“In the eye of a hurricane, there is quiet/
For just a moment, a yellow sky.”
The weather never dictated Jounouchi’s mood. He’d be as happy or as mad as he wanted to be, whether it was raining or shining. He had no control over such cosmic events and, in the grand scheme of things, other things were more pressing. Getting to work, picking up groceries, getting a good night sleep.
So when the weatherman said that a typhoon was coming, that Domino City needed to brace itself, his mood never changed. They were foretold disastrous things were going to happen all the time: the earthquake of the century was about to hit them, the rains were the worst they’d seen in years and the floods would sweep mountains away, that the hail would be big enough to play football with. Idle gossip for ladies at the supermarket. He’d hear it all the time, or read it all the time, in trash tabloids. It became so old hat that he just became numb to its stupidness.
And maybe that was why he was still smiling when they said the biggest typhoon in years was about to hit. A violent typhoon, they called it. Evacuation orders went out in the millions around the Tokyo area, which trickled down to Domino in piecemeal. They didn’t need to be told where to go, and nothing was mandatory, but most people went and sought shelter.
In Domino City, that was the KaibaDome.
Jounouchi hadn’t been too keen on heading there—not if this was another exaggeration. But as the rains smacked the windows, and howling wind made signs clap and trees snap not so far in the distance, he eventually changed his mind. Honda helped, too. They’d planned on riding it out together and had stocked up on all the necessary supplies, but when Honda became scared, citing his family as the reason, Jounouchi followed his bonded brother. They ran through heavy wind and rain, all the way across town where some other stragglers, just like themselves, took refuge in the big, blue dome.
It was still raining hard outside. He could hear it in his sleep and over the thousands of displaced voices ringing in the building. He sat in low, sling-back chair and rested his eyes. There wasn’t much else to do but wait and hope that everything was still there in the morning.
Announcements about current weather conditions, food, blankets and clothes were made every hour or so. Those were important, it kept the morale up. But there was something else people sought, that they were more keen on finding than food or dry socks: family. Jounouchi could pick those people out in a heartbeat. They all had he same scared and confused face as they looked around. It wasn’t always parents, either. Sisters and brothers, cousins, grandparents, friends.
Jounouchi’s heart broke when he saw little kids wandering around. Somewhere in the night, they’d gotten up to use the bathroom and couldn’t make their way back. The duelling arena, both in the stands and on the playing field, housed thousands upon thousands lined up like little sardines in a can. Sleeping bags were dressed up like miniature houses, some tented over for privacy, with photos and any personal belongings lining the edges. Small alters to normalcy. The only identifiers for small, wobbling children to find.
A boy, maybe four, waddled by him on the first night. He had his thumb in his mouth, but it didn’t hide the soft whine or the tears in his eyes.
“What’s up, kiddo?” Jounouchi asked when he stopped.
“Lookin’ for mama, huh. Ya ask the security guys over there?” He asked, pointing to the security a few metres away. They lined the walls and kept everyone in check.
The boy shook his head. “Scary.”
“Yeah...they are a bit scary, ain’t they. All decked out in those suits. Don’t worry, they’re like monkeys,” Jounouchi said, and he scratched under his arms, making noises like an ape. Laughter escaped the boy. “There ya go. Better’n before. C’mon, let’s get ya to Mama, okay. Take my hand, we’ll find her. What’s your name, kiddo?”
“I’m Jou,” he introduced, and began to talk about anything. Little Nobuo wore a baseball jersey with a Tiger’s logo on it. He asked about baseball, if Nobuo played, if he went to games, played with other kids. Anything that passed the time as they searched through the rows and rows of sleeping bags and chairs, looking for Mama Nobuo in the chaos. As long as he could keep Nobuo laughing, that was all the mattered. He would only remember the goofy stranger, and not the fear of losing his Mama in the storm.
Eventually, she was found in the stands, up in the seventh row where she’d made little beds out of the bench seats. She thanked Jounouchi. “It ain’t nothin’. Families gotta be together,” he replied, looking out over the field. Even from the stands, it was like a small city.
Domino had become Kaiba’s city anyways, in the most de facto way possible, but this was his. Every scrap of bread, every word of law by his security team, made this place his. And yet he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the executive. Hiding high up in the box seats, safely behind glass and away from the commoners.
“Is your family okay?” Mama Nobuo asked.
“You should go be with them.”
“Yeah, I will. Had to make sure this adventurous tyke got home,” Jounouchi said. And he left, thinking about what she meant.
Honda was safe. As soon as they’d gotten settled, they scoured the place for his parents and sister, finding them on an opposite corner of the field. Jounouchi stayed and talked with them a while, leaving when he felt like he was crowding them. If she meant Yugi, he was safe, too. He and Grandpa had made themselves comfortable in the centre, and Jounouchi spent a long time just talking to them and playing cards with Yugi to pass the time between meals.
Beyond that, he had a cracked cell phone and tried and tried to call his mother and Shizuka. No reception, no answer. When that failed, he tried to call his dad. He wanted to know that the Old Man was riding out the storm safely if he hadn’t chosen to take shelter.
He was just like lost Nobuo. Knowing he was safe, but not knowing where everyone else was. He just wanted to hear their voices and know that they were safe; to know that the violent typhoon hadn’t blown them away with the cars and the roof tiles.
Lost Kids Found
Jounouchi wrote their names in a list on his phone. There wasn’t much else to do other than sit and wait for the storm to pass. For the food line to dwindle down. Daisuke put on a brave face, but cried when he found his big brother. Ami whistled through the whole ordeal. He skipped with Naomi and traded Duel Monsters pointers with Kenyu. They were all different, but in the end, they were good kids.
It didn’t bother Jounouchi to occupy his time this way. After two days, he needed the distraction. Cell service still hadn’t returned. They weren’t permitted to leave. A few more days, and they’d all go stir crazy. It would be an actual battle arena if someone didn’t try and keep the peace.
The security staff certainly wasn’t helpful.
For keeping order, asking general questions, forming queues, they were experts. They were scarily cordial. A byproduct of Kaiba’s meticulousness, no doubt. Out of all that, he expected them to help the children. They had to have seen them wandering around lost. They had walkie-talkies, eyes on the entire place. If anything, they seemed more suspicious of what Jounouchi was doing. When he explained it to one of the guards, he looked perplexed and told Jounouchi to move along.
“It ain’t ‘bout food and beds,” Jounouchi explained. He didn’t know if the guard heard him.
On day three, he saw Kaiba.
It was early morning. Only a few lights flickered between the rows of sleeping people to light the path. The perfect time for Kaiba to sweep through the masses, taking stock in them without stopping. Jounouchi hadn’t been able to sleep. His phone was at three percent battery and he was, unfortunately, checking it every two minutes or so. His cell service had been flickering, enough to get his hopes up when he heard the dial tone.
“Rowin’ with the slaves, moneybags?” Jounouchi asked when Kaiba walked by.
“Down here with all your loyal subjects,” he mocked bowed, “ain’t that awesome of ya?”
“Jounouchi,” Kaiba said. He flashed a light in Jounouchi’s face to be sure.
“The one and only.”
In the ring of light between him and Kaiba, he saw a girl, maybe six or seven years old, holding tight to Kaiba’s hand. When Jounouchi said nothing else, they continued through the rows of people with Kaiba flashing his light on each and every spot just brief enough to make shallow groans.
Jounouchi hopped up and followed them.
“What the hell ya doin’?” He whispered. When Kaiba didn’t answer, he took up flank beside him. “Kaib’, are ya lookin’ for her family?”
Jounouchi reached for the girl’s free hand. “Let me do it.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because helpin’ the people’s gotta be below your pay grade.” Jounouchi, truthfully, didn’t see why Kaiba would even bother and was a little angry that he was doing it. That was his job, dammit. And it wasn’t like Kaiba or his staff had made any effort until now.
“Still the same idiot from high school, I see.”
“Hey!” Jounouchi shouted. The little girl ‘shushed’ him, and Jounouchi suddenly was very aware of the coughs and moans of the people they shuffled between. “Sorry, wasn’t tryin’ to be loud.”
“Well, you were,” the girl said sharply.
“You ain’t wrong.” Jounouchi smiled weakly. He looked back up to Kaiba, finding that executive eyeing him sharply before turning away. “What?”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You were thinkin’ it.”
“Perhaps. But I might make your head explode if I actually tried to voice my thoughts to you. I’d rather not have the mess.”
Jounouchi growled. “Fine. Don’t talk to me then. But I’m doin’ this. I’ve been doin’ it since I got here, so I may as well keep makin’ myself useful. I’m sure ya got some stocks to check up on or somethin’. Leave the people stuff to the actual people.”
Kaiba didn’t stall, and his expression never changed. The light continued to flash over people, catching the glint of photographs and the metal legs of chairs. The little girl pressed close between them when the row became narrow.
It took a little more than an half an hour to find the little girl’s parents. Risa. She liked ducks and the colour yellow. Another name to jot onto his list as a percent ticked down on his phone.
“You’re welcome,” Jounouchi said when Kaiba began to walk away.
“I didn’t ask for your help.”
“Yeah, well, I still did. Had her talkin’ more than you did. These kids are scared Kaiba, ya can’t jus’ walk them through here silently,” Jounouchi said.
Kaiba snorted. “As if you’re the expert.”
“May as well be. Like I said, I’ve doin’ this since I got here. Ya know how easy it is to get lost in here with all these people? Ya got a whole city crammed into this place. It ain’t comfortable livin’, ya know, and kids are gettin’ all turned around in here. Your security ain’t no help when the kids are too scared t’ ask them for help.”
Kaiba walked ahead, and Jounouchi followed. He couldn’t place Kaiba’s sudden silence, but his head had bowed. Maybe he was thinking about what Jounouchi was saying. Good. He needed to. This place may have been their shelter, and deep down he knew Kaiba deserved thanks for keeping them safe and making it orderly, but he still needed to know that there were problems. Up until now, Jounouchi never thought he’d be able to voice his frustrations to anyone that mattered. Especially not Kaiba himself.
“Don’t ya get it? This ain’t a place that we can stay for a long time. People get antsy.”
“When will your suits let us out, then?”
“When it’s safe,” Kaiba explained.
“And how we s’pose to know when that is? There’s hardly a window in his place that ain’t covered. I’m beginnin’ to think we ain’t ever gonna see the sun,” he said. As terrible as the summer sun had been that year, he didn’t hate it. And he had a feeling, when he finally got out, he’d be kissing the pavement and his apartment, too.
“When the government deems it safe. I’m not an autocrat here.”
“Sure as hell feels like it.”
“And you also say it feels like it’s beneath me to help people,” Kaiba scoffed. “Do you even hear yourself, Jounouchi? What the hell have I been doing this whole time? If this were a government funded facility, there would be a lot more chaos and a lot less comfort than you have now.”
“I don’t see why I’m wasting my time talking to you.”
“Because it’s boring as hell in here, that’s why.”
They were coming close to Jounouchi’s makeshift home, but he wasn’t ready to leave yet. There was plenty more on his chest. Lack of laundry for one thing. Showers. Simple things, things that a Duel arena wasn’t equipped to handle.
“Are they really scared?” Kaiba asked, breaking Jounouchi’s thoughts.
“The kids. Are they really afraid of the security officers?”
“Yeah. First boy I walked around called them ‘scary’. The rest of them didn’t get any help, either. Ain’t seen any of your goons go out of their way to help these kids. Break up fights in lines, maybe,” Jounouchi replied.
“I see. And so you’ve taken it upon yourself to do it instead.”
“Yeah, someone’s gotta.”
“Why?” Kaiba asked.
Jounouchi canted his head. There was a vacant, but curious, look on Kaiba’s face. Now, he had the executive’s full attention, and all of complaints were crumbling as he thought of those scared kids, trembling in his hand. The answered seemed pretty damn obvious to him. Kaiba couldn’t have been that out of touch with reality, could he?
“Family, duh. These people have nothin’ left as far as they know. Until they walk outside and see it, Domino doesn’t exist. The least they can do is be with their families, whoever it is that they can get ahold of. If Jounouchi Katsuya can bring ‘em to their siblings, or their moms and dads, then I’m gonna do it.”
Kaiba sighed. He waited for some kind of fiery insult, but the brunet’s shoulders drooped. Even in the low light, he could see that Kaiba was tired. Probably hadn’t slept for days, though doing what, Jounouchi had no idea.
“Come with me, Jounouchi.”
And Jounouchi followed. They went up a tall set of stairs that lead to a small lift. Not a typical elevator, maybe some kind of maintenance shaft that was running on back-up power. For the first time in days, it was quiet. He could hear himself think. He could breath and his skin wasn’t smattered with humid sweat. If only everyone could be so comfortable.
“I’m surprised I ain’t seen Mokuba around. He’s prolly sleepin’ now, right?” Jounouchi said.
“He’s in San Francisco at the moment.”
“Oh. He know you’re okay?”
Kaiba looked off. “I suppose. I only get to speak with him for a few minutes. Even my service and reception are limited. He knows I’m alive, and he’s told me what he’s seen on the news.”
Jounouchi nodded. “Sounds terrible,” he said, pausing to think of why. “Talkin’ to ‘em ain’t the same as puttin’ your arms around them and lettin’ them know you’re okay. I get ya. Even if I did call my sister....shit, I dunno what’d I’d say.”
“Prolly get all mushy. Say as much as I can in as little time as possible. I don’t think she was hit with the storm, but I don’t know. It’d make me feel better to know that she was safe.”
Kaiba shifted from one side to the other as the elevator came to a stop. It occurred to Jounouchi that he’d talked too much, but as soon as Kaiba revealed his own struggle, it seemed innate to keep complaining and air out his worries, maybe even expect Kaiba to express the same in return. That he was quiet made Jounouchi scared he’d done something wrong, and he bit the inside of his cheek.
“The hell ya want me to follow you anyways?”
Kaiba didn’t reply.
Asking again yielded the same result. The man was an infuriating example of hardheadness. Demanding from others what he wouldn’t give himself, but Jounouchi couldn’t say he was surprised. Five years out of high school and Kaiba was still Kaiba, though Jounouchi felt like he was more pliable than before. He was following, after all. Before, he probably wouldn’t have entertained Kaiba, especially not at four in the morning. Then again, it wasn’t like he had anywhere else to go. It was either follow Kaiba or go back to the chair. Kaiba was a less stiff alternative, somehow.
They entered a small room, no bigger than his apartment’s living room. In the centre was a quaint set up of a matching sofa and chair with a glass-top coffee table between them. Jounouchi made himself comfortable on the couch while Kaiba sat in the chair, legs crossed. A business meeting of some kind, Jounouchi thought, with the way that Kaiba held himself all proper while grabbing his tablet from the table.
But nothing happened.
Kaiba didn’t say a word, and he hardly looked up from the tablet screen. They sat for the better part of twenty minutes, with Jounouchi’s eyes roving around the small space he realised was also Kaiba’s ‘quarters’ during all of this. There was a bed in the corner and a writing desk across from it with his laptop.
“I’m....really confused here, Kaib’.”
“Yeah. I thought ya wanted to talk.”
“I never said that,” Kaiba said.
Jounouchi was too tired to rewind that conversation, but he believed Kaiba. Maybe he had just said something about following him. “Well, oh-kay. You uh,....got a phone charger I could borrow, maybe?”
“Desk. Don’t touch anything.”
Jounouchi hopped up and plugged in his phone. In that time, Kaiba had stood as well, grabbing two glasses and filling them with an dark amber liquid. When Jounouchi returned, Kaiba was sipping his, re-consumed by what was on his tablet. The second glass sat waiting to be taken. Jounouchi swiped it up and sat back down.
“So then, why am I up here, huh? If we ain’t talkin’.”
“You said you didn’t like to be alone,” Kaiba explained.
Jounouchi sipped the bitter liquor. “Don’t think many people do. Ain’t really alone down there, technically. There’s thousands of people to talk to.”
“And yet you chose to follow me.”
“You told me to! What was I gonna do, be a prick and say no? It ain’t like I can go anywhere, anyways,” Jounouchi grumbled. He swirled the liquor in the glass. He didn’t really like whiskey, even if Kaiba had the good stuff. “If you’re lookin’ for someone to talk to, Kaib’, there’s plenty of people who’ll do that. I’m sure that Yugi would give you duel or two. Ain’t gonna be all fancy-schmancy, but it’s somethin’.”
“I’d considered as much.”
“And it doesn’t matter.”
Kaiba peered up, his tablet flattening on his knee. “Because it’s not what I’m looking for.” The look that Jounouchi had earlier thought of as tired had morphed to something else. It wasn’t sad. Not that Jounouchi would know if Kaiba was sad even if he cried on Jounouchi’s shoulder. No. It was more like Kaiba had the same confused look on his face that the kids did when wandering around.
He’d never tell Kaiba that he saw it. That’d be like telling the executive that Jounouchi pitied him, and he didn’t. He just understood what it was like, floating in this makeshift city feeling lost and alone. Kaiba was just too proud to say that he was alone. He wanted someone who got it, or so Jounouchi believed. Otherwise, he really couldn’t figure out why he was sitting on a couch across from Kaiba and sipping on whiskey at close to five in the morning.
Jounouchi raised his glass. “To misery?”
“To misery,” Kaiba replied, half-heartedly raising his glass before knocking the rest of it back.
They didn’t say another word to each other for the rest of the night.
On the fourth day, Kaiba found Jounouchi again and asked him upstairs. Jounouchi obliged.
“I noticed the guards are kinda helpin’ kids. They ain’t so uptight,” Jounouchi said.
“They must have gotten some kind of talkin’ to.” Jounouchi smiled and batted Kaiba’s arm as they got off the elevator. “It’s a good thing, them helpin’. Though I’m kinda bummed that I can’t really help them now.”
“No one’s stopping you,” Kaiba replied.
They sat down in the room, and Kaiba poured them drinks quicker this time. Again, they sat in silence, though it only lasted as long Jounouchi could manage it, which was about two nanoseconds.
Uninitiated, he started talking about life after high school, and everything that had become of their old classmates that he could remember. He hadn’t specifically recalled if Kaiba graduated; the actual ceremony was fuzzy, but when he asked Kaiba, there was no answer, just a mild look of annoyance. He never stopped Jounouchi from talking, even if he grunted like Jounouchi was being a bother. The product of inviting the blond upstairs and, even if he was annoyed, Jounouchi suspected that a small part of Kaiba was enjoying the strange company. When Jounouchi recounted a particularly long and ridiculous story from work, he was confident that Kaiba laughed, and pestered the man until he looked off to the wall in some kind of acceptance that yes, Jounouchi had made him laugh. By then, they were three drinks in.
It wasn’t like Jounouchi to drink. He didn’t want to end up like his Old Man, but a few drinks now and again was never terrible. The typhoon was an easy excuse. There wasn’t anything else to do, so why not drink?
At someone point, he had laid back on the arm of the sofa and dozed off, and was woken up in the early morning by a security officer escorting him back downstairs. It wasn’t a fitful sleep, but it beat a blank.
On the fifth day, the same thing happened. Walking with Kaiba upstairs, taking in several drinks, talking about nothing until he fell asleep. This time, the only reason he knew he had fallen asleep was when he jolted awake by a phone trill woke and he doused himself with whatever whiskey was left in the glass. He didn’t care. He reached for his phone, but was disappointed when he realised it wasn’t his ringing, but Kaiba’s.
The executive was on the far end of the couch, taking up the little space that Jounouchi’s feet didn’t stretch to. He didn’t recall when Kaiba had sat down beside him.
Jounouchi softened. Somehow, a phone call had gotten through the mess. There were miracles in the world, after all.
While Kaiba spoke to Mokuba, Jounouchi tried calling his sister. He got an empty tone. There wasn’t any service on his end, probably because it was a cheap phone, but he could hope. By the time he was done, so was Kaiba. He sat still and stared at his phone, his thumb running over the screen where Mokuba’s contact picture was.
“That was short.”
“We don’t want to waste time,” Kaiba said. “Usually the calls drop.”
Jounouchi laid back, his eyes heavy again. “Yeah, I getcha. Good thing ya got that high tech thing, able to get a signal now and again.”
“It uses our satellite.”
“Neat,” Jounouchi yawned.
He had already fallen asleep again when Kaiba pressed the phone into his chest. Jounouchi’s eyes fluttered open to find Kaiba leaning over top of him. “Use your time wisely,” Kaiba ordered.
The brunet got up, already back in his chair.
Jounouchi rolled over and stared at Kaiba’s phone. The latest KC phone, probably not even on the market yet. In the corner, he saw the little service icon, though it was flickering. He was quick to dial Shizuka, his heart racing as it rang. This was the furthest he’d gotten in days. The phone rang and rang, and Jounouchi began to think that the call had dropped out in the middle of ringing. That was his luck.
“...hello...?” Shizuka’s sleepy voice asked. Right. It was two in the morning.
Jounouchi smiled. He wasted no time telling Shizuka he was okay, that they were safe, asking if her and their mom were safe and if the typhoon had hit. Shizuka could hardly keep up, and her stuttering made Jounouchi laugh. He gave Kaiba a thumbs up, which got him a roll of the eyes in return. Whatever, he was happy. And he was sure that he saw the skeleton of a smile of Kaiba’s face.
By the time he was done, it had felt like an hour had gone by. It could have, but he didn’t want to take longer than Kaiba had on the phone. Those three minutes were the best he’d had since they’d been corralled in the KaibaDome.
Kaiba approached him to take the phone back, and Jounouchi handed it over, but not without a quick hug. Kaiba stiffened. “Thanks man,” Jounouchi said. His cheeks were warmed by the whiskey, and he realised that he was hugging Kaiba freakin’ Seto over a phone call. It was crazy how important the small things were sometimes.
The executive wriggled beneath the embrace, and Jounouchi swiftly backed away. If he held it any longer (why he held it so long, he didn’t know) Kaiba was bound to sock him in the jaw. A phone call wasn’t worth that.
But Kaiba didn’t fully let go.
He pinched Jounouchi’s shirt sleeve, forcing Jounouchi to turn back. He went a little cold. “Look, I know that uncalled for, but you get it. I won’t touch ya again, it jus’ sorta happened and I—,”
The rest of the words were crammed back into his mouth. Kaiba’s lips crushed into his, kissing deep and long. So long that Jounouchi went lightheaded just from the lack of oxygen. Or maybe it was just a mix of liquor and the moment, plus his confusion to add just an extra dash of wistfulness to a situation he would never, ever in a million years thought would happen. Kaiba didn’t do people things.
It ended so fast that Jounouchi was dizzy. He could still taste the alcohol from Kaiba’s tongue, a little stronger than his own. Had Kaiba drank more than him? He didn’t know, he hadn’t paid attention.
“I ain’t drunk enough for this,” Jounouchi muttered. He chuckled. “You are though.”
“I’m not drunk.”
“I knew what I was doing,” Kaiba said. He rested a hand on Jounouchi’s shoulder and slid it down the blond’s arm. Nothing serious, nothing Yugi or Honda didn’t do on occasion. But not after kissing him.
Jounouchi trembled. “So uh...yeah. Why wouldn’t ya know what you’re doin’? I mean, it ain’t like we’re all blackout drunk or nothin’. It’s jus’ it was...surprising.”
“I also didn’t that you were...you know...” Jounouchi said, rolling his hands around before poising them at Kaiba.
“I like to keep my personal life actually personal. It really doesn’t seem like an important detail to tell anyone unless absolutely necessary.”
“You coulda told me. What if I wasn’t like...into that?”
Kaiba smirked and cupped Jounouchi’s cheek. “You talk a lot, Jounouchi, especially when you’ve had a few drinks in you. You already told me, or else I wouldn’t have bothered with being so brazen.”
That solved that detail. Jounouchi had to admit, he had come back hoarse after sleeping on Kaiba’s couch the night before. It only occurred to him then that, at some point, Kaiba had also gone to bed, and while they didn’t sleep together they had slept in the same room. Which felt weird, even if it wasn’t. It wasn’t even Kaiba himself—Jounouchi would be lying if he said he hadn’t had a very small, microscopic crush on Kaiba in high school. Only when he wasn’t being an absolute prick, which was most of time. It had been pretty easy to dismiss then. Hormones running rampant, lots of messy, end-of-the-world stuff going on. It was easy to think that he was confused. Hell, he’d had a small attraction to Yugi, too, but not in the same kind of way. Kaiba was the dangerous choice. Walking the tight-rope between normal and unhealthy.
Maybe he’d spent more than a few seconds thinking about his arrogant classmate.
Jounouchi touched the back of Kaiba’s hand. “Is that why you invited me up here?” He asked.
Kaiba sighed. “You aren’t listening. I didn’t know beforehand, even if I had my suspicions. No, when I invited you up here before I had different reasons, and none of them included listening to you ramble. I think anything would have been more preferable than that but...I suppose it isn’t such a bad thing. It could have ended up considerably worse.”
Right. They had talked about being alone.
No one wanted to be alone, not even Kaiba who Jounouchi had considered to be the embodiment of a loner. Then again, it really depended on the circumstances. The typhoon had shaken up a lot more than the landscape.
“I guess you’re right. I dunno if I woulda gone straight for the kiss, though. Dinner and movie would have been nice first, but that’s just my opinion.”
“Our choices are a little limited at the moment,” Kaiba said. He looked off to the bed, and Jounouchi wondered if this was where these meet-ups were going to end up. That depended on how much longer they were stuck in the KaibaDome and how much more stir crazy they both got. “I made due with what I had. I didn’t see much point in cuddling up on the couch.”
“You kinda did,” Jounouchi said, recalling Kaiba at his feet.
A little smile appeared on Kaiba’s face. He hadn’t changed much from high school. He still had the same ridiculous, all-business hairstyle and set expression in his severe eyes. But he had filled out some, grown into his face and his lanky limbs. He was almost glad that Kaiba didn’t change much; he wasn’t sure if he could get used to a ‘new’ Kaiba. Not until he got used to the old one.
“So what happens now?” Jounouchi asked.
Kaiba leaned forward and cupped the back of Jounouchi’s head, kissing him again. And again. And again. Stealing his breath each time. There was such pleasurable force to it that he was wheeling backwards, following the track towards the bed and not minding that he collapsed when his calves touched it. It was a small bed, twin-sized at best, and Jounouchi could only imagine that whatever was about to happen was going to be chest-to-chest, limbs tangled in limbs with little room for error.
Just the touch of Kaiba’s hand running down his chest, exposing his midriff, made his head lull back. He stared at past the crown of Kaiba’s head towards the little circular lights above them. Kaiba palmed his erection over his jeans, and he shuddered.
“Kaib’...” he muttered. It slurred like a question, but it wasn’t. He didn’t know what he wanted to say.
His head lulled to the side. Kaiba unbuttoned his jeans and slipped his hand beneath the elastic band of his underwear, lowering himself so that the only space between his and Jounouchi’s erection was the thin place his hand made. His fingers fondled down Jounouchi’s shaft, using the pressure to elicit a few soft gasps from the blond. Especially as Kaiba’s thumb played with his slit and, without much provocation, it beaded with pre-cum. This was happening.
This was happening, here. In this small space.
This was happening, drunk and confused. High off the elation that they weren’t alone, except they were, still. Alone and trapped. It was a bad mix of things that Jounouchi worried he would regret in the morning, though he didn’t stop Kaiba from slipping his pants down to his knees and kissing down his neck.
“I don’t think we should....”
“But your hand’s all...”
“I don’t have the right supplies here,” Kaiba said. His hand moved away, and his hips rocks against Jounouchi’s. “I didn’t think that far ahead.”
“Really now? Kaiba Seto, unprepared?”
Kaiba’s fingertips tapped Jounouchi’s cheek, teasingly slapping it before caressing it gently. More gentle than Kaiba seemed capable of. “I want to touch you,” he whispered into Jounouchi’s skin. It had to be the alcohol. Or the typhoon. Nothing else would have brought them together. If they saw each other on the street, they wouldn’t have batted an eye at one another other than the passing thought that they had went to high school together, they had sort of saved the world together, but that was five years ago. Who cared about five years ago?
“Our uh...choices are a little limited right now, ain’t they?” Jounouchi asked. His nervousness hadn’t quelled, but it made it easier to handle right now. Still, dinner and movie would have been nice. “Only if ya let me touch you back.”
Jounouchi urged them upright, resting his back against the wall and letting Kaiba slowly grope him, work him up into a mess while he fought to hold back. At least until he figured out how to unbutton Kaiba’s pants and get them down.
He half sat in Kaiba’s lap, and he angled himself so that they both had just enough room. Roughly, Jounouchi licked his palm and made up for the time that Kaiba spent fondling him, jerking him hard and fast until he they were both twitching in each other’s laps. They stared at each other, quietly demanding the other release first, their faces growing redder the longer they went.
Jounouchi repressed another moan by kissing Kaiba open mouthed, and he shuddered as fingers carded through his hair, the nails raking against his scalp and pulling him deep into the kiss.
It had been a long time since Jounouchi had been touched or let anyone else touch him. Life was busy. Work, night classes, friends, sleep. There weren’t enough hours in the day when everything was normal. He didn’t want to thank a typhoon for anything yet. But as hot, sticky fluid burst between them, and he cried into Kaiba’s shoulder, he couldn’t think of anything else. The typhoon was the only reason this had happened.
It didn’t take much more half hearted strokes for Kaiba to come, too, wetting his hand and making them both melt into a pile of ecstasy and future denial. The alcohol did it. The typhoon did it. But for right now, wrapped up in each other and staring up at the little circular lights in the room as they spun and made stars, Jounouchi couldn’t have been happier in disaster.
On the sixth day, they were allowed to leave.
The news woke Jounouchi up abruptly, and it wasn’t Kaiba telling him. One of the suits in sunglasses, offering him his pants, told him that they were free to go. Kaiba was nowhere in sight, likely overlooking everything. Even more likely, he’d already ran to KaibaCorp. HQ.
It took Jounouchi several minutes to collect himself and get downstairs. He had to reason that yeah, he and Kaiba had done it. That wasn’t some messed up wet dream. But he forgot about it as soon as he saw Honda standing in front of one of the many propped open doors. “The hell you been!” He demanded as they left.
The warm smell of sea-salt and the velvet dampness of the humidity hit Jounouchi as soon as he stepped outside. It was bright, almost too bright, for after a storm.
Everything was a mess. While the flood waters had likely lowered on the first night, swept off the self-draining roads, the rest of it was screwed. The first thing he saw as he stepped out of the KaibaDome was an overturned car. Snapped tree branches and leaves littered everything, and a guard rail was in the middle of the road. He saw a sign for a local Korean barbecue several blocks away from the actual building it belonged to.
Honda caught up with him halfway, taking the brisk walk into the city and inspecting everything that emergency crews hadn’t shut down. There were plenty of live power lines strewn over the ground, slowly being reassembled. He should have been an electrician, this would have been a gold mine for work. Or a construction worker.
Everything was still standing, as far as he could tell. Windows and doors had been taken out, but the buildings themselves were salvageable. A local café already had a line in front of it while the workers inside swiftly prepared tables to open up. Things were going to be back to normal in a few days, maybe weeks.
He still saw the remnants of the storm. The stiff, kicking winds. The messy beaches, full of bubble messes of sea foam mixed with seaweed, slowly growing with each ebb and flow of the tide. It would take a while, but they’d get there. All he cared about was that his apartment was still standing. The window in their living room had been busted and the blinds were scattered all over the living room, knocking over the lamp and the television. But everything worked. They picked it all up, taped plastic over the window, and then sat down on the couch to relax.
“Well, ain’t this something?” Honda asked.
“Good to be home. I was gettin’ tired of sleepin’ there.”
“Yeah, seriously. Hey, maybe Burger World will be open later, we can grab a bite.”
“Yes fuckin’ please,” Jounouchi laughed. Honda was staring at him. “What?”
“You alright, Jou?”
Jounouchi arched a brow, “Yeah, why?”
“I dunno. You’re just...like, a little different, I guess.”
Jounouchi shrugged. He didn’t feel different. Unless he was wearing the little affair on his face.
“It ain’t nothin’. Happy to be home, even if it means gettin’ back to the grind tomorrow. Hopefully they get this spotty cell service fixed or else Tetsuya is gonna get all over my ass for not showin’ up.”
Honda kept eyeing him, and he shook his head after a while. “Where were you this morning, anyways? I went to your bunk to get you up, and you weren’t there.”
Jounouchi blinked. “I uh...I was...I was takin’ a whiz. Nothin’ special.”
“Then what’s all over your shirt?” Honda asked.
With little to explain, Jounouchi puffed his cheeks up and stared at the opaque stain on his shirt. He decided that not saying anything was about the same as stumbling through some other lie. He wasn’t ashamed. Honda knew he liked guys. But at the same time, explaining that it was Kaiba, and why it was Kaiba, was incredibly difficult.
“Don’t bust my balls man, alright? Things happen.”
Honda sighed. “Whatever. As long as you had fun, you don’t have to tell me anything.”
All in good time, Jounouchi thought. When he had a better grasp of exactly what happened, and what the outcome was going to be. It probably was just going to be a one-night stand type of deal. Kaiba didn’t seem in it for much more than the hook up, and the feeling of someone else. Then again, he didn’t think he was either, and yet he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
After Jounouchi got off work a week later, he forced himself to go to the Kaiba estate. Every cell in his body told him that this was a bad idea, but he was through the gate before he knew it, staring up at the scaffolding that consumed one side of the mansion. An old splintered tree stump was in the front yard, and he guessed the rest of it had landed somewhere inside the house.
He knocked on the door and steadied his breath. This was such a bad idea. This was such a bad idea. This was such a bad idea.
Kaiba answered the door with a displeasurable, “What?” Before blinking and cocking his head to the side. He face lightened from annoyance to curiosity.
“What do you want, Jounouchi? I’m busy.”
“Yeah, I figured. Lots of business stuff. Look, I’ve been thinkin’ about what happened, and I....”Kaiba clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes. “Let me put it this way: are you alone?”
Kaiba looked into the house and back again. “Physically or metaphorically?”
“Follow me, Jounouchi.”
The exact words he wanted to hear. He stepped into the house, unsure of what this was leading to and still not quite thanking the typhoon yet. He closed the door behind him.