What Doesn’t Kill You
Chapter 19: My Rainy Valentine
A Yu-Gi-Oh Fanfiction
By: Azurite – azurite AT seventh-star DOT net
Site: seventh-star DOT net
Conceptualized/First Written: 6/28/05
Completed/Final Edit: 10/6/05
Today’s chapter is brought to you by the letters R (for Rated R, according to the MPAA guidelines of a fictional work containing sex, violence, nudity, language, or other obscenities inappropriate for those under the age of 17) and M (for rated Mature, the fictionratings.com equivalent rating, which holds the same standards, minus a year -age 16- at the most). We’re also a proud sponsor of the fun three letter word “sex.” Because yes, this chapter is, as are ALL the chapters since Ch. 10, Rated R/M. In this case, it’s due to some pretty steamy scenes. No, WDKY is not and will not be a lemon, but this chapter is pretty citrusy as far as content goes. You’ve been warned, and I don’t want to hear whining about it.
Thank you to Atlantis2, the one-and-only Steam Queen! I could never steal her thunder… She was the only one who commented on the beta release of this chapter since I posted it up at betasquad.
Disclaimer: Today’s chapter is also brought to you by the suffix “-ing” as in: “copyrighting” “forgiving” and “not suing” …
Don’t Forget! All Review Replies are now hosted here. Thanks for your continued support!
At first, the rain came down in a soft pitter-patter, light and hardly audible.
Unfortunately for Téa and Seto, they picked the worst possible day to walk home together.
‘Some St. Valentine’s Day this is turning out to be,’ Téa thought grumpily. It had started out as a bad day and now was getting progressively worse.
And it was all Seto’s fault.
‘He didn’t have to accept those girls’ Valentines!’ Téa thought angrily, purposefully ignoring a particularly large puddle. She stepped in it and nearly slipped forward; she was now soaking wet absolutely everywhere. She’d somehow managed to keep her feet relatively dry, but now…
Seto carefully stepped around the selfsame puddles that Téa chose to angrily stomp through. But despite his long legs, he wasn’t always quick enough to avoid the splash back— and Téa’s intentions were clear with every splash she made.
She was mad.
Not because it was raining. Not over her being wet from head to toe.
She was mad at him.
But for the life of him, Seto couldn’t figure out why. Téa had been perfectly cheery and chipper in the morning— bordering on romantic, actually, with the way she’d woken him up. She never got up before him, but today seemed like it was a special exception. She’d risen especially early, showered, dressed— and by the time Seto’s alarm went off, she was the one hovering dangerously close to him, a seductive smile on her lips and a mug of the freshest smelling coffee Seto had ever smelled in his life waiting for him in her hands.
As soon as they’d arrived at school though, everything changed.
Much to his surprise, he’d received several Valentines— aside from the expected one he got every year from Mokuba, and the one he hoped he was getting from Téa, he also found himself juggling at least thirty other pink-and-white envelopes with hearts and happy faces scribbled all over them. Some of the bolder girls at Domino High even dared to approach Seto during lunch —when he was eating with Téa— and give him boxes of chocolate.
That was the tradition in Japan on St. Valentine’s Day— girls gave chocolates to the one they admired, or someone they respected. Thusly, there were two different kinds of chocolate: obligation chocolate, that you gave to your bosses, superiors, co-workers, and friends, and “favorite chocolate” for the boy the girl was romantically interested in.
A month from Valentine’s, men who received chocolates or other presents had the opportunity to return the favor, on White Day. Until then, all Seto could say was a simple “thank you” to each girl that dumped a new present on his desk.
He wasn’t really paying any attention to any of it— he had no mind to sort out whether one brand of chocolate was more expensive than any of the others, or if one letter happened to be spritzed with a flowery perfume. It all just piled up, and Seto faked a humble sort of attitude about the whole affair. In reality, he wanted nothing more than to dump all the cards in the recycling bin and melt all the chocolates down for later use (Seto Kaiba could admit to one guilty pleasure: that of chocolate. As a result, he wasn’t of the mind to throw out chocolate).
The problem was, if he threw any of the letters out, he’d have thirty hysterical girls at his desk one month from now, sobbing because he hadn’t even returned their attentions with a simple letter. It hardly mattered to Seto what any of them said in their pithy letters, but he didn’t want to have to read each and every single one just to have one of his secretaries type up a standard thank-you and reply for White Day.
Torn as he was, Seto kept each of the letters and any present they came with— and he continued to thank each girl that gave him something, whether it was a pink, perfume-scented letter, a carefully-wrapped box of expensive chocolates, or something even more creative.
And bit by bit, Seto noticed Téa getting angrier and angrier. But it wasn’t his fault; he didn’t ask for any gifts this St. Valentine’s Day! In fact, Seto usually ignored the holiday altogether. Most years, he was lucky enough to have the holiday fall on a weekend, or else he could find something to take him out of school. But this year…
At long last, they reached the Kaiba Mansion, and though the both of them had a key to the front gates and the door, Téa had a rather difficult time fumbling around with her sopping wet sleeves and her drippy satchel. By the time Seto retrieved his own key, Téa’s frustration had built to the point where she wanted to break down and cry. It was a horrible, dreadful St. Valentine’s Day, and now Seto wasn’t even talking to her, they were both soaking wet, and even though they were both home, the day was practically over.
‘I hate this!’
It occurred to Seto —a very long time later— that perhaps the first words out of his mouth since they’d arrived home shouldn’t have been “Let’s go upstairs and get dry.”
It was a decidedly unromantic and uncaring thing to say, even if it was sensible and rational, and very Seto Kaiba-like in nature. But the moment the words were spoken, Téa’s face screwed up in quiet indignation. Her fists clenched white at her sides, and at last, her trembling, cold frame heaved a great sigh and she sloshed upstairs after Seto.
Silence filled the decidedly-empty Kaiba Mansion once the two of them made their way into the master bathroom, the door into the bedroom left only a few centimeters ajar. Each armed with a pair of fluffy towels, Seto and Téa both proceeded to dry their hair and squeeze as much water out of their clothes as they could. The whole process only took a few moments. Téa could feel an undue amount of pressure creeping up on her, so she decided to say something— at precisely the same time Seto spoke.
“I’m going to take a shower. You can keep drying off if you want— and there’s a hair dryer in the other bathroom.”
Seto started walking down the short, tiled corridor to the standing shower, peeling off his wet clothes as he went. If he had any idea that Téa was still standing behind him, her eyes fixed on him as each layer of his clothes came off, he made no indication.
As for Téa, whatever thoughts she’d had in her head —whatever she’d thought of to say— flew right out of her head. Instead, the rapid beat of her heart started pounding ever louder in her ears, sending blood rushing all over her face and causing the girl to color a vibrant shade of pink.
‘I… This isn’t what I wanted.’
She wanted a romantic St. Valentine’s Day. She wished she could have controlled the weather and made it perfectly sunny and warm. She wished she could have put a force-field around Seto, so all those annoying fangirls of his couldn’t get within an meter of him, let alone close enough to drop off smelly letters and melted chocolates. She wished she hadn’t gotten so mad about something so stupid, because if she just turned around and left right now, what would be left of the day that was supposed to mean so much to her?
Téa’s thoughts were all a jumble now, disjointed and confusing. She wasn’t sure what to do or what to say, and she couldn’t seem to decide, for the mass of scenes replaying in her mind’s eye. Seto walking away, taking off his jacket first, then his shirt. And then… skin.
It wasn’t as if she hadn’t seen Seto topless before— she’d seen him at the beach, and then on her birthday, when—
Suddenly, the master bathroom seemed to heat up by ten degrees, and Téa wasn’t entirely sure it had anything to do with Seto turning the shower on.
‘That means that less than five meters from where I’m standing, he’s completely—!’
If her face had been pink before, it was crimson now. Téa hesitantly glanced at her flushed face and her shivering form in the mirror. Thoughts of the fangirls and of a possibly-ruined St. Valentines Day left her mind entirely. In their place was but one thought: ‘I… I want this.’
She didn’t know entirely what possessed her to start peeling off her own clothes and wringing them free of water— but she didn’t step out of the master bathroom and go down the hall to the other shower. Instead, Téa took another dry towel from the rack and carefully wrapped it around herself, and then she walked down that tiny tiled corridor.
Téa inhaled deeply, closed her eyes for a moment, and rounded the corner.
“Mind if I join you?”
The standing shower was actually a great deal smaller than the layout of the bathroom made it seem— but it was room enough for lanky Seto Kaiba, and certainly room enough for one more. But the moment Téa spoke, Seto found himself more startled than he’d ever been in his entire life— and he abruptly dropped the washcloth he’d been using and he pressed himself into the far side of the stall, just below the shower-head. He felt cornered.
Clouds of steam were starting to rise from the floor, and the pitter-patter of the water continued louder than before, lacking a form to rain down upon. It seemed as though an eternity passed before either of them said or did anything— even blink.
Without a word of warning, Téa dropped her own towel off to the side of the shower and stepped into the steam.
It might have been only a minute, but something still wasn’t registering as entirely right in Seto Kaiba’s mind.
Téa… in the shower with him. Naked.
His gaze left her face of its own volition, but the moment it reached Téa’s bare collarbone, his eyes stopped and refused to glance even a centimeter lower. Seto desperately wanted to turn away and hide, but the shower seemed so dreadfully small…
‘Definitely time for a renovation. Maybe I should knock out a wall or two—’
“What are you so afraid of, Seto?” Téa asked gently as she stepped forward.
There was no room to back away— he was literally up against a wall.
Intent on keeping focused, Seto didn’t say anything. But Téa continued to step forward, until she was very nearly pressed against him. In one fluid movement, both her arms were around him, and Seto found himself in what had to be the strangest hug of his entire life.
He was growing hotter and hotter, his pulse racing in his ears, words forming on the tip of his tongue…
Téa giggled despite herself. Seto’s expression went from something akin to a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck to confused and even more startled than before. The hands Téa had so expertly wound around Seto’s back had actually been reaching for the shampoo in the rack behind Seto; once Téa reached the right bottle, she squeezed the upturned container directly over Seto’s head, dumping a dollop of bright pink persimmon-scented gel onto his head.
Her gentle smile returned as she eased her fingers into Seto’s sticky hair, lather quickly forming and seeping between her fingers. She wasn’t even paying attention to the expression on Seto’s face —much less where his eyes were wandering— as she styled his hair with the shampoo.
“Ah, done! I now pronounce you… Setosaurus!” Téa burst into another fit of giggles at the sight of her boyfriend, his hair done up in five flat, plate-like triangles. His hair wasn’t quite as long as Yugi’s, so the spikes were rather small, but nonetheless…
Seto regained enough composure to smear away some steam from the glass siding of the shower and take a glance at himself. He quickly ducked under the shower head to rinse out the offending hairdo, but he was far from letting Téa get away so easily— especially when she’d put him so suddenly in the spot like that.
He wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen or where they were going to go with this— but at that particular moment, he didn’t care.
With one swift movement, he swung Téa into his arms. While before, she hadn’t been pressed entirely up against him, now she most definitely was. The smile abruptly slipped off her face as she gazed, unblinking, up at Seto, wondering what he was about to do.
Much to her astonishment, there was another loud SPLOOT! noise, and then Téa found herself trapped in Seto’s embrace, subject to his own version of artistic hairstyling. A frustrating amount of shampoo later, Seto smirked and wordlessly turned Téa to face the glass paneling. When she caught sight of her hair, fanned out all around her neck like a giant umbrella, she turned an even brighter scarlet than before.
“Téa-ceratops,” Seto finally said, the first words out of his mouth since Téa walked into his shower naked.
The smile on her face seemed to still time itself, and the moment could have stretched on and on. At last, she ducked her blushing face from view and allowed herself to rinse the shampoo from her hair, carefully reaching around Seto so she would condition her tangled locks. She was hogging the hot water, she knew, but Seto wasn’t saying anything about it. He wasn’t even moving. If it weren’t for the fact that she could somehow feel him standing right behind her, Téa might have thought Seto left the shower— probably out of embarrassment.
All the same, it was startling when a large, warm hand fixed itself to her hip, first sliding up to just under her breast, and then down again, almost down to her thighs. Téa swallowed a lump in her throat, resisting the sense of vertigo that had her wanting to tip backward into Seto’s arms.
When Seto spoke again, his voice was husky and deep, quite unlike anything Téa had ever heard before.
‘Maybe I’m just imagining things, what with the water interfering and the acoustics of this weird bathroom…’
But his lips were startlingly close to her ear, and the water wasn’t interfering with his speech at all.
“Why did you come here, Téa?”
Was that some kind of a trick question? Did he mean ‘here’ here, as in, the shower, or did he mean ‘here’ as in the Kaiba Mansion, his house, his life, his space in general? Téa fumbled for an appropriate answer, tempted to start playing with her fingers while she formulated some wild answer in her head.
But they were standing completely naked together in a shower— there was nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide… and no reason to do either.
The answer came to her as if it had been in her mouth all along. She turned around slowly, clapping Seto’s hands back around her slender body and pushing herself against him with only slight force.
“Because I’m ready.”
The water in the standing shower slowly began to cool, but Seto Kaiba only half-realized it when his breath came out in puffs of white steam.
After Téa’s soft-spoken declaration, any shyness she had melted away. She didn’t seem to have a shred of hesitation as she moved around Seto, eventually rubbing a blue-white bar of soap over his form, watching little bubbles spring up under her touch and slide away, down, down…
A healthy blush crossed her cheeks when she dared to let her gaze drop below his slender hips; when she looked back up again, Seto was blushing deeply too, and forcing himself to keep his gaze riveted to the wall.
“Don’t you want to look at me, Seto?” Téa finally asked, her voice coming out as a strained whisper. Part of her was afraid this had all been some horrible mistake on her part, and she was rushing things —too far, too fast— and she would never be able to look at Seto the same way again. Worse would be if Seto was just putting up with her, and he really didn’t want her that way anymore…
‘If he ever really did in the first place.’ But Téa knew that the sort of passion they’d shared —on her birthday, and on Christmas Eve— could not be so easily faked, nor forgotten.
Seto’s gaze finally left the tiling on the sides of the shower and reached her face. Téa shifted slightly, holding herself away from Seto and keeping her gaze fixed on his. Slowly, his gaze dipped lower, hesitating only momentarily on that last strip of skin before her collarbone. The moment he sucked in a sharp breath, Téa knew he’d gotten over his hesitation.
The sound of the water streaming from the shower became a distant memory; the only thing Seto could hear was the furious pounding of his heart against his ribcage, his pulse loud and throbbing in his ears.
It wasn’t the sort of thought he had often. As superficial as people tended to think Seto Kaiba was, he didn’t base his opinions of others based on their looks alone— it was their attitudes and actions that made them who they were. And right now, Seto found himself utterly mesmerized by Téa, although she had hardly spoken. It wasn’t just that she’d been so bold and surprising: it was that she continued to be somewhat shy and yet press for his opinion, for his acceptance.
She wanted to know whether he wanted her.
The truth was, he’d only thought about it during those rare occasions when things got heated between them— and the last time had been late on Christmas, when he’d at last realized he was in love with her. Though they’d continued to share the same bed, exhaustion often wiped away any chance of passion between them; besides, they had decided that “it” was either too soon or too risky for them.
At the moment, Seto couldn’t remember which of those things Téa had cited as her excuse the last time around. It probably didn’t matter, anyway.
Everything that had ever been hidden from him —because of a too-tight, borrowed uniform blouse, a satin camisole lined in lace, or a bikini top sporting tropical flower designs— was now right before his eyes, there for the taking, if he so wanted.
It was as if his higher brain functions abruptly shut down, and the last coherent thought Seto could recall thinking was ‘I do want.’
After that, everything was a tangle of raw sensations— the touch of the bathroom tile against his palm as he pressed Téa against one of the walls; the sound of water running somewhere, the perfect vision she made —silken hair streaming down her shoulders, creamy skin stretching into eternity, and soft hues of pink gracing her cheeks and her breasts.
Neither of them could recall just how long they spent in that shower, mindlessly kissing one another. However long it was, his arms end up wound around her while her fingers somehow got themselves tangled in his wet hair.
Seto’s last kiss had been hard and unrelenting, and it left Téa very nearly breathless. Her hands dropped to her side and her chest heaved, but her gaze remained fixed on him.
“It’s getting a bit cold… isn’t it?” she managed, her eyes wide and dark.
It took a moment for Seto to process her words, as the whole of him was still very much focused on Téa and getting her to touch him again. He decided that the best course of action was to shut the water off and get them both to someplace suitably warm and comfortable— where they could finish what they started.
Fortunately or unfortunately, they hardly made it out of the shower stall, let alone the bathroom. Téa very nearly slipped trying to walk backward out of the stall, either unwilling or unable to leave Seto’s firm embrace. He managed to catch her before she could slide onto the tile and possibly hurt herself, but the move only brought her naked body even closer against his.
For a moment, they both stood still and rigid, their eyes locked on one another, unblinking. What happened next seemed more out of instinct than any coherent thought process, but Seto found himself craning his neck downward to kiss Téa once more. His grip on her shoulders tightened, a hint of desperation creeping into his touch. All he wanted was to mesh their bodies together…
It was in a haze of thought and sensation that Seto realized his dream had been something like this. On a dark, cold Christmas morning many months ago, he dreamt about being with Téa. After waking up decidedly aroused and confused, he’d forced himself not to think of her sexually, when so many occasions had arisen that proved they weren’t ready for that step. Not at that time… or maybe not ever.
But all of that seemed to be changing in the minutes that followed. The damp, wayward steps from the bathroom to the bedroom, the haphazard attempts to dry off with towels that would not stay wrapped around them— all were signs of what was to come, and a fierce determination rose in Seto: this time, nothing would stop them. They both wanted this. They both needed this.
Somewhere between lips dragging across skin and tongues darting out of mouths, Seto and Téa found themselves back in the bedroom. Seto, being the taller one with an obscene amount of control over the situation, fumbled as he tried to lead Téa to the bed— but he only succeeded in tripping over a stray sheet and abruptly landing on top of her with his legs still hanging off the edge of the bed.
Téa smiled a tiny little smile and shifted, allowing Seto to throw the offending sheets to the floor and get on top of the bed and under the covers properly. He lowered his head to caress the curve of her neck with his lips once more, occasionally allowing his tongue to sneak out and lick her still-damp skin. Téa’s hands moved up and down his back in warm, tantalizing strokes, tempting him to just close the distance between their bodies once and for all.
Unfortunately, Téa’s body had other ideas. She tried to hold it in —really, she did— but she couldn’t suppress it any longer.
The tiniest of sneezes escaped her, and she immediately flushed red and tried to bury her face under the covers. Téa wished Seto would just forget about it and keep going— she was so tense and wound up, so insanely ready that it almost scared her.
But he stopped.
His body stilled completely on top of hers, and when Téa dared to raise her gaze, Seto was eyeing her critically, a strange expression on his lips.
“W-What?” Téa ventured after a moment.
“You’re sick,” Seto finally said. He sighed deeply and shifted off to the side, no longer straddling Téa’s slender form.
“I-I am not!” Téa protested, her body immediately sensing the lack of warmth just above her own. But at the moment she spoke, another tickle filled her nose, and she sneezed again.
Seto only looked at her with a raised eyebrow, his lips quirked upward in an “I told you so” sort of smirk.
Téa half felt like crying. She’d worked up this immense amount of courage in a sudden burst, and now… she was so sure they were ready. But they weren’t going to go through with it. She’d convinced herself that at least she was ready, she was willing to give herself to Seto Kaiba, and…
‘He doesn’t want me.’
The whole of her went cold as tingles and goose bumps formed up and down her limbs. She wanted to get away from here now, to get away from the softly radiating warmth and fulfilling presence that was Seto. Since when had he become such a feature in her life?
‘Stupid question…’ Téa groused. She already knew the answer: ‘Since I fell in love with him.’
“It— it’s not because you don’t want to, right?” Téa finally mumbled as she focused on keeping her eyes pinched shut. She started to see spots of color, but she did her best to ignore them —and ignore the pressure Seto put on the mattress beside her, and the way her skin flushed hot and cold whenever he brushed against her.
“I don’t want to— not like this,” Seto finally said.
A dull ache filled the inside of Téa’s chest, feeling heavy and empty at the same time.
“I want it to be perfect,” Seto whispered, and with one swift tug, he brought Téa’s body against his once more, locking his bent knees behind her own.
“It’s really that I’m sick?” Téa questioned, realizing she did have a bit of a congested sound to her voice. But was that really what was stopping Seto? They’d come so far to get to this point, and now…!
“Not that you were worried about protection or anything, because I-I’m on the pill now…” she trailed off softly, her face growing a brighter pink. She wasn’t facing Seto, and she was immensely grateful for that fact for the moment it remained true. Seto swiftly moved Téa by her shoulders and faced her, the look on his face all-too serious.
“You really… I mean, it’s not just me wanting this? It’s okay with you?”
Téa swiped two fingers across Seto’s nose and scowled playfully at him. “Do you really think I would have walked into your shower with the intention of seducing you if I was afraid to do this? Come on, Seto.”
Seto smirked, but he didn’t say anything.
“Besides,” Téa continued, stuffing her hand under a pillow and retrieving a small square of plastic, “I bought this just in case.”
Seto’s eyes widened a fraction as he stared at the condom package between Téa’s fingers— proof that she’d not just been thinking about it, but thinking about going through with it. It was a far larger step than Seto himself had taken, though he’d continued to mentally berate himself for thinking of Téa in a sexual way— when she obviously didn’t want to take that next step. How wrong he had been!
“Perfect, Téa,” Seto repeated. He snatched the offending package from Téa’s fingers and tossed it away from the both of them. Téa’s eyes followed the square as it sailed across the room and landed somewhere— likely not to be found for a very long while.
“It’ll be a month before the pills are totally safe…” Téa managed shyly. “I just started them two weeks ago.”
“There’s no rush.”
Téa swallowed. “None?”
“‘Cause I am going to get better real soon, you know that, right?” Even as she said it, she could feel the excitement drain from her body, and exhaustion slowly crept in, taking its place. She wasn’t ‘all better’ just yet.
Seto laughed softly and tugged Téa against his body once more.
“The kinds of things you’re making me think right now, Téa…” Seto shifted beside her, muffling his voice in the curtain of her still-damp hair. While moments before, Téa being sick was what stopped him from making love to her, he could hardly care right now. All he wanted was to be close to her, and to feel her naked warmth against him.
Téa giggled softly, tiredness filtering into her voice.
Suddenly, Seto spoke again, his voice a bit louder and more intense than before.”I mean it. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before, Téa. I…I’ve never wanted to make love to anyone.”
There was something about the way he said her name —not so much the other words he said, just the voice he used— that sent a delicious tingle rushing down her spine. Téa shifted under the sheets and the thick comforter, curling her body against Seto’s behind her.
“I never even thought I would feel this way about someone.” His voice dropped an octave, and he added, almost as an afterthought, “I never thought I would want to be part of someone else so badly.”
“Ever?” Téa asked softly. “You never thought about falling in love?” There was more to it than that: there was the desire and lust that they’d been steadfastly ignoring the past two months —at least. But Téa knew if she brought up the subject of sex again, things might get heated between them— and for better or for worse, now that Seto had refused to make love to her as “sick” as she was, the desire to do the same had left Téa almost completely. Instead, she felt achy and tired— and just a little relieved.
“I never had time, I suppose,” Seto said after a momentary pause. One of his hands moved from outside the pile of blankets to the warmth within. He grasped Téa’s hands, curled up against her chest, in his own embrace, his fingers absently playing across her breasts.
“But here we are,” Téa murmured as sleep started to claim her. “I don’t think either of us could have ever imagined it.”
“You and me? Never.”
Téa giggled softly again, and shook Seto’s hands away from hers. She turned in the bed and faced Seto, her face still a rosy pink and her smile gentle and wide.
“But look at us now.”
Seto’s lips curled upward as she shifted and he thrust a leg between Téa’s knees. He drew her close until her head was tucked on his shoulder, her arms wrapped around the expanse of his bare torso. The slightest movement would stir arousal in him again, and he knew it— but there was no worry there.
One quick glance down to the girl tucked into him, and he knew Téa had fallen asleep.
Seto sighed deeply and smiled. He briefly squeezed Téa’s slender form against his and resigned himself to sleep. His last thought before his eyes finally fluttered shut and he drifted into a dreamless sleep was ‘One day…’
Sometimes, he wondered why he bothered.
Every night was the same— he always sat in the same place, he always ordered the same drink, and he always waited… and waited… and waited.
She never came.
He was always waiting, always wondering if the Téa that had noticed him —that remembered him as a person, not a vessel for some Millennium Spirit— would notice him again. She had once— and for moment, Ryou Bakura had allowed himself to think he maybe meant something to Téa. But there was still so much he didn’t understand about her and her life, or the choices she made.
One of those ‘choices’ had a name and a face: Seto Kaiba.
Ryou didn’t have any personal dislike toward the CEO, but to see him and Téa together was surprising, to say the least. But slowly, that shock wore away, and was replaced with a strange feeling that Ryou couldn’t quite define. It was something like disgust coupled with envy, but for the life of him, Ryou could not figure out why.
It wasn’t as if he harbored any romantic feelings toward Téa after all… right?
Whether or not he could truthfully answer that question, Ryou Bakura was suddenly put to the test when the object of his thoughts appeared.
For a moment, he thought he was imagining things. Why would she be here?
Not… for him, right?
As soon as he’d asked the question, he had his answer: No.
Téa shifted through the crowds easily, going mostly unnoticed as her outfit looked like almost all the other girls’ choice of clothing: sparkly, low-cut, and revealing.
She moved with purpose, with direction. She was only there to see one person— and as she breezed past him without even looking, he realized that person wasn’t him.
The blonde woman behind the bar turned at the sound of someone calling her name; it wasn’t usual for people to get friendly enough with the staff to be on a first-name basis with them. On the rare occasion someone did show up regularly enough to learn everyone’s names, Mai didn’t exactly warm up to strangers who pretended to know her. Thus, it was a surprise when someone who did genuinely know her showed up at the bar— though not exactly a pleasant surprise.
“Téa, what the heck are you doing here?” Mai hissed as she dried a glass. She hurriedly shoved it under the counter and shot her friend a glare. “I thought you said you weren’t going to come back here!”
Téa blinked innocently and sat at the bar, a mess of silver bracelets on her wrist clinking on the countertop. “When did I ever say that?”
Mai only rolled her eyes. “What do you need— and please don’t say ‘to get drunk,’ okay?”
“Well, I could use a stiff drink…” Téa admitted with a sheepish tone to her voice.
Mai’s glare only intensified. She slammed a glass of ice water on the counter and waited for Téa to speak.
“Advice, Mai, advice. What else do I pester you about all the time?” Téa tossed Mai a cynical look and downed a quarter of her ice water.
“Ah, now that’s a different request altogether. What can I do you for?”
Téa shook her head in resignation. “You’re starting to sound like Joey.”
Mai had the grace to blush lightly before she turned around and started mixing a drink.
“It’s… Seto again. The both of us, we—”
“Hold it!” Mai interrupted her by holding a hand up in the air. “You’re not here to tell me the two of you got in some astronomical fight again, there’s another conspiracy for murder, and you need a place to crash for a while, are you? Because— sorry Téa, you know I like you— but no.”
Téa shook her head fervently and blushed. “It’s not that at all.”
Her curiosity piqued by Téa’s strange reaction, Mai paused and leaned on the counter, eager to hear more. “So… what is it then?”
Téa looked down and refused to meet Mai’s gaze. Instead, she snatched one of the bar napkins from the countertop and started twisting it as tightly as her fingers could manage. After a few minutes of this show of nervousness, Mai shook her head.
“Look girl, don’t make me guess. I have a pretty vivid imagination.”
“We almost slept together!” Téa blurted, her voice coming out raspy.
Mai almost dropped her finished Sex on the Beach drink and stared at Téa with wide, violet eyes. After a moment, Téa’s little announcement sunk in, and Mai found herself smirking rather broadly.
“About damn time, I’d say. The two of you probably have more tension than an elastic band.”
“Almost, Mai,” Téa repeated bitterly. “We almost slept together.”
Mai blinked owlishly. “So why didn’t you go through with it?” When Téa stared at her with a pleading expression, Mai relented. “Okay, so you’re going to make me guess. But at least this shouldn’t be too hard… it’s probably not another case of you having second thoughts about being with Kaiba, of all people…”
Téa shook her head vehemently.
“And it’s probably not another case of Kaiba getting amnesia and not remembering.”
“So I’m thinking it’s… you regretting that you didn’t go through with it when you could have.”
This time, Téa didn’t shake her head yes or no; her chin just dropped to her chest and she looked extremely glum.
“Geez. Something told me I’d have to give this talk to someone sooner or later. I just didn’t expect it to be this soon, or to YOU, Téa.” Mai ran her fingers through her hair, the expression on her face betraying her exasperation.
Téa raised her gaze and waited for Mai to speak. Unbeknownst to the both of them, Ryou Bakura also listened in on their conversation— but he remained hidden in the shadows, concealed by a pillar holding up the second floor balcony of the club.
But part of him couldn’t focus entirely on the words that Mai and Téa were saying; it felt like part of him was sinking into the darkness, into himself.
He hated this feeling that was a subtle mix of nausea and exhaustion; it felt like he was losing control of himself, and that only meant one thing.
‘I won’t let you—!’
To Ryou’s surprise, that voice that usually remained so silent within him spoke. < NO! This body is mine— and so is Téa’s. > And after that, Ryou’s world went black.
“Listen honey, let me tell you something,” Mai said, an odd tone creeping into her voice. She shoved the Sex on the Beach onto the counter, expecting the deep orange drink to either be taken away by a nearby patron or else go ‘stale.’ It didn’t matter either way. “You know sex is a bigger deal than most people let on.”
“I… I know. That’s why we stopped.” Téa inhaled deeply. “Or why he stopped is more like it,” she added under her breath.
“What did he say was his reason— or do I not want to know?” Mai asked, an eyebrow quirked upward in questioning.
“Because I was sick! Isn’t that the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?”
To Téa’s surprise, Mai smiled. “He’s got more self-control than most men I know.”
“…You’re agreeing with him?”
“Téa, do you honestly want to remember your first time as the time when you felt so nauseous you could pass out, or the time you sneezed all over your boyfriend’s face as he tried to kiss you?” Téa’s horrified expression was answer enough. “No, see? You don’t. You want it to be perfect. Some of us don’t get the opportunity to really think about it and try again— but you do. So give yourself the chance to cool off and think it over. How do you really want it to be your first time?”
“How do you know it’s my first time?” Téa asked, her lips curled into a half-frown.
Mai rolled her eyes. “Trust me, you wouldn’t be coming to me for advice if it wasn’t. After your first time, everything changes. Believe me, I know.”
“Do tell,” Téa grinned wickedly and swallowed part of the drink Mai had made. “Mmm, Sex on the Beach, right? I’ll have to suggest that to Seto sometime.”
“…You’re horrible, you know that?” Mai sighed. “This is what you get for hanging around boys your whole life.”
“Maybe!” Téa laughed, nearly finishing the cranberry juice, peach schnapps, pineapple juice, and vodka combination. “At least I can embarrass you into talking though, right?”
“Maybe you can learn something from my mistakes!” Mai challenged, swiping the glass from Téa’s hands and polishing off the rest of the drink. Her expression abruptly changed from cheerful and friendly to something quieter and sad.
“My first time… I thought everything was perfect. The right guy, the right time… but I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
Téa silently wondered how long Mai had decided to wait before she had sex for the first time. The blonde had been horrible burned by her own best friend back in high school, the same woman who now co-owned and taught at the Domino Performing Arts Center, where Téa went for classes. Mai had once told Téa that after her best friend had betrayed her in such a way, she refused to ever trust anyone again- but obviously, that had changed at some point.
“Look Téa, the long and short of it is, you can forget about bad first kisses. You can say they didn’t count or whatever. But you can’t get back your virginity. You lose it, it’s gone. The memory will stay with you no matter what.”
“What happened, Mai?” Téa asked softly. She wasn’t sure she wanted to press her friend for more information, but if Mai was forthcoming with her own experiences, maybe she was right… maybe Téa could learn something.
“Long story short, I met this guy. Thought I was in love. Thought he was in love too. I figured maybe I was wrong about all guys, maybe there is somebody out there I can love and trust and give myself to.” Mai’s hand dropped to her stomach abruptly, and she sighed. “I got pregnant the first time I slept with him. I thought he’d be happy, he’d understand— he’d want to marry me, start a family or something. I guess I’d gotten in over my head with romantic thoughts and stuff, because the next thing I knew, my father disowned me, the guy abandoned me, and I was left with nothing.”
Téa found it very difficult to come up with anything appropriate to say, so she just stayed silent and shocked.
“…I ended up aborting the baby. I hated myself for it afterwards. Still do, in a way. I’m a lot more selective about the guys I hang around and how far I get with them. I don’t want something like that to happen again— not to me, and not to my friends.”
Mai’s expression was startlingly serious, and she regarded Téa critically. “I want to believe that Kaiba’s the right guy for you, Téa. But I’m not going to lie to you and say that first loves last forever. They don’t. Someday, you might find yourself growing apart from Kaiba, or finding out that he hasn’t changed the way you wish he would. And maybe you’ll break up. You have to be ready for the consequences of whatever you do.”
“I… I don’t know how long it’ll last either,” Téa finally said. “Part of me does want it to last forever, just because… well, you know me, I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. I’m probably too optimistic for my own good. But…” The brunette started to play with her fingers, hiding her eyes from the flashing club lights. She didn’t want to show the tears that were building behind her eyes, threatening to smudge her mascara and her carefully-applied eye shadow. A few deep breaths later, and she was ready to speak again.
“But after my parents died, I think I got a bit more realistic about the world and the people in it. This isn’t a nice place. Not everyone can be reformed. Some people… they really just need to go to hell,” Téa managed a weak laugh, even as her cheeks flushed with the effort to keep her tears in check. “But some people —people like Seto— they can change, and they do. So I want to believe in him, and believe in us… for as long as I can.”
Mai smiled, a tight smile, but a sincere smile nonetheless. “I hope you guys last. The fact that the two of you got together at all still amazes me.”
“Speak for yourself,” Téa smirked. “You and Joey?”
The blonde bartender turned a delicate shade of pink. “What about us?”
Téa only laughed.
“We made a deal, Téa… but now the terms have changed.”
‘The deal’ was made back when Téa opened her mind and her soul to the darkness that was Bakura— in order to save her from the malicious spirit of Gozaburo Kaiba. She’d agreed to befriend Ryou, if just so the Spirit of the Millennium Ring could continue to use Ryou as his vessel, his means to an end. But Téa seemed to have gotten awfully absorbed in her home life with Seto Kaiba, forgetting about the promise she made and the connection they shared… and that simply wasn’t acceptable.
Bakura kept close watch on Téa, enjoying the waves of emotions he continued to sense off her. Part of him —his spirit, his essence— remained inside her, deepening the connection that they already had. The connection that had no rhyme nor reason to it, the thing that continued to drive Bakura’s pursuit of the girl.
Little did Bakura know that as he watched Téa and Mai talk about some upcoming duelist tournament, someone was watching him.
Odagiri was still 15 years old, but he’d had more than his fair share of experience with gangs and clubs. DV8 was a second home to him, and he made it a point to know each and every face that returned to the club more than once.
So when Wheeler’s friend Gardner showed up again, Odagiri made it a point to keep an eye on her. It didn’t take him long to notice other people that had the same idea as he did.
‘Ghostie.’ Odagiri recognized the white-haired boy from his previous visits to the club— and as of late, he’d been coming more and more often. But something seemed off about him tonight— especially with the way he was staring at Téa.
Odagiri made up his mind to tell Wheeler as soon as he could— if not through Serenity, then through Odagiri’s sister, who attended Domino High in a different class than Joey and his friends.
The only question was… what would he tell them? He could hardly explain just what felt so ‘off’ about this guy— assuming they even knew who he was. It was entirely possible Téa had friends that Joey and the others didn’t know about.
As Odagiri pondered over what he could tell Joey and the others, he continued to stare at the white-haired boy— until he turned abruptly and smiled maliciously at Odagiri himself. Odagiri felt himself freeze from head to toe, any thoughts he’d been thinking disappearing from his head. The flashing lights and pulsating beat of the music faded into the background, and the next thing he saw was total darkness.