Chapter 1: Budding
It was shiny.
It was new.
It was silver, smooth, and hard.
It was business appropriate and box shaped with a handle and it was Seto's new briefcase.
And more than that, it was shiny.
"Why do you need a briefcase? You're 10."
Peon. Whoever this kid thought he was obviously underestimated the importance of being a Kaiba.
Therefore, not worthy of an answer.
The first morning bell for school chimed and kids started pouring into the classroom. Seto had placed his briefcase on his desk where everyone was sure to see it and be jealous. But actually, that didn't matter.
What mattered was that he was another step more grown up than Joey. Which meant another step closer to being a proper spouse. (Joey, on the other hand, just needed to grow up to be a proper spouse, not be grown up. It was perfectly acceptable and preferred that Seto be the manlier and more responsible of the two.)
"So cool, Seto!!"
Joey arrived and applied the appropriate amount of adoration.
"But why do you need one those? You're not an adult."
Seto glared at the blonde. Traitor.
"I'm going to my first meeting at Kaiba Corp tomorrow. I have to be prepared. Professionalism is required."
Seto looked around to make sure no one else was snooping. No one else seemed to care.
He cracked it open slowly and let Joey see the items contained within; a dragon notebook, a silver pen and pencil set, and snacks.
"Wow. That's awesome!"
Heads turned in their direction and Seto snapped the case closed and twirled the combination lock to scramble the numbers. Joey took his seat and beamed up at him happily. Seto Kaiba was so mature!
The bell rang, class started, and the briefcase spent the day under the desk of the little Kaiba Corporate Elite. At the end of the day he parted ways from his future partner with a squeeze of his hand then a reluctant release.
The first few minutes in the limo were always spent with a little frown as he hated the walk away. But he always pulled himself together before Mokuba was picked up from his school.
And like always, Mokuba entered the limo with a smile, ruffled his hair, and said, "hey, kiddo."
This time, there was also a "what's that?" He was pointing to his briefcase.
His NEW briefcase.
It was covered in cutesy images that belied the dignity of the Kaiba name! Oh SOMEONE was going to pay!
He spent the night trying to remove the offending globs of hearts and puppies. The maid brought him a special adhesive remover, paper towels, and a butter knife but he rebuked her offer of help. He wanted to do it and he wanted to be alone.
He held back tears and clenched his jaw in anger as he sprayed and scrapped the surface clean. He rubbed hard as he polished and burned his anger down to a final few sniffles.
Why would someone be so mean?
By the time he was done he was wore out but his briefcase was shiny again. He checked the contents, forgetting about them earlier, and was assured they were well as they sat nestled untouched in their foam compartments.
He looked at the clock. 11:17. Too late to call Joey.
Mokuba had been passing by every fifteen, twenty minutes or so and as Seto was nearing completion, he stayed and watched. After his little brother glanced at the clock he ushered him up to bed.
The next morning, the little brunette sat at his desk waiting for Joey to show up. When the blonde entered the room he paused, staring at the shiny case.
"What happened to it?"
"It took me HOURS to get it cleaned!! Some stupid JERK vandalized it with stupid stickers! Some idiot's idea of a joke! And with what?? PUPPIES AND HEARTS! What kind of pea-brained, halfwit, third rate-"
Joey looked devastated and Seto paused.
"I... thought it would be special because I think you're ..."
The bell rang, Joey swallowed back his tears and took his seat. Seto's heart broke a little and he spent the day staring at his little love, trying to apologize with his eyes.
He was avoided during lunch and recess so he spent the time alone and sulking.
He was still frowning when Mokuba entered the limo after school.
"It was Joey. He wanted to do someone special but I yelled and said mean things before I knew."
"Did you apologize?"
"No. He kept hiding from me."
"That's a tough one. What are you going to do?"
"I don't know."
"Think on it some-"
"I've been thinking all day!!"
"And it may take all week or all month. Give it time, but you'll think of some way to get through to him."
"I hurt him really badly."
There was no answer to that.
Shortly afterwards, they arrived at Kaiba Corp and Seto was hanging around in Mokuba's office waiting for their meeting. He was supposed to be doing his homework, but he was doodling in his dragon notebook trying to come with ideas on how to make his future wife happy again.
The phone rang and the only reason he started paying attention to the call was because of the way Mokuba responded.
"What?! Say that again... In the building?"
The door creaked open. They both looked up and a little blonde head poked through.
"It looks like he's here. I've got him. Send Mr. Wheeler up, please. Thank you." Mokuba ended the call. "Well, Joey. It looks like you've given my security team a hard time."
It was difficult for Seto not to be proud. They were idiots and Joey just proved it.
"Sorry, Mokuba. But I hafta see Seto before his meeting."
Seto went and opened the door further to let him in. He was holding a coffee cup and a mangled dandelion. They heard the elevator ding and thinking he was about to be hauled away, Joey began talking frantically.
"I'm really sorry about the stickers and I didn't mean to make you mad I was just so proud of you and your first day of work and I wanted to make it even more special but I ruined it and I didn't mean to and here!"
He handed over the cup and flower. Seto accepted them and Joey kissed his cheek.
"Good luck," the blonde blushed. "I know you'll do great."
The brunette blushed as well. "You forgive me?"
"Forgive you? Why? I'm the one that did something wrong. I touched your briefcase without your permission! It was already special and I ruined it," he frowned.
"No! I didn't realize... I shouldn't have yelled. I'm the one that's sorry."
"But you had every right. I should be sorry."
"No, Joey! It's my fault!"
"Are you serious?? It was mine!"
"Don't be an idiot!"
"No, YOU'RE the idiot!"
Mr. Wheeler silently grabbed both kids by the backs of their shirts and turned them away from each other. Once they calmed down he released them. They turned back to each other still pouting.
Excuse me, only Joey was pouting. Seto was expressing his thoughts through easily recognizable behaviors to indicate his displeasure with the current situation.
Totally not pouting.
He glanced at the cup in his hand. "You brought me coffee?"
"Yeah. You're like, a working man now."
Oh yeah he was! He smiled happily and took a sip. He blinked. "This is grape kool aid."
"Well... you're too young for coffee."
Apparently this wasn't going to be an issue. He took a couple more drinks then announced he was going to save the rest for the meeting in case the imbeciles droned on and he got sleepy.
This pleased Joey and he reached out and hugged him.
"All right, Joey. Time to go. The Kaibas have important work to do and you need to apologize to the security staff."
While they were still employed at any rate.
Mokuba discretely lowered his cell phone and stood to walk them to the elevator. Seto started on his homework hoping that his brother wouldn't notice he'd been avoiding it.
As the trio stood and waited at the elevator, the two caretakers briefly chatted in a side conversation missed by the bouncing blonde.
"Did you get that on video?"
"Can I get a copy?"
"Thanks. This will make great blackmail when they're older."
"Or wedding footage."
Mr. Wheeler let that sink in as the elevator opened and they climbed in. The doors closed and they began their descent.
"Dad? Are you crying?"
Chapter 2: Blooming
Six years later...
Joey was nervous and confident. He totally got this!
But what if he didn't!?!?
"Dad! Is my shirt done?" he yelled down the hall.
"Joey. You have two hours. You're going to be fine," was hollered back.
"Is that a 'no?'"
There was no response to that and Joey decided to take his pants off, gently hang them over the back of a chair, and proceeded to shine his shoes for the third time.
When that was done and his dad hadn't reappeared, he took his tie and started practicing again in the mirror. The more he attempted his Windsor knot though, the more... creative... the end results were.
He would seriously rip out his hair if it hadn't taken him an hour to do.
"Be cool, Joey. You got this. They're going ta love ya!"
But what if they didn't?
The doorbell rang.
"Iiiii got it!" Joey yelled as he shot across the living room and threw open the door.
Seto. In his perfect ensemble with his perfect hair and his perfect coffee cup and his perfectly raised eyebrow.
"If that's the dress code you WILL quit immediately."
Damn. Joey blushed. He was still only wearing a black pair of boxer briefs, an undershirt, and his socks.
Oh and a mangled tie.
"I'm not done dressing yet!"
"You're going to walk around in your underwear for two hours?"
"Can you do it INside your apartment?"
Joey glared. "Sure." He closed the door in the brunette's face.
Like that would stop him. He opened the door and sauntered in. Joey was back in front of the mirror and attempting resuscitation techniques on his neckwear. "C'mon, baby... hang in there... you gotta live for daddy!"
Seto really shouldn't be surprised by anything his boyfriend did, but then Joey ascends to a new level of weird. He set down the items in his hands on the kitchen table and headed to the bedroom. Mr. Wheeler arrived at the same moment, a pristine and pressed white dress shirt held carefully in his hands.
"Gimme," was all the warning the blonde had before the tie was skillfully removed from his person by his gorgeous guy. He sighed in slight disappointment but accepted the shirt, buttoning up the front and cuffs.
Then he unbuttoned the front and spent about five minutes trying to make them match up correctly to the proper holes.
Seto's eye twitched. Thank god he was so pretty. Mr. Wheeler leaned against the wall content to watch.
Finally (after FOREVER) he was done. He inspected himself carefully for any damage he may have caused to his dad's careful ironing and smoothed out any lines he found, satisfied there were no creases.
Kaiba could see the blonde's mind drifting off and doubt taking residence in his cute little head. He wrapped his arms around his love from behind. "You've got this."
He then let go and walked away.
"Hey! Where ya going?"
He walked back with the coffee cup in one hand and his other hand behind his back. He handed him the cup.
"You brought me coffee?" He took a sip. And chuckled. "Grape kool aid."
"You aren't paid enough for coffee. It's only your first day on your first job." His hand came out and he handed his love a red and white rose. It was accepted and tears began to fill molten amber eyes. Seto stepped into his arms and kissed him sweetly. When the moment ended they rested their foreheads together.
"Thank you," was whispered.
"I know you'll do great. I love you."
"I love you, too."
Mr. Wheeler ventured down the hall to the living room, emailing the video he just recorded to another party he knew would be highly interested.
After it was sent he sighed a single breath before the tears crept across his cheeks from out of his heart.