Warm by the Fire
Téa Gardner stared into the fire blazing in the hearth. She loved these kinds of nights. It was quiet, all the lights were off, and the only sound was the grandfather clock ticking in the hallway. A soft blanket was draped across her lap, her legs laying delicately on plush couch. A book was in her lap, but she had stopped reading for some time now, simply enjoying the peace.
She heard the front door slam, the sound echoing through the large house. Footsteps in the hallway seemed to fade away until they suddenly turned and drew closer. The thump of a briefcase and some shuffling came from behind her. She assumed he was taking off his suit jacket and shoes.
Seto Kaiba came around the couch, looking rumpled from a long day at work. She thought he looked adorable, just in his socks with his sleeves rolled up. Without saying a word, he crawled onto the couch, climbing over her legs and laid his head in her lap. Her lips quirked into a smile, running her fingers through his brown silky strands.
She learned quickly that when Seto often came home, exhausted from work, he went up to his home office to do more work. It used to annoy her until she figured out a way to divert him. She loved fireplaces and often lit one in the Kaiba living room while she waited for Seto to get home from work. She realized that whenever she had one lit, Seto would always come over and stretch out on the couch with her like a large cat. Téa started lighting one whenever she was at the Kaiba mansion so Seto would leave his work alone and get some rest.
The man on the couch let out a big sigh as she continued to run her fingers through her hair. His arms came and wrapped around her waist, tugging her closer. She felt special being one of the only two people in the world that got to see him like this. He was hardly ever affectionate in public, and even then, it was usually just brushing her hand or interlocking their arms for formal events. Well, she thought with a wry grin, except that one time he got super jealous of Yugi.
It was when they first started seeing each other, although not many people knew about it, only Mokuba and Serenity. She had been hanging out with Yugi, Joey and Tristan at another tournament. Kaiba wasn’t competing. He was too busy handling the one-year anniversary of Kaiba Land which caused him to put on a large Duel Monsters Tournament. They were laughing at some joke Tristan made at Joey’s expense when Yugi had placed his arm around her waist. It wasn’t anything new, they were all very comfortable with physical contact with each other.
Unbeknownst to her, Seto had been looking for her, wanting to offer her to sit with Mokuba and him in the VIP area. He knew she would insist on bringing the rest of the dorks, but he was willing to put up with it for a few hours if he got to see her. When he saw Yugi placing his hands all over his…well actually they hadn’t talked about labels. They hadn’t exactly planned on this happening. Either way, he was not okay with Yugi’s hands all over her.
When Téa turned around and saw him, eyes blazing, she had no idea why he looked so angry. She thought maybe it had something to do with the tournament or another employee, so she had strolled up to him smiling. She had opened her mouth to greet him, but she never got the chance as his lips had been placed firmly over hers. It had taken her by surprise, but not wanting to give up a chance to kiss him, she had placed her hands on his neck and happily returned it. She hadn’t even given a thought to the fact that all her friends standing right behind her.
When they had pulled back, Joey nearly attacked Seto, thinking he was assaulting her. But, Téa had stopped a foaming mouthed Joey, explaining quickly that her and Seto were dating. Seto had smirked down proudly at them, placing his arm around her waist. Then he had the audacity to say to them to stop their spluttering and he was inviting them to the VIP area of his tournament. If Joey remained on a leash, of course.
She chuckled lightly at the memory as her hands moved from his hair down to his shoulders, massaging lightly. The fire glow showed his eyes were closed and his breathing even. He grunted in appreciation.
“What’s so funny?” his deep voice, gravelly.
“Just thinking about you,” she replied.
One blue eye opened and looked up at her.
“What about me is so amusing?”
“I was thinking about the One Year Anniversary Tournament of Kaiba Land. When you kissed me in front of everyone?”
He hmphed and closed his eye again. “Yugi should learn to keep his hands to himself.”
Her light tinkling laugh filled the quiet room. “He didn’t know we were dating Seto.”
“He does now, and he still doesn’t always keep his hands to himself.”
Téa rolled her eyes. Kaiba and Yugi’s rivalry went beyond Duel Monsters apparently. Despite her constant exclamations, Seto was still cautious about Yugi trying to steal her away. Nothing had ever happened between the two, only high school crushes that faded, but Seto tended to be overprotective. She didn’t mind that much. Other than some scathing remarks aimed at Yugi, Seto respected her enough to not interfere with her friendships and he trusted that she would never cheat on him.
“You’re ridiculous,” she said, her usual remark whenever this topic happened to arise.
He mumbled something incoherently into her lap. His arms flexed around her causing her to smile. She always had the urge to tease him when he was like this. The big, scary President of a multi-billion-dollar company snuggling in her lap. But she never did. She loved it too much and she was scared if she said anything about it, he would stop.
“How was work?” she asked, changing the subject.
He let out another grunt. “I fired three people.”
She tsked. “Seto, you can’t just fire everyone.”
“I’m the President. I can do what I want.”
“You’re an ass.”
“As I seem to recall, you like my ass.”
Téa snorted. “It’s one of your redeeming qualities.”
He lifted his head, so his chin rested in her lap and opened his eyes.
“Do I have any other redeeming qualities?”
She paused like she was thinking hard about the question.
“Well, you’re loaded so that’s a plus,” she finally answered, a coy smirk on her lips.
He moved quickly, rising, and jerking her down on the couch so she laid beneath him. She let out a gasp as her head hit the pillow resting on the couch.
“I see how it is,” his tone sarcastic, “you like me for my money and my body. And here I was thinking you liked me for my shining personality.” His blue eyes shone with mirth.
“Hmmm, I suppose that’s part of it. But really it’s the great sex and money.”
He rolled his eyes, but she could see the smile tugging at his lips.
“And people call me cruel.”
“I learned from the best.”
He stared down at her, eyes dancing with affection. He was so hard and cold in the outside world. But here, in front of their fire, he let his walls down and let her see him in a way nobody else did. Her friends questioned how she could put up with him, often enough to annoy her. She would tell them that he wasn’t what he seemed. They never believed her, but she didn’t care.
Of course, he had his moments, more often than other people due to his position in the world. However, he made her happy. That’s all she really cared about.
“Move in with me.”
His outburst jerked her from her thoughts.
“What?” she asked, thinking she must’ve heard him wrong.
“Move. In. With Me.” He punctuated every word like he was speaking to a child.
Téa blinked up at him. “Seto, are you sure?”
They hadn’t even talked about this…well, ever. She understood that he had major trust issues due to his past and never wanted to push. It took them months to even stamp a label on their relationship and that was only a couple months ago. She never expected such a big move from him, especially not this soon.
Seto shifted his bodyweight above her but didn’t retreat.
“I know…I know we haven’t talked about it. But I like having you here. Mokuba likes having you here. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and…I think…I think it would be good for us.”
Téa could see nervousness flittering in his eyes, a sight she rarely, if ever, got to see. She bit her lip.
“We…we could do a trial,” he stammered, another rare sight, “you could move in for a couple weeks. Like a probation period. And then we could sit down and talk about what both of us like and dislike. Then make a final decision together.” He was reverting to business-Kaiba, trying to negotiate with her to get her to move in.
Téa smiled up at him, blue eyes shining. “Ok, but on one condition.”
He nodded his head stiffly. She could already see his brain whirring with counter negotiations.
“I’ll move in. But no probation period.”
She felt his whole body relax. He gave her a real genuine smile, a sight that always took her breath away.
“Actually, I have one more condition,” she stated.
He raised a brow. “What?”
She grabbed his neck and pulled him down so she could whisper in his ear. “You have to kiss me.”
His eyes were half-lidded as his nose brushed hers. He whispered against her lips, “I think I can do that.”
His lips sealed over hers, her body arching to meet his. It wasn’t long until the fire wasn’t the only thing keeping them warm.