plate of pizza away. That unnerved the CEO more than he'd like to admit. "They hate me because I'm with you."
"So?" Joey repeated, disbelief on his features. "Have you read any of them recently?!"
"I don't read fan mail, Joey, I incinerate them." Kaiba pushed Joey's plate back. Eat, you moron. "Why would I waste my time on peons?"
Shaking his head, Joey slid the plate away again. That caused Kaiba's left eye to twitch. Why was this so difficult to understand? "Stop that." He warned dangerously. "If you don't eat, your stomach causes an earthquake. And I have no intention of waking up in the middle of the night to find the entire building leveled!"
"Then I'll sleep on the couch!" Joey snapped back. "I'm not fucking hungry, Kaiba!"
Oh for fuck's sake! "Develop some kind of thick skin, Wheeler, because that's what happens when you're famous. You're going to have fans and you're going to have haters. Deal with it!"
"That's the problem, Kaiba! All of it was hate mail! I don't have any fans." Joey was giving such a heartbroken stare at the table, Kaiba was conflicted between drawing him into his arms or punching him in the face to make him see reason. Fuck peoples' approval, they didn't need any of it. Kaiba had been content on his own with Mokuba so far. And now that Joey made three, his circle of companionship didn't need to get any bigger.
But Joey just didn't thrive on solitude. He liked the limelight and enjoyed feeling important. Kaiba could understand to an extent, but it didn't mean he felt like going all Dr. Phil on this. The dumbass was just going to have to learn that life was filled with disappointment. "Wheeler, a word of advice: You either sink or you drown someone else to stay afloat."
Joey raised an eyebrow. "Eh... don't you mean 'sink or swim'?"
"I know what I said."
"You know..." With a sigh, Joey leaned back in his seat. "You kind of suck at this whole 'comforting' crap."
Kaiba was annoyed. The rare time he was trying to cheer Joey up failed again. Aren't spouses supposed to help the other see reason much more effectively than anybody else? That would then imply that Kaiba was just a plain shitty husband. The idea made him angry... and strangely hurt. He masked his growing frustration by waving dismissively at him. "Ask me if I give a shit."
"I don't need to ask. You're doing it all on your own." This was ridiculous. Joey shouldn't be one-upping him with the verbal abuse. It only served to prove that this whole fan mail thing was screwing with Joey's head. It was making him clever; a defense mechanism for all this negativity. This needed to end. Soon.
It was now week two since Joey started reading his own fan mail. It was getting worse. Joey was getting so morose with his lyrics, he was putting Mokuba's secret emo poetry to shame. On the plus side, the music seemed to be better for it.
On the minus side, it was driving their personal life straight into the ground. Joey just wasn't in the mood to do anything. And with Kaiba being mostly frigid by nature, the Arctic Ocean had seen warmer temperature than their bed... if Joey managed to make it there every once in awhile. Sometimes Kaiba caught him sleeping in the living room at three in the morning with letters stuffed into the cushions.
He had enough. That was when Chichi had caught the CEO the next morning ordering Hans and Gruber to grab the new bags of fanmail from J-Dom Records and discard it before Joey found them. She wasn't exactly amused by their breaking and entering, but what was she going to do? He was Seto Kaiba. He could do whatever the fuck he wanted.
"What do you think is worse, Mr. Kaiba? Joey getting hate mail, or finding none at all?" She tried to pry one of the bags from Hans' arms and that caused Kaiba to snort through his sunglasses. Like a boss.
"He was fine without them. He'll get over it." With a nod of his head, Hans raised the bag over his head and away from Chichi's reach... and breasts.
Clicking her tongue, she snatched Kaiba's sunglasses, revealing a very prominent set of black bags under his eyes. She faltered from the sight. "It's really bothering you, isn't it?"
He huffed and grabbed his sunglasses back. Thieving bitch. "As if. I've had these since I was born." He just simply didn't put on his foundation this morning.
"You. Need. To. Give. It. Time!" Chichi flashed Gruber her breasts, causing the crazy German to drop his loot in shock. She grabbed that AND Hans' with a surprising bit of dexterity. "Justin Bieber had a lot of hate mail too before he got decent fan mail!"
Kaiba snorted and pulled out a pack of cigarettes from inside his Armani jacket. "Uh-huh. Pull the other one." Chichi's eyes widened when the CEO clicked open a lighter and lit up.
"I didn't know you smoke."
"I don't." He clicked the lighter closed and took a long drag. Smoking was unpopular? He just made it cool again. The Truth ads just got a new franchise nemesis. "I've got an oral fixation that hasn't been quenched in two. fucking. weeks. And it's your client's fault. Either tweak him out on antidepressants or so help me God I'm going to bury every letter ever brought to this good-for-nothing hovel you call a record label!" He already had one emo in this family. He didn't need (or can survive) another one!
Chichi thoughtfully rubbed her chin which caused her giant breasts to push up. It nearly caused Kaiba's bodyguards to keel over from blood loss. "Why don't... you be his fan?"
Smoke escaped through his nose. The sweet, sweet nicotine was tempering away the irritation that was fraying at his nerves. Joey's distress somehow became his distress. "I beg your pardon?"
"You heard me." She waved the smoke from her face. "Be his fan. Write him a nice fan letter."
That was the dumbest idea he had ever heard. And he's heard of Google Glass. "Why the hell would I do that? His music is shit."
"But most of the hate mail had nothing to do with his music. It was insulting to his character. And you know his character more than anyone." When she got no answer except for the occasional drag, she revealed her face-down card. "You do love him, don't you?"
There was no inflection within those blue eyes. Instead, he flicked his cigarette away and turned on his heel.
"Absolutely absurd." With a snap of his fingers, Hans and Gruber immediately saluted and flanked him as he turned the corner and disappeared.
Eyes narrowing at his retreat, Chichi picked up the discarded cigarette and finished it herself. "He's so whipped."
And, perhaps, she also had to do her part to help Kaiba out. The only reason she became Joey's manager in the first place was because of his passion. It was unbidden and out of control like a wildfire. She would be surely disappointed if that fire was no longer present in his music due to idiots.
With a soft sigh of defeat, Joey pushed the large pile of opened letters away from him. More hate mail. And it was worse. Now they wished for his soul to burn in a fiery damnation. He supposed he could give them credit for creativity.
"What's wrong with me?" He asked the empty fishbowl. It used to have a goldfish but for some reason, it exploded. Flushing Captain Goldie down the toilet had been an emotional experience he didn't want to relive again. "Is it my hair? Is it because my eye color isn't as unique like that hot shot, Mary Sue? I bet she gets a LOT of fanmail! What should I do, Captain Goldie's ghost?!" No answer. There never is.
Maybe it was time to give up having a fangirl army. Last letter and then he was done. No more reading them. Kaiba may be onto something after all about the whole incineration bit. He wiggled his fingers as they rummaged into the near empty bag. It felt like he was reaching into his deck for the winning card.
"Heart of the Cards!" He teased to himself, tickled by the similarities. If only Yugi could see him. He'd probably call him pathetic. Because everybody knows that Yugi stacks his deck to win, not rely on the 'heart of the cards' bull.
The letter he pulled out didn't have a recipient address written on it. That raised a bunch of alarms. What if the band Anthrax popped out of the letter and killed him just as Kaiba predicted?! Being extremely cautious, Joey pulled out the letter with his chopsticks. Better safe than sorry!
The letter wasn't fancy, but it didn't look like someone wiped their ass on it like some of the others he's read. The script was extremely uniform and clean which caught his attention. Maybe this was a 'constructive criticism' letter. He hated those. They always used big words that he had to pull out a dictionary to comprehend.
'Dear Joey Wheeler,' Joey held his breath to anticipate the vitriol that was coming. 'I am your biggest fan.'
"Nyeh?!" He almost dropped the letter in surprise. Rereading that single sentence more times than he could count, he had half a mind to believe it was a joke.
'You need to get off your ass and ignore the hate mail. Haters are going to hate, Joey. They're jealous of you because you're banging Seto Kaiba. Own it.'
Joey blinked at the surprisingly short letter. "Own it." Something about this letter made his heart do flip-flops. Maybe it was because this was his first nice letter he's gotten so far. His mouth split into a wide grin. "Own it!" Hugging the letter to his chest hard, he jumped off his seat and pumped up his fist to the ceiling. "Haters gonna hate, son! I'm banging Seto Kaiba and there ain't a damn thing you can do about it!"
"Whoop-de-fucking-do for you!" The ceiling said. "Now shut up! Some of us have work in the morning!"
Kaiba didn't hear the end of it. Joey had barged into his office and excitedly reread the letter. Five times. "Yes, congratulations on your first positive fan letter. Now will you kindly shut up?" The new CEO of Yayoi Corp was flirting stocks with him through email and Kaiba was trying his damned hardest to be a tease to lower the yen before buying the company right from under him. That'll teach the business home-wrecker a thing or two.
Joey ignored him and kissed the letter. For some reason, that caused the CEO's ears to redden. "You don't understand, Kaiba! This letter... it spoke to me. It lit my soul on fire! Thanks to this letter, I've been getting fan mail left and right... and not the bad ones!" He nudged the large bag with his boot, filled to the top with glowing compliments over his relationship with Kaiba. Even his music was getting compliments. "Better watch out, Kaiba. I might even steal some of your fans!"
"I'll be sure to sob about it one day," Kaiba said absently to the screen. Seiren Yayoi just asked him out to dinner. How did that happen? Narrowing his eyes at the rather forward email, he could see Joey in his peripheral vision lovingly place the letter to the side before going through the rest of them. A small corner of his lips quirked up.
It wasn't enough to kill, but it did put a puppy in a coma.
"Hey Kaiba. What does 'uke' mean?"
He did not just hear that. And because he did not hear that, he didn't answer. In fact, he was going to blame Chichi for it. Her and her contacts with the untapped reservoir of yaoi fangirls on the internet.
"Maybe it's short for ukelele? Ain't that weird! See this?" Joey shoved the letter right into Kaiba's face. "How am I supposed to answer this? Why would I be the ukelele to your seme-truck?"
Kaiba snatched the letter and then crumpled it up, uncaring as his husband sputtered when he tossed it into the trash across the room. Nothing but net, baby. With an annoyed whine, Joey immediately scrambled after the letter and, for the life of him, Kaiba still didn't understand the blond's fascination for ass-kissing fan mail. "Do you mind, Wheeler? I'm actually working unlike some idiot I kn-"
He was rewarded with a crumpled up ball to the face. Joey let out a bark of laughter at his surprisingly good aim. The letters must be improving his hand-to-eye coordination! As the paper ball bounced off the desk and rolled away, he caught a glimpse of the murderous look on Kaiba's face. His laughter became strangled. "Oh shi-"
"That's it, Wheeler. You are so fucking dead." A split second later and Kaiba was on the move, sliding out of his recliner with an inhuman speed to get his hands on him. Joey yelped and scrambled off the couch to escape the office, but Kaiba was faster and his legs were too fucking long to be normal. He managed to get a firm hold of Joey's ankle. The blond let out a strangled whine as he crashed onto the carpet.
"GEAHHH!" Joey grabbed the leg of the coffee table as Kaiba attempted to drag him across the floor, his shirt riding up uncomfortably. "DOMESTIC ABUSE! DOMESTIC ABUSE! SOMEONE CALL LAW AND ORDER: SVU!"
Kaiba was both angry and yet strangely turned on by how Joey was trying to kick at him with his pulled up shirt and all. A secret violence kink, perhaps? He was learning something new about his sexual preferences every day. "I got your 'domestic abuse' right here, dumb shit." He growled and got to work. Joey was going to pay for every frustrating inch Kaiba had suffered for two weeks straight.
Cold fingers ran up the exposed skin of Joey's stomach which caused him to explode with strangled laughter. "No... Kaiba stop... ! Ahhhh!" He began to thrash wildly from the torture until he pulled his grip from the coffee table to try and punch out his tormentor. That seemed to just amuse Kaiba further, only letting out a hitched gasp when Joey punched him in the stomach.
"Not my face, Wheeler?" He breathlessly teased before grabbing Joey's hands and pinning them to the floor. Joey may be stronger, but Kaiba had a better technique at disarming his opponents. Huffing at the disadvantage, at this rate Joey hoped that sex was endgame here because his back was getting carpet burns and he'd rather not it be all for nothing.
"Your face is worth a hundred grand, I hear." Joey spat out before grinning. "I can't sell it if it's bruised."
Business porn? Joey knew him well. "Good boy," He purred, blue eyes dark and aroused. "I guess there's a brain somewhere in that gigantic hair of yours after all."
"No, Joey. I'm going to screw you."
For Japanese newbs: 'megane' means 'glasses'. It's a kink for boy's love tropes.
[Seme Kaiba? It'll never catch on.]