WDKY Chapter 5: Dwelling

Version 4.0 – Minor fixes

Conceptualized/First Written: 10/22/03
Completed/Posted: 10/23/03
Edits: 8/15/04,12/4/05, 3/23/08

Rated PG13 for angst and such…

Disclaimer: ME, own Yu-Gi-Oh!? I wish! (I can’t believe I forgot a disclaimer before… someone smack me) 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.


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. But now she’s got other things on her mind— like how Seto Kaiba stole her first kiss…



Nothing was helping.

Not warm milk, not herbal tea, not classical music, not ANYTHING! And already it was Sunday, the hours slipping away…

‘I can’t get it out of my head…’ Téa thought dazedly to herself, willing her eyes closed. They burned. Her eyes were red and bloodshot from all the crying last night— she’d hoped to cryherself to sleep, but the Sandman evaded her that night.

Sleep never came.

The hours ticked away, midnight turning into 1 a.m., 2 a.m.… and it seemed, in the blink of Téa’s contrasting red-and-blue eyes, it was suddenly 6 a.m. She knew she hadn’t slept any. All she could think about was…

‘Him. It. Me! That stupid idiot! Or is the idiot really me?’

Despite what felt like endless streams of tears and dark hours dragging on into the night, Téa was no more rested than she had been the moment Seto Kaiba’s lips had touched hers.

Electricity would have been the best word to describe the absolute shock filtering through her system, her blood, her entire mind, body, and soul.

Still, she couldn’t quite believe it, but she hadn’t slept any in order for such a thought to be a mere dream.

‘It really happened. He really… he really kissed me.’

But it hadn’t been at all like Téa had been envisioning.

‘What am I thinking? We came close… maybe ONCE, but we… I never wanted… That idiot!’

Her anger at Seto Kaiba didn’t help things any; the situation hadn’t changed. And lying awake in her bed, constantly running her fingers over her bruised lips didn’t change anything either.

So, after she finally changed into a big t-shirt and a pair of blue sweats, she stumbled down the stairs into the kitchen, in the hopes that she could concoct something that would help her sleep. But she’d ended up staying in there, sitting at the kitchen table, going over the scenario over and over again in her mind— staring at the countertop tiles, into space, into the dark, even as it receded intothe growing daylight.

At 6:54 a.m., the door separating the dining area and the living area from the kitchen and the entertainment area swung open, Seto Kaiba stumbling through it.

“Ow ow ow…” he mumbled, one palm clutching his head. Téa glanced up in surprise, but the surprise wasn’t so much from Seto as it was from the gleaming microwave clock beside him.

Seto rifled through one of the upper cabinets beside all the appliances, finding a bottle of aspirin and quickly dumping three small white tablets into his hand. When he turned around, he noticed Téa, but his eyes didn’t widen much; they were just as bloodshot as Téa’s, and he looked incredibly tired.

“Hey. What are you doing up this early?” he asked, grabbing a glass from the dish pan. Téa stared at him, wondering why in the seven hells he would ask such a stupid question, when last night he—

“Never mind, my head hurts too much to process anything logical anyway. And I’m sure you have a perfectly logical reason…” Seto trailed off, dropping the three painkillers into his mouth and chugging his glass of water. When he finished, he wiped his mouth on his shirt sleeve.

“Massive headache,” he explained, though Téa hadn’t asked a single question in regards to his pill-popping. “There is one logical explanation you can offer me, though. And there has to be a logical explanation for this, unless I had one hell of a dream. How the hell did we get home from the Ball last night?”


Téa was staring at the countertop again, but this time, her thoughts weren’t lost in last night’s kiss —not as impossibly as before, anyway— but in Seto’s words from earlier.

‘He doesn’t remember?’

But that didn’t make any sense, did it?

‘It… he tasted like alcohol.’ Téa remembered with a slight haze. A spicy sort of taste, almost burning. She didn’t know exactly how she recognized the sensation as alcohol, but it certainly would explain things.

‘If he can’t remember coming home last night, then that means he can’t remember that.’

Téa’s eyes widened in shocked realization.

‘Do I really want him to remember, though? He must have been drunk, but… I couldn’t even tell!’

Téa remembered a glass bottle shattering against the door to the Wheeler home, the one time she had visited the place with Tristan and Yugi. Joey’s father was an alcoholic, almost always in a state of drunkenness.

He was the stereotypical image of what Téa had pictured a drunken man was like. The night previous, Seto hadn’t been like that at ALL.

He seemed… quiet. Angry about something, but he wasn’t throwing bottles or chairs or anything. And when we got home, he…’

With startling clarity, Téa remembered Seto Kaiba’s biting words, his accusations, almost, demanding to know how she managed to smile, managed to be happy, despite her parents dying only a month ago.

‘He thought I’d forgotten. No one can ever forget something so— so horrible! I lost so much in one day, and…’

What didn’t make any sense in Téa’s mind was why Seto would have said such things to her in the first place. He, of all people, knew the pain of losing loved ones. He knew that it was impossible to forget about them.

‘But maybe he doesn’t know me as well as I thought. He doesn’t know that if I don’t try to smile, if I don’t try to be happy, be myself, then the world just isn’t a nice place for me anymore. It’ll all fall apart, and I’ll go down with it.’

After many months of being in the shadow of those with bigger destinies, more talents and skills, and possible dreams, Téa knew how dangerous entertaining thoughts of doubt were.

‘The moment I start to doubt myself… the moment I start to believe that I really don’t have anything left is when it all starts to come true.’

Téa knew— she still had her friends, and, thanks to Seto, she was blessed enough not just to have a home, but almost a family.

‘But what kind of a family member says things like that to someone?’ Téa wondered. She would never forget Seto’s words.

“You’re everything I wanted to be when I lost them…. I want your determination. Your courage, your… ability to smile like that.”

‘It doesn’t make any sense. Seto Kaiba, jealous of me? This is the guy that has the entire world at his fingertips, endless resources at his disposal, more money than be counted by human hands… a little brother that adores him, and a house big enough for twenty people! Why… why would he be jealous of me, for my stupid cheerleader attitude, nonetheless? Everyone always says I’m too optimistic, and naive… but I’ve seen the real world, I’ve seen reality, and it hurts! I have to smile, even when it hurts, or…’

“I want you.”

She could still hear his voice, dangerously low and almost gruff. Filled with desire. His breath hot on her face, his eyes pools of bottomless black.

‘That wasn’t the Seto Kaiba I knew. His eyes… his eyes weren’t so full of emptiness. So devoid of everything… even hope.’


A few hours of rest were just what Seto Kaiba needed. He didn’t understand just why he’d woken up in his office, still in his horribly uncomfortable tuxedo, draped across the couch like his body was some sort of throw rug.

And the splitting headache hadn’t helped any.

While he’d worked up the willpower to get up and head to the kitchen for some aspirin, he’d come up with all sorts of adjectives for his newfound companion— pain.

‘Like someone cut my head open with an ax. Like I got sliced and diced as if I were a melon. What the hell did I eat last night?’

It had to have been something in the Chicken Apple Marinade. There was just no other possible explanation— at least, not in Seto Kaiba’s mind.

But then, Seto Kaiba’s mind was rather hazy at the moment, clouded with pain and strikingly intense sensations. They were still flitting around in the forefront of his mind, bright colors and too-loud sounds, like the squeaking of the swinging door in the kitchen…

‘I’ll have to get the hinges oiled….’

Still in a daze, he grabbed a bottle of pills and downed them, along with a glass of water— noticing Téa’s presence. Her face was averted from his, but he knew that she realized he was there. He wasn’t entirely sure how he knew —maybe it was from her rigid posture— but he just did. And though she didn’t respond to him at all, he did feel the need to ask her—

“How the hell did we get home from the Ball last night?”

And she’d looked up at him, her eyes wide in surprise. With some amount of clarity in his fogged mind, Seto realized that Téa looked just as bad as he did— if not worse. Her eyes were bloodshot, dark circles making the brilliant blue of her eyes seem a cloudy gray.

“We took the limo. You… you don’t remember?” she asked, her voice trembling.

“No,” Seto shook his head, the movement agitating his headache once more. “Nothing past… nothing past the dance, really. My mind’s really hazy now. I… better go get some rest.”

“…Yeah.”

And so he’d left the kitchen. After taking a few hours of sleep, he woke up to the most annoying sound in the world, amplified a few hundred times by his intense headache.

The phone.

“Yes?” Seto gripped the receiver of his phone with eyes still closed, fighting against the bright daylight beginning to stream through his curtains. He hadn’t drawn the heavy ones last night —after all, he’d passed out in his office.

There was no answer, but a faint “Mister Kaiba?” from somewhere caused the young man to open his eyes to slits, realizing he’d held the receiver upside down.

“What?” he said, this time with the receiver upright.

“Mister Kaiba! I’m very sorry to disturb you this morning.” It was Mrs. Kodaku, but rather than sound like her usual lecturing-mother-self, she sounded a bit worried— agitated, even.

‘If she doesn’t make this explanation for such an early morning call quick, I’ll be the agitated one!’

“But it seems we have some problems. Last night a member of one of the tabloid press managed to get a few pictures and an interview with Miss Gardner last night, and the things the tabloid says are not exactly good, sir!”

“WHAT?” Seto gritted out, moving to sit up in bed.

“The tabloid, sir… will come out this evening if we don’t do something to stop it. I realize Miss Gardner was your date, but….”

“Téa? That damn tabloid reporter said something about her?”

“Y-Yes, sir. And he’s managed to pull some rather disturbing information on the girl. If this gets out…”

“I’ll be right there.”

And with a click, Seto was up and out of bed, storming to his closet to get dressed and head out— even with a pounding headache.


“Okay, I’m going now!” Mokuba’s cheery voice called as he dashed out the front door. Unlike the other days when Téa was at the front door, letting Seto and Mokuba out, Seto had already left for Kaiba Corporation… and Mokuba was headed to a classmate’s house to work on a project.

Téa lay on the couch, her eyes fixed to the ceiling some six meters above.

“Have fun,” she mumbled out, not even glancing in Mokuba’s direction. The young boy cast a worried glance at his ‘Big Sister’ before dashing out the door, slamming it shut as he left.

The sound rang in Téa’s ears even five minutes after the smaller boy had gone.

Every time she closed her eyes, she kept seeing it again… feeling it again.

“AUGH! I have to get this out of my head! Must de-stress!” Téa sprung off the couch, dashing upstairs on nimble feet, rummaging through the CD tower near her desk. She picked out a CD and dashed back downstairs, opening the case while she tried to decipher the many buttons on Seto Kaiba’s impressive home stereo system.

“Okay, Power… On.”

“HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY GOOD MORNING TO YOU, THIS IS KBBBLX, THE—”

“Whoa. Way too loud.” Téa fiddled with the volume a moment, pressing a few more buttons on the Sony stereo before pressing ‘CD’ and powering up the 7-disc CD-changer. She only loaded the one CD in it, a mix of some of her favorite dance tunes, and set the mode to random.

“Okay now… Play.” Téa turned the volume up slightly from when she’d forced it all the way down. Taking a few unsteady steps towards the area behind the couch, where perfect marble floor met soft white carpet, Téa tried to get herself into a relaxed state of mind.

“Just dance. De-stress. Just dance,” she murmured to herself, stretching slightly as the CD-changer whirred, going through the many tracks on the CD to pick one— track 6.

There was a burst of music, violins and drums, and then a fading quiet as the singer began.

The moonlight…
Shines down interstellar beams
And the groove tonight
Is something more than you’ve ever seen

‘Carry on Dancing, by Savage Garden,’ Téa realized, moving her arms. She twirled in place a moment, careful that her bare feet wouldn’t slip. As the words were spoken, she moved, lithe and graceful, running stretched palms over her body and reaching out towards a sky she couldn’t see.

The stars and planets taking shape
A stolen kiss has come too late

Téa realized with a jolt that the words were speaking to her— as she suddenly spun and found herself facing that very wall Seto had pushed her up against the night before. And, like the shadow of her memory, she could almost see herself —see them— night descending on the house as Seto Kaiba forcefully leaned in towards a frightened and almost angry Téa, kissing her.

The real Téa stared, shaking her head, and turned away from that side of the area, focusing on the music once more.

(In the moonlight)
Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing

(In the moonlight)
Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing

She could feel him pressed against her. She could sense his movements seconds before he made them, when they’d danced the night before. The way he’d twirled her outwards from him, keeping a firm and steady grip on her hand, not flinching in the slightest when she wound her way back into him, his arms locking around her as she pressed her back against his chest.

You’re never safe ’till you see the dawn
And if the clock strikes past midnight
The hope is gone
To move under…

(The moonlight)
Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing

Unable to dance without finding herself drawn to that space -that wall from last night- Téa closed her eyes, willing her body to move as she imagined it to, steps flowing from one into the next, her form sliding from one position into the next.

Memories assailed her, one after the next. That almost-kiss the night they’d been watching Toy Story with Mokuba. His embarrassed blush when he’d first asked her to the 50th Anniversary Ball. His gentle, welcoming smile as she’d descended the stairs in her velvet coat, Mokuba winking at her the whole time. His startled and perhaps even amazed gaze as he caught sight of her in her dress, revealed for the first time.

His emotionless, steel blue eyes, when she’d lectured him back at Duelist Kingdom. How she’d thought he didn’t care about anyone or anything— but himself.

Those selfsame eyes, color fading into black, just before his face closed the distance between them, his lips claiming hers.

(In the moonlight)
Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing

Move. Closer. Passion. Stronger.

Téa’s movements suddenly became jerky, in tempo with the music, but uncoordinated all the same. She remembered smothering her face with a pillow, embarrassed that she’d even THOUGHT about Seto Kaiba kissing her. Thought, there was no way he’d ever like her THAT way, no reason for her to even CARE whether he did or not. But then, she’d wanted him to… in a corner of her mind, she’d desperately wanted him to kiss her back then…

There’s a magic only two can tell
In the dark night
Ultra violet is a wicked spell

‘And now that he has, and I can’t stop thinking about it… but it’s… it’s not LIKE before! It wasn’t special, it wasn’t intimate it was…’

The stars and planets taking shape
A stolen kiss has come too late

‘Just that. Stolen. I didn’t expect it, I didn’t… I didn’t want it! Not that way…’

In the moonlight
Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing
In the moonlight

Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing

Moving on… Moving all night

And so Téa kept moving, kept dancing, her arms sliding down the length of her legs as she brought her left leg up in the air, balancing precariously on the ball of her right foot and then bringing her leg down swiftly, shifting into another position, fanning her arms out.

In the moonlight
Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing

‘I can almost… I can almost feel his arms around me…’

In the moonlight
Carry on, keep romancing,
Carry on, carry on dancing

Moving on… Moving all night

The song came to a close. During the new shuffle process, Téa heaved a sigh, taking the few steps across the white carpet to the CD player and shutting it off.

“This isn’t working,” she said aloud to herself. “There’s got to be another way to get this off my back.”

Téa headed back up to her room, glancing around, hoping for some sort of inspiration. And it came— in the form of her little pink cell phone


“Well, I gotta say Téa, I didn’t expect for you to call ME.”

Téa sighed, shaking her head, “Lately, I’ve had so much going on, I just… I have to tell someone.”

“Well shoot, girl. You know I’m your friend, and I’d be glad to act as a sounding board.”

Téa glanced up, a measure of surprise reflecting in her blue eyes. “You can keep a secret, right?”

Téa’s violet-eyed companion laughed cheerily, “Well I wouldn’t be a girl if I didn’t have my own, would I?” Mai Valentine’s expression faded, and she became serious again, “Of course I can, Téa. And I have to say that while we haven’t always been on the best of terms…” she trailed off, her eyes shifting to the left, glancing at the various stores she and Téa were passing in the Domino Mall, “But I’d like to think we’ve all seen enough hell to at least have some common bond.”

Téa smiled gratefully, “Thanks. And this shopping therapy is probably right up my alley.”

“It’s the best medicine, Téa. Now, let’s get started!”


Some forty minutes later, Téa and Mai were both loaded down with several bags of clothing, a few bags of accessories, and a couple of books.

They were headed towards the food court, both ready to discuss everything.

The two girls settled on getting some tapioca bubble drinks and pizza, with Mai opting for pepperoni and sausage, while Téa preferred a vegetarian slice, loaded with olives and bell peppers.

The latter girl was nibbling absently on her pizza, only finishing half of it before she distracted herself with twirling the oversized straw in her bubble drink while Mai ate. The older, violet-eyed girl raised a blonde eyebrow at Téa, wondering why she hadn’t said anything since they’d gotten to the food court.

“So,” she began, finishing off the last pepperoni, “What’s on your mind, Téa?”

“Oh, Mai…” Téa began with a sigh. “This is NUTS!”

“What’s nuts? You forget, Téa dear, I’m the uninformed party here. I can’t exactly help you if I don’t know what the problem is.”

Téa leaned back in the two-person booth, her own eyebrow raised in amusement, “You make me sound like a shrink patient.”

Mai only smirked, so Téa continued.

“This all began the night after I found out my parents died,” Téa began, closing her eyes. She could still remember, her memory clear, though in short bursts, Seto appearing at her house. She could remember him saying ‘If I were you Gardner, I wouldn’t turn it down,’ and she’d replied, ‘But you’re not me.’

‘Was that supposed to make sense?’ Téa wondered. ‘Then again, I wasn’t exactly thinking straight that day…’

“I’d spent the whole night before at the police station, filling out forms, getting details… and then, the next day, I just had to go to school…”

“Had to?” Mai raised an eyebrow, “After what happened, I would have thought you’d just go home…”

“But that’s the thing, Mai!” Téa looked up, blue eyes shimmering, “I didn’t have a home to go to!”

“Huh?” Mai asked eloquently, surprise written in her eyes.

“The police said I couldn’t stay at my own house for more than a night. Since I’m a minor and I have no other relatives…”

“Where did you stay then— not at some cheap hotel, right?”

“Far from it,” Téa responded, her voice dropping to a whisper.

“Then where? I remember the day after your parents’ funeral, Joey called me up, frantic that you’d been kidnapped or something, We swung by your house, and it was completely empty.”

“Rewind,” Téa murmured, “We’re still a week before all that. The guys treated me out to lunch- or they were going to, but some guy paid for everything. So we went to the movies after that… basically the guys were trying to cheer me up.”

“I guess it worked,” Mai winked, noting Téa’s slight smile as she remembered the day.

“Yeah. They really… they really made me feel a lot better. It didn’t change things any, but it did make going home a bit easier. Up until the part I realized I couldn’t go inside.”

“So you basically distracted yourself from the inevitable— that you couldn’t go home because of what the police said.”

“That and the fact that I didn’t have a key, since they were still rummaging through the rubble of my parents’ accident to see if they could find one,” Téa grumbled sarcastically. Mai made a surprised and somewhat disgusted face.

“Yikes.”

“And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, HE shows up.”

“He?” Mai queried, her curiosity officially piqued. So there was a guy involved.

“Seto Kaiba,” Téa said with a sigh. There were so many ways to say his name, but any time you said his whole name in a single breath, the listener was bound to know that whatever you had to say about the young CEO was serious.

Mai’s eyebrows shot up, but she didn’t voice her lack of real astonishment. Unlike the others at Téa’s parents’ funeral, she’d seen Seto Kaiba emerge from the same limo that Téa had. And when Téa had nearly collapsed in front of her parents’ coffins, it had been Seto Kaiba at her side first.

“So?” Mai prompted, wondering what happened.

“So, he offered me a place to stay. And I took him up on the offer. Found out that he’s an orphan too, and figured that’s why he was being so nice to me.”

“Makes sense.”

Not. Seto Kaiba, ruthless duelist, suddenly has a soft spot for Téa Gardner? Not that she isn’t a sweet girl, but the two of them are almost exact opposites. There’s something I’m missing here, I just know it.’ Mai thought to herself, ‘And I’m going to find out what.’

“Next day, I didn’t go to school— I had to swing by the police office to sort some things out— figure out what I was going to do about a place to live, employment… all of that. My parents had life insurance, but their policy wasn’t very big, and the costs had to cover the funeral, mostly. I was… too out of it to really deal with any of it. I think the police officer I talked with handled it.”

‘Odd. Cops don’t usually handle funeral arrangements.’

“Okay. Go on.” Mai urged, sipping from her tapioca drink. She glanced down at Téa, who was still swirling her drink with her straw. She’d already squished most of the tapioca balls into a floating mess inside her drink, which she hadn’t touched for over ten minutes.

“Well, I found out that I couldn’t live alone unless I was employed, but school rules state that you can’t be employed unless you meet special requirements, and I didn’t really meet them…”

“But Joey does?” Mai interrupted, surprised. Téa shot Mai a look that personified her sarcastic tone, “Haven’t you met his dad?”

“No…” Mai trailed off, thinking, ‘Why would I have?’

“Good. You don’t want to. He’s the reason Joey’s got a job in the first place, and I should be so lucky not to have his excuse.”

‘Huh? I’ll have to ask Wheeler about that one later.’ Mai mentally stored that tidbit of information away, but wisely didn’t ask Téa about it further. After all, Mai was there for HER, not Joey.

“Anyway, guess who shows up at the police station -out of nowhere- again?”

“Let me rack my brains,” Mai intoned sarcastically, leaning on one elbow, “Seto Kaiba?”

Téa nodded sharply, “I have no idea why he suddenly showed up when he did, but he said he needed someone to take care of his brother. Would give me a job to be Mokuba’s tutor and caretaker when Kaiba couldn’t be around.”

Mai eyed Téa suspiciously, “Since when is Seto Kaiba ever APART from his little brother? I mean aside from the obvious, when the little runt’s gotten kidnapped, or when they’re at school.”

Téa quirked a smile, which faded quickly as she nodded. “That’s what I thought. But I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak,” She grinned, “So I took him up on his offer.”

“Waitaminute,” Mai said, suddenly piecing two and two together, “So he’s your Boss? Seto Kaiba’s the one you’ve been living with lately?”

Téa nodded, and then her expression became worried— terrified almost.

“Please, Mai, the guys don’t know that it’s Kaiba. I just know if Joey found out, he’d kill him. I… after all he’s done for me, I can’t let that happen.”

Mai chuckled a little, “Well, I’d like to think Joey’d be a bit more understanding then that, but then again, he and Kaiba have never gotten along very well, have they?”

“As well as cats and dogs,” Téa muttered. Mai laughed, and the younger girl raised an eyebrow, “Well, you remember when Duke Devlin made Joey wear that ridiculous dog get-up, don’t you?” Mai had seen the entire incident on TV, and hadn’t been able to stop laughing throughout the whole ordeal, no matter how bad she felt for Joey.

“And Kaiba always DID call Joey a dog,” Téa remembered, from all the Duelist Kingdom battles when they’d encountered the CEO.

“In any case, you haven’t told any of the guys yet because you’re afraid of their reaction. How long are you going to keep it a secret, though? I mean, they’ll find out sooner or later, won’t they?”

“Sooner or later…” Téa sighed, “I’d prefer later. I don’t think Kaiba’s going to be telling them any time soon. I go back to school for the first time tomorrow, and I’ll probably end up telling them the truth then. I’m not looking forward to it,” She added glumly.

“I can tell. But that’s also not what’s really bothering you, is it?” Mai smiled, the corner of her mouth curved upwards.

Téa sighed, raising her eyes, “Yeah. The past week, I’ve been off school… ‘healing,’ as my teachers called it. I’ve done everything from writing essays to making dinner to watching Toy Story,” Téa said, grinning when Mai looked at her, confused.

“I made dinner for Kaiba and Mokuba one night. My mom used to…” She shook her head. “Anyway, there was this… this minute, when we were watching Toy Story. Mokuba fell asleep on my legs, and I said something about the movie, and Kaiba laughed, and…”

“And?” Mai was leaning forward, envisioning the scene in her head.

“And we almost… almost… kissed.” Téa whispered, strands of brown hair falling in front of her eyes. Almost. But more than that ‘almost-kiss,’ she remembered the REAL one. Her FIRST one. And how much it had hurt…

“Wow,” Mai leaned back. “Kind of surprising to realize that Seto Kaiba might actually be a normal guy.”

“What do you mean, Mai?” Téa asked, knitting her eyebrows.

“What I mean is that you two were in some comfortable position, right?” Téa nodded, “And in one of those unexpected, sweet situations where you glance -and he glances- and…”

“I take it you have a lot of experience in this area?” Téa smirked, leaning her chin on her right palm, her elbow propped up on the table.

Mai chuckled, her cheeks pinking slightly, “Well, I’ve had my share of run-ins with that sort of thing.”

“Oooh, Mai! What haven’t you been telling me about what’s going on with you and Joey?” Téa grinned, laughing when Mai’s eyes widened impossibly and the older girl lunged across the table, swatting the empty space Téa had just occupied. Téa leaned just out of reach of Mai’s hand, laughing all the while.

“Wasn’t Joey,” Mai finally said, her expression somewhat sad, “Just some bad past experiences.”

She glanced up, violet eyes lighting up again, “But we’re not here to talk about ME, are we, Miss Almost-Kissed-Kaiba?”

“Well… that’s the thing,” Téa started, her voice catching as she recalled the previous night, “Later on, Kaiba sort of me… invited me to this… Ball.”

“A date, huh?”

“Well, not really… I mean, it wasn’t in my job description or anything, so Kaiba told me to call it a personal favor, but he’s done so much for me it’s not like he’ll really owe me anything anyway, and it was all really nice. I mean, he even paid for a designer to make an original dress for me, and…”

“Téa, darling,” Mai began, “You’re babbling. Slow down.”

“So… I had a really nice time. But towards the end of the Ball, Kaiba just sort of… drifted. He didn’t talk to anyone, and he stopped smiling…”

“Waitasec, freeze!” Mai lifted her arms in a ‘Take!’ position, clapping one straightened hand over another horizontally. “Kaiba was SMILING?” Mai racked her brains of every incident where she’d faced Seto Kaiba, or seen him.

‘Nope, not a one. The boy never smiles!’

“He had a speech,” Téa began.”I told him to smile, since he wasn’t too thrilled about it, and he did, and the speech went great… everything went great, but when we got home…” she trailed off, Seto’s words still echoing in her ears.

In the recesses of her mind, she could SEE his words as they escaped from his mouth, each of them lit by a bright fire, aimed straight at her like burning arrows.

“What happened, Téa?” Mai asked, suddenly concerned. The brunette had looked almost happy when recalling the Ball, but then the smile on her face dropped completely, and she looked as if she were on the verge of tears.

“He— he said… things to me. And then he…”

Burning,

Spicy.

Forceful, demanding…

But passionate.

 

“I want you.”

 

‘I’m never going to get that out of my head!’ Téa thought to herself. ‘My first kiss, and he just kissed me like that, the stupid…’

But it wasn’t the fact that it had been her first kiss that had Téa so upset. Nor was it the fact that it was Seto Kaiba that had done the kissing.

“And he what? Téa, he didn’t hurt you, did he?”

Téa was silent a moment, ‘Not unless you count bruising my already fragile heart…’ She thought to herself. ‘How poetic. And pathetic, too.’

She’d knew now why Seto Kaiba had closed himself off from the world, becoming so reticent and emotionless— living for only one thing, for one person.

It was tempting, to throw away the entire world like that, and write it off as a horrible place that needed to be conquered, not lived in. But that wasn’t how Téa was raised, and it wasn’t how she thought. And no matter how much the world threw knives at her, she’d keep going, because… because…

‘Because I have to. Because there’s nothing else left for me to do.’

“No,” Téa whispered, absently raising her fingers to touch her lips, “He kissed me.”


“Just what is the problem, Mrs. Kodaku?” Seto Kaiba gritted out in a calm as voice as he could manage.

But ever since he’d stepped outside, his headache had only gotten worse. Whatever pills he’d taken hadn’t worked.

“The Evening Star is, sir. Public Relations discovered one of their… ‘reporters’ was a little more intrepid than past ones, and actually managed to get some pictures from last night. And with Miss Gardner being as genial and polite as she was, he also got an ‘exclusive’ interview… we’re not sure what it says, but knowing the Evening Star…” She trailed off.

Seto’s eyes narrowed. He hadn’t spoken to any reporters the previous night, which was a surprising fact in and of itself— but Téa had. And who knew what she said? Only the reporters— and it would all be distorted, front-page news the next morning… or worse, this coming evening.

He didn’t waste any time paging his driver and rushing out of his office.

“Mr. Kaiba, where are you going? Aren’t you going to stay here and—”

“I’ve got a reputation to save, Mrs. Kodaku! I’m headed towards the Star’s offices!”


Ten minutes and a hell of a limo drive later, Seto Kaiba emerged from the vehicle looking no more worse for the wear than he had when he’d entered his own offices.

Except, inside, his headache was still pounding, threatening to tear his skull to pieces from the inside out. And hearing about some idiotic reporter from the Star ready to destroy Téa’s reputation —without even knowing her!— only angered Seto Kaiba more.

He’d always hated dealing with the press, but he knew this time, there was no choice. If he didn’t do this himself —didn’t do this right NOW— then Téa would be the one suffering the consequences— needlessly so.

‘I’m the one that asked her to that damned Ball anyway, and… because I’m an idiot or something, I can’t even remember anything past that dance. I probably did something stupid and that’s what the press is going crazy about!’

Luckily, he’d managed to get the name of the nosy reporter in question before he’d left KaibaCorp’s offices entirely.

Kyuuji Sajizawa.

He strode into the offices of the Evening Star, barely sparing the receptionist at the front desk a glance before walking past her. He headed into the office where teams of reporters, editors, and photographers were scurrying around, checking copy, fixing errors, and getting ready for that evening’s edition.

The receptionist had been about to greet the visitor to the office, but recognized him even before he’d brushed by her— and her jaw had gone slack. She was still in shock, watching him disappear into the office, for a good three minutes before she called the Editor-In-Chief.

“Boss, we have a problem! Seto Kaiba’s here!”


Seto Kaiba wasn’t the type to hunt for something noisily— he was smart, strategic, and ruthless— at least when it came to people hurting those he cared about. While he couldn’t claim that he’d “easily disposed” of Pegasus, he’d done so with countless other duelists on his way up to the castle.

Of course, he wasn’t exactly PROUD of his methods— couldn’t get Téa’s lecture out of his head completely, either— but it was for her that he was even at the office of the Evening Star in the first place. He didn’t know why he suddenly cared so much about the reputation of one of Yugi Moto’s friends… but in recent past, she’d come to be something indescribable… something more.

He spotted a cubicle with a nameplate on the side — Kyuuji Sajizawa. Just who he was looking for. There was no one sitting at the desk, but the computer was on, various papers scattered on the L-shaped desk.

‘He’ll be back. And when he gets here, I’ll be waiting for him.’

Thankfully, Seto Kaiba didn’t have to wait long. The sounds of a busy office were tearing at his skull, but before they became too much, a skinny young man, his arms full of papers, stumbled into the cubicle.

Not being able to see Seto, he was unaware that the CEO had extended his leg out purposely— and he tripped right over it. He immediately fell to the ground, landing face-first in a storm of papers. He groaned, using his arms as leverage to push himself up, but the moment he caught sight of Seto Kaiba, his eyes widened. His face became an impossible shade of white, and on trembling limbs, he attempted to scuttle out of the cubicle.

Seto barely needed to move before he was in the opening, an arm barring the frightening young man from leaving.

“Going somewhere?” Seto asked in a dark voice, thick with sarcasm. The boy trembled more, backing up and tripping over his spilled papers, this time landing in his own chair.

“I think you know why I’m here,” Seto Kaiba said, eyes narrowing at the young man. He stayed where he was, barring the opening so the boy couldn’t entertain any thoughts of escape.

“Last night you snuck into my company’s private Anniversary Ball. And you got a bit lucky, scoring an interview with my date. But if you’ve written ANYTHING libelous about HER—”

“I— I— here’s the copy! See for yourself!” The boy fumbled around on the desk a moment, handing Seto a few pages, stapled in the corner.

The CEO skimmed the pages, eyes narrowing as he came across the lines.

“B-But I didn’t write any of the copy, I swear! I j-just took notes! And photos! I didn’t write any of that, I swear!”

“It’s your name on the byline, kid,” Seto growled, stepping forward. He yanked Kyuuji up by his collar, holding him at eye-level. “So if you didn’t write it, then who DID?”

“What the hell is going on here?” a voice demanded. Seto unceremoniously dropped Kyuuji back into the pile of papers, turning to face the source of the angry voice.

It was a plump man of at least forty, a receding hairline creating a prominent bald spot on head, interspersing black hairs with silvery-gray ones. His bushy eyebrows were drawn down to his narrowed brown eyes, arms crossed over his chest.

“Who the hell are you?” Kaiba asked, not bothering with the old man’s question.

“Seto Kaiba,” the man smirked maliciously. “Come here to claim libel?”

“You must have written that garbage,” Seto responded, striding forward to look down at the old man, a mere foot away.

“My name’s not on the byline, now is it?” The man responded, “I’m the editor-in-chief. If you have a problem with something, address it to ME, not the lowly reporters.”

Silence befell the newsroom, curious eyes appearing from over their cubicle walls to see what the commotion was about. Kyuuji still sat, shell-shocked, in his pile of papers, swallowing as he watched the proceedings between his editor and Seto Kaiba.

Many of the ‘lowly reporters’ the editor had referred to were now staring, watching Seto Kaiba stare down their boss— the fire-tempered, stubborn Hojo Shiro.

Then, to the nearby reporters’ amazement, Seto Kaiba lifted the older, portly man clean off his feet, pressing him up against the glass window of the office from which the editor had emerged.

“If you don’t take that garbage out of your so-called newspaper before tonight, you WILL feel the consequences.”

“Oh really,” Shiro coughed, pressing his hands against Kaiba’s, in order to get him to let go, smirking as he accomplished that. Disgusted, Seto Kaiba started to turn away.

“Just how do you plan to do that, Mr. Kaiba? Not only do you have no proof that what we are saying is libelous, but even if it IS, it will take you weeks to get your precious lawyers in here and arrange for a suit. And it’s not as if KaibaCorp has any corporate sponsorship of this newspaper, anyway.”

Seto Kaiba froze and turned, slowly, ice-blue eyes meeting Shiro’s brown ones.

“You’re a fool if you think you can cross me and walk away from it.”

“Enough of your empty threats, Mr. Kaiba. I don’t even know why you’re getting so worked up over an article that isn’t about you. Now, if you’re through disrupting my office…”

Isn’t about me!?” Seto growled out, closing the distance between him once again. He was tempted to haul the old man off his feet again, this time tossing him THROUGH the glass, but he refrained. Violence wouldn’t solve anything at that point. He had to think like Seto Kaiba— strategically. Tactically. Intelligently.

“When you mess with the people I care about, it’s the same thing. You’ve crossed the line.” Seto dropped Shiro suddenly, and the old man fell on his rear, where he stared up at the younger man, bewildered.

“Now I’m done disrupting your office,” Seto said as he turned away again. He paused once again, “And by the way: KaibaCorp might not have direct sponsorship of your pathetic tabloid, but it does sponsor someone that holds your newspaper together.”

Without waiting for anyone to ask him who that someone was, he replied with a malicious smirk of his own.

“Your printer. So consider yourself cut off. Go ahead— try to find another printer in less than eight hours. With your poor resources and reputation, I doubt even a local high school would consider it.”

He walked from the office, pausing once more in the doorway before he left, “And if you reporters are stuck with someone that treats you as badly as that ass does over there, you should find yourself another job— working for a more respectable publication.”

And with that, Seto Kaiba left the building.


“KISSED YOU!?” Mai exclaimed, rising from her seat and pressing her hands against the tabletop. Several eyes turned towards the pair of girls seated in the small, two-person booth, wondering what the sudden shout was all about.

“Mai!” Téa hissed, glancing about nervously. She just hoped no one that she knew was around.

Mai blinked a moment, taking Téa’s words in. So she’d been living with Seto Kaiba all this time, and hadn’t told any of the guys yet. And she’d even gone to the exclusive KaibaCorp Ball with him last night, but something had happened, and Seto had said some hurtful things— and then kissed her.

‘Talk about nonsense. If I didn’t understand Seto Kaiba then, I’m sure as hell not any closer to understanding him now.’ Mai thought to herself, musing over everything.

“Well, Téa… that’s what’s on your mind, huh?”

“Yeah,” Téa sighed. She was glad to get it all off her chest, but part of her insisted that talking to someone wasn’t even a quick fix— it was just that: talking to someone.

She needed to figure out what to do.

“Did anything else happen, after that?” Mai questioned suddenly. If Téa lived with the guy, it’d be impossible to avoid him in the morning, wouldn’t it?

“Well…” Téa trailed off, her eyebrows knit together. “Kaiba, he… I think he was drunk when he kissed me.”

“Drunk? Seto Kaiba?” Mai repeated, careful to keep her voice low this time.

‘Okay, I’m still in the right dimension now, right? Somehow the word “drunk” and the name “Seto Kaiba” don’t seem to go together…’

“W-When he kissed me…” Téa whispered, remembering with painful clarity, “It… it was spicy. Burning. It…” Her voice dropped even lower, to the point where Mai had to lean in to hear the younger girl speak, “He tasted like alcohol.”

The older blonde pulled back, pursing her lips. There wasn’t really a way to argue with that sort of thing. There was no way to tell Téa she’d been imagining or exaggerating things.

Mai had been on the receiving end of many unwanted kisses, several of them poisoned with alcohol. It didn’t take her long to imagine what it must have been like for her friend.

“And…” Téa started again, her voice rising in volume, “This morning. He…”

“He…?” Mai prompted, an eyebrow raised. ‘The story gets longer.’

“He didn’t remember. I mean, he forgot everything— from when we danced to… everything!”

“So he doesn’t remember what he said to you… and he doesn’t remember kissing you, either?”

Téa shook her head mournfully, sipping on her tapioca drink, slurping almost all of it down in one swallow. Once she’d finished it, she wolfed down the last of her pizza, even though it was cold.

“I’d say you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, Téa. If he can’t remember, and you wish it’d never happened, it’s as good as all that never occurring, right?”

Téa glanced up at Mai, “But… it’s not like I wish it’d never happened,” she found herself saying, surprised even as the words tumbled from her lips.

Mai’s violet eyes widened in surprise, “Then what?” She paused, not getting an immediate response from Téa. “It has to be one of three things. You regret losing your first kiss. You regret losing it to Seto Kaiba. Or…” Mai tapped a well-manicured finger to her chin, smirking as she realized the last was the most likely, “you wish he hadn’t been drunk.”

Though Téa hadn’t raised her head, Mai caught sight of the younger girl’s eyes widening. Mai knew she had hit gold.

“I guess living with him has made him grow on you, huh?” Mai questioned rhetorically, leaning back.”Gotta say, wouldn’t have expected it. He always struck me as the loner type…”

“I know, but I…” Téa raised her eyes from the table, meeting Mai’s amused gaze, “I don’t know what to do.”

“Not dwell on it, that’s what! Even if you wish that it he hadn’t been drunk, what good is it going to do you to keep thinking about it? You can’t change the past, you know, so just keep living— in the moment, for the future. Isn’t this usually the kind of thing you’d say to everyone else to get them to buck up and smile?”

A small smile curled the corners of Téa’s lips and she nodded.

‘Mai’s right. I’m always the one cheering people up, it doesn’t make sense for me to get so worked up over something… in the past. I can’t avoid Kaiba forever…’

Of course, in her mind, it wasn’t Kaiba she intended to avoid at all— just her growing feelings for him. If she denied their existence, then maybe… maybe…

‘Maybe forgetting that kiss will come a little easier.’


Seto and Mokuba both turned from their position at the dining room table when Téa walked through the door, after 6 o’clock.

She blinked, placing her bags down on the floor, staring at the two boys who sat at the dining table, utensils already in their hands.

“Uhm… hi?” she tried, grinning crookedly. Téa walked over to the two boys, stopping in her tracks when both of them grinned.

“We want dinner! We want dinner!” they both chorused.

Téa sweatdropped in embarrassment, groaning as she disappeared into the kitchen, “I’m not your cook, Seto Kaiba, so if you want dinner,” She popped her head out from the kitchen, smirking, “then you’re going to have to pay me extra!”

“Fine by me!” He called back.

“Yeah, as long as we don’t have to eat Big Brother’s attempts at cooking!” Mokuba laughed, cringing. Seto shot him a look, but the smaller boy only rolled his eyes.

“Speaking of which,” Téa reappeared from the kitchen, this time wearing an apron, “your lessons start tomorrow afterschool, Seto Kaiba. You better be ready for the challenge of a lifetime.”

Seto Kaiba smirked, glad to see that all the tiredness from Téa’s eyes was gone, and she was back to being herself. He still didn’t remember what happened between their dance the previous night and when he woke up, sprawled out on his office couch the next morning, but… it probably didn’t matter.

What mattered was that he’d stopped the Evening Star from publishing their lies about Téa, Mokuba had finished his project at his friend’s, and Téa was happy.

‘That’s all that matters.’



^_^ Somewhat of a happy ending, ne? (Note: I wrote this sentence before I wrote the end of this chapter. Har har.) By the by, the chapter titles DO have a bit of sense in them. For this one, “Dwelling” refers not just to Téa’s new HOME, but to how she’s been DWELLING on Seto’s kissing her… well, yeah. ^_^

I know this chapter is short, but it contains everything I needed it to… and I suppose it’s shorter than the last chapters, so maybe it’s easier on the eyes? Fun, conflict, and hilarity (among other things) ensue in the upcoming Part 6: Cooking with a Kaiba. I hope to get Part 7 out by Saturday (the 25th) as it’s Seto’s birthday… 😀 So you have three guesses as to what Part 7’s going to be about. Hehehe… *evil grins* I hope you enjoyed!

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

CONTEST 1: And finally, the secret is out! But don’t expect the teachers from Chapter 3 to be the last “cameo-style” appearances in this fic! Oh no, there’ll be one next chapter!

In no particular order…

* Mrs. Higurashi (Inuyasha), is Téa’s Home Ec teacher.
* Mr. Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura), is Téa’s History teacher.
* Miss Ninomiya (Ranma 1/2) is Téa’s Japanese Literature teacher.
* Mr. Takahashi is the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh, and is Téa’s Science teacher.
* Mr. Eba is based off of Ryu Eba from the Wild Act manga, and is Téa’s English teacher.
* Ms. Misao (Peach Girl) is Téa’s gym teacher.
* Mr. Furuhata is Téa’s math teacher, and is based off of Motoki Furuhata from Sailormoon.

AAAAAAAAAAANYWAY… let me know what you think. If you think… anything. 🙂 Yeah.

~Azurite

 

 

 

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