FINALLY. It happened. It was one of the small number of months, less than the number of fingers on one hand or brain cells in that Yugi kid's head, and it was finally here!
He was eleven! But Joey was still ten!
He couldn't WAIT to remind him!
He even felt taller!
He got to school that morning in a rush hoping Joey would be there early too. If he knew what was good for him he would be.
He saw the present first, sitting in the middle of his desk, wrapped in red paper with a pink bow. He smiled and grabbed the card next to it. The envelope was pink and the card inside was heart shaped, red, with white lace trim. He opened it. He frowned.
This was not from Joey.
"Happy Birthday, Seto."
He looked up. "Kisara."
She was the prettiest and richest girl in the class. Sometimes her family would come over to the mansion for dinner and her dad would discuss business with Mokuba. She was always tagging along and while she never bothered him, she never did much so he always deemed her pretty useless.
Apparently, pretty stupid, too and right when he opened his mouth to tell her, she kissed him.
It was NOT like kissing Joey. He knew about kisses with tongues and while this was not that kind of kiss, their mouths were slightly opened and it felt very different. He wasn't sure if he liked it.
She pulled away first and he blinked, stunned and unsure of her motives. Everyone knew he was with Joey. He even said as much to her in a voice softened by confusion.
He turned around.
Joey HAD come to school early. Kisara shrieked lightly and grabbed Seto's arm as the blonde faced them glaring with heat enough to wilt a polar bear.
Seto glared back. This was NOT his fault and he should know that! In the meantime, Kisara squeezed tighter and Joey noticed.
He noticed many other things as well. Seto did not push her away. He didn't tell her to let go. He didn't tell him that she meant nothing and he was the one he...
Nothing. Nothing was all he got.
The other students entering did so slowly and silently. As Joey backed out of the room they gave him the space to do so and in moments he was walking out the door and started sprinting down the hall.
Everyone stared at Seto and Kisara as she leeched onto him. Still he said nothing but he attempted to walk away. Kisara clung tighter.
He wondered how much trouble he would get into for hitting a girl.
The library had a couple of rooms that were used for studying and homework. Each had a its own light switch, table and four chairs, large window, and a door. One room had a slight smell and was little used which is why Joey claimed this room whenever he wanted to be alone. He would close the door and sit on the floor and could not be seen through the window. Seto didn't know this because he hadn't felt the need to use it since they met.
Usually the room was empty. But not today.
"Joey? You're crying!"
"Duke?! What are you doing here?"
Duke shrugged and looked away. "I get here very early. But I don't like hanging out in the classroom before class starts. What are you doing here?"
"I... needed to be alone."
"You're here early today."
"I... it's Seto's birthday."
"Oh. Then why are you here?" Joey didn't answer but his face was red and he was still sniffling. "I'll go then. Besides, he'll be miffed if he finds out we're alone together."
Duke could definitely do that.
Seto had been trying to pry Kisara off him when the bell rang and the teacher called the class to settle. He tried to sneak out in the hustle but he was thwarted when Kisara cried out. The teacher made it to the door before him and closed it while staring him down.
He glared at Kisara and sat down at Joey's desk. No way was he touching that present on his, even to move it off. She blushed and turned her attention to the front of the class as she sat in her chair, two chairs in front of him. She could no longer glance back without turning completely around.
Yugi sat between them. As much as he hated it, he may need the little baby kid's help so he was going to have to be nice to him.
This totally sucked.
In the meantime, Duke and Joey were sitting quietly on the floor next to each other leaning back against the wall. The blonde watched the other as he pulled out a pair of die and did some simple tricks. He would roll them over the back of his hand and they would land up snake eyes. He would wiggle his hand to resemble a snake then roll them into his palm, shake them, and they would be on top one another in his palm when he opened his hand.
He tossed them in the air and caught them downwards, twisting his wrist, tossing them back up to have them land stacked on his knuckles.
Joey was amazed even if it didn't show. He continued to watch trying to figure out the mechanics of the tricks. He came to the conclusion that Duke was just cool and that's how he did it.
Duke was the first to break the silence as he juggled the die between his two hands. "Did you know that the numbers on the opposite sides of the dice equal seven?"
He shook his head and he was given one of the pair to inspect. He tentatively accepted. True enough, the six and one, three and four, and five and two corresponded to Duke's statement - they were on opposing sides and equalled seven.
"Seven is a lucky number," Joey shared, and while that was common knowledge, he liked how it complemented what he just learned. At least it made the other male smile.
"I bet that's why dice are so popular in gambling," and just like that, Duke's theory made Joey feel less lame about his tidbit.
His sniffles had calmed but he still felt awful and almost sick. Exhausted. Sad.
"Do girls kiss better than boys?"
Duke sharply turned his head and stared at Joey SURE he had to have heard wrong. "What?"
The blonde pulled his knees up and rested his cheek on them. He was facing Duke but averted his gaze. He didn't repeat himself so Duke decided to just answer what he thought he heard.
"I wouldn't know. I guess Mom kisses are supposed to be the best and moms are girls."
"But what about girls our age?"
"I don't know. I've only ever kissed you."
Joey blushed. That had only been on the cheek. "But, the girls always talk about how handsome you are! Why haven't you kissed one yet?"
"I don't think I like girls. Except for Tea but that's because she beats everyone at kickball."
"So you like boys?"
"I don't think that's right either. I like you."
Joey felt even worse now. "I'm sorry,"
"Don't be. We can't help it, me and Seto. You're cute and fun. Sweet and kind. And you're really brave. The way you got Bully Keith to stop stealing Ryou's lunch by putting spiders in it was AWESOME."
"I don't think Seto likes me anymore."
"I don't think it works that way. He's really attached to you and he threatens everyone when they look at you, boys and girls. Even the lunch lady when you told her she was the best in the world. He only looks at you even though girls think he's cute. He's a rotten jerk to everyone but he tries not to be to you."
"But... why would he..." The sniffles started up again.
"You're killin' me, Joey! He's my rival you know."
"I'm sorry," and he thought he couldn't feel any worse.
Duke sighed. "Whatever happened, whatever it looked like, Seto would not do something that would hurt you. Maybe he was set up, or some one heard something wrong, but I think whatever you think he did or said, he didn't."
"But I saw him!"
"Then you're wrong. Seto wouldn't do that to you. Everyone knows it. And some are jealous."
"But he did -"
"No. He didn't. He couldn't and he wouldn't. Not to you."
But the kiss was real. Seto didn't even shake her off.
But he didn't hold her, either. He was leaning away. He didn't touch her.
It was awful. He looked at the ring on his finger. It was stainless steel with a garnet and a blue tourmaline, their birthstones. Duke didn't ask but Joey shared anyway. "It's my promise ring. He promised to ask me to marry him in the future."
"Whatever happened, Joey, it didn't. Not in the way it looked."
That was only part of the problem. "Seto's a boy. And he should be with a girl."
"Maybe. But he doesn't want a girl. He wants you."
"What if that changed?"
"Are you going to let that happen? He promised to marry you. What was your promise?"
Joey stood and left the room. Duke followed.
The classroom door slammed open.
"Seto Kaiba!" the blonde yelled.
Everyone turned and the teacher yelled back. "Joey Wheeler! Stop th-"
Joey was already in front of the love of his short life and grabbed the front of his shirt. "You PROMISED to marry me and I promise to give you my love and devotion! Neither one of us better screw that up! Happy birthday, you stupid jerk!" He yanked the brunette forward and gave him a solid kiss on his cheek.
Which was a much better kiss in Seto's opinion.
"Joey! To the principal's office! Now!"
"I'm going too!"
"Sit down, Mr. Kaiba!"
Oh I don't think so!
Seto stood, walked up to Kisara, and whacked her upside the back of her head. She started crying.
"Fine! Both of you! Go!"
They high tailed it out of there. In the hall, Seto couldn't stop the happiness from beaming out and he grabbed Joey's hand, smirking all the way to their destination.
"Mokuba's going to kill you for hitting a girl."
It was worth it. This was the best day ever.
"I'm not marrying a zombie."
"Seto!? Are you listening to me?!"