Version: 3.6 – Grammar, formatting fixes
Conceptualized/First Written: 10/18/03
Edits: 12/4/05, 1/2/10
Rated PG13/For Teens…
Disclaimer: ME, own Yu-Gi-Oh!? I wish! (I can’t believe I forgot a disclaimer before…) Anyway, if I were Kazuki Takahashi or the people at Shounen Jump or Viz or 4Kids or wherever, I’d not only be rich, but I’d make a REAL life Seto Kaiba for me to hold prisoner or something…So yeah. This is for fun, not profit.
Also, the text from Téa’s “textbook” in this chapter comes from the Reader’s Digest Lost Civilization series, “Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs” book. No infringement is intended, as this work is for entertainment, nonprofit purposes only. DO NOT SUE!
Toy Story is also copyright the Disney channel, and all respective producers, directors, writers, actors, etc. The Disney channel is copyright Disney…and all them folks.
RECAP: Téa’s parents died. She didn’t have a place to call home—until Seto Kaiba, of all people, offered her a job. Too good to be true? Maybe. She’s just moved in, and her job’s just getting started—but going to a 50th Anniversary Ball isn’t exactly in her job description…
“Gah…I knew I should have looked at this stuff sooner.” Téa groaned as she eyed the mound of paperwork her teachers had passed onto her earlier in the week. Today was Wednesday, and with Seto and Mokuba about to leave for school, Téa wanted to get a head start on her schoolwork—before it piled up and became a burden.
She was glad the teachers had given her the week off—it was a rare opportunity, considering how important high school was. And she WAS doing what they had suggested—taking time for herself, allowing herself to mourn, adjust, and heal. At least, she was trying.
Maybe distracting herself with cooking and thoughts of an upcoming formal Ball weren’t the dictionary-definition ways to “heal,” but it seemed to be working for Téa…at least, a little.
But she HAD to focus on her schoolwork now, lest she lose track and let her grades slide. Her parents had always been strict when it came to Téa’s grades; they never settled for anything below the best. And in all honesty, Téa hadn’t REALLY minded it. It was better than having no one at all to encourage you. She knew that the guys had a hard time finding encouragement to do well in school—after all, Joey’s father was a drunk, Yugi’s parents weren’t around (and his grandfather was awfully absorbed in running the Turtle Game Shop), and Tristan…well, maybe he just didn’t care one way or another.
‘But I do care. And even if my parents aren’t around anymore…’ Téa swallowed hard, ‘I still want to do my best. No matter what. If not for them, then for me.’
And so Téa looked at the first assignment on the paper her history teacher had given her.
“World History, Unit 15,” Téa read aloud, sliding her textbook towards her, “Ancient…Egypt!?”
‘This is too weird. I bet Yugi’s having a field day with this,’ Téa thought. Remembering her long time friend, Téa frowned. She had disappeared from school without much of an explanation, and midway into the week, she still hadn’t contacted them. Of course, they hadn’t called her either—but that was to be expected.
‘After all my old house phone’s been disconnected, and my cell phone’s in the process of getting changed, now that I’m on a plan just for myself, and my address has changed…’ Probably, they had tried to contact her, but couldn’t.
Which made Téa feel all the worse.
‘Maybe once I’ve finished some homework, I’ll call Yugi…well, when he gets home from school.’
Téa rose from her seat to say good-bye to Seto and Mokuba, at the front door and getting ready to leave. She gave the younger boy a quick hug, and wished him luck on his long division test that day.
“I just know you’ll ace it!”
“I hope so,” Mokuba replied, “But you didn’t have to remind me so early in the morning!” Téa laughed, while Seto quirked a smile.
“Have fun at school,” Téa remarked to Seto, her voice laced with humor and sarcasm, “As much fun as can be had studying Egypt.”
“That? I finished my report already…” Téa stared at him with wide eyes, “What? If you want research materials, go into my office. There’s a database in there that connects to the National Library, along with the American Library of Congress, and other places. I always use it for reports.”
“Uh…wow. Thanks.” Téa sweatdropped. She had to remember that her new house mate was the class genius—not just a world famous duelist, wealthy CEO, and dedicated brother.
‘Just what he needs, another something to over-inflate his ego…’ Téa grinned, but didn’t voice her thoughts.
“If we get anything new, I’ll let you know,” Seto told Téa, raising his hand in a quick good-bye. Téa smiled, once again waiting for the boys to get into the car and be out of sight before she closed the door.
And once they had gone, Téa turned back into the house, groaning.
“‘One of the best-kept secrets of the ancient world came to light in 1926 at the great religious complex of Karnak at Luxor, part of the long-vanished city of Thebes. For thousands of years, explorers and tourists had poked among the ruins, vibrant with ghostly stories of the remote past. But unknown to them, something was missing—intentionally so. A temple built by the pharaoh Amenhotep IV during the early years of his reign, from 1353 to 1335 BC, had been dismantled, piece by piece, and concealed within the walls of later structures. The eradication of the temple was part of a campaign to eliminate every trace of the hated king—to reject all that he stood for, denying his very existence. In a society obsessed with immortality, his was the worst of all fates: In effect, he had never existed.'”
‘Wow,’ Téa thought, glancing up from her textbook, ‘That’s pretty harsh.’ The story sounded pretty interesting though, and since Téa needed a topic for her essay, which had to be argumentative, she kept reading.
The story went that Amenhotep IV was a young 18th Dynasty pharaoh, descended from a line of warrior kings. His forefathers had been responsible for the removal of a tribe of Asiatic invaders, and had started the 500-year-long era known as the New Kingdom. Amenhotep’s ancestors had turned Egypt into an empire spanning many current African countries, including what is presently Sudan and eastward to Western Asia.
‘Whoa, that far, huh?’ Téa glanced at the map in her textbook—there was a reddish blob that took up the majority of the Northeastern part of the African continent, which showed the borders and names of the present African nations.
‘So if that Empire were still around today, there’d be millions of people under the pharaoh’s control…They must have had a really good reason to want to destroy everything he stood for and erase him from history.’
Téa thought back to the first time she’d been to an Egyptian exhibit—and it hadn’t been fun. Well, at first, it had been very interesting—up until the curator of the museum, Mr. Kanekura, had died mysteriously. Rumors had circulated for weeks that he hadn’t died of natural causes, that he had been cursed by the spirit of the mummy.
It wasn’t until later that Téa and the others found out how true those rumors were—and even though Kanekura hadn’t died of a mummy’s curse, getting scared to death by an Egyptian monster had to come close enough.
Shadi, the ever-mysterious wielder of the Millennium Scales and the Millennium Key, had been behind Kanekura’s death. And maybe on some level, Kanekura HAD deserved it—for his crimes, his selfishness…
‘He was a little greedy…okay, a lot greedy,’ Téa thought, remembering how the man had hoped to sell Yugi’s prized Millennium Puzzle, ‘But did he really deserve to die for it?’
There was nothing that could be done about it now, though. It seemed like so long ago, and yet…and yet, the battle was not over. The true power of the Millennium Items was still a secret. As were the God Cards. Téa was unsure of what would happen—who the spirit of the puzzle even was.
‘I haven’t even thought about it much lately…what with everything that’s happened…’
Not that Téa wanted to put more thought into it. Of all things, Yugi’s spirit, “Yami,” only helped confuse Téa more, and she didn’t need that.
‘The Egyptian people didn’t have future generations in mind when they built the pyramids, or mummified pharaohs. It was just part of their culture, right? That their artifacts have lasted so long is amazing…but it’s no wonder that people like Shadi didn’t like seeing ancient relics brought overseas, where any number of things could happen to them.’
Unbidden, vivid images of the stone tablets from the Domino Museum appeared in Téa’s mind. She remembered going there with Yami once, and meeting Isis—and hearing her frightening prophecy. She wasn’t sure whether to believe Isis’ words, but she hadn’t been wrong—up until Battle City.
‘And then she gave the Necklace to Yugi, and…I don’t know what’s happened to her, the exhibit, or the Necklace since.’
These thoughts only served to cloud Téa’s mind more, and so she returned to her textbook. But between the seemingly endless lines of text, Téa started to see a strangely familiar pattern with Amenhotep IV’s story and what Isis had said…
“ALL RIGHT! Disney channel!” Mokuba practically leaped onto the couch. He’d gotten home some hours ago, and found Téa asleep in her textbook. At her side, her finished essay—about the need to have Egyptian artifacts left where they were found—lay on crisp, white paper.
“Huh? Mokuba, you’re home…?” Téa looked around sleepily, and caught sight of the dining room clock, “What!? 5:25!? Ohmygosh, I’ve slept through the entire day!”
“But you got your homework done, right?” Mokuba glanced up from the couch, pointing at the essay—and the mound of other worksheets that Téa had finished before drifting to sleep.
“Almost all of it. And you?” Téa winked at him. Mokuba grinned widely, “All of it! It was easy, too! And I think I passed the text today!”
“That’s great, Mokuba!” Téa rose to her feet, stretching the sleep out of her limbs. She glanced down at the younger boy, “So, how should we celebrate?”
“Celebrate?” Mokuba looked up at Téa, a smile blossoming on his face, “Uhmm…chocolate parfait?”
Téa laughed, “We don’t have any ice cream left, hun. Sorry…” Téa wandered towards the kitchen, completely missing Mokuba’s blush.”But I’m sure I can whip up something…”
“All right, TOY STORY’s going to be on at 6!” Mokuba cheered.
Téa reappeared from the kitchen, just as Seto walked through the door. The elder Kaiba cast a questioning glance at Téa and Mokuba, both getting comfortable on the couch, Téa holding a box of Goldfish crackers.
“Movie night, Kaiba!” Téa crowed, “Join us!”
Seto blinked a moment, giving Mokuba the time to turn in his seat and pout adorably, “Pleeeeeeease, Big Brother! It’s the original ‘Toy Story’ movie—and you can sit here and analyze the 3D graphics engine quality if you want—you don’t have to care about the story at all, just stay with us, pleeeeeaaaase?”
Never one to deny his little brother anything, Seto put his briefcase down, handing his jacket to one of the maids that so routinely appeared and disappeared throughout the household.
“Half an hour, huh?” he asked, leaning forward on the back of the couch.
“Yeah!” Mokuba yelled happily, his mouth full of crunched-up Goldfish.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full, kid. It’s gross.” Seto pushed Mokuba’s jaw up with his left forefinger, and Téa chuckled.
“Straight from Miss Manners herself.”
“Hey.” Seto pretended to be offended, “Aren’t you supposed to be making dinner or something?”
Téa’s jaw dropped, and she stood up, hands on her hips, faking a horrified expression, “Why that’s some nerve, Master Kaiba. I may be your employee, but I do not make dinner for you every day! However, I am hungry, so I think I’ll make some pasta now…”
Mokuba and Seto exchanged a glance and only smiled as Téa disappeared into the kitchen.
Half an hour later, everyone had finished eating the quick ravioli Téa had prepared, and were ready to start watching Toy Story.
“But it’s in English,” Téa realized suddenly as the English lettering for the title appeared onscreen.
“Easily remedied.” Seto grabbed the remote and pressed a few buttons, skimming through several bright blue and green menus so fast, Téa couldn’t keep track of them all.
When he was done, Japanese subtitles were at the bottom of the screen, matching credit for credit what appeared in English.
“Wow…how…I mean, I didn’t know you could do that.”
“We’re Kaibas,” Mokuba smiled impishly, “We can do anything.”
“I guess so, huh?” Téa smiled, ruffling Mokuba’s hair. The smaller boy scooted up on the couch, curling up on Téa’s stomach, while she lay on the length of the couch, her feet a good foot from the farthest armrest.
“Big Brother, aren’t you going to sit with us?” Mokuba glanced up—his cheeks reddening as he realized he was glancing up at his brother through Téa’s breasts. He was young, but he wasn’t stupid—and he was learning all that stuff about girls and—what did his teacher call it? Men-struay-shon? Something like that.
“Where do you propose I sit?” Seto asked, rising to his feet from the dining area chair, glancing down at Téa and Mokuba on the couch. Téa bit her lip and moved around, shuffling Mokuba in her arms, and scooting deeper into the cushions of the couch—leaving enough room for Seto to lie right beside her.
Seto raised an eyebrow, but sat down…and eventually raised his legs to rest on the couch cushions as well, though he was so tall that he almost had to prop his feet up on the armrest.
The three kept their eyes glued to the television rather than each other—for all of them were in positions rather intimate considering, and it would be far too embarrassing for any of them, should their couch mates notice.
The movie began shortly, the words of the computer-generated toys interrupted only once in a while by a commercial; and then, Mokuba would excitedly comment on his favorite part, Téa remarking about how she originally hated Buzz when she first saw the movie, but now she thought he was funny.
“Those American actors do have a sense of humor,” Seto commented. Just then the CEO of Disney appeared, talking about how the role of Woody had actually been designed for Tom Hanks.
“Oh wow, I didn’t know that,” Téa smiled, watching an old version of Woody act out one of Tom Hanks’ lines from an older movie of his, “Turner and Hooch.” She shifted slightly, as her leg was falling asleep, and found her side pressed up against Seto’s.
Téa glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, her cheeks heating for reasons she couldn’t begin to understand, but Seto wasn’t looking in her direction. She heaved a silent sigh of relief.
‘Just what I need, to be more embarrassed around this guy.’
Still, Téa smiled slightly, it wasn’t that bad. Being like this…
The movie was coming to a close, with Woody and the other toys from Sid’s house standing up against the destructo-kid, even if it meant revealing their secret and “breaking a few rules.”
Somewhere during the movie, Mokuba had dozed off, and was quietly sleeping, his chest rising and falling as the movie flickered off the pristine white walls of the room.
“This is my favorite part,” Téa said, her voice a whisper for Mokuba’s sake. Téa heard Seto chuckle beside her, and turned to face him, and almost squeaked—she didn’t realize just how close they were to one another.
During the course of the movie, Seto had wedged his arm out from between their bodies and draped it across his stomach—but it wasn’t long before he moved his arm again, finally settling on draping it over the armrest on which he and Téa’s heads rested. His fingertips were barely grazing her shoulder, brushing it every now and then, but out of habit more than a purposeful action.
Téa was glad for the dark that permeated the room—her face had continued to redden as she movie wore on, and she became more and more aware of just how close she was lying to Seto Kaiba. She could feel her cheeks heat up every time she felt one of his fingers brush against her shoulder, and even though she knew he didn’t mean to do it, the motion was relaxing, and…
‘Nice. Really nice. Augh! What am I thinking!?’ Téa mentally chastised herself. She swallowed hard, feeling the brush of his fingers on her shoulder again. She didn’t know why Seto was suddenly making her so uncomfortable -in a good way!- but it probably had something to do with the fact that they had never been this close to one another before. Ever.
When Téa glanced over to Seto to see what he was chuckling over—and maybe catch a glance at a rare Seto smile—she realized that the proximity between her face and Seto’s was much less than she thought. Much, much less. Her eyes widened and she swallowed again, this time out of sheer nervousness.
She couldn’t blink, not with her eyes interlocked with Seto’s impossibly deep blue ones.
‘He has such incredible eyes…’ Téa found herself thinking, and once she realized whose eyes she’d just admired, she found herself reddening—and not being able to turn away from Seto to hide her blush. Without even realizing it, she craned her neck forward—as did Seto, staring at her in almost the same way—her eyes beginning to drift closed as she thought, ‘Is he going to…?’
When all of a sudden—
“Wha? Did I miss the end?” Mokuba had awoken suddenly, throwing his arm up between Seto and Téa’s faces, immediately ending the almost-intimate moment before it had really begun. Téa rubbed her nose—where Mokuba’s hand had hit—while Mokuba struggled to sit up, wobbling on Téa’s legs as she shifted.
“Big Brother, what are you doing on the floor?” Mokuba and Téa both glanced at Seto, who had been so surprised by Mokuba’s sudden flailing of his arm that he moved the wrong way and promptly fell off the couch. In the darkness, his cheeks were a slight pink color, but neither Téa nor Mokuba were any the wiser—and Seto was grateful for that.
‘Close. Way. Too. Close.’
Seto Kaiba’s thoughts were rarely ever as clouded as they were at that particular moment, but he did realize with some amount of clarity that wherever Téa Gardner was concerned, things got a little…complicated.
Since the movie credits were rolling, Seto took the opportunity to get the hell out of the area before he could get any more embarrassed. He didn’t like being humiliated or being made a spectacle of, and as far as he was concerned, embarrassment was too close to being both those things for comfort.
“Well, I have some things I need to take care of…I better be going. Nice dinner again, Téa, thanks. Good night.” And with that, Seto Kaiba practically dashed into his office, nearly slamming the door shut as he went.
“Huh. Must have been awfully important for Big Brother to rush off like that,” Mokuba commented, grinning at Téa. She was still staring off in the direction Seto had bolted, wondering a million things at once. Distracted, she replied, “Yeah…must be.”
And inside Seto’s office, the all-important task he had just remembered consisted of the young CEO…
Banging his head against his computer monitor, repeatedly.
Later that night, Téa was stretched out on her bed, unable to sleep. Half of her wondered if Seto was even in his room across the hall, and if he was, was he sleeping?
‘Or is he thinking about what almost happened, too?’
Téa tapped her hand to her cheek -a gentle slap.
“What am I thinking?” She said aloud, talking to the night, “I don’t even know if anything was going to happen. And if anything had happened, who says it would have been what I thought—what I’m thinking—oh, whatever!”
But Téa couldn’t get the thought out of her head.
She remembered it all-too-clearly—she’d said something, and Seto had chuckled. Téa had turned to find out what he thought was so funny about her words—and maybe having an underlying desire to see ‘the unfeeling Seto Kaiba’ smile—and realized that she was very close to him.
And not just close like, squished up against his shoulder close. But close, like…
‘Like he could have kissed me close.’ Such were the thoughts running rampant in Téa’s head, and the sole reason why she couldn’t sleep.
A million questions sprang up in her head—
‘Was he going to kiss me? Or was I going to kiss him? And if I had, would he have kissed me back? Or…does it even matter!? Why am I thinking of kissing him? This is Seto Kaiba! Before this mess, he was just some classmate, and then Duelist Kingdom happened, and then he was some world-famous duelist with an ego the size of a blimp. And then there was Battle City, and he was—he was…’
During Battle City, Seto Kaiba had been directly responsible for saving her life. When the Rare Hunters had kidnapped her and held her as hostage—or was it bait?—for an ultimate duel between Joey and Yugi. And at the last minute, when everything could have gone completely and utterly wrong, Seto Kaiba, of all unexpected people, had saved her.
‘And I thanked Mokuba!’ Téa remembered with a groan. She grabbed her pillow and promptly smothered it into her face. A moment later, once she’d caught her breath, Téa still lay there, staring up at the dark ceiling.
‘So Seto Kaiba suddenly decides to be nice to me. But maybe it’s because he doesn’t have a grudge against me like he does with Yugi or Joey. Or maybe it’s because he thinks we’ve been through the same thing, and he just—he just…I don’t know what. Seto Kaiba is impossible to analyze, so what am I doing here, thinking about kissing the guy?’
Téa frowned, flopping on her side. She caught sight of her pink cell phone, resting on top of one of her endtables.
‘Oh no, I forgot to call Yugi! He’s probably going to be worried about me…’ Téa furrowed her eyebrows. She could always ask Kaiba to explain things to Yugi and the others—but somehow she knew that they wouldn’t enjoy hearing about where Téa had been these past few days from him.
‘No matter what Yugi says about friendship, I know he doesn’t trust Kaiba completely.’
This thought gave Téa pause—‘Do I?’ So far, Kaiba hadn’t given her any reason not to trust him. In her eyes, he was intelligent, determined, loyal…
‘Oh god, I’m starting to list out his good points. Like he’s some sort of prize catch!’ Téa smothered her face with the pillow again, this time to try and squish the blush on her cheeks away. Of course, it didn’t work.
‘Well, he’s also an egomaniac, a showoff, a sore loser, and—and none of that matters, does it? After all he’s done for me, I can’t think of him the way I used to…’
And after that night’s near-encounter, Téa was sure she would never think of him the same way ever again.
“Huh? Who could that be…?” Téa wondered, brushing her pants off. She’d been in Kaiba’s office, browsing through the endless amounts of books lining the shelves. And it looked as though Kaiba had gone through them in ages, because many of them were covered in dust. She’d only gotten a quarter of the way through the first shelf on the right when the doorbell rang.
“Uhm, hello…” Téa managed, just as she opened the door. But that was all she could get out before she was rushed by a flood of people—none of them familiar to the young brunette.
“Ah, yes, yes, you must be Téa Gardner…” a tall, slender man with slicked-back black hair and a small goatee said, eyeing her from head to toe.
Téa felt immediately uncomfortable, wondering just who this person was—this strange foreigner with a French accent, and who all the people were with him.
There were two young girls, and one young man, who was juggling bolts of fabric and a black leather satchel on top of all that.
“How do you know my name? And who—” Téa stumbled as one of the young women brushed past her and whipped out a measuring tape, lifting Téa’s arms and measuring her span.
“Who the heck are you guys!?” Téa demanded, taking a step back, and crossing her arms over her chest defensively.
The elder man looked somewhat surprised, but then stroked his goatee thoughtfully.
“Ah, I suppose Mister Kaiba forgot to tell you. I am Jacques,” the man intoned, as if Téa were immediately supposed to distinguish him as a man of great importance, “Jacques Mode.” Noting that Téa’s expression remained the same—defensive and not at all enlightened, he sighed, “I am Mister Kaiba’s tailor and fashion designer!”
Immediately, Téa remembered Kaiba’s infamous Battle City outfit.
‘This guy was responsible for designing that? I should slap him and kick him out right now!’
“Of course, Mister Kaiba sometimes does not consult me, and makes a right fool out of himself, as he did with that horrible outfit for his tournament…” Jacques grumbled, crossing his own arms over his chest. Suddenly Téa’s lips blossomed into a smile.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Mode.” Surprised, Jacques faced her and smiled back. This girl obviously had the same thoughts about Mister Kaiba’s disastrous outfit for Battle City.
“So you guys are going to design me a dress for the Ball? Isn’t a bit short notice?” Téa asked, trying to stay as still as possible while one of the female assistants measured the length from the base of her neck to her ankles.
“Mr. Mode is an expert fashion designer. He has come up with many incredible designs on short notice, and is often well-praised for them,” the girl, Marie, responded.
The aforementioned Jacques was currently outside Téa’s room, in the hall, going over fabric samples with his male assistant, while the two girls measured Téa in her undergarments. When they finished, Téa was permitted to change into a black leotard, one that hugged Téa’s frame, but didn’t have any designs on it that would detract from Mr. Mode’s on-the-spot designing.
The two female assistants signaled Mr. Mode that it was all right to enter, and as Jacques did so, he motioned to Téa to rise from the bed, where she had been sitting. He circled her a few times, giving Téa the feeling that he was a vulture circling his prey.
“I see…blue! You like blue, yes?”
“Yeah…” Téa responded, “It’s one of my favorite colors. And it goes well with my eyes, I guess…” Jacques leaned in and examined Téa’s eyes for a moment, pulling back with a pleased smile on his face.
“That it does! You have most beautiful eyes, Miss Téa, and I am glad you do not wear glasses or some such things.”
Téa sweatdropped, casting a sympathetic smile towards Elise, the other female assistant who did wear glasses. She smiled back at Téa sincerely, and it was through this gesture that Téa realized that Elise and Marie sought to be designers, not the dummies on which the dresses were designed.
“What do you think of this fabric?” Jacques held out a bolt of shimmering blue fabric. Téa reached out to touch it, finding it silky in texture, while the tiny sparkles embedded in the fabric didn’t come off when she brushed her fingers against it.
“It’s beautiful…” she breathed. Jacques and all his assistants were smiling broadly—they had a winner. They were all very pleased looking, when Téa bolted upright, her eyes suddenly filled with worry and concern.
“Oh, but this fabric must cost a fortune, and I couldn’t possibly afford to—”
“Miss Gardner, Mister Kaiba has already taken care of the cost.” Jacques looked at the girl, confused himself. Why would the girl think that they were there if they hadn’t already been paid?
“W-What?” Téa looked utterly shocked, pale even.
‘What is Kaiba thinking? Giving me room and board because I’m supposedly working for him is one thing, but paying for my dress, too? This is going to cost a fortune, and it’s for something he called a “personal favor!” What is going on in the mind of that idiot!?’ Téa thought.
Her thoughts were all a jumble, distracted even as Jacques and his assistant unraveled a couple of yards of the fabric, wrapping it around Téa’s form.
“Hmm…hmmm…hmmmmmm…!” Jacques was murmuring, stroking his goatee once again. He had his assistants do all sorts of things with the fabric, from bunching it at the sides and back to sliding it up and down, to imagine a suitable neckline for Téa.
He glanced at the clipboard of measurements Marie and Elise had taken earlier, and smiled up at Téa.
“Well, Miss Gardner, how do you feel about…a strapless neckline?”
Téa blinked, trying to imagine the fabric around her morphing into a dress, one without any straps holding it up.
She had a feeling she knew why Jacques was suggesting such a neckline—because she had a—a rather sizable chest, and such necklines were flattering. Téa had always opted not to wear such clothes, except in the case of the halter tops or tube tops she wore when dancing, since she tended to attract unwanted attention. But…
‘A formal ball…And with everything already said and done, I can look however I want—like a princess, even…’ Téa thought. She didn’t feel all that good about Kaiba having paid for everything already, but she knew that she could live a dream here, if she just brushed aside her guilt and let herself have fun.
‘And after all, aren’t I supposed to be thinking of myself lately? And trying to heal, trying to find reasons to smile nowadays?’ Indeed, a small smile tugged at Téa’s lips.
“I would love such a neckline.”
It was almost three hours later when Jacques and his assistants finally left, leaving Téa tired. But she was happy. Jacques had drawn up a quick preliminary sketch, even giving the model on the paper Téa’s hairstyle—though he’d drawn it pulled back, sketching a circular, rhinestone-studded accessory as a hair clip.
The dress was supposed to be a straight-neckline strapless dress, slightly gathered in the back, and with a low-thigh-length slit in one side. The dress would also come with a wrap made of a filmy, soft material known as chiffon, that would be lined with the dress fabric at the ends, and covered in the same sort of glitter as the dress.
Jacques had asked about what sort of closure Téa would like on the dress, and given that her arms could reach behind her back, he deemed that the dress would be cut low, just below her shoulder blades, where a zipper would start. The dress would rise up from the sides, but would be snug enough so that she wouldn’t have to worry about it sliding.
“And with such a neckline, you must want a very nice necklace…Something simple, but elegant would do. Sapphires or diamonds, probably. I’m sure Mister Kaiba would agree to having you arrange with a jeweler some sort of piece…”
“Oh no!” Téa exclaimed, startling the designer, “I mean, that is, I already have something.”
“Ah, very good, very good.” As Jacques gathered his things and ushered his assistants back into the vehicle in which they’d come, he smiled at Téa.
“Mister Kaiba is a very lucky man, Miss Téa, to have such a beautiful woman as you on his arm at his company’s anniversary. I wish the best of luck to you both.”
It wasn’t until the designer had long left and closed the door behind him that Téa realized the implications of his words.
‘He couldn’t think that Kaiba and I are…! No way!’ Téa turned bright red and promptly marched into Kaiba’s office, desperate to distract herself for the remainder of the day.
“Hello, is Yugi home?”
“Ah, Téa, is that you? Yugi and I were beginning to wonder how you were doing,” Solomon Moto’s voice came over the line. “Yugi’s up in his room. Let me get him.”
“Thanks.” Téa was nervous, playing with the cordless phone she’d found in Kaiba’s office. She’d stared at it a moment, guilty of not calling her friends sooner. And, since her new cell phone plan hadn’t been finalized yet, she had to use Kaiba’s house phone.
She only prayed Yugi didn’t have caller ID.
“Hello, Téa? Is that you?” Yugi’s voice came on the line, and an overwhelming sense of relief flowed through Téa.
‘Well, he doesn’t sound upset with me, so I guess that’s a good thing. He does sound a little worried, but I guess I deserve it. I must have really concerned him, just leaving school like that, and not showing up the next few days…’
“Yeah, Yugi, it’s me. How’ve you been?”
“How’ve I been? Geez Téa,” Yugi’s voice chided, “You’re the one that’s disappeared from school for three days without so much of an explanation, and you’re asking how I’m doing?”
On the other end, Téa sweatdropped. Yugi probably didn’t mean to guilt-trip her the way he was, but Téa still believed she deserved it.
‘My friends really care for me,’ she thought, ‘The same way I care about them. The least I could have done was let them know what’s up…well, I guess I have to explain some things now…’
“Well, hehe, about that…” Téa began, not sure whether it was wise to tell Yugi that she was living with Kaiba—especially over the phone. She didn’t know how he’d react.
“Hang on a second, Joey and Tristan got here.” There was a soft clicking as Yugi put the phone down on the counter and ran to the front door of the Turtle Game Shop, letting his two friends enter.
It was silent a moment before Téa heard Joey’s voice exclaiming through the phone, “She’s not there, Yug! We went to her house, and it was totally black inside, and there was a sign on the outside sayin’ “For Rent!” Somethin’ terrible’s happened to her, I just know it! We gotta go all out and call the cops, and tell the feds, and…”
Yugi was sweatdropping, as was Téa, though the two couldn’t see one another.
“Uhm, Joey…” Yugi tried to pipe up, but was interrupted yet again by Joey’s shouting, “I bet some scoundrel kidnapped her again, and he’s doin’ dirty things to her! Damn Téa, doesn’t deserve that kinda crap, Yug, we gotta go find her and save her, and—”
“JOEY!” Yugi finally yelled in exasperation. Joey stopped and looked down at his friend, wondering what had gotten him so worked up. Yugi sighed and ran his fingers through his bangs, shaking his head at Joey’s melodrama.
He picked up the phone on the counter and grinned slightly, “Téa, are you still there?”
Laughter greeted Yugi on the other end of the line, and he smiled—while Joey and Tristan both stared, the former boy openmouthed and saucer-eyed.
“Put you on speaker phone? Okay, hang on.” Yugi put the phone down on its cradle and pressed a button.
“Hey guys!” Téa called out. The trio of boys faced the speaker, though Joey’s head hung down, while he scratched the back of his head in embarrassment.
“Ah, hey Téa…we all thought that you dropped off the face of the Earth or somethin’…”
“Nope, not quite. I’m sorry for not calling you guys sooner, but you know, things have been kinda…” she trailed off, and there was a moment of silence between the friends.
They all knew. They knew that Téa had been through a lot, and it would be a long time before their friend was the same—if she ever would be—again.
“Anyway, about the house being for rent,” Téa began, remembering Joey’s words. She was cut off before she could finish her explanation, this time by Tristan.
“What was up with that, Téa? I mean, we all know…what happened to your parents, but if you’re not at your house now, where are you? We all got pretty worried when we saw the place totally abandoned like that.”
“‘We all?'” Téa repeated, confused. As far as she knew, it had only been Joey and Tristan checking out her old house.
“Uh, yeah…” Joey’s voice came, sounding somewhat embarrassed, “We kinda called Mai and Duke—thought maybe they might know where you were, or if you were staying with either of them…”
“Though if you’d been stayin’ with that Duke guy I woulda wrung his neck…” Joey grumbled under his breath. He still hadn’t completely gotten over the humiliation Duke Devlin had submitted him to—making him wear a dog suit in front of everyone in Domino City, while Yugi had dueled him at his own game—Dungeon Dice Monsters.
Téa laughed, a sound which brought a smile to all three guys’ faces.
“Thanks for the thought Joey, but no. Not staying with any of them. Actually, I…”
‘Oh man, what do I say? I didn’t expect Joey and Tristan to be there…and there’s no way I can tell Yugi and ask him to lie for me! That’d be horrible! Oh no, think fast, Gardner!’
“Actually I got a job, and my new boss is nice enough to offer me room and board.”
“A job?” The boys exchanged a glance, leaning towards the speaker with expectant tones in their voices.
“Doing what?” Yugi voiced the implied question.
“Uhm…Tutoring! A little kid! And baby-sitting him too, sorta.”
“Oh good,” Yugi breathed a sigh of relief. Joey nodded in agreement, “Yeah, we don’t want you workin’ at another joint like dat Burger World.”
Téa shuddered in memory—no, she no longer cared to work for an establishment where their waitresses could so easily be taken hostage by men with guns.
Especially escaped psychotic felons with guns.
“So when do we get to pay you a visit, anyway? We’ve been wonderin’ how you been doin’ and all, since you haven’t been showin’ up to school lately…” Joey trailed off.
“Uh—visit? Well, uhm, I don’t know…exactly if I could. I mean, the teachers, they told me to take a week off to rest and stuff, and that’s why I didn’t come to school. Sorry for not really explaining things to you guys,” Téa said apologetically. She hoped they’d forget all about the possibility of a visit—because that would only complicate matters.
“Uh, anyway look, so I’m busy catching up on schoolwork that the teachers gave me and stuff…But for sure you’ll see me in class Monday, I promise!”
“Uh, okay, Téa,” the boys chorused, uncertainty plain in their voices. They hadn’t missed Téa’s deliberate subject-changing, especially with how abrupt her speech had been.
“Well, I hope you guys are doing okay and still keeping up in class! See you guys Monday—bye!” Téa said in one breath before slamming the phone down.
It was Friday night, and the week was almost over—and it was almost time for the Ball. Téa was walking on eggshells in nervousness; not only would she be going to the Kaiba Corp. 50th Anniversary on Seto Kaiba’s arm, but on Monday she’d have to face all her friends—and likely explain to them just where she’d moved.
‘And with whom!’
Téa groaned as she walked into the kitchen. Seto Kaiba was at the table, reading the newspaper.
“Is that all you do all day?” Téa grinned, taking a box of cereal out of the cabinets. She’d made dinner for herself earlier, but that was hours ago, and Téa found herself oddly craving something sweet and crunchy.
Seto pushed a corner of the paper down, an eyebrow raised as he glanced at Téa. Then he just as quickly stared back at his paper again, answering with a simple, “No.”
Téa chuckled, sitting down at the table after she’d poured herself some milk.
“So,” she started after a minute, trying to clear the silence that had settled between them, “tell me about this Ball. What should I know about it?”
Behind the newspaper, Seto privately heaved a sigh of relief.
‘Okay, so she’s not thinking about what almost happened last night. If anything was almost going to happen anyway. Doesn’t matter, I’m not thinking about it either. Even by thinking I’m not thinking about it, it’s still not thinking about it…’
“Stay away from the press,” Seto finally said, swallowing down a glass of coffee beside him, It had been getting cold, and tasted terrible, but it was a way to distract him from his thoughts—and from looking at Téa.
“Oh, I get it. Bad experiences?”
“They’re nosy. Too nosy,” Seto remarked after a minute, wrinkling his nose in distaste. Though Seto wasn’t watching, Téa smiled and laughed, the sound filling the kitchen for a few moments.
“That’s right. I keep forgetting just who you are, Seto Kaiba. Not just any guy, but a major CEO! Are you ever out of the spotlight?”
“Rarely,” Seto practically growled out.
“I take it you don’t like the popularity, then? I don’t know, something about being front-page news is kind of enticing. I mean, unless you’ve like, done something horrible or died or something.” It was Téa’s turn, this time, to wrinkle her nose in distaste.
Seto finally pushed the paper down, setting it on the table with a loud rustling, giving Téa a flat look.
“Trust me, you won’t like it when those few seemingly-nice members of the press corps annoy you all night, and the next morning you find yourself pictured in the Tokyo tabloids with the ugliest mug-shot ever, and a headline screaming that you hate your own company.”
“Blistering experiences, I take it?” Téa asked, her smile gone.
Seto grunted out a gruff ‘yes.’
“Well, you’re the boss, Boss. I’ll take your word for it.” Having finished her cereal, Téa rinsed out the bowl and loaded it into the dishwasher, casting one last glance at Seto, back to reading his paper, before she went back upstairs to her room.
“Big Sister Téa, can you help me with my bow—wow.”
Téa turned from where she was standing in front of the vanity mirror in the upper floor’s bathroom, adjusting a pair of silver studs in her ears.
“Your bowwow? I didn’t know those were part of formal dress, Mokuba,” Téa smiled. Mokuba’s bow-tie was a mess, however, and Téa bent down to help him tie it properly.
“You look really pretty, Téa,” Mokuba managed, once his bow had been straightened. He looked rather handsome himself, for a twelve-year-old, wearing a fitted tuxedo with black cummerbund, a white silk handkerchief blossoming from his breast pocket.
“Thank you, Mokuba. You don’t look so bad yourself.” She winked at him and turned back to the mirror to fix her makeup.
Jacques Mode’s assistant, Elise, had dropped off the dress the other day. Téa had been worried that it would need adjusting, but it fit her perfectly—and it looked beautiful. Téa was stunned once she tried it on—and she couldn’t resist from the moment the garment bag was in her hands—she looked just like a princess.
‘Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming…’ Téa smiled dreamily in the mirror, unaware that Mokuba was still watching her.
When she finally caught his reflection in the mirror, sending quick glances up at her, she turned.
“Is it time to go, already?”
“Yeah,” Mokuba twisted his right foot behind his left ankle anxiously. “Big Brother’s downstairs waiting.”
“Okay, well I’ll be done in just a second. Then I’ll grab my coat and we can get going!”
Mokuba was silent a moment, then finally said, “Big Brother’s jaw is gonna drop to here.” The black-haired youth demonstrated by positioning a hand a good decimeter from his chin, “when he sees you in that.”
Téa laughed, smiling, “I doubt it, Mokuba, but thanks for the compliment. I think.”
Mokuba smiled in return, “Wanna bet?”
Téa cocked an eyebrow at the younger Kaiba brother, moving towards the door, where her blue crushed velvet coat, lined on the collar and cuffs with artificial white fur, was hanging. She hadn’t thought the coat was part of the deal, but a note included in her dress from Jacques said that the dress had been amazingly under-budget, and so he’d made the coat for her as well.
“You’re on. What’re the stakes, kid?”
“Uhm…” Mokuba looked down a moment, then brightened, having an idea, “A chocolate parfait!”
Téa laughed, “You’re on. Okay, now go wait downstairs, I’ll be down in just a second.”
“Okay! But you’re going to owe me a parfait!”
Once Téa had finished putting on the last of her makeup, she made sure her hairclip—a plastic and rhinestone clip holding up her slightly-waved hair—was in place. She’d picked the thing up from a local girl’s accessory store, glad that it matched the same sort of shimmering silver on the dress.
All that was left was her coat.
Téa swallowed, butterflies fluttering wildly in her stomach.
‘I’m not nervous. I’m calm. Just a dance…I can dance. Dancing is what I do. This is me. Even underneath all this glamour, this is me.’ And she smiled, flicking the bathroom light off as she slipped the last sleeve of her coat on.
She was halfway down the stairs before Seto and Mokuba noticed her, and Mokuba winked, gesturing to his brother and imitating a jaw-drop of his own. Téa smiled, but kept her coat closed. After all, if Seto went to all the trouble of ordering such a high-profile fashion designer just for her, and just for a dress…well, she could afford to keep it a surprise a little bit longer.
‘That and maybe I don’t want Mokuba gloating about winning all night.’ Téa smiled before descending the last step, ‘Not that he’s right!’
Seto smiled at Téa, which made the fluttering feeling in her stomach—or was it her heart, now?—increase. Her offered his elbow out to her, and with Mokuba by Seto’s side, the three of them exited the mansion, out to the waiting limousine which would take them to the Kaiba Corporation’s 50th Anniversary Ball.
“Nervous?” Téa asked, glancing at Seto beside her in the car. His eyes were riveted straight ahead, and by the looks of things, he still wasn’t happy to be going to the ball.
‘That smile from earlier must have just been for my sake. I do wish he’d smile more.’
It was odd, thinking such things, especially when she was the one who had experienced so much grief and loss. But somehow, she was able to be her usual, cheerful, creative, and enthusiastic self. She wanted Seto to be the same—but she didn’t know exactly why.
‘Maybe it’s because he’s responsible for helping me get back on my feet. If I’d been alone—if I’d had to move into a foster home, or live somewhere else, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been as happy as I am now. Kaiba’s given me a chance…maybe to start over.’
“I have to make a speech,” Seto finally said. “Not looking forward to it.”
“Big Brother has to make a speech every year at these things. He can never get out of it. That’s why I’m glad I’m too young to make speeches, even if I technically am the Vice President…”
“Not for long, kid,” Seto shot back, “The minute you turn thirteen, I’m hauling you in front of a crowd of people and YOU can talk about the past year’s developments and successes.”
“Haha, still have eleven months to go!” Mokuba stuck his tongue out at his brother, who only shook his head in resignation.
It wasn’t long before the trio arrived at the location of the Ball—Maple Hotel, a towering glass structure that seemed to keep rising, up, up, up into the starry night sky. Téa had rarely ever been so far in Tokyo; while Domino was a prefecture of the vast city, she considered it a sort of separate town almost, like the suburbs. You could hardly tell Domino was only a few kilometers from the towering skyscrapers and glistening lights.
The chauffeur opened the door for Téa, who got out of the vehicle first, followed by Seto, and finally Mokuba. The three headed towards the hotel, where a hotel security guard nodded them inside. A man sitting behind a podium looked up upon Kaiba’s entrance, and his eyes widened noticeably when he saw Téa on Kaiba’s arm.
“Ah, Mister Kaiba, you have arrived. Very good. The public relations team awaits you upstairs.”
Seto Kaiba rolled his eyes and groaned slightly, but continued toward the elevator that would take them upstairs. Silence reigned amongst the small group for the first portion of the ride up, but the moment the elevator surfaced from underground, everyone’s eyes turned to the amazing view outside.
It was a perfectly cloudless night, with the Tokyo skyline and the bright stars above glittering together in harmony. And they kept rising, up, up, up into the pitch black, where a ball was about to occur…
“This is amazing…” Téa whispered. She’d been in high places before, but never quite like this.
Almost as if she could feel the cool night air through the elevator glass and her warm coat, Téa shivered slightly—but then, maybe it was because Seto was standing so close to her, just behind her, staring at the skyline in mute silence. Téa glanced up at him, out of the corner of her eye, but saw no appreciation for the view in his eyes.
She frowned slightly, wondering what was on his mind.
‘I hope, no matter what, we all have a good time tonight. No matter what.’
“Mister Kaiba!” a chorus of voices greeted the young CEO as he arrived with Téa and Mokuba on the top floor. They turned from the curved side of the elevator, stepping out onto the topmost floor of the hotel.
Téa stayed quiet beside Seto, until she caught sight of an incredible panoramic window overlooking the same skyline she’d been staring at moments before. She wandered up the stairs, unaware that the eyes of the entire PR team were following her.
“Mister Kaiba, so you followed our advice,” one of them said in an approving tone.
“Good for you,” another woman chimed in.”She looks like quite a catch.”
“Certainly not like any of the girls we would have had to audition from an escorting service or other such agency,” Mrs. Kodaku responded, nodding. Her glance strayed back to Téa, who was approached by one of the hotel staff, the coat-check.
“Miss? May I take your coat?”
Téa turned from the amazing view, still enchanted by the seemingly endless expanse of glittering lights, offset by the darkening night.
‘For a moment, I thought I could see Tokyo Tower from here…’
“Oh yes,” Téa turned, smiling absently as she slid her arms through the coat.
“Where did you find her, Mister Kaiba?” one of the ladies was asking. “She certainly is beautiful.”
“And your age, too! Thank god, if you’d shown up with someone older than you, it would have been a disaster…”
“She’s from my school,” Seto explained, furrowing his brows as he glanced from the PR ladies up to where Téa was. “And she’s just a…”
Seto was facing the raised portion of the floor where Téa was standing, her head slightly bowed as she drew her coat off. Though the entire PR team stood in front of him, Seto Kaiba, standing tall at 186 centimeters, had a perfect view of his date as her dress was revealed.
“…friend.” The word had almost trailed off to a whisper as Téa turned to face him, and suddenly, Seto couldn’t find any more words—or the willpower to close his mouth.
Mokuba skittered up the stairs beside Téa and poked her in the side, gesturing slightly at his brother, who was staring quite openly at her.
‘You owe me a parfait,’ he mouthed, and grinned. Téa rolled her eyes, but glanced up at Seto all the same, her cheeks a slight pink color.
In a few quick strides, he was in front of her on the raised floor. Téa had finished handing off her coat to the coat-check, and stood before Seto, her head somewhat dipped, with her gloved hands clasped in front of her. Two simple, silver bracelets clinked together on her left wrist, while the bright chandelier lights twinkled off her rhinestone hair clip.
Seto finally found words, amazed that he had even been made speechless in the first place -by Téa, no less- and murmured, “You look incredible.”
Téa glanced upwards at him, offering him a trembling smile, but blushed and bowed her head again just as quickly. A few seconds passed before she mustered the courage to look Seto in the eye, whispering, “So do you.”
Seto smiled slightly—something which the entire PR team noticed, tittering away at this exciting development—and turned, once again offering Téa the crook of his arm. She took it with a smile on her face, and the couple descended the stairs from the viewing platform to the main area, where several white linen-covered tables were positioned, many of them already filled with others in formal wear. Téa did her best to keep her eyes on Seto, rather than the crowd, but she could still feel their gaze on them.
‘But what do I care…? For just this night, I’m living like a princess. A real princess.’
“So what happens now?” Téa whispered as she sat down, nodding slightly to Seto as he pulled out her chair and gently pushed it back towards the table.
“Now we get bored out of our skulls,” Mokuba replied before Seto had a chance, scooting his chair closer to Téa’s.
“Translation: We listen to a few speeches, then I make mine, and then dinner.”
“It’s probably going to be nasty dinner, too,” Mokuba added, sulking, “Like that weird English Pea Rizzo, or whatever it was.”
“English Pea Risotto?” Téa asked.
Mokuba nodded. “Don’t tell me you like that stuff.” He made a face expressing his revulsion for the dish.
Téa shook her head, chuckling, “Not on your life. I hate peas. I went to a friend’s bridal shower once, and they served that—I ate all the risotto, but none of the peas!”
Mokuba grinned, nodding. “Well if that’s what we have again, I’ll know what to do.”
“It’s not,” Seto shook his head, rolling his eyes at his brother, who was so picky when it came to food, “I think they decided on something like Chicken Apple Marinade.”
“Sounds delish,” Téa remarked. But she wasn’t hungry yet. Her gaze wandered over the tables, and the platform in front of them all. The table she, Seto, and Mokuba were seated at was the farthest right in the very front, not far from the stage where everyone would be making their speeches. Two Kaiba Corp. logos were emblazoned on a pair of hanging vertical banners on either side of a projection screen, and Téa could only assume there would be some sort of slide-show or movie during one of the speeches.
At all the other tables, various people, all dressed just as formally as Seto and Téa—that is to say, in tuxedos and ball gowns—were talking to one another, making small gestures and nodding at the scenery.
‘I bet some of them are commenting on how they have finer linen in their dining halls, or how So-and-so’s dress is so last season. But I can’t say anything like that…this is the life Seto Kaiba lives? This is incredible!’ Téa thought, still in awe.
“There aren’t any other…people, our age?” she asked quietly, noticing that almost everyone else present was at least in their forties. A few of the Kaiba Corp. PR team she’d seen surround Seto earlier looked a bit younger, but most appeared to be much older than Téa.
“The owner of this hotel chain has a son our age, but he never comes to these things…hates them just as much as we do. I think he ditches them to hang out with his girlfriend or something.”
Téa laughed, “I guess I can understand, then.” Seto raised an eyebrow at her comment, but didn’t say anything in reply.
Everyone then noticed that a man was approaching the stage, and soon the conversations quieted, all eyes turning to face the stage.
“Test, test…is this thing on?” The smiling man tapped the microphone fixed to the podium on the stage, earning a brief bout of laughter from his peers. Seto didn’t look very amused, but Téa grinned, as did Mokuba.
“That’s Mr. Kobiyashi,” Mokuba explained softly. “He’s the Vice President while I’m still underage. He’s really funny and nice.”
“Hello, and welcome, everyone, to the 50th Anniversary of Kaiba Corporation!” There was a smattering of applause, and most gazes turned towards Seto at the fore, who nodded politely, applauding slightly himself.
“Half a century ago,” Kobiyashi continued, smiling, “No one had heard the name ‘Kaiba.’ Or if they had, they surely didn’t associate it with a company as large and successful as ours!” Another round of applause. “We’ve all come a very long way, over the past fifty years, and even in this past year alone. And we’re very lucky to be celebrating yet another successful year with our young and enigmatic CEO, Mr. Seto Kaiba himself!” Louder applause this time, continuing up until the point Seto stood up and nodded slightly, before sitting down again.
‘Enigmatic?’ Téa mouthed to him once he was seated, her eyebrows raised in curiosity.
“Don’t look at me,” he whispered.”I didn’t write his speech.” Téa stifled a laugh and continued to listen.
“This evening, we have the pleasure of hearing from some of the technology industry’s sharpest minds and strongest business leaders. Many of them work with Kaiba Corp. to help us all keep going strong in this hectic world! We’ll hear from Ms. Mariko Toriyama, head of inter-company relations with Sony, Mr. Frederick Janson from the American branch of Industrial Illusions, Mr. Ono Shueisha from Nintendo, and many others…and of course, our company head, Seto Kaiba, himself, on what we can look forward to for next year! Following that, what is sure to be a delicious dinner, some dancing, and drinks! Have a wonderful evening everyone, and thank you again for coming!”
There were several minutes of applause, and then a slightly older woman took the stage, making her speech.
Forty minutes later, Seto Kaiba couldn’t have looked more bored. Of course, no one noticed the expression on his face—no one except Téa, since everyone else was respectfully watching the slide-show that the final presenter was showing.
And it wasn’t as if their presentations were all that boring to her, either—she remembered something interesting that the Frederick Janson guy had said—something about Industrial Illusions working with Kaiba Corp. to take one of its shareholder’s ideas for an interactive duel-suit and bring it to the gaming market.
Seto’s speech would be next, followed by dinner and then dancing, but it didn’t look as though Seto were any more enthused about making a speech than he had been when he first told Téa about it during the limo ride there.
When a scattering of applause snapped the young CEO out of his stupor, Téa gently touched his arm, catching his attention.
“Smile,” she said in a soft voice, “for me?”
Seto gave her a strange look, but offered a slight smile, curling the corners of his mouth up, as he rose from his chair and headed towards the stage. The applause continued even after he was standing at the podium, to the point where he looked almost unsure what to do to get them to stop.
Finally, he spoke, in a loud, clear voice, his eyes riveted out towards the city skyline, so he wouldn’t have to look at any one person—or worse, the whole crowd. It was one thing talking to large groups of people your own age—especially if you had a bone to pick with some of them, as Seto had always had, whenever he dueled, but this was completely different. Téa could see why Seto, though he hadn’t said it in so many words, was apprehensive.
“Good evening.” More applause, and Mokuba, who was leaning with his head in his arms on the table, glanced up and rolled his eyes, mouthing ‘stupid adults.’ Téa smiled slightly, but then turned her gaze back up to Kaiba.
“Fifty years seems like a long time. In terms of business, a company that manages to last that long is considered a success. In terms of life, a person that has lived a half-a-century is often considered accomplished. This world has much to see within it, much to be done, and considering the variable years each of us is given on this Earth, many of us see it in our best interests to live in the moment, to live in each day, and experience everything this world has to offer.”
Adults in the audience were nodding, even the older ones that were likely over fifty, though there didn’t appear to be too many of them.
“But fifty years really isn’t that long a time. Few of us here can even begin to fathom what that amount of time is like. While I’m sure many people here can say they’ve lived a long time, seen a lot of things—good and bad alike. But in fifty years, the name Kaiba has changed from being unknown to being one of the top military-grade weapons producers,” Téa’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at this; “to becoming what it is today, a technological leader, working with countless other companies,” Seto gestured towards the executives from Sony and Nintendo nearby, “to create products for today’s ever-changing world. Instead of working to destroy, Kaiba Corp. works with hundreds of firms and thousands of people to create products that don’t just entertain, as our Duel Disk Systems do, but help heal, create, and solve today’s problems.”
Seto swallowed. He was good at memorizing speeches, but he just couldn’t focus.
‘Smile. For me?’ Téa’s voice rang clearly in his mind. He cast a quick glance at Téa as he took a breath, and she smiled at him, gesturing with her two forefingers at the corners of her mouth that he do the same.
She wasn’t sitting there, looking bored out of her skull, as Mokuba had predicted all the speeches would do to a normal person. She was actually watching him, with rapt attention in her bright blue eyes. And she wasn’t watching him so attentively because she was a high-level executive out to make a few extra bucks and a good impression, nor was she there because she was a nosy member of the press corps, out to uncover some juicy secret. She was there…just for him. Maybe to improve his image to his peers a little, but she didn’t have to say yes to going. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t getting paid for it.
“She’s from my school,” Seto remembered telling the PR ladies, “And she’s just a…friend.”
‘When did she become my friend? I don’t think there was ever a spoken moment, but somehow, I…’
There she was, looking as beautiful as any girl he’d ever laid eyes on, paying close attention to him and his words: silently cheering him on, encouraging him with her smile.
‘How is it that she smiles…that she can manage to be so optimistic and enthusiastic, even after everything that’s happened to her recently? How can she smile like that?’
Téa did a lot of things to Seto—primarily, she confused him. For a while, he thought they had something in common, with how both their parents had died and they felt isolated and alone. But there was some defining difference between what Seto had been when he lost his parents, and what Téa was right then. And he wanted to know what that was.
Slowly, a smile curled at the corners of Seto Kaiba’s mouth. His eyes remained fixed on Téa, his sudden source of inspiration and courage. He’d never needed such an avatar before—of course, Mokuba had always been someone he’d do anything for, but the smaller boy, even after everything they’d been through, was still a bit naïve to the world. Seto sought to protect him from the harshest of realities, and hope that he, at least, could live a normal life. A normal childhood.
‘A normal child shouldn’t need to be depended on so entirely. I have to—I have to do this myself.’
True, he was the only one up there. And part of him was afraid—he knew full well that a lot of people in the industry didn’t appreciate his point of view, or how he’d completely changed the markets in which Kaiba Corp. was involved. But he’d always told himself that he didn’t give a damn what others thought—about him, his brother, his family name, or anything else.
‘But I care what she thinks. Because…she’s what I’ve wanted to be all my life. Stronger. Happier.’
The press corps in the rear of the dining area started whispering amongst themselves, watching as Seto Kaiba’s face suddenly blossomed into a smile. They had never seen him smile. Never. And suddenly his gaze, once riveted out the panoramic glass window, was fixed on the young, beautiful woman with him.
And the cameras flashed, the pens scribbled, and everyone was watching, listening, riveted to Seto Kaiba, who had apparently changed his manner in the course of a few minutes.
“The faces of today’s Kaiba Corp. consumers aren’t just military men in uniform, they’re their families—mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents. We seek to entertain the kids, educate them. We look to help the mothers, the fathers, and we hope to help heal the millions of sick people out there in hospitals, in need of ways to keep them alive longer.”
“We’re no longer a company that can only be seen in the faces of those camouflaged with war-paint, but a company whose consumers’ faces can be seen when you walk down the street and when you look at the person next to you. In fifty years, the Kaiba name has changed, and so has the company. It is my hope that we will continue to grow and change and succeed—which we have done before, and will continue to do, with everyone’s support. Thank you.”
There was silence a moment, and then loud, almost thunderous applause, more camera flashes clicking, even as Seto stepped down the stage, slowly, seating himself again.
“That was incredible,” Téa whispered as Seto sat back down again. “And you should smile more often. You’ll win whole stadiums over.”
At the compliment, Seto did smile, a slightly embarrassed quirking of his lips. Téa only grinned back in response, blue eyes twinkling.
“I can’t eat another bite,” Téa murmured. She leaned back slightly into her chair, raising her hands to place her fork and knife across from one another on the plate, their points going up, signaling to the waiter that she was finished.
“That was good,” Mokuba agreed, rubbing his stomach. “I ate it all!”
“I think everyone did. It’ll probably be a few minutes before anyone works up the energy to do anything besides stay right where they are,” Seto remarked, glancing at everyone trying to make conversation after a huge meal. Waitstaff scurried left and right, taking plates and bussing tables.
It was a mere twenty minutes later when all the tables were cleared, and from the elevator bank, Téa noticed a string quintet, led by a young woman in a red gown, appear. There was already a baby grand piano positioned off to the side of the area reserved for dancing: an open space in the center of all the tables.
Téa also noted the furtive glances shot in her direction, and she realized with some embarrassment that the other guests were waiting for Seto to ask her to dance.
‘It’s not like he’s royalty or anything, but he is the host of this event, so I suppose they’re only trying to be polite…’
But suddenly, Téa wasn’t so sure that she’d be able to keep her dinner down—the nervousness from earlier that evening was back, and she could feel butterflies flapping away in her stomach.
She snuck her own glance at Seto, who remained completely oblivious to everyone else’s stares—and the suddenly quieted conversation. In the corner, the string quintet readied their bows, many of the players looking straight at Seto Kaiba and his companions.
“Kaiba,” she murmured underneath her breath, reaching out to touch his arm again, “people are staring.”
“So?” he mumbled back. Téa was torn between wanting to slap him upside the head and banging her own head on the table—out of embarrassment.
“Seto Kaiba…” she practically growled under her breath. That caught his attention. He glanced over to her, and saw what she had—that everyone indeed, was staring right at them.
“Come over here, Seto. Ask me to dance,” Téa whispered under her breath.
“I can’t,” Seto grumbled after a second, shifting his gaze back to the table. Téa narrowed her eyes, and smirked when she came up with the appropriate response.
“‘Can’t’ because you don’t know how to dance, or ‘can’t’ because you’re afraid?”
Seto shot her a look, but Téa only smiled back in response.
“You can dance?” Seto mumbled, an eyebrow raised in query.
“It’s what I do, silly. Now get over here and ask me to dance. You didn’t bring me here just to show off the latest Jacques Mode design, did you?”
A brief pause, during which Téa’s stare became pointed, “No.” Seto Kaiba stiffly rose from his chair and moved toward where Téa sat, her posture almost radiating a natural elegance.
He offered her his hand, and she turned to him, smiling. As she too, rose from her seat, she whispered, “Follow my lead.”
The string quintet started to play, and a young woman in red positioned herself in front of a microphone and started to sing.
wasurenaide ite [Please don’t forget]
kiresakareta ame [The flourishing, cutting rain]
Both Seto and Téa moved out to the center of the room, reserved for dancing. Téa quickly positioned her arms, one around Seto’s shoulders, the other holding one of his hands; Seto placed his one free arm just above the point where Téa’s dress began, his hand suddenly growing warm from touching her smooth, bare skin.
akai yume o mita [I saw red dreams]
ano basho [In that place]
kaigara no naka ni [Inside a shell]
kakushita ano KISU [A stolen kiss]
shizuku no mama nokotte iru yo [A constant dripping—I remain.]
Téa kept her gaze fixed on Seto, even though he kept glancing out at everyone. His dancing was stiff and rigid, and it only made his movements appear more jerky than necessary.
“Relax,” Téa whispered, leaning her head on his shoulder. The hand that was wound around Seto’s shoulders moved down on his back, beginning to rub in a slow, circular soothing motion.
And soon enough, Seto Kaiba did just that—relax. It almost seemed as if he melted slightly, though if one had been watching his face, they would have seen his eyes close for a brief moment during Téa’s ministrations, doing his best to relax despite all eyes being trained on him and Téa.
kesanaide hoshii [I don’t want to be erased]
itami ni nita yume [This dream is painful]
kotoba ni naranai kinou [I couldn’t find these words yesterday]
kagami o waru you ni [It’s like a broken mirror]
dakishime ni itte [I will embrace it]
furuete ita sora o miyou [Let us look to the trembling sky]
And suddenly, it seemed as if Seto Kaiba no longer needed Téa to lead—and if anyone had noticed that she had been the one leading in the first place, they didn’t indicate it on their faces. As the song sped up, Seto’s gaze became fixed on Téa’s, who was smiling beautifully.
nakitai koto ga atte mo [Even though I want to cry]
toke wa shinaide [Don’t fade away]
yawarakasa ni aeru hi e [Until the day we meet tenderness]
oyogi tsuzukeyou [Let’s keep swimming]
Other couples slowly filtered out onto the floor at this point, still giving adequate room around Seto and Téa, who appeared to be the most fluid of all the dancers. Seto glanced at some of the dancers for just a moment, and in a surprising motion, let go of one of Téa’s arms, using the one he held her hand with to pull her back into him.
te o nobashite mite [Reach out your hands and see]
mou hitotsu no natsu [Another summer]
shinobu you na netsu [Pain, like endurance]
kanjite [You feel]
surechigatte kita [Everything changes]
hitomitachi no koto [And those many eyes…]
hitotsu hitotsu omoidashite [One thing, the one thing I remember…]
The song reached an instrumental bridge, during which most people danced from side to side. When the singer began again, the tempo was somewhat slower, indicating an upcoming crescendo as three of the five players didn’t play. Seto only smiled at Téa as he abruptly leaned forward, knowing music well enough to predict when the singer would begin again, all while gently forcing Téa to lean backwards.
ikenai koto o shitte mo [Even though I have seen horrible things]
nige wa shinaide [I do not try to escape]
itoshisa ni fureru gogo o [Together, let’s head towards the afternoon]
sagashi tsuzukeyou [That we’ve been searching for]
His hand slid from its position between her shoulder blades down to the small of her back, time suddenly seeming to slow with the tempo as Téa arched backwards, and came up just as slowly in Seto’s arms.
kanashii koto ga atte mo [Even though I am sad]
yurenaide ite [I do not sway]
yasashisa ni aeru hi made [Until the day we meet kindness]
oyogi tsuzukeyou [Let’s keep swimming]
“Beautiful necklace,” Seto murmured in a somewhat gruff voice.
‘You weren’t looking at the necklace, idiot,’ a voice in his head practically shouted. But it was only half-true. The simple blue pendant had sparkled when Seto had leaned Téa forward—and caught sight of it nestled just above Téa’s breasts.
Of course, he hadn’t been looking at them. No. He hadn’t.
Téa smiled, but her eyes had a sad, faraway look to them. It faded before Seto could really decipher what she was feeling, though she replied in a soft voice, “It was my mother’s. Her one precious sapphire necklace, and all I really have left of her.”
He was silent a moment before replying, pulling Téa back from a brusque spin, “You have your memories.”
Again, Seto spun Téa outwards from his arms, this time drawing her so that his arms were wrapped around her when he pulled her in, so they were both facing the same direction. They took a few steps together, embracing as they were, before he spun her out again gently, resuming their previous face-to-face position.
“‘Can’t’ dance, eh?” Téa smirked, masking her surprise for Seto’s sudden adeptness at dancing.
“What can I say?” Seto smirked in kind, “I’m a fast learner.”
The singer bowed her head, indicating that her part was over, and slowly the strings faded out, from five to three, to one alone. Téa’s eyes had been fixed on Seto’s throughout the entire dance, sky blue clashing with midnight blue even as the strings silenced and the song came to an end.
Téa gently pulled away from Seto, still smiling, but more a mysterious smile than before. He couldn’t tell what she was thinking or feeling at the moment—
‘Probably no more than she can ever tell with me, at any rate.’
“I’m going to look for Mokuba,” Téa responded, noting the small boy was no longer at the table where they’d left him. The violinists and cellist started up again, beginning a new dance, cuing Seto to leave the dance floor.
While Téa disappeared into a quickly growing crowd of reporters, searching for Mokuba, Seto wandered off to the side of the stage and across from the musicians. A cocktail bar that spanned the length of the lowered area was set up, a variety of colorful drinks gleaming invitingly from the glass countertop.
The young CEO leaned on the counter, looking out at everyone, content to not be noticed for once. His eyes sifted through the crowd, and it wasn’t until a moment later that he realized that he had been looking for someone—Téa.
He’d been picking through the red, green, and black dresses, the gray and black suits, and the blonde and black hair, unaware that he was seeking the young woman he’d held in his arms only moments before.
‘It’s like I want her back beside me…and she hasn’t even been gone for long. What the hell am I thinking?’
So fine, it had been a good nice. A nice dance, even. Seto had never danced before. Téa was certainly the best partner he could have asked for, with the way her lithe body moved. It didn’t take him long to remember the warmth of her body, or the curve of her thigh when it appeared through the slit in her dress.
He’d never known a girl—no, a woman—to be so…
‘Tempting? Inviting?’ As per the usual, where Téa Gardner was concerned, Seto Kaiba’s thoughts remained as clear as mud.
Suddenly finding his mouth dry, Seto reached for a glass of water, downing it in one swallow as his eyes finally caught sight of Téa.
She had apparently found Mokuba, as the small boy stood at her side, clutching one of her arms as she spoke to a small crowd of reporters. She was smiling and nodding, glancing down at Mokuba at one point and ruffling his hair slightly.
‘How can she do it?’ Seto wondered, jealousy flaring up within him.
‘How can she pretend to be so happy when she’s lost everything she’s known? Her home, her parents—her whole livelihood! And yet she’s here, mingling with people she isn’t remotely like, doesn’t know a shred about, and smiling as if she hasn’t a care in the world!’
A burning sensation was making its way down Seto’s throat, and he realized with half a thought that what he had just drunk was not water, but alcohol. But he kept his eyes fixated on Téa, smiling and even laughing at the reporters, speaking candidly and honestly with them—regardless of what Seto had told her about them being nosy pests—as if she weren’t worried about what they could say about her, or do to her reputation.
Suddenly, Seto found himself not caring—not about the difference between alcohol and water, nor the difference between his jealousy and his attraction to Téa.
He quickly grabbed another full glass of what he would shortly learn was vodka, again downing it as if it were a mere shot.
Téa’s arm shifted around Mokuba, her hand pressing gently against one of his shoulder blades. Mokuba couldn’t have looked more comfortable, despite him being surrounded by intimidating, taller reporters—almost all of them women—who usually belittled Mokuba by asking him invasive questions in condescending tones.
‘How does she do it? Mokuba barely knew Téa before this summer, and now—and now he can’t seem to get enough of her. She was just one of Yugi’s pathetic friends, a cheerleader in her own right. Not even a duelist! When did she become…something else?’
Even Seto didn’t know the answer to that. Was it when he first overheard the teacher speaking to Téa, and he’d realized that someone else was going through what he had—the pain of losing one’s parents, of losing life, losing hope, losing so much…
‘Back then, I wanted to cut the whole world off. It wasn’t enough that Mom died in childbirth, but three years later…Dad…’
Seto—before he’d become a Kaiba—had withdrawn into a shell, becoming reclusive and numb to the world, despite his father’s best effort. And when he had died—so short a time after Seto’s mother—Seto’s world, already fragmented, shattered. The brother that he’d originally despised for ‘killing his mother’ was suddenly all he had left. And he’d refused to let anyone separate them. No matter what.
‘And somehow, I failed—twice. If it hadn’t been for Téa back then at Battle City, I might have lost him…for good.’ She’d been the one responsible for Mokuba’s escape, and had been the one his brother had insisted on going back for.
But Kaiba hadn’t had the mind to listen, being obsessed with the God Cards and having some strange innate desire to have them all, to see their power—to be who he was before—strong. If he was strong, he’d beat Yugi once and for all, and he’d be number one again. Being number one meant you commanded respect, and those who respected you feared you—and didn’t try to destroy your life.
‘Things don’t work that way, do they? It’s not a matter of “God standing in your way,” like I told Yugi. Life was never meant to be so clear, so simple. Pain is endurance…Weakness leaving the body…’
Why then, at that moment, did his chest ache so much, looking at Téa’s smile?
The limo ride home was silent. Mokuba was half-asleep, tired and mostly curled up on Téa’s lap. She absently stroked his hair, soothing him into a restful slumber, while Seto remained silent.
When they’d met up to leave after everything ended, Seto had barely said two words to her. She had to dash after him, strappy pumps clacking noisily on the marble floor as she tried to slide her coat on while Seto was already striding into the elevators.
She’d shot him an irritated glare, but she received no response whatsoever, even when her gaze melted into one of concern and worry. No matter what either she or Mokuba said, Seto’s eyes never met theirs, and he didn’t speak to them at all.
‘What’s wrong with him? I thought tonight went well….’
Téa, in the middle between Mokuba on the left side of the car, and Seto on the right, could only stare straight ahead, at the black glass separating the driver’s side from the rear of the limousine. Seto’s reflection in the glass was the same as it had been all night—staring away from Mokuba, and away from her.
‘It must have been something I said or did, but the least the idiot could do is tell me what’s wrong! At least if I made a mistake, I can apologize. I don’t even know what I’ve done wrong!’ Téa felt horribly guilty, making excuses in this way, but half of her stubbornly denied that she had said or done anything to deserve such rude and insensitive behavior on Seto’s part.
Even when they arrived at the mansion, he hadn’t helped her out of the car, and didn’t say a word—even thank you—to the driver. Téa was the one who had to awaken Mokuba, the one to thank the chauffeur, and the one to close the front door. She was also the one to usher Mokuba up to bed, watching the smaller boy skitter up the stairs and disappear into his bedroom.
The gentle expression on her face morphed into annoyance and upset; Seto was still ignoring her.
“Seto Kaiba, what is wrong with you? Why are you so grouchy—I thought tonight went well! Everyone liked your speech, and you danced wonderfully, and the press didn’t annoy you…” Téa trailed off.
She removed her coat and folded it over one arm. Had both her hands been free, she would have had them on her hips, angled in such a way that Seto would know, without a single doubt in that thick head of his, that his actions were upsetting her. But she was also concerned.
For the first time that night since they’d danced, Téa got a reaction out of Seto. He’d been pacing the hallway just before it broke from the foyer into the living area, darkness filling the wide-open space.
“How can you do it?” he whispered, his voice low and harsh. Accusing.
“What? Do what? What are you talking about?”
‘The first time he says anything since we dance, and it doesn’t even make any sense! Is this Seto Kaiba, or some sort of impostor?’
“How can you…” Seto gestured, his face contorting into a mask of frustration, “do that!? Pretend to be happy, or smile the way you do, after everything you’ve been through!? Have you forgotten that your parents are dead!?”
Téa’s jaw dropped, her eyes desperately searching Seto’s face for any sign that his words were some form of twisted humor. They were not.
“Wh…How dare you? I haven’t forgotten my parents, I can’t forget about them, not for a second I’m breathing on this planet!”
Against her will, tears formed at Téa’s lower lash line, even as she bit her lip and continued speaking, resolutely, “I honestly thought we were getting somewhere, Seto Kaiba, where you at least tried to understand me and what I’m going through—what I’ve been going through! You should know, better than anyone else, that I’m always going to be in pain, that I can’t just forget anyone or anything! I smile because if I don’t, I’ll fall apart! I’ll break into tears, I’ll scream, and I’ll suddenly realize that I have nothing left!”
Téa was decidedly angry now, but somehow, her tears stayed in check.
Seto’s eyes narrowed slightly at her words, and with a few quick strides, he’d closed the distance between them, suddenly forcing Téa against the wall beside the front door.
“I don’t know how you do it, no matter what you say. You’re everything I wanted to be when I lost them…” His eyes, Téa realized, were severely dilated, an abyss of black, hardly reflecting any light at all, “I want your determination. Your courage, your…ability to smile like that.” His voice dropped lower, gruff than before, and this time, Téa could hear the desire laced in his voice.
“I want you.”
And before Téa even had a chance to respond, Seto’s mouth was on hers, his arms pinning her to her the wall, his eyes already closed. His lips were warm, but forceful, passionate—demanding.
Her blue eyes widened impossibly, and the tears that she’d somehow kept in check spilled down her face as her body refused to respond. Her arms went slack, her velvet coat spilling to the floor, forgotten.
Her mind hadn’t even completely processed the notion that Seto Kaiba was crushing his lips against hers—kissing her!—before he pulled away, pushing his palms against the cool marble wall. His eyes refused to meet hers, already closed as he turned away. Without a second thought, he headed toward his office and slammed the door once he was inside.
Téa stood in place for a moment, tears still streaming down her face. Almost mechanically, gloved fingertips brushed across her moist, swelling lips, an electric spark of pain dancing across them.
She closed her eyes as she reached for her coat, tears falling, fading into the midnight blue velvet, and burst into a fresh set of tears, running upstairs as fast as her trembling legs could carry her.
Only one thought made any sense in her mind:
HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH CLIFFHANGER OF DOOM! DON’T YOU ALL LOVE ME? I love me. ^_^ Yeah, bit of an ego there. 😉 But tell me what YOU THINK!
READ ME! (well, everything below this line, please…)
The song featured in this chapter was Kajiura Yuki’s “Em More,” an Image Song from the NOIR soundtrack. The romanization, as well as the translation (in part) were from AnimeLyrics.com. I use the song a lot (well, this is the second time) in dance scenes, just because it works so well.
Eventually I will feature a soundtrack page for WDKY, where you can find all the artist info, and maybe even download the MP3s. ^_^
CONTEST 1: I guess without a real prize to win, no one was interested? Or maybe it was too long a chapter for people to see the contests? In any case, here’s a hint, for people who want to go back to Chapter 3 (the first scene) and try to guess the animes/mangas the teachers’ names came from:
In no particular order…
* Two of the teachers are based off of characters from Rumiko Takahashi series.
* One of the teachers is from one of CLAMP’s most popular titles.
* One of the teachers is named after a minor character in Sailor Moon.
* Two of the teachers are named for characters that are ONLY found in manga.
* Those two teachers’ characters are NOT in the SAME manga.
* The last teacher is based off the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh.
CONTEST 2: It wasn’t exactly a contest, it was me wondering who thought they saw similarities between Seto Kaiba and another male anime character. Here are my answers…feel free to agree or disagree…or add your own thoughts.
SETO KAIBA REMINDS ME OF…
* Prince Demando from Sailormoon – Because they are both quiet, ruthless, and will do anything to get what they want. They’ll also die for a cause they believe in. Both of them can be pretty stubborn too.
* Rui Hanazawa from Hana Yori Dango – They’re both reticent (quiet) as heck, and incredibly hard to read. Sometimes it’s next to impossible (if not COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE) to tell what they’re after and why. And both of them can change their minds on a whim, but are still very determined to reach their goals—even if it doesn’t seem that way to EVERYBODY.
* Mamoru Chiba from Sailormoon – Both guys like to tease someone mercilessly, and for the most part, without reason. Both guys get along SOMEWHAT with a few people, but the rest either hate him or think he’s got something stuck up his @$$. Still, few are privileged enough to see a sense of humor twinkling under those deliciously dark blue eyes. Both are also “killer” dressers. *laughs*
* Dias from Star Ocean EX – Quiet. Determined. Holds a grudge like no tomorrow. Don’t #$^% with either of these guys’ friends or family! HE’LL GET YOU!!
* Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic – Both are strong and determined, but EXTREMELY lacking in common sense. Of course, they’re total specialists in what they do and what they “love,” but sometimes you just wanna smack the both of them upside the head. Both of them have a very twisted sense of humor, and when it comes through…well…^^;;
AAAAAAAAAAANYWAY…let me know what you think. If you think…anything. 🙂 Yeah.