A Written Invitation
Téa Gardner looked on happily as her best friend, Yugi Muou twirled his bride, Rebecca Hawkins, now Rebecca Mutou, around the dance floor. Rebecca's dress was fit for a princess, its large skirt swirling as she spun. Yugi looked handsome, dressed in a fitted black tux with a smile that radiated joy, his purple eyes twinkling.
The ceremony had been short and sweet. It was held in a beautiful vineyard with a couple hundred guests in attendance. You couldn't be Yugi Mutou and not get married without everyone wanting to be there. Serenity was the maid of honor as her and Rebecca grew extremely close over the years with Téa and Mai serving as bridesmaids. Joey served as the best man with Tristan and Duke as the groomsmen. Yugi's grandfather sat happily in the front row, tears rolling down his cheeks from happiness.
She clapped with everyone as the newlywed couple finished their first dance. They came and sat at a long table with the rest of the bridal party and dinner immediately began being served. Laughter rang in the air, glasses clinked as people cheered, and romantic music from the DJ wafted through the room.
While she was overjoyed for her friends, she couldn't help but feel a pang of loneliness. She had left for New York and was gone for four years before returning home to Japan. She had successfully completed her dance education and was now starring in a large production that travelled throughout Japan. She was happy to be home, but so much had changed in that time. Yugi and Rebecca had married, Joey and Mai were engaged, Tristan had finally gotten together with Serenity and even Duke had his own girlfriend. Téa was the only single one in the group and while she was extremely proud of her professional achievements, she was also aware that her love life suffered greatly.
Granted, she would never give up her professional career for a man, but it was hard to not feel like the odd one out.
"I can't believe you're married!" Joey said, probably for the millionth time that night.
Yugi gave him a large smile. "I can, I've been waiting to marry her for ages."
Rebecca gave Yugi a large peck on the cheek. "I knew he was mine the minute I laid eyes on him!"
Mai chuckled. "Oh, we know, you wouldn't shut up about it."
Rebecca stuck her tongue out playfully while the group laughed.
"Don't forget buddy, you're next," Tristan laughed, slapping Joey on the back.
"I know," Joey grumbled, "what was I thinking?"
Mai slapped him upside the head hard. "Ouch! Jeez, I'm just kidding babe."
"I know, I just wanted to remind you how hard I can hit," Mai snarked.
"Woah calm down guys. We don't want a brawl at Yugi and Rebecca's wedding!" Duke chuckled.
Friendly laughter filled the table.
"Speaking of weddings, when are you going to propose to your girl, Duke? I know you've been talking about it for a while," Serenity asked.
Téa shifted in her seat, her dress riding slightly. The dress was beautiful. It was a strapless dark purple that ended just above her knee with a small slit in the side. Rebecca said she wanted that color because it matched Yugi's eyes. Téa might've internally rolled her eyes when she said that.
Duke's face turned red as he spluttered. "Don't say it too loud, she's right over there." Duke's girlfriend, another Dice Monsters champion, sat a few tables away chatting with Yugi's grandfather. Her name was Kory, a girl with black hair and beautiful mocha skin. They had been dating for a couple years now, and Téa knew that Duke had been brainstorming ideas for the proposal.
"Doesn't Kory have a brother? Oh! Maybe we should set him up with Téa!" Rebecca exclaimed.
A blush crept to Téa's cheeks as the group all glanced at her. She hated when they did this.
Téa laughed it off and said, "Please don't. It'll happen when it happens. Besides, I'm focused on my dancing right now."
"Awe, c'mon Téa, just one date," Joey tried to convince her. "You're the only single one left."
An awkward silence descended over the group. Yugi shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
Téa's chest tightened. "Yes, I'm aware Joey. But it'll happen when the times right. Besides, as far as you know I could be dating Seto Kaiba."
Joey's eyes bulged out of his head as the group erupted in laughter. A small smile graced her lips, glad to have reduced the tension. She excused herself to get another glass of champagne and walked over to the open bar. Deciding she needed something a little stronger, she ordered a Manhattan from the bartender who nodded.
"Nice dress," a deep male voice came from behind her.
She turned and her eyes widened. "Kaiba! I didn't expect to see you here." She hadn't seen him during the ceremony and she definitely would have noticed Mr. Tall, Dark and Cold hanging about. She had spotted the younger Kaiba, but she hadn't been surprised when she hadn't seen his older brother.
He raised a brow at her.
"Clearly." He waved at the bartender for a whiskey neat. "I came right after the ceremony ended. Got held up at work. Mokuba wasn't thrilled but at least I came to this stupid thing."
She was surprised he came at all. Weddings or happy events in general never really seemed like his thing.
"Well, I'm sure Yugi is pleased you came. It was nice of you."
Kaiba snorted into his glass as he took a sip.
"Mokuba wouldn't shut up about it," he replied. "The only reason I did was because he said it was be noted in the press if I didn't. It would look bad for Yugi's boss not to show up at his wedding with it being so highly publicized."
Yugi had started working for Kaiba Corp. a couple years ago developing new games. He still helped with his grandfather's game shop, but Téa knew Yugi had needed the extra income at the time. And Kaiba paid well. He was also one their lead figureheads for Duel Monsters next to Kaiba. It was true that if Kaiba hadn't showed up to the wedding, it definitely would've been noted in the tabloids.
"Whatever your reasons," Téa said, giving him a small smile, "it's nice to see you. And I believe I haven't thanked you for your compliment. So, thank you, Kaiba. You look nice too."
He merely tilted his head in response. It was true too. He was wearing an expensive black suit with a dark blue tie. It fit him well enough that Téa could see the outline of hard muscle beneath his crisp white shirt and fitted jacket.
"Why aren't you with the rest of the geek squad?"
Téa shrugged noncommittedly. She didn't exactly want to discuss their previous topic at the table. It was annoying enough when her friends constantly tried to set her up on blind dates and when they talked about her being the only single one left. Although, as far as she knew, Kaiba was single as well so he might understand. But knowing him, he probably liked it that way.
"Just feeling a little overwhelmed, I guess," she lied.
Kaiba looked like he didn't believe her, but he didn't push. She was honestly surprised he cared enough to even talk this long with her. Although it had been years since she'd spoken with him. She saw him in the distance at tournaments or in the news, but since the world wasn't constantly at stake anymore, she hardly ever saw him.
She turned around and looked out onto the dance floor. A slow song began to play, and couples began to sway to the music together.
"Would you like to dance?"
Her head snapped to Kaiba so fast it could have given her whiplash. He stood with his hand out expectantly, his face like stone.
"Dance?" she asked, sounding like he had just asked her to figure out the equation for the speed of light.
He hmphed slightly. "Yes, dance. Would you like a written invitation? It is what you do for living last time I checked."
Téa nodded, wondering briefly if she was having a hallucinogenic episode. She took his outstretched hand and he led her to the dance floor. His hand came to her waist and his other clasped her right hand in practiced, graceful movements. Her other hand came to rest on his firm shoulder. Kaiba pulled her closer, their bodies just barely brushing. Much closer than what was normally socially acceptable for some old acquaintances dancing. She could feel the heat of his hand through the satin of her dress on her waist. She was hyper aware of the fact that she was dancing intimately with the Seto Kaiba. She really hoped her hands weren't sweaty.
Despite his callous attitude and their frequent arguments back in high school, Téa was still aware that he was in fact one of the most powerful men in Domino, if not the most powerful. It also didn't escape her notice that the years had agreed with him and only got more good looking, which she didn't really think was fair.
They danced silently for a few minutes and she relaxed slightly, the singer's beautiful voice carrying through the room. He was being more tolerable than usual. And it wasn't every day she got to dance with a very attractive man. The top of her head just barely came up to his shoulder. Had he always been this tall?
"Your show isn't bad," he said, breaking the silence.
Seto Kaiba had seen her show? That was the closest thing to a compliment she had ever heard from Seto Kaiba.
"I…I hadn't…realized you had seen it," she managed to stammer out.
The shoulder that had her hand placed on it shrugged.
"Sometimes we take potential clients to local shows. Give them a taste of Domino. Your show just happened to be playing at the time."
Oh. Well, it wasn't like she expected to see her show because she was starring in it. Still, it was a nice thought.
"Well…thank you. I appreciate that. Joey and Tristan fell asleep during it so I'm glad someone enjoyed it." She realized too late that there was a hint of bitterness in her voice. After all, she had gone to countless duels and two of her closest friends couldn't even stay awake for one show that was her big break? It stung a bit.
Kaiba snorted. "Can't say I'm surprised. Those two idiots wouldn't know art if it came up and bit them in the ass."
Despite herself, she let out a small giggle. "You're not wrong."
She registered briefly that people were definitely whispering and staring at them. She thought about saying something to Kaiba about it, but she realized that he was probably used to it. He was the most powerful man in Domino. A sudden thought entered her head.
"I…I… hope that your…date doesn't mind me stealing you for a dance," she said trying to keep her voice steady.
"She might…" Téa's stomach clenched. "but I didn't bring one. I could say the same for you."
"Oh, I didn't bring one either."
They fell back into comfortable silence when Kaiba broke it once again. "It's funny, I always thought you would marry the shrimp."
Téa looked up at him in surprise, but his eyes were focused on the rest of the room. This was a really good angle for him, although his face betrayed nothing.
The statement itself didn't shock her. She had heard it quite a few times. People didn't seem to understand that it had been Atem she had the crush on all those years ago. Although, it isn't like she could say to people, "No, it's the other guy that lives in Yugi's puzzle I have a thing for." She would've gotten checked into a psych ward. Also, while she knew Yugi had been partial to her at one point, her dreams had always lain in New York. She wasn't willing to give up her life goals for some childhood crush.
"My dreams were in New York. I couldn't give that up. Besides, it was never Yugi I had feelings for." At least she could say that to Kaiba since he knew about Atem. "But even then, I wouldn't give up my dreams for anyone. I worked too hard to get where I am."
Kaiba nodded. She knew he could respect that. The man was a workaholic and only got to where he was because he built it from his own hands.
"And Yugi ended up exactly where he needed to be," Téa finished.
"Did you?" Kaiba asked. He looked down at her and their gazes locked. She never realized how beautiful his blue eyes were, dark strands of his hair gently falling over them.
"Maybe," Téa let out in a whisper.
The moment was broken as an upbeat song began to play. Couples broke apart as groups joined in the dance floor, laughing and spilling drinks. He released his hand from her waist but kept hold of her hand and led her off the dance floor.
He released her hand once they reached the edge. She felt a small stab of disappointment as his hand left hers.
"I should find Mokuba," Kaiba said, his tone edgy.
Téa nodded. "Thank you…for the dance." She gave a smile. "I enjoyed it."
Kaiba nodded and was about to walk away when she grabbed his arm.
"Maybe…maybe you could find me later…and we could have another?" she asked hesitantly.
She wasn't sure, but she could've sworn she saw his mouth twitch. He nodded. She knew that would be the best response she would get from him and watched as he walked away, joining Mokuba at a far table. She saw Mokuba start jabbering away at him while casting looks in her direction.
She turned with an amused grin and headed back to the bridal table. When she returned, Duke and Serenity were gone, but Tristan, Joey, Mai, Yugi and Rebecca were all gawking at her.
"Do I need to get my eyes checked or were you just dancing with Seto Kaiba?" Tristan wondered.
"No that was him," Téa answered, acting casual, "he asked me while we were at the bar. It was nice." She kept her tone even to hide the fluttering in her stomach.
"NICE?" Joey practically yelled and Mai shushed him. "I couldn't have heard you just say nice in reference to Rich Boy."
Téa rolled her eyes. "Yes, I did. We talked about my show. Apparently, he liked it."
Joey and Tristan both flinched.
"So," Mai smirked evilly, "what were you saying about dating Kaiba?"
Protests came from Joey and Tristan while Rebecca and Yugi looked on in amusement.
Téa shrugged, not being able to help the grin spreading across her face.
"Hey, you just never know."