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The producers and the director wanted him as the male lead— the male lead in a mainstream movie! Jounouchi stumbled out of his lunch meeting with his agent in a daze. It was almost like a dream. His first instinct was to call Sophie, but he stopped himself short.

Four months was hardly long enough to undo ten years of habit. Her absence haunted him at times like a phantom limb.

He shook his head and dialed Kaiba instead. The phone rang four times before someone at the other end picked up.

“What?” Kaiba muttered, voice rough and scratchy like sandpaper.

Jounouchi glanced at his wristwatch and did the mental math. It was nearly five in the morning in Domino. “Opps, sorry, I can call back later.”

The mattress creaked as Kaiba shifted. “Don’t bother, I’m up now. Now why are you calling?”

“They offered me the part! I got the lead!” He exclaimed in joy, drawing the attention of a few other pedestrians. He ducked his head and walked faster to his car.

“Which one? That ridiculous heist movie?”

Early in their relationship, Jounouchi had thought he would be lucky if Kaiba bothered to remember any of the work he’d previously done. He just couldn’t see the CEO taking any real interest in his career when there was no overlap with Duel Monsters. Kaiba did him one better though— he even remembered every one of Jounouchi’s auditions.

“No, the rom-com movie,” he smiled into his phone.

“Romantic comedy,” Kaiba’s words dripped with disdain. “Who are you playing opposite of?”

“Kelly Sonnac,” Jounouchi faltered. “You don’t mind, do you?”

He already knew there were several kissing scenes and one implied sex scene.

As cool as ever, Kaiba said, “Why would I? It’s your job.”

-x-x-x-

Just to be sure, Jounouchi repeated the question during their weekly video call. Maybe he hadn’t processed the question the first time given how early it had been.

Kaiba’s only response was to roll his eyes.

-x-x-x-

After the third time, Kaiba threatened to stop taking his calls if he ever mentioned it again.

Jounouchi signed his contact and started memorizing his lines.

-x-x-x-

Negotiations fell through with Kelly. The producers couldn’t accommodate her pre-existing commitment to Sony Pictures. But it soon became them windfall because they managed to sign freaking Maggie Geary of all people.

Jounouchi was starstruck to be working with her in the first place, but it also turned out that they had a lot in common. She even used to play Duel Monsters.

“But don’t tell the press that,” she said with a secretive wink.

He felt he was truly blessed that he could go to work everyday with people he actually liked.

-x-x-x-

It caught him by surprise when Kaiba brought it up first. “I thought that Kelly Sonnac was your co-star.”

“Huh?”

“It’s a blond woman now.”

“Oh, Maggie? Yeah, Kelly couldn’t do this and Secret Moon at the same time.”

“I see.”

Remembering Kaiba’s previous threat, Jounouchi bit his tongue.

-x-x-x-

The gossip was not entirely unexpected— he and Maggie had great chemistry on-screen. It was part of the reason that Jounouchi was already so confident about the movie. The only problem was some bloggers insisted that the chemistry translated to off-the-screen as well.

Around the same time, the duration of his calls with Kaiba became shorter, tempers shortened too (because Kaiba still knew how to push his buttons), and the emails exchanged grew terser.

Jounouchi wondered if that wasn’t a coincidence.

-x-x-x-

Filming progressed and so did the rumors— even after Maggie was photographed at a party with a man later revealed to be her long-time boyfriend of three years. That was practically forever in Hollywood time.

-x-x-x-

Jounouchi cringed and suppressed the urge to ram his head against the wall. Multiple times. He could practically hear Sophie scolding him for his carelessness. Too bad his old manager wasn't still with him...

All he did was carry Maggie to the medic after she twisted her ankle!

Another voice in his head, one that sounded suspiciously a lot like Kaiba, called him an idiot. What did Jounouchi expect? They filmed on location that day and had acquired some spectators to the side. Of course, the videos and photos of him princess-carrying her would start trending on social media within the hour.

His agency had not helped, choosing instead to fan the flame because “the minute they stop talking about you, you might as well be dead.” It would be good for the movie, they said.

He knocked his forehead against the wall and reconsidered his career choice. Maybe it wasn’t too late to move back to Japan and pick up Duel Monsters again? Or maybe Kaiba would be his sugar daddy.

Jounouchi laughed to himself. When pigs fly.

His doorbell rang. He pushed off from the wall and went to get the door. Kaiba was just about the last person he expected to find on the other side.

“Your security here is lackluster, I bribed my way up here with 200 American dollars,” Kaiba declared as their eyes met.

“What?” Jounouchi’s jaw dropped. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Kaiba furrowed his brow. “My mailbox was exploding with news article alerts about you. It was distracting.”

The absurdity was too much to process, even given that this was Kaiba they were talking about. “So what? You just hopped on the first available flight out here to yell at me?”

Kaiba flexed his fingers and started to reach for him. “Please, Jounouchi, I own my own jet.”

“I knew you were jealous,” he teased as Kaiba grabbed his elbow and shoved him backwards into the apartment. Fuck, he'd missed him.