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Games of Destiny

Chapter Text

 

As twenty-five year old CEO of Kaiba Corp, Seto Kaiba, entered headquarters, the famed Kaiba Tower that stood as the highest skyscraper amidst the downtown of Domino city, his straight posture and almost unapproachable aura caused his employees to stop and respectfully bow and mutter quiet greetings as he made his way to his destination.  While the young CEO would not be winning any Boss of the Year awards anytime soon, there was no doubt that he was highly respected by his employees and many had worked hard to be under his employment, despite the fact most of them were many years his senior.

After all, everyone knew that Seto Kaiba was a genius as a game designer, engineer, and business entrepreneur. And despite his unapproachable persona, all his employees were well taken care of, with benefits and bonuses that many didn’t see in other companies of the same caliber. However, they also knew that if they so much as failed to live up to the Kaiba standards, or anger him in any way, there would be no mercy from the young CEO.

Taking his private elevator to the top floor, Kaiba entered the silent and completely white room. The many floor to ceiling windows had the blinds down, keeping the sun from entering the pristine room. Pressing a button along one of the walls next to the elevator, some of the blinds rose and retreated, letting the sun shine through the tinted windows that prevented the sun from reflecting off the white surfaces uncomfortably, and presenting the sight of the city just outside the glass barrier.  As Kaiba went through his morning routine of making himself an expresso on the machine on the small kitchenette in a corner of the room, he grabbed the glass with hot caffeine before making his way to the other side of the room where his workplace awaited.

He set his briefcase down on his desk before sitting down and unlocking his three different computers through the optical and facial recognition system and used voice command to tell his virtual secretary to pull up the latest statistics of his company. As expected, Kaiba Corp had dipped a few more points in standing, but nothing large enough to cause him alarm. It had been some time since he had launched a new product after all, and with the quickly changing demographics of his clientele and the rise of new forms of gaming platforms, it was harder to maintain his status as the top gaming company in the country.

With the rise in popularity of RPG, warfare, and open world games, his once best-selling Duel Monster products had been dropping in sales faster than he liked to see. Most tournaments held were on smaller scales, not the grand events they had once been. It had to be expected of course, he knew duel monsters would only be the start of his rise to the top in the gaming industry, as the game industry changed as fast as anything else in the consumer and fad led world.

Currently, his company was working on ways to incorporate their virtual reality systems to that of the games on the market as well as others projected within the near future, but that technology was still a little way out before it was completed and launched. However, he was confident that due to his own designs they were far ahead of any company attempting the same sort of technology. Until then, he was left with the task of making sure Kaiba Corp could keep up with the trends and distribution of what they did have.  And thanks to the four world-wide Kaiba Land Parks, and their top-of-the line gaming computers and accessories, he didn’t see his company struggling anytime soon.

A few months ago, the marketing team had come up with an idea that appealed to Kaiba, and as he opened the first of what would be many emails of the day, he saw that they were moving along as planned, and notified him that they had taken the first major step of the plan.

This idea appealed to him for many reasons, but primarily because it revolved around Duel Monsters and the promise of a tournament in the near future of the scale as they had once been when Pegasus and himself had hosted among the first. The team had proposed to appeal to the younger generation by having prominent figures and idols advertise their products, and hopefully use that publicity to incite interest and follow it with a tournament to draw them in and display the quality and entertainment that duel monsters could bring through Kaiba Corp technology.

The Projections Department agreed that it was perfect timing for such move, as it had been almost a decade since the height of Duel Monsters, many of the younger generation that grew up seeing it everywhere would be filled with nostalgia and would be eager to participate if they played their cards right. No pun intended.

The email informed him that they had begun to contact major idols and agencies across the world, obviously Kaiba Corp would not settle for just their home country and would set their sights on a much grander scale.

Giving himself a moment of satisfaction, Kaiba begun his ritual of sorting his email by relevance and importance, with only slight pauses to drink his expresso. This went on for the better part of the morning, until he was satisfied he had handled everything of importance besides a few calls that would have to be made later in the day.

“Kisara, when is my next meeting?”

The virtual secretary housed within all his personal devices made a sound of understanding and processing his request.

“Your next appointment is not until 2:00PM this afternoon, Mr. Kaiba.”

So, his calls would have to be made before then. Perhaps he would take an early lunch after all. As he pondered his schedule for the day, he was interrupted by the sound of his smartphone letting him know of an incoming call. Looking at the caller ID, Kaiba pressed the button to answer on the small wireless device attached to his right ear.

“Kaiba speaking.”

The voice that spoke back to him was as cheerful as he expected.

“Good morning Seto! I hope I’m not interrupting anything, I know you’re always busy and it’s a weekday.”

Kaiba half expected his once rival to ramble on and decided to cut it short.

“Hn, what do I owe the honor of this call, Yugi?”

To anyone else, his tone might have sounded sarcastic and condescending, but to his old classmate and dueling rival, now game designer himself (although of the non-technological kind), he sounded as normal as ever, but that didn’t stop Yugi from chuckling nervously.

“Well, there is something I’d like to talk to you about, and I was wondering if you wanted to over lunch, if you’re not too busy that is.”

Kaiba smirked, thinking of how well Yugi had set himself up for his entertainment.

“My, is the great Yugi Motou asking me on a date? Now that takes balls, I’m impressed.”

Kaiba’s smirk only grew as he heard Yugi sputter on the other end and could almost picture the indignant look on his face.

“Y-you know I’m engaged!” the scandalized pitch in his voice almost caused him to chuckle.

“Hm, what’s that saying? Just because there’s a goalie, doesn’t mean you can’t score?”

“S-Seto! Téa would kill you!”

Kaiba didn’t bother hiding his scoff.

“She could try. But I’m not the one asking me on a date.”

He could practically hear Yugi whining.

“Kaiba stop being impossible! This is important to me.”

Feeling serious Yugi start to surface, Kaiba figured it was best to drop the act.

“Alright, when do you want to meet?”

“Would this week or next be okay? I’ll be going out of town after that for a few weeks for a Game Expo and some vacation time.”

Kaiba opened up his calendar to look at his appointments.

“How about in three days? I can do noon.”

An almost sigh of relief escaped him and Kaiba couldn’t help but be intrigued on what Yugi wanted to talk about, but he knew better than to ask about it now since they would be meeting up for it anyway. Not to mention, it was a good opportunity to bring up his plan of a tournament, and another chance to duel one of the few worthy opponents left.

“Yeah that’s great! How are you doing anyway? It’s been a while since we’ve talked.”

“Fine. Handling business as always.”

To this day, Kaiba couldn’t say he was very good at small talk, and Yugi was one of the only two people he even tried to make an effort for. They had a lot of history, and although he would never admit it, he was glad that Yugi was one of the only people that cared for him as a person rather than a bachelor CEO genius and inventor and bothered to stay in contact with him.

“How’s Mokuba? Or better yet, where is Mokuba?”

Kaiba forced down the dull ache that always came with mentions of his not so baby brother and the inevitable distance between them.

“Probably in Paris given the time of the week. His classes in America aren’t until two days from now.”

“Wow that’s so great for him. I would have killed to be able to go to multiple colleges at the same time, let alone in different countries! Leave it to a Kaiba to be able to do that and still get perfect grades. That kid is gonna hold the record for most degrees had at his age. You must be proud.”

Kaiba made a noise of contemplation, forgetting that it was customary to speak while on the phone.

“You could say that,” he amended, letting his voice purposely trail off.

“Well, I’m glad I was able to reach you. I’ll see you in a few days then. Oh, and Seto?”

The tone at the end of his question gave Kaiba pause.

“Hm?”

“If you ever need anything, or someone just to hang out with, just let me know. I know you must miss Mokuba a lot, and I know you’re not very good at making friends, and I hate to think that all you do is work and barely talk to anyone that doesn’t work for you. But I like to think we’re friends, so don’t forget that okay?”

Kaiba felt his body tense ever so slightly, still not quite used to Yugi’s sincere motives and open signs of concern, despite the many years of knowing him.

“Hn.” Kaiba added noncommittal.

“Well, if that doesn’t appeal to you, get a girlfriend! Or well, given your teasing today, a boyfriend! You know I won’t judge.”

Kaiba resisted the urge to roll his eyes as an exasperated sigh escaped his lips.

“See you in a few days Yugi.”

Yugi laughed.

“Bye Seto.”

Hanging up the phone, Kaiba leaned back on the semi-reclining chair, and sighed as he reflected on Yugi’s parting words. As much as he hated to admit it, he did miss his brother. He knew that it was irrational, and that the fact that Mokuba could experience everything he was now, was the very reason he had worked so hard to be where they were today. He never wanted Mokuba to have to struggle ever again like when they were children, and his success as CEO was the culmination of that desire. Now Mokuba could do anything he wanted to, even if it meant studying abroad in multiple continents achieving several degrees, possible in part because of his influence, fortune, connections, and advanced learning they received as children.

Still, Yugi was right on more than just that. It was true that he was beginning to feel… lonely, and dare he say it… neglected. Growing up it had been him and Mokuba against the world, and now that Mokuba was pursuing his own path, and Kaiba had achieved what he had strived for, what was left? He couldn’t remember the last time aside from Yugi’s call that he had had a civil conversation with someone that didn’t involve Kaiba Corp business, and while Mokuba tried to call him as often as he could, it had been two weeks since his last call. Not to mention a call here and there didn’t compare to in person conversations.

More than once the media and many of his business partners commented on his bachelor status, suggesting that perhaps it was time to settle down and produce an heir that would eventually take over Kaiba Corp since he wasn’t interested in casual dating.

But despite how many years he had spent in this business, and how old he felt as a result, Kaiba knew he was still young by anyone’s standards. And they were right that he wasn’t interested in dating. Despite the number of people interested in him, he just wasn’t the dating type. He didn’t even remember the last time he had slept with anyone, let alone what they looked like. It wasn’t as if he ever cared to remember them or sleep with them more than once, let alone be in a relationship with them.

It was natural for him to be detached and his inability to trust anyone made it impossible for him to be able to put himself in something like a relationship, where trust and communication was everything. Those were the two things that Seto Kaiba had lost the ability to do from a young age. He saw the worst in everyone, and refused to make himself vulnerable for anyone. A relationship practically demanded that.

Still, perhaps it was time to end his dry spell? Kaiba hated feeling like he was in a rut, and for the past year, that’s exactly what he was beginning to feel. Hopefully the promise of their new marketing campaign would change that.  

Chapter Text

Seventeen-year-old Kise Ryota ignored the flashing of the cameras as he subtly moved to change angles and poses from what he knew came out flattering in photos and had enough trust that the photographers knew what they were doing. Not that he would admit it, but he was quickly growing tired and cranky. He had had a particularly tiring basketball practice the night before and he still felt the soreness of his body while standing. He had been holding the same poses for what felt like hours and all he wanted to do was sit down and eat. Maybe take a nap considering how early he had to get up that morning to make it to the shoot a few hours away from his home.

He didn’t know why his manager enjoyed taking the shoots that were farther than an hour away. He guessed he should appreciate that she only did it on weekends and not days of the week when he had basketball practice. He still missed practice sometimes because of the occasional shoots but at least he wouldn’t be giving up too much sleep a night before class. Being in his last year of high school, the pressure to keep his grades up was big. Despite the many scouts that had already shown interest in scouting him for their respective college basketball teams, he wasn’t sure if he would keep pursuing the sport. It wasn’t that he had grown tired of it, he knew that as long as the Generation of Miracles existed, he could never really tire of the thrill of playing a game against any of them.

It was his own shame that he knew he would never be able to lead his team to victory that made him question whether it was worth pursuing it. After his foot injury his first year of high school, he had pushed himself too hard too fast, and he never fully recovered. While he was still considerably better than everyone but the miracles, surpassing those miracles had been his sole motivation and passion for the sport up to this point. And while for the longest time he had believed he could still achieve his goal, constant defeat on an individual level (because his team still pulled through and they had won their share of games), had led him to finally see that perhaps it wouldn’t be so, specially the closer graduation loomed over him.

Not to mention he had options. His modeling career had remained steady through the years, and he had landed several large gigs in the past year alone, something rare in the modeling world for someone his age not associated with a big agency. And if he really wanted to, he could get grades that would get him anywhere for any degree, he just hadn’t found a degree that inspired that sort of effort and motivation on his part, leading to his less-than-impressive report card.

He knew he had plenty of options to secure a good future, he just wasn’t sure where his dedication should be invested, and with a deadline just around the corner, he wished there was something that could make this choice much easier.

“Kise, are you feeling okay? Do you need a break?” the sound of his manager’s voice cut through his musings, and he hadn’t realized that his posture had slumped and his facial expressions gone numb. He watched as she talked to the lead photographer, and he clapped his hands announcing it was time for lunch.

Kise smiled sheepishly as he looked apologetically at his dark-haired manager, dressed in her favorite maroon two-piece suit. He had always thought her feminine but masculine style was appealing, and from the very few managers he had gone through, she was by far his favorite. Despite her tough appearance when negotiating his shoots, she genuinely cared for his well-being, and bothered to consult with him on all the shoots offered to him and not just the ones she thought were fitting or in the agency’s best interest, but would always share her thoughts on the matter. With her, he felt as if he had a say in his career.

“Sorry Anami, I guess the long trip finally got to me.”

Like a tender mother, she placed a hand on his cheek and smiled apologetically.

“I’m sorry sweetie, I tried to get them to schedule the shoot in the afternoon so you could sleep, but they said they had already booked the studio for the morning.  And you have to admit this is one of the best shoots we’ve had in a few months.”

“Yeah don’t worry about it! It’s nothing a break and some food won’t fix. Speaking of, what are we eating?”

His stomach chose that moment to growl to accentuate his eagerness, and Anami laughed in amusement.

“I prepared a nutritious lunch for us, with plenty of energy boosting food, and a not so nutritious treat for bringing you out here so early after a long week.”

Kise grinned and followed the woman a foot shorter than him to the break room, nodding his head and thanking the crew that occasionally greeted him and gave him compliments on the shoot and stopped to sign autographs when asked.

The studio was one of the higher end ones, and a buffet had even been set up for the crew and other models also having shoots. The break room was large and spacious, with ceiling windows that let in the clear sky and shining sun for the day. The modern style walls of white and greens made it feel as if they were on a vacation spot rather than a workplace, and for that reason alone it was enough to see that this was the best shoot Kise had gotten in some time.

“Wow, with so much food are you sure that we can’t just eat what’s here? It sounds like a waste not to,” Kise commented as he took in the setup of various foods. There was a salad bar, a hot bar, and even desserts. His mouth practically watered at the smells that assaulted him, but he quickly reigned it in at the sigh from Anami.

“You know better Kise. We have a regimen to follow, and who knows what they put in that food. Maybe a thing or two if I trust it enough.”

“Well I guess that’s the most I’ll get from you.”

“Damn right. Now go find a seat while I go get the food. Try not to get kidnapped okay?”

Kise chuckled and nodded, turning towards the many tables. It looked like there was a second tier in the break room, and Kise didn’t hesitate to take the stairs that would take him up, and was quick to take a table with a good view outside. Since he didn’t have his phone on him, he entertained himself by looking outside. They were on the 15th floor, and the view of the city was nice. From where he sat, he could see an amusement park, and wondered if he could convince Anami to stop there before they left.

Thinking back to his previous thoughts, his mood once more dampened from the weight of it all. Sighing and leaning back on his chair, Kise once more wished it was easier being a multi-talented young adult. He was grateful for his options, but he just didn’t want to make the wrong one. It was that time that he had to use logic to make his decision, in a few months he would be considered an adult, and he couldn’t use the argument that he was young and preferred to follow his instincts over reason. And at this point, his instincts were giving him nothing to go on. He felt as if he was being pulled in different directions.

“There you are. Next time choose an easier spot to find.”

Kise smiled as Anami sat across from him.

“Next time give me my phone so I can text you where I am.”

Anami allowed herself a childish eyeroll.

“Point taken. Here.”

Sliding his phone across to him, Kise eagerly grabbed it and checked his messages and notifications, overlooking his social media accounts in favor of the few messages only those close to him could leave.

He had a message from his sister, a few in the group message between his teammates, and surprisingly, a few in the group chat between the Generation of Miracles. It was rare when the miracles used the group chat that Kise had created years prior, but since he considered them important figures in his life, and wanted to stay in touch, it was nice when they did contribute.

Opening the chat, he saw that it was a video from Momoi, and clicking on “play”, he saw that it was a basketball one on one between Kagami and Aomine. Although the quality wasn’t the best, he could hear Kuroko cheering on Kagami as he dribbled the ball while Aomine guarded his basket.

“Score: 14-13, with Aomine in the lead,” he heard Momoi say in the video, before swiveling her phone to look at Kuroko sitting beside her with Number 2 on his lap. The once puppy was already a full-grown husky, and it was no longer possible to sneak him into their matches in a bag, although Kuroko had managed to make him an official mascot for their team.

Kise felt his heart sink, reminded once more that Kagami was more than able to hold his own against Aomine, and had surpassed him several times in the past few years, more than Kise could say for himself. He remembered when he had thought he was the only one who had a chance at surpassing Aomine, only to have that taken from him as a result of that injury due to his own stubbornness and impatience. Now, the reason he had begun playing the sport was far beyond his reach.

Typing out a message to show his disappointment at not being invited to the game, and accentuating it with more emoji’s than really needed, he replied to all the other messages before looking at the neatly arranged food Anami had placed before him. Pulling up his main social media account, he took a picture of the food before adding a status and posting it. After all, it was important to keep his fans updated on his activities, despite how he could care less. The price of show business and popularity.

“Thanks for the food, Anami!” grabbing his chopsticks, Kise didn’t hesitate to dig in, his stomach no longer able to wait to be filled, as much as a healthy meal could fill a 6’2” basketball athlete and model that is. Thankfully, Anami knew it took enough food for the average three people to fill him and brought plenty.

“Hm. Kise, by chance, do you know what ‘Kaiba Corporation’ is?” Anami asked as she looked at the screen of her phone and nibbled on her food.

Kise paused in his eating to look at Anami’s unusual question, his eyes suddenly wide and shining with excitement.

“Yeah actually! Kaiba Corp is a gaming company that started out by creating holographic technology to make a card game more realistic. Man, that brings back memories, I used to love playing Duel Monsters! I would spend a lot of time making decks and participating in tournaments before I started playing sports seriously. I always wanted a duel disk but it was so expensive and exclusive I never got the chance. Why do you ask?”

Looking intently at her screen, there was a short pause as her eyes scanned whatever was on her screen.

“Well, the agency forwarded an email to me that this Kaiba Corp sent out. It looks like they’re looking for models and idols to represent and advertise their products in a few months.”

Kise practically jumped out of his seat as his eyes widened further and his hunger was forgotten.

“Are you serious? No way! Anami, you have to let me audition! Working for Kaiba Corp was my childhood dream! I wanted to duel Seto Kaiba himself for as long as I knew he existed. This could be a one in a life-time chance to challenge him myself. Please Anami!”

Anami stared wide-eyed at the young man before her, the blonde had a fire in his eyes that she had never seen before aside from the occasional basketball game that she had seen him play in. She blinked and smiled at him.

“Wow. How can I say no to an earnest request like that? The only time I’ve ever seen you so fired up is when you’re playing a basketball game. Never for a shoot. I never thought I’d see the day.”

Anami giggled.

“Well alright then, I’ll make the proper arrangements and let you know. Considering the background you have with the game itself, you should be able to land the job no problem. It looks like they’re being very generous about this too. This might just be the best job in your entire career.”

But none of that phased Kise as a face-splitting grin spread across his face.

Yes! Thank you so much Anami! Wow I can’t believe this is happening! I’m gonna meet Seto Kaiba himself!”

Anami sighed and shook her head.

“Now Kise. Don’t get your hopes up. I imagine this Seto Kaiba, if he’s the CEO himself, might be too busy to even show up for an audition or a shoot. He has people to do that for him.”

Kise was abruptly reminded of the truth behind Anami’s words. It was true that Kaiba would probably be too busy running his company to be there for his audition. Still… he wasn’t going to pass up the chance to meet him.

“Well even if that’s the case. I know Seto Kaiba would never back down from a challenge. I’ll announce my intent to duel him, and he’ll have to meet with me.”

The look of intent and confidence in Kise’s face was enough to send a chill down Anami’s spine, and she was convinced that this was a side of Kise she had never seen before. She suddenly found herself hoping Kaiba was ready for the driven person that Kise Ryota could be, with the right motivation.

Chapter Text

It had been three days since the start of their most recent campaign, and he had been informed that due to their competitive compensation, already they had a strong line up of well-known models and idols around the world interested in auditioning, and a surprising majority of them had background in the game and his products. It was enough to stroke his ego and remind him just how much power he had, and how far his influence reached.

A beep from his cellphone announced one of his alarms, and remembering the time, he remembered today was the day he had scheduled to have lunch with Yugi. He had already made reservations and it would take him half an hour to get there, just enough to make it on time. Calling his driver to be ready, he made his way towards the elevator that would take him down to the ground floor.

Making his way, to the car, he let his driver know their destination and settled back against the seat, closing his eyes as he waited for his driver to let him know when they arrived.

 


 

 

“Hey Seto, I made it!”

Kaiba looked up from his seat to see Yugi pulling out the chair across from him and sitting down. He had a faint sheer of sweat across his forehead, and Kaiba could tell that he was slightly out of breath.

“You’re late.”

Yugi laughed nervously at the accusation and rubbed the back of his head.

“Sorry Seto, but I’ve never been to this place so I got kind of got lost trying to find it. Next time lets meet at a place we both know, okay?”

Kaiba scoffed, arms crossed in front of him.

“Please, and settle for a mediocre establishment? Sorry Yugi, but I rather starve than find myself in a 3rd rate place. Even for you.”

Yugi sighed, knowing it was no use trying to get Kaiba to do something he didn’t want.

“Besides, ever heard of GPS devices? It’s perfect for finding places you don’t know.”

Yugi knew what it was of course, but the thought hadn’t occurred to him.

“Well, I’m pretty bad at keeping up with new technology. I have to say I really do miss the old days when not everyone had a cellphone and we had to know everything ourselves. Now I just feel out-knowledged by everyone, especially those younger than me who “joogle” everything.”

Kaiba scoffed.

“Please. There’s a difference between retaining knowledge and being able to access knowledge.  Just because they can pull up a few facts here and there doesn’t mean they know more than you. Fools like that will always fail because there is no gain from accessing knowledge if they can’t retain it when they don’t have their precious devices.”

Yugi thought on that for a second and hummed in contemplation. As always, it looked like Kaiba had thought plenty on the subject.

“Well, I guess you kind of have a point. But I’m sure you more than anyone can agree that technology has its usefulness.”

“Of course, we wouldn’t be where we are without technology. It’s a matter of how it’s used that makes the difference.”

At that moment, the waitress came by to ask for drinks, and both Yugi and Kaiba settled for water to begin with.

“Eh, this is all really fancy stuff Seto,” Yugi muttered, not sure this was something he could afford without using money he planned to save for his upcoming vacation.

“Get whatever you want. It’s on me,” Kaiba replied, knowing exactly what was going through Yugi’s mind. While Yugi loved what he did, he certainly didn’t make enough money to be able to afford food of this caliber on a daily basis. Specially with the way said technology was putting old school board games out of commission. The only reason Yugi and his grandpa were able to stay afloat was because Domino City was one of the few cities that embraced the history of duel monsters and took pride in being the hometown of Kaiba Corp and the famed King of Games.

“Well if I didn’t know you could afford this restaurant ten times over, I don’t think I’d be able to accept. But alright, thanks Seto! I haven’t had a meal this fancy since I proposed to Téa, and even then, I was too nervous to really enjoy it.”

If memory served him correctly, Kaiba knew it had to be about a year since Yugi proposed to his childhood friend, and at the mention of her, saw an opening of on how to make conversation.

“How is she?” he asked, after all, if there was something Yugi loved to talk about other than games, it was his friends and fiancé. As expected, Yugi’s face lit up with that childlike innocence that he never quite outgrew.

“She’s great, although a little stressed, what with recently having a big break in a musical and still trying to keep up with the wedding plans. We pushed it back to make up for it, but I think she feels a little guilty about it. Even though I told her I don’t mind waiting as long as it takes or take on the wedding plans myself. But of course, she wants to handle it herself.”

“That’s great, Yugi. I’m glad you’re happy.”

Yugi blushed slightly, feeling embarrassed and genuinely happy that Kaiba would tell him that. He had come a long way from the angst filled and immature teen he had once been. While he was still emotionally damaged, arrogant, and power-hungry, he was proud of the progress that Kaiba had made. After all, he knew that only a few years ago, this setting with them having lunch and a civil conversation would have been unheard of. Let alone Kaiba paying for his meal and making the reservations himself. He would have told him to stop wasting his time and just tell him what he needed over the phone when he first called.

The waitress once more arrived at the table, giving them their water and setting down a bowl of bread and butter to entertain them while appetizers and the main course arrived.  Both men placed their order and resumed their conversation.

“So, what is it that you wanted to talk about?” Kaiba asked, ready to hear the reason they had come here.

He frowned when he saw the way Yugi stiffened and looked down at his lap, and Kaiba couldn’t help but wonder if this was more serious than he thought.

“Well… it’s about the offer you made me a few years ago, when you met with him for the last time...”

Kaiba suddenly knew exactly who Yugi was referring to and raised an inquisitive brow at the unexpected admission. Although if he was honest with himself, he had expected to have this conversation much sooner.

“You mean, when I came back from the afterlife after seeing Atem for the last time?”

Yugi almost seemed to tense further.

“Y-yeah. You offered to let me use your ship to travel and see him too, and I declined. See, I wasn’t ready to see him again. Even though I had proved to be able to stand on my own, and even though I still missed him, I didn’t feel worthy to face him. Even during that last battle, it was still him that saved the world. Without him, we wouldn’t have been able to survive.”

Yugi paused, and Kaiba remained silent as he waited patiently.

“What I’m trying to say is… well… I think I’m finally ready to see him again. And while I hope that he’s able to watch over us from the afterlife, I’d like to tell him myself about the large step I’m about to take with Téa. I think if he was here, and if it was possible, he would have been my best man, ya know?”

The expression on Yugi’s face was a mix of regret, hope, and longing, and Kaiba nodded.

“I see. Well like I said back then, the machine is ready to go for whenever you want it, and I’m sure Atem would be pleased to see you. I’ll just have to make sure everything is in order. However, in turn, there is something I’d like to ask of you, Yugi.”

Interest and curiosity quickly replaced Yugi’s expression as he looked expectantly at Kaiba. He didn’t think there was much he could offer to someone like Kaiba who could have anything he wanted, so he figured it had to be something of a favor.

“Sure Seto, anything.”

Anything to be able to see Atem again.

That familiar conniving grin crossed Kaiba’s face, and Yugi wondered if he had gouged Kaiba’s intent rightly after all.

“You see Yugi, in a few months’ time, my company will be holding a Duel Monsters tournament on a grand scale, just like old times. And I want you, the previous King of Games, to be an honorary guest.”

“Eh?! You’re kidding!”

Kaiba leaned back against his chair, folding his arms in front of him and staring straight into Yugi’s shocked eyes.

“You know I never kid Yugi, especially when it comes to the good of my company. It’s a new campaign to bring in more of the younger generation to try our systems, and what better way than to use the original technology of Kaiba Corp. In a very short time, Kaiba Corp will release new technology that will once more revolutionize the gaming industry, and it’s time we remind the world why my company is the top in this country, and pave the path for that release.”

Yugi was once more astounded at the talent and mastermind that Kaiba possessed, and he knew that although it was true that duel monster tournaments had become rarer, if anyone could revive them to their former glory, it had to be Kaiba. And despite himself, he knew that it might be fun to revisit one of his favorite past times, not to mention, the business part of himself also knew that the publicity could boost sales in his own store.

“Well, that actually does sound kind of fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a tournament, and it’s only fair since you’re helping me to basically break the laws of time and physics. Just let me know where and when to sign up and I’ll be there.”

Kaiba nodded, pleased but expecting nothing less from Yugi. Still, it would be nice to finally have an opponent worthy of bringing out his best decks for.

“Perfect. I’ll keep you updated once the plans have been finalized and executed. I expect this tournament to be among one of the best we’ve ever had.”

At the comment, Yugi couldn’t help but give a nervous chuckle, thinking back to their history with tournaments.

“Well, let’s hope that it sticks to Duel Monsters and no more evil ancient powers. I think I’ve had my fill, and this time Atem is definitely not coming back.”

At that point, the waitress once more returned with their food, and the two men began to eat with a newfound fervor and appreciation of the meal. For the most part, the remainder of the lunch was quiet, with only the occasional question here and there. Mostly it was Yugi asking the questions and Kaiba answering them, but occasionally Kaiba had his own questions to contribute.

“Yup, I have one particular game I’m almost ready to reveal. It just needs a few quirks to be fixed but for the most part I feel it’ll be the first game I’m confident might make it big outside of Domino. But I promise, as soon as I’m ready to unveil it, you’ll be among the first to know.”

“Hn.”

Kaiba’s sound of approval could only be deciphered by someone like Yugi.

“Speaking of which, will you be inviting Joey and Duke to your tournament? Maybe even Mai and Bakura? I think they’d like coming back. And it’d be fun having the gang together just like old times.”

Kaiba set his fork down and finished chewing before speaking.

“I have thought about it, and I see no reason as to why not. I don’t plan to have a limit on just how many possible duelists can participate, but the number will effect how long the event will be held for. In my opinion, the more the merrier, so feel free to spread the word to those who stop by your store to stock up on cards.”

Yugi smiled brightly.

“Sure thing Seto! You can count on me. And knowing my friends, they’ll spread the word too. Man, I didn’t think I’d be this excited for a tournament again. Do you think there will be a lot of new younger duelists?”

“My Projections Team has estimated that there is a good chance it will be even between new old and duelists.  As for skill, we won’t know until we know who signs up and whether there is any history of prior dueling. There’s a good chance amateurs will be joining too, but as long as everyone enjoys the game and spreads the word, then that’s all Kaiba Corp hopes for.”

Yugi nodded, eagerness and excitement clear on his face.

“I see. Well, I’m sure it’ll be a great turn-out with great duelists!”

 


 

 

By the time Kaiba was done for the day, everyone else except for the janitorial staff had left. But despite the late hour and his work in the tower itself being done, Kaiba knew that his night was not over just yet.

Ever since he and Yugi parted ways, his request had been on the back of his mind, and with it, the urge to visit a place he hadn’t visited in almost two years. And as he took the elevator that he was the only one on Earth to be able to claim as his own, it wasn’t long before he arrived at his destination, far above the highest skyscraper ever built anywhere.

It had been some time since he last visited the space station he owned, but the caretakers of the place had made sure everything was up to date. Thankfully for him, what he came to see was something only he and Mokuba had the ability to access, and as he made his way through the quiet and desolate space station, he found the door he was looking for, and opened it after several security measures. So far, despite many attempted hacks at his system, no one had been able to get past this well-kept secret.

The room was exactly as he remembered leaving it two years ago, although considering the haze that coming back had been, his memory might not be as reliable as he would have liked. Still, the technology that he kept within this room was not one that he could ever unleash to the rest of the world. Not without desecrating the final resting place of his archrival, one of the very few people he knew he respected. Although once, he would have thought the idea of being able to travel to the afterlife as ludicrous, as well as the idea of magic existing and that duel monsters had once been actual monsters in ancient Egyptian times. At one point in his life, he laughed in the face of those who claimed he was the reincarnation of an ancient priest, with a fate of his own. Once, he had believed himself superior to even the laws of time and space, living and death.

Now, as limitless as his potential and intellect was, he knew he was still naïve.

As he approached the ship within the room, flashes of memories past began to come to mind. The last time he had used this machine had been a bitter moment. He had traveled to the afterlife multiple times after he first invented this ship. He had built it in order to duel, and finally defeat, Atem. The once Pharaoh and his ultimate rival and conquest. The one person that time and time again managed to defeat him, preventing Kaiba from being the ultimate duelist like he had set out to prove. It had taken him years and multiple times of traveling to that dimension, but not once had he been able to defeat the Pharaoh.

He had thought winning would finally fill that empty void in his life, the void that no amount of power or money could fill. He had convinced himself that Atem was just another obstacle, just another living thing that denied him the power and dominance that was his right, one of those obstacles that set out to make him inferior, to put him down. He had grown up to believe that if he didn’t have power, if he wasn’t the best, then he might as well be nothing. That all his accomplishments were insignificant if he didn't stand at the top. But after constant defeat, for the first time, he had chosen to accept his fate, and swallow his pride.

He told Atem that he had finally had enough. That he refused to be the very definition of insanity, to continue to do the same thing over and over again and to expect to win, when time and time again he was proven wrong.

And he left, for what he said would be the last time.

Now, all he had left was his company, a company that no matter how hard he had tried to make his own, he still saw remnants of his stepfather and his past wherever he looked. And even though he still had Mokuba, he had never felt farther from him.

Placing his hand on the cold metal, he wondered what it would take to finally feel at peace.

Chapter Text

Kise had been so eager to go back home and find his old dueling cards that he completely forgot how exhausted he had been just a few hours before. The rest of the shoot had been a breeze, and he had told Anami that instead of going home he would be taking a detour back home to his parents’ house to find the cards he had left there. 

While his parents had been surprised, they were also pleased by the surprise visit. They had had dinner and he had filled them in on his plans for the coming auditions. Of course, they asked him about his plans after high school, but he couldn’t give them a solid answer, and just told them his different options. 

After dinner, he had rushed to his room, and searched his room high and low for his cards. But it had been years since he had even touched them, and he couldn’t remember where he had last left them. After relentless searching, he figured he had no choice but to ask the only person who might have a clue…

“Mom!” he called, peeking out the door and hoping he was loud enough to be heard. He continued to look around his room, but he was sure he had looked everywhere. Could they be in the attic or stored somewhere else?

“Yes Ryota?” she asked, stepping inside the room and watching her son curiously.

“Have you seen that old box with cards I used to collect?”

His mom made a show of thinking.

“Hmm. Is it that box that you said it was okay to give to the neighbor’s son?”

Kise gaped as his head swiveled in his mother’s direction.

“What! Mom! Why would you do that?” 

His mom frowned and placed her hands on her hips, lips pursed in that way that told him he had said something wrong.

“Kise Ryota you are not to raise your voice at me like that. I specifically called you to ask if it was okay to give those cards away and you said it was fine, that you would never use them again anyway.”

At her words, the memory came to mind, and Kise remembered with clarity that she was telling the truth. At the time, he had really thought he had been done with Duel Monsters, that he had outgrown it and that his time was going to be dedicated to sports anyway. 

With a groan, Kise fell back onto the floor, feeling like an idiot. 

“Can I go now?” his mom asked, and Kise knew he should apologize.

“Yes. Sorry mom. And thanks.”

She left without another word, and Kise groaned once more. 

“Man, now I have to start all over. And I had such good cards too!”

While it was definitely a downer to have his hard work go to waste, all those duels and tournaments with rare cards at stake, Kise knew he had been to blame. He had just never thought an opportunity like this would ever present itself. 

“Well, at least now I have plenty of money to get even rarer cards,” with a grin, Kise sat up and reached for his phone, intent on finding as many card stores as he could within distance. Anami had said it would probably be a few weeks before the auditions, enough time to spread the word as much as possible, which gave him plenty of time to go on a hunt for cards.

As he got to his phone, he saw that he had some messages from the Miracles, and opened up the chat to see some of the members making fun of Kagami for losing to Aomine after tripping and making a faceplant on the court. Too excited about the turn of events for the day, he decided to share the news of his latest opportunity. After all, what if they used to play Duel Monsters too?

Kise Ryota

7:45 PM

Guys! Guess where I’m auditioning for soon! You won’t believe my luck!

 

While he waited for a reply, Kise used a search engine to look for card shops around his area, and was surprised to see at least three within traveling distance from his parent’s home. He figured he could go to all three the next day before going back to his apartment before school started for the following week. 

As he planned his route, it wasn’t long before one of the Miracles replied.

 

Aomine Daiki

7:58 PM

If it doesn’t have to do with Mai I don’t care.

 

Kise rolled his eyes at the typical reply from the Ace of the Generation of Miracles, but before he could reply another message came in.

 

Satsuki Momoi 

7:59 PM

Undercover?!

 

Well, he wouldn’t lie, Undercover would be a huge job to land, being one of the top brands in the country. Still, the idea of working with Kaiba Corp was still somehow more exciting.

 

Kise Ryota

8:00 PM

 Nope! Do you guys remember Duel Monsters?

      

From the chat, he was able to see that Murasakibara and Akashi were also online. 

 

Murasakibara Atsushi

8:01 PM

Is that a snack?

 

Akashi Seijuro

8:02 PM

No Murasakibara, he means the card game, am I correct Kise?

 

Finally! Kise couldn’t help but be glad that at least someone knew what one of his childhood hobbies was. Leave it to Akashi to know a strategy game. 

Kise Ryota

8:03 PM

The very one! My agent told me that Kaiba Corp is holding auditions for models and idols to represent their products. And I’m definitely going to audition. And when I land the job, I’m going to challenge Seto Kaiba himself to a duel!

 

Kise once more felt his excitement grow as he typed out his message, and he grinned the same way he had when he had discovered that there was someone that could challenge him when it came to sports in Aomine. At the thought, he wondered if perhaps this was just what he needed. He had felt so suffocated by the looming decisions that he had to make, that he was relieved to have something to look forward to. Something he felt in control over. Something he had no doubts about.

 

Murasakibara Atsushi

8:05 pm

Eh? Well good luck with that Kisechin. I’m sure you’ll get it.

 

Kise smiled. Sometimes it was almost adorable how Murasakibara could be clueless but considerate, yet coldhearted when provoked. He figured his words for encouragement were in part thanks to the fact he got him snacks whenever he saw him.  

 

Akashi Seijuro

8:06 PM

Challenging the CEO of Kaiba Corp? Quite ambitious of you Kise. Let me know the result.

 

Kise smirked. Ambitious? Well, he figured it could be considered such to some. To him though, it was just a dream and opportunity he couldn’t pass by. 

Aomine Daiki

8:07 PM

Kise, what the fuck are you going on about? What the hell is Kaiba Corp and why are you challenging the CEO? Isn’t that the quickest way to NOT get the job?

 

Kise sighed and pouted. Leave it to Aomine to ask questions he didn’t really want to explain.

 

Kise Ryota

8:07 PM

Akashicchi, can you please explain to Aominecchi? I can’t answer him when he’s being an insensitive jerk.

 

 

Aomine Daiki

8:08 PM

How am I being a jerk?!

 

Midorima Shintaro

8: 09 PM

I believe I can help with that. I used to participate in the game of Duel Monsters.

 

Well, Kise couldn’t say he was too surprised to find out Midorima also participated. Like Akashi, he also enjoyed strategy games.

 

Aomine Daiki

8:10 PM

At this point I don’t even care anymore.

 

Kuroko Tetsuya

8:10 PM

You really are a jerk, Aomine.

 

Aomine Daiki

8:10 PM

You JUST joined this chat and you’re calling me a jerk?! What the hell Kuroko?!

 

Kagami Taiga

8:11 PM

Jerk.

 

Aomine Daiki

8:11 PM

You can all go to hell.

 

Midorima Shintaro

8:12 PM

If we are done antagonizing Aomine, I will explain his questions.

 

Momoi Satsuki

8:12 PM

Wait! I haven’t gotten my turn! Daiki is a loveable jerk! Okay, I’m done.

 

Aomine Daiki

8:12 PM

For the love of **

 

Midorima Shintaro

8:13 PM

As I was saying. Duel Monsters is a card game created by a man called Maximilian Pegasus. Players collect cards of monsters, traps, and spells, until they have enough to make a deck. When players “duel” they face each other using their decks and strategies, and have “life points” as a way to keep score. When life points reach “0”, that player loses.

 

Momoi Satsuki

8:13 PM

Ooh, that sounds kind of fun!

 

Now that he thought about it, Kise realized that Momoi could be a great duelist. While she didn’t have the physical aspect to be good in sports, she was a great collector of data and her ability to read potential could be applied to types of strategizing in Duel Monster. Hm… perhaps he would help introduce her to the game. 


Aomine Daiki

8:13 PM

So you’re telling me Kise has been a nerd this entire time.

 

Kagami Taiga

8:14 PM

1v1 me in duel monsters Ahomine.

 

Aomine Daiki

8:15 PM

You’re on Bakagami!

 

                           Kise Ryota

           8:15 PM

As happy as it would make me to see everyone start playing Duel Monsters…Let Midorimacchi finish explaining!

  

Midorima Shintaro

8:17 PM

Thank you Kise. As for Aomine’s other question. Seto Kaiba is the CEO of Kaiba Corp, and the inventor of a holographic technology that made Duel Monster not just a card game, but a game that could be experienced in 3D thanks to his technology. This success made his company the #1 Gaming Company in the country, a feat that has not been surpassed despite the fall in popularity of Duel Monsters itself thanks to Kaiba Corp’s production of high-tech gaming computers and other devices. Not only that, but Seto Kaiba is considered one of the best players of Duel Monsters in the world.

 

Aomine Daiki

8:20 PM

You are all nerds. I hope this Kaiba guy beats you.

 

Momoi Satsuki

8:20 PM

Daiki! Be nice to Kichan! You’re supposed to support him!

 

Kise Ryota

8:21 PM

Thanks Momocchi! At least SOMEONE is on my side.

  

Akashi Seijuro

8:21 PM

I believe I speak for everyone when I say that we are all cheering you on Kise. Or am I wrong?

 

Murasakibara Atsushi

8:22 PM

I’m on your side Kisechin.

 

K uroko Tetsuya

8:22 PM

I agree. I believe in you Kise.   

 

Momoi Satsuki

8:22 PM

Yeah! I don’t know much about Duel Monsters but I can definitely collect data for you!  Just say the word Kichan!

 

Kagami Taiga

8:22 PM

Kick that Kaiba’s ass Kise!

 

Midorima Shintaro

8:22 PM

Hmph. Defeating Seto Kaiba is no easy feat. You’ll need your lucky item to do it. Let me know when you plan on dueling him, and I’ll tell you what you need.

        

Aomine Daiki

8:23

Yeah, yeah. Just let me know when you beat him. He sounds like a douche anyway.

 

Kise was no stranger to support. He had been lucky to grow up with a supportive family, supportive friends, and eventually, supportive fans. People were always reminding him of his good looks, his amazing basketball skills, and his great potential. And it wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate or question their sincerity.  

But when it was these guys, the group of friends that surrounded him in some of the best years of his life in middle school, the friends that constantly pushed him to be better, to strive for perfection, to be the best. The ones that shattered what he used to see as a once boring life. It just… didn’t compare to anything else. 

Even if perhaps he would never be able to surpass them all in the sport he had dedicated so many years to, for the first time, he felt that it was okay. He could be content with this, he could be content with rivals that could also be his friends.

 

Kise Ryota

8:25 PM

Thanks guys. I won’t let you down! 

Chapter Text

Those who worked under Seto Kaiba were convinced he didn’t know what taking time off was.  If asked, none would recall the last time they had even heard of a mention of their boss being on vacation. The closest Seto Kaiba had ever been to vacationing was when work took him away from headquarters for an extended amount of time. And even that was more of a vacation for the employees than their actual employer.

So, when word spread that Seto Kaiba would be taking a week’s vacation, being shocked would have been an understatement.

It was unlike the infamous CEO to take a vacation to begin with, it was even more unheard of him doing something as drastic as that right at the launch of one of their biggest campaigns in a long time. Every department was working in overdrive to finalize the preparations for what would be the biggest Duel Monsters tournament in years, and it seemed an odd time for their CEO to be taking a vacation amidst it. And it was for that reason that it wasn’t surprising at the many rumors that spread, ranging from the young genius being sick to having found a lover overseas.

“So, Yuran from accounting called. Apparently, your employees think you have a fatal disease and/or found a lover in America.”

Kaiba scoffed at the news from his brother on the phone.

“You still talk to Yuran?”

Mokuba laughed.

“Not really, but we keep in touch every once in a while.”

“She’s almost ten years older than you.”

“So? Age looks good on her. Besides, age is just a number and you’re avoiding the subject.”

Kaiba would have rolled his eyes if it wasn’t so unbecoming.

“You can’t deny that it’s unusual for you to take vacation. It’s not surprising it throws your employees for a loop. I mean, even when I was a kid the most vacation we took was when I wanted to go to Disney Land. And even that was only a weekend trip. Do you know how much I still wanted to do and see?”

It was only then that Kaiba felt an ounce of guilt for depriving Mokuba of his childhood whims. It was only a stark reminder that Mokuba wasn’t a child anymore.

“It was a waste of time, and times were different back then. Managing Kaiba Corp took more time and effort to make sure it succeeded. I can afford to work less now for the company to thrive.”

He could almost picture Mokuba rolling his eyes in his apartment in America.

Right. And you’re not a workaholic. I’m serious Seto. Just because I’m visiting for a week doesn’t mean you have to stop working completely. Not that I don’t appreciate it but it’s a critical time in the new campaign. I don’t want to take you away from the company when it needs you.”

At this, Kaiba paused. Perhaps he had been hasty to claim vacation at the news that Mokuba would be visiting for a week. But he also knew that he was right when he said his company would fine without him for a week. After all, all that was left was for each department to do their part and proceed as planned. The only thing he had to do was have the final say in certain decisions and make sure he approved all the proposals such as venues and entertainment to meet the Kaiba standards. He was confident that his staff was not as incompetent as some of the earlier fools when Kaiba first begun. He made sure to choose those who worked for him wisely and for the past few years had very little turnover or employees that warranted being fired. He made sure to run with an iron fist, and his employees knew better than to disappoint him.

“It’ll be fine, Mokuba.”

After all, the worst that could happen was for him to have to do damage control when he got back.

 


 

As twenty-one year old Mokuba Kaiba stepped out of his private jet and onto the steps that let him touch ground, the welcomed breeze ruffled his dark blue bangs as he brushed them away from his eyes. It had been a while since he had been in Domino, Christmas to be exact, and simply touching down on it brought a sense of nostalgia.

He loved being away, loved the freedom of it and finally being able to find his own way. He loved attending different colleges with different people and mastering multiple languages, as hectic as his schedule could be sometimes. But it was thrilling, and never was there a dull moment. He had never had so much fun in his life (which, given their history and involvement with ancient evils, didn’t say much).

Still, a part of him felt guilty to be having so much fun when his brother, the one responsible for his lifestyle, stayed back and worked. He knew Seto didn’t mind running a company, after all, for someone that thrived on control and power, there was nothing else he could see his brother doing. Perhaps it wasn’t so much that his brother ran the company that bothered him, as much as it was that he ran it without him.

Growing up, he had been sure he would never leave Seto’s side. He had been convinced that he’d be his right-hand man and everything under the sun. But as he grew up, his outlook on life and their relationship changed. While he never stopped looking up to his brother, he realized that he wanted his own path too. He didn’t want to merely exist in his brother’s shadow, or live off his success. As much as he wanted to support him with all he had, he wanted to have his own goals too. Not only that, he wanted to prove that he could make something of himself. That he was worthy of the Kaiba name, regardless of the negative connotations of how they began, they had made something better of that name, something that meant something great and not the remnant of a tyrannical man that made their childhood hell. He could write a whole thesis on the symbolism the Kaiba name represented, but it probably wouldn’t be very educational. 

And despite what everyone believed, the only thing his brother had contributed to his goals since he had become of age was the private jet that took him from school to school, a feat that didn’t happen without a fight either. As for the rest, he had used his own smarts and efforts to earn the money to pay for his schooling. After all, he didn’t grow up around successful businessmen without picking up a thing or two in the process.

“Sir, your brother is waiting for you in the terminal.”

Mokuba nodded and looked at the sky once more before heading to where he knew his brother would be waiting.

 


 

 

Kaiba was the very picture of nonchalant patience as he stood in the terminal reserved for private jets. It had been months since he had seen Mokuba in person, and he had made sure to be finished with his work so he could personally welcome him back and help him settle in for the week he would spend in Domino.

After all, even if Mokuba was all grown up, it didn’t change that he was still his little brother and the only person that Kaiba would make time for.

On cue, he saw the approaching figure of Mokuba enter through the automatic sliding doors, and felt a warmth in his chest when Mokuba’s face lit up at the sight of him before the young adult broke into a sprint towards him. It reminded him of old times, and he was glad that a part of Mokuba still looked at him with that same sense of wonder.

And while a younger Mokuba would have thrown his arms around his brother’s waist in a tight embrace, this older Mokuba stopped short of his brother, smile just as bright. Mokuba was indeed no longer little and showed it in every aspect. He was tall, although he never grew to be quite as tall as his older brother. He chose to keep his hair long, but now he tied it into a low ponytail at the nape of his neck, with thick bangs framing his face. If memory served him correctly, unlike him, Mokuba looked more like their mother, with softer features, but still inheriting the handsomeness of their father.

“Hey Seto, long time no see.”

Kaiba took a moment to take in his brother, and Mokuba waited patiently, never quite sure what went through his brother’s mind in moments like this.

But when the smallest trace of a smile broke across Kaiba’s face, Mokuba grinned further and reached for his brother in a welcomed embrace as he patted his brother’s back. Kaiba hugged him back, although loosely, he never did quite learn to hug properly.

“It’s good to see you Mokuba.”

The entire car ride to their home was spent with Mokuba filling the usual silence with updates on his studies and travels, the adventures he had been on, the girls he had his eyes on, and anything else he could think off. Kaiba listened patiently and offered comments when he could.

Although Kaiba would never tell anyone, he was glad that his brother hadn’t turned out like him. He was glad that Mokuba could smile freely and without care, glad that he could enjoy life to the fullest despite everything that they had gone through. More than once he would admit to himself that he wondered how it was possible for two brothers to turn out so different, but it would be a waste of his time to truly linger on it. The past was in the past, and this was now.

“So anyway, Seto. One of my high school friends who recently got a job as a teacher and assistant coach at Kaijo invited me to one of their basketball matches. It’s tomorrow afternoon and when he heard I would be back in town he made me promise to come watch. Their school is one of the nationally ranked basketball teams, and he said they’ll be against another top tier school. I know you’re not much for sports, but he said this would be the last year before another match of this caliber would take place, and who knows when the next one might be.”

Kaiba raised an eyebrow at the statement. While it was true that sports had never held much interest to him, it was the context of what he said that raised his interest.

“What makes this game so great?” he asked.

Mokuba visibly perked at his brother’s interest on the subject.

“Well, there’s this group of players known as the Generation of Miracles that play in different schools, and they’re considered basketball prodigies. It’s also their last year in high school so it could be the last time they play competitively. Of course, I’m pretty sure all of them have been scouted for university teams but who knows if they’ll continue. Anyway, I’ve seen a few of their matches on TV and they really are something else. These two schools don’t even normally match up outside of a tournament, but the demand was so high that the schools agreed on making this match happen. Come with me! You’re on vacation anyway. I promise it’ll be worth the travel time!”

Kaiba mulled the thought over. While he didn’t want to get in the way of Mokuba catching up with one of his old friends, he had taken vacation to be able to spend it with Mokuba. And while he had never been a fan of sports, something he didn’t consider worthy of spending valuable time on, he didn’t have much else to do and it wouldn’t work well for him to take vacation only to spend it working anyway. Not to mention, if Mokuba was this worked up over a high school basketball game, perhaps there was merit to his claims. Although sports meant little to him, he was an avid supporter of competitive plays. Maybe this match would be no different.

“Alright Mokuba, I’ll go.”

Mokuba grinned.

“Yes! Do you know anything about how basketball works?” Mokuba asked.

Kaiba closed his eyes, trying to recall anything he knew about basketball from when they played during gym in high school, but all he could recall was the point values and ball handling rules.

“Enough,” he replied.

Besides, he could just research the rules before the match was set to start.

 


 

 

“Wow! This school is beautiful!”

As Kaiba and Mokuba exited their car and looked at the building ahead of them, it was easy to see why this school was so renowned. It would be the host of the home game for Kaijo, and Mokuba already had the tickets that his friend had sent him to be able to get in. Not only was the school beautiful, but it was also obvious that it was nationally ranked from the sheer amount of people already present. The parking lot was brimming with cars, and if it wasn’t for their private driver, the Kaiba brothers would no doubt have had to spend a considerable amount of time finding parking space.

People were making their way into what he imagined was the building that would host the basketball game, an excited chatter already in the air.

“If I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t think this was a high school. Wow. Koji wasn’t kidding when he said Kaijo was more than he expected.”

“Hm.”

Kaiba agreed. Domino High School might as well have been a pig sty compared to this school. Not that he cared, his future had been secured the moment he took over Kaiba Corp and getting his high school diploma had been a mere means to be able to keep the company. After all, he doubted many would like to work under a CEO without a high school diploma, let alone stay in power for very long. Not to mention that staying in Domino City made running his company easier than attending a prestigious high school that was farther away. Not that he really needed a prestigious education. His stepfather had made sure to give him all the education he would need right at home.

As they entered the sports building, the Kaiba brothers could see that this building was as beautiful as the rest of the school, with enough room to fit everyone present and then some. It was no wonder that Mokuba’s friend had seen it necessary to send tickets ahead of time, and from the looks of it, they were numbered as well, as Mokuba had told him they were in one of the better seating areas.

They were directed to their seats and while the stands were a little too noisy for his liking, Kaiba had to admit that this already had the atmosphere of a professional match rather than a high school one. After all, he had been around to witness a few high school matches while in school, and they couldn’t hold a candle to this spectacle.

“Wow, this game already feels pretty serious, huh Seto?”

Mokuba looked around in wonderment. Although he wasn’t a stranger to large events, it was the fact that this was a high school game that spoke for itself.

“I can’t wait for the game to start! Look! The players are coming out for a warmup!”

It was true, as Kaiba looked down, he saw both teams on one half of a court starting drills and warm-up exercises.

“Kaijo is the team in white and blue, and the ones in black and red are from Touo High School. Hm…”

Kaiba watched his brother look below intently, as if looking for something, and watched as his expression changed to one of satisfaction.

“There! See the blonde in the white and blue, number seven? That’s Kise Ryota, the home ace. He’s one of the Generation of Miracles that plays for Kaijo.”

Following the direction in which Mokuba was directing, finding this Kise Ryota was simple. He was the only player on the court with blonde hair, and one of the tallest. Although taking a look at the players, most of the players were just as tall with some being taller. He briefly wondered how he’d fare next to him. He did know that basketball favored the tall, which was one of the reasons it was easier for him during the few times they played in high school.

“What’s his special skill?” Kaiba asked, since Mokuba had told him that each player from the Generation of Miracles had a unique ability that set them apart from the rest.

“Kise is known as the Copycat. He can learn and copy any move or play with just one look and return it just as good!”

Kaiba raised an eyebrow. Interesting.

“So that means any play or move used against his team is instantly rendered useless if he knows how it works. Still, it means he and his team still have to be able to counter it too.”

Mokuba nodded at his brother’s assessment.

“Yup! And see the tall dark-haired guy with the mean looking face on Touo’s side? Number five? That’s Aomine Daiki. He’s known as the ace player of the Generation of Miracles. His skill and sheer speed and agility is what set him above the rest, not to mention his unique and unorthodox moves.”

Kaiba was able to easily find the player Mokuba was referring too. He was even taller than the Kise guy, with dark skin and short dark blue hair. Looking at the two players was like looking at night and day. Kise had a more boyish look, while Aomine a rugged one. And from the obnoxious screams around him, it looked like they were both very popular with the girls.

“Remind me how it is you know all this?” Kaiba asked as he crossed his arms around his chest and settled on the benches. He’d rather have a place where he could lean back on, but it seemed even a prestigious school couldn’t make a sports spectacle that much comfortable.

“Dude, you don’t understand. Entire studies are written about these guys! They’re that much of a big deal in the basketball world. They even say that Aomine could be the first player in Japan to be drafted into the pros right after high school. And Kise is considered right up there with him just because having Kise on your team is practically having a one-man army. In fact, there’s some people that argue that Kise is better than Aomine in terms of overall potential and skill, especially when you consider that he’s been playing the sport for much less but is at the level that he is. I think I kind of agree. Which is why I’m so excited for this match! Think about it Seto! We could be watching history in the making!”

“Mokuba, please don’t ever call me ‘dude’ again.”

Mokuba chuckled and rubbed the back of his head.

“Sorry bro, it’s a habit I picked up from America.”

As the warmup exercises were called to a close with the sound of the referee’s whistle, both teams lined up and bowed in front of each other. A match between the Ace and the Copycat, huh? It sounded like an interesting match indeed.

Chapter Text

Kaiba was vastly disappointed to find out that for the entire first quarter, both members of the famed Generation of Miracles were benched. When he asked Mokuba why that was, he only shrugged.

“Well, if I were to guess, I’d say that since they’re third-years, the coaches want to see how the other regulars do without their Ace. This is going to be their last year after all, so they probably want those that will stay to get a feel of a team dynamic without a prodigy to carry them. And since it’s the third and fourth quarters that are the most critical, the start of the game is as good as any to bench the Ace. As long as the rest of the team can keep a small gap in points that is. Even better, it means that its less time to use up their stamina.”

He had to admit that it was a good possibility, with plenty of reasoning behind it. So far, Kaijo had a six-point lead. It seemed that Touo had a more aggressive and independent playing style, and Kaijo had a heavy dynamic of teamwork. While Touo barely passed the ball except when they absolutely had to, it seemed as if Kaijo was almost constantly passing. Kaiba could see that Touo had more shooters than Kaijo, but they lacked a solid defense. Still, it seemed more often Touo was able to get the rebounds, while Kaijo was good when it came to stealing balls. It was an almost even balance of power, and he wondered just how the scales would tip when Aomine and Kise joined the fray.

It seemed that he wouldn’t have to wait long, as the buzzer signaling the end of the first quarter sounded.

The players in the court returned to their respective teams, Kaijo still ahead by six points, and the rest of their team greeted them with pats on the back and bottles of water.

Kaiba could already feel the atmosphere change with anticipation, everyone clearly just as eager as him to see the aces enter the fray, and it seems Mokuba was no different.

“It’s almost time Seto! You’re going to love this!”

The two-minute break seemed to drag on, until finally the teams began to stand up in preparation, Kise and Aomine being among them.

When the buzzer sounded to signal the start of the second quarter, the teams took their position, and the very second that both Aomine and Kise stepped onto the court, it was as if electricity cracked through the air.

The crowd around them both stilled and roared at the entrance of the supposed legendary players, and if Kaiba had thought the crowd was loud before, it was practically deafening now.

Despite the similar builds in players around them, it was as if the two Aces practically towered over the rest, as if the court recognized them as superior, like alphas in a pack.

As if to add to the spectacle, the two players walked to the center, and although he couldn’t hear them, Kaiba knew the two were speaking to each other. It seemed as if the tip off would be between the aces, and Kaiba could already feel his body tense in anticipation.

The players around them prepared, their bodies coiling and ready for action for when the ball entered play. The referee took his place, and as the two Aces too coiled, he looked between them for seconds that felt like minutes. But before long, the whistle blew, and with it, the ball flew into the air.

It was like watching two buses enter a head-on collision, as both aces shot into the air, arms outstretched. It looked to him as if both players were moving at the same speed, and both of their hands touched the basketball at what looked to be the same time.

For a split second, the ball was at a standstill, stuck between the force of both players. But as Kaiba watched a sly grin spread across Aomine’s face, in that split second the tides turned and Aomine managed to take the ball for his team, his grip tightening around it and sending it to the side where one of his teammates waited. As soon as the ball was within the Touo players grip, the Kaijo player tagging him was on the move, blocking him from moving towards their basket. They struggled for a few seconds, but the Touo player managed to break past him, and soon the players were moving into Kaijo territory.

Just as it looked like the Touo player was getting into stance for a shot, Kise came out of seemingly nowhere, his speed surprising Kaiba as he effortlessly knocked the ball out of the player’s hands and took control of it, his speed taking him past the opposing players and onto Touo’s side of the court in what seemed like a split second.

The crowd went wild and Kise took the ball all the way towards the basket, breaking past one more player before jumping into the air and slamming the ball into the basket with a force that Kaiba could have sworn traveled all the way up the stands.


When Kise touched down on the ground beneath him, he turned only to find Aomine smirking right at him, and Kise grinned right back.

“How’s that for a homecoming Aominecchi?”

“A little over the top if you ask me. But don’t worry, I’ll make sure to return the greeting.”

Kise grinned. Normally, he would already be feeling as if his heart was in the bottom of his stomach at the prospect of once more losing to Aomine. But today, his spirits were higher than they had been in a long time, and the task of taking on the Ace of the Generation of Miracles once more felt like the tough challenge it used to be rather than the painful reminder that it had been for the last year two years.

“Well then, don’t keep me waiting.”

Without another word, the match continued, and this time, Aomine didn’t hesitate to quickly gain control of the ball, using his speed to almost phase through the players in the movements unique to only him, making the players around him practically disoriented from the lightning fast and jerky movements that made Aomine stand out to all those who watched him play.

As Kise moved to intercept him, Aomine only smirked, eyes going wide in excitement.

“Well Kise, you did say don’t keep you waiting!”

And in an instant, Aomine created just enough distance to do one of his signature moves, and with a single hand around the basketball, brought his hand back to gather energy, before launching it forwards and towards the hoop in his classic formless shot that went into the basket with unbelievable speed and accuracy.

As play resumed, Aomine once more took control of the ball, and in less than two minutes, closed the gap that Kaijo had gained during the first quarter.


Kaiba couldn’t believe the difference that having the two aces in play could make. Suddenly a normal but even game had reached another level, a level he couldn’t believe was due to two high school players. He felt that if he even so much as blinked he would miss an important play that would once more tip the scales in favor of the other team.

The intensity of the match was overpowering, he could feel the presence of both players from where he sat, like a weight on his shoulders that hadn’t been there before they started playing.

It seemed that as the gap in points closed, Kise got the burst of energy needed to face off against Aomine, stealing the ball and gaining control once more, and although he was at the half court line, he moved into a shooting stance, and Kaiba watched in amazement as the basketball sailed through a high arc and made it into the basket without so much as touching the metal rim.


"Don’t think you can take over that easily, Aominecchi.”

Aomine smirked back at him.

“Isn’t it a bit early to bring out your copies of the Generation of Miracles? Don’t forget that those copies sap your stamina. Don’t get hasty on me now, Kise.”

Kise placed his hands on his hips, knowing that Aomine was somewhat right, but unable to let him think it affected him.

“It’s you who shouldn’t forget Aominecchi, my stamina is better than ever, and being benched the first quarter, I think I can afford to start a little early.”


By the end of the third quarter, I was obvious to Kaiba that everyone was reaching their limit, yet the score remained tied. Whenever it seemed that one team was getting the upper hand, the Ace on the opposing team would find a new play to counter them and once more close the gap.

While the aces of the team were holding well, the rest of the team was quickly running out of stamina. After all, from the plays he had seen, Kise was even able to copy Aomine, and having two of Aomine’s in one court was enough to drive anyone to exhaustion. It was no wonder the bench players had to be rotated in often to be able to keep up.

Kaiba was also able to see why Kise was known as a one-man army. His style of play could be defensive one second and offensive the next. It was next to impossible to predict what he’d do next. And unlike Aomine, he tended to also rely on his teammates for certain plays.

Aomine on the other hand, was the very definition of skill, speed, power, and agility. It was as if basketball was like breathing, and he didn’t even have to think about what he was going to do next. It didn’t matter what plays Kise brought against him, he just retaliated with something faster, more powerful, and perfectly executed that Kise struggled to keep up with. After all, Kaiba knew that sometimes it was impossible to be better than the original. And perhaps this was one of those cases.

But, if Kaiba was asked who he thought had the better chance of winning, he knew exactly who he would have picked.


 Kise was surprised at how well he had been able to hold his own against Aomine. But he could feel that he was quickly reaching his limit. He had done his best to use his copies of the Generation of Miracle as sparingly as possible, but Aomine made it impossible to keep up without them. He was still a monster after all.

That familiar ache in his leg was becoming more and more apparent, like a weight becoming heavier the more time went on. It was almost a blessing to look at the time and watch it slowly tick down. He had already done better than he had in a long time, so maybe this time he would be able to hold out until the end of the match.

As he looked at Aomine, he saw an odd look cross his face. It was one he had seen before, one that he could never quite understand, despite his claim of knowing him better than most people. But what he did know, was that it was a look that told him Aomine was not happy.

In fact, he was enraged.

“Kise… you damn fool!”

And with those words, Aomine charged at him.

It was as if a switch was flipped, and a fire ignited in Aomine, because it suddenly looked as if a demon had shot out of hell. With only a few minutes left, Aomine became relentless, completely dominating the court, not letting anyone, not even Kise, come even close to the ball.

And as the clocked ticked down, it became painfully obvious that there was no coming back from this for Kaijo.

“You’re done, Kise!”

With one final dunk, the buzzer sounded, and the game was over.

As the buzzer sounded, Kise wondered why it was that he felt so numb. Then again, why should he be surprised that he lost against Aomine? Hadn’t it become natural, even expected, that he lose? Hadn’t he already come to terms that this was how it would always be?

Still… as he looked at his teammates around him, he couldn’t help but feel guilty. He was the third year, the senior. The players that had once held him up when he felt down had long ago graduated, and now it was his responsibility to hold up those younger than him. Maybe it was his fault that they lost, but he couldn’t let that make the rest of his team feel inadequate.

So, avoiding the disdainful look he knew would be on Aomine’s face, he forced a smile on his face and walked to his teammates.


 “Wow, that was so much more intense than I expected! Seeing this kind of game in person is so much better than on TV. I’m a little sad that Kaijo lost, but it was still a close game.”

Mokuba was practically bristling with adrenaline and excitement, and everyone around them was much the same way from the chatter that permeated the air. The players beneath them were catching their breath, and those in Kaijo were comforting each other while those from Touo were celebrating.

Before long, the referee called for the teams to line up, and announced the winner. The teams bowed to each other once more, and the crowd cheered one last time as the players shook hands.

As the teams cleared the court, and the people in the stands began standing up and heading towards the exits, Kaiba couldn’t help but stare at the empty court beneath, processing what he had just witnessed and what he had expected. In truth, it had been a worthy venture to take this trip with Mokuba. Until that moment, he had never thought anything of sports.

But after watching this match, he realized there was merit to the sport. The skill and strategy displayed by both teams was admirable, and he was reminded that sports were a game like any other after all.

“Seto, let’s wait around a bit. I want to talk to Koji and congratulate the team on a great game! Maybe I can get Kise’s autograph!”

Kaiba remained silent, but Mokuba knew that was the most he would get to an affirmative.


The atmosphere in the locker room was glum as his teammates dressed silently. Kise had experienced enough loses to know everyone was disappointed. And how could they not be? No one played sports to lose, and everyone had worked hard to be able to win. It stung to have another team win, even though they were still one of the strongest teams in the nation, they played competitively because they strived for the top. It also stung because it was the one team they had not been able to defeat in the three years Kise had played.

As the door to the locker room opened, everyone saw the coach and assistant coach make their way inside. Their faces were serious, but not disappointed.

“All right guys, huddle up!”

The team obediently stepped towards them, and the coach frowned at the lack of enthusiasm.

“Alright, I know that none of you are happy right now, but you have to remember just who it was you played against today. Touo is ranked higher than us, and they are a tough opponent for anyone. But today, I saw you all play better than ever. And don’t forget, it isn’t over yet, the inter-high and Winter Cup are still ahead of us, and by that time, you’ll all have improved even more. Not to mention, this is your last year with your senior, don’t you want to make sure Kise graduates with a victory he’ll always remember?”

At his words, the players in the room stood up straighter and raised their heads, looking intently at their coach.

“So, what do you say? Are you going to let this match keep you down?”

“No!” in unison, the team spoke up, and the coach smirked.

“Are you going to keep training, harder than before?”

“Yeah!”

“Right!”

“Hell yeah!”

This time, without hesitation, several affirmatives called back.

“Are you going to get them back during the Inter-high?”

It was as if their spirits rose, and they stood up even straighter.  

“Yeah!”

Kise smiled proudly at the intensity and conviction behind each of his teammates’ shouts, and that pride was reflected on their coaches’ faces.

“What was that? I don’t think Touo heard you.”

“Yeah!!”

This time, their shouts were louder, and filled the entire room. With a nod, the coach smiled.

“That’s much better.”

For the first time, the players of Kaijo smiled and laughed, playfully bumping into each other, their spirits raised and their blood now pumping with the itch to repay their opponent and reclaim their victory, the itch that came after a hard fight and the promise of a second chance.

Yet despite how glad he was for his teammates, Kise felt that that same weight at the pit of his stomach that reminded him of his failure.


“Alright Seto, Koji texted me back so we can meet him by the exit. He says the players are almost getting ready to leave, so if we want to meet them, now’s our chance.”

As Mokuba led the way away from the stands, Kaiba followed him.

No offence to the players, they had done well in the match. But the only player he had any interest of meeting was Kaijo’s Ace. After all, Kaiba wasn’t the type to praise those who were merely average, but Kise Ryota had proven to be anything but average. While normally he wouldn’t even consider the losers as worthy of anything, he knew that Kise’s skills spoke for themselves.

So, when the familiar sight of blonde hair caught his attention as he rounded a corner, Kaiba paused. The figure was none other than the side profile of Kise Ryota himself, and Kaiba watched as he rounded another corner and out of his sight.

Noticing his brother not following, Mokuba turned around and saw him looking into the distance.

“Seto?” he questioned.

There was a second of silence before his brother answered him, his gaze never once moving from wherever it was he was looking.

“Go on Mokuba, I’ll catch up.”

Mokuba looked at his brother in confusion, but knew better than to question him on the matter. Kaiba never did anything without reasoning behind it.

“Sure bro.”

As Mokuba continued to his destination, Kaiba walked in the opposite way, in the direction of the figure he had seen go off on his own.


As Kise opened the door that would lead outside, the nighttime breeze that touched his skin felt like a gentle and welcomed caress. His teammates hadn’t questioned him when he went ahead of them, already used to his need to be alone after a loss. They had only told him he did great and thanked him for getting them so far, that they couldn’t have done it without him.

It was moments like those that made the weight in the pit of his stomach heavier. He was grateful to have supportive teammates, but it was for that reason that the loss felt heavier with the knowledge that he couldn’t give them the victory like he wanted to, as was his duty as the Ace of Kaijo. It was his final year of high school, and although he had defeated the rest of the members of the Generation of Miracles at least once, Aomine had been the only one he hadn’t managed the same feat. He also hadn’t been able to beat Akashi, but that was because their teams had never been matched up to play against each other. Aomine however, he had lost to countless of times.

Kise walked towards the fountain behind the sports building, the familiar sound of the rushing water bringing him a sense of calm that this place often did at night. He preferred it around this time, when there was no one around to disturb the quiet calm. No high-pitched giggling of high school girls and hardy laughter of boys.

Just him, the surrounding darkness, the sound of rushing water illuminated by the lights inside the fountain, and his hectic thoughts. Sometimes it was easier to shut down his thoughts than others, but he already knew that night would not be one of those times.

“You played well.”

Kise was startled by the unexpected voice. He didn’t recognize who it was from the low almost throaty quality, and as he turned in the direction of where it came from, it was hard to make out who they were. They were standing in one of the shadows created by the many trees in the courtyard, and Kise could only just make out their outline. They were tall, that much was obvious, and wore a long trench-like coat that flared around them in a way that seemed to defy gravity.

Kise stood straighter and put his hands in his jacket pockets, offering a half-assed smile to the mysterious stranger.

“Thank you. Did you come to cheer for us? If you did, thank you for your support. Normally we win, but Touo is a tough opponent. Sorry if we let you down.”

Kise was a rambler, he knew that. But it was second nature to respond with responses befitting an idol, and even in his sour mood, it was something that came without thinking. In truth, he rather be by himself. He wanted this person to say what they wanted and leave so he could return to his thoughts.

“I didn’t come to cheer for you.”

Kise stiffened at the unexpected response. He was used to compliments coming from his fans, and despite what the stranger said, it raised the hairs on the back of his head. After all, Kise also had enemies, bullies from opposing schools, and he had enough run-ins with them to be on guard. This could very well be one of them.

“I didn’t come to cheer for anyone. I’m not much of a sports fan, really.”

The clarification only served to confuse Kise. Who was this person to compliment his playing only to say he doesn’t like sports? Still, it wasn’t like Kise to be rude until provoked, but quite frankly he was quickly growing annoyed.

“Oh? Well what brought you to watch our game then?”

Kise shifted his footing, angling his head in hopes of maybe catching an angle that would let him see the mystery guy better, but received no luck.

“It seems my brother is a fan, and he thought bringing me to see your match would be a worthy venture.”

Kise couldn’t help but frown slightly, not quite sure how to take his response and what exactly he meant by it. The way he said it made it seem almost as if he should be flattered that he bothered to come watch their game. Well, Kise was used to cocky bastards, and being one himself, rose to the challenge.

“Well, was it, a ‘worthy venture’?” Kise emphasized his words with a confident smirk, not willing to let this guy demean him in any way.

There was a pause, and as a breeze picked up, Kise noticed the way the man’s coat moved from the corner of his eyes, but refused to look away from where he knew his eyes would be.

“If I had to be honest, I’d say it was one of the better displays of skills I’ve seen in a while. Normally, I wouldn’t congratulate someone who lost, but the rate of your skill is commendable. Your reputation precedes you.”

This guy was no doubt praising him, albeit in a backhanded way, but Kise couldn’t accept it until he knew just who it was and why they spoke as if he should be grateful that he bothered to even speak to him. He was Kise Ryota; basketball star, model, idol, and he refused to be talked down to.

“Who are you? I’d like to know the name of the person praising me so highly.”

There was another pause, as if the person speaking to him was considering whether it was worth it to reveal his identity. But after only a moment, the man stepped forward, and as he stepped away from the shadows and into the light, Kise felt as if he had been splashed with ice cold water.

Because he knew exactly who the man was. The person he once idolized as a child now stood before him, looking just the same as he remembered when he was younger. But in person, he looked much bigger than life. Now he could say that his TV appearances and photos did him little justice with the very presence that he exuded.

It was the same presence he felt when facing off against a strong opponent in the court. Except this wasn’t a court. This was the courtyard behind his school, after one of his matches, one that he lost, and the very last place he ever expected to meet him.

As he looked straight at him, his face devoid of expression, with his brown hair framing his handsome face, and piercing blue eyes staring back at him, Kise felt his heart skip a beat.

“My name is Seto Kaiba. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Kise Ryota.”

Chapter Text

Kise wasn’t sure if he could move even if he wanted to. The shock and awe combined with the overpowering presence of the famous CEO of Kaiba Corp was enough to short circuit every nerve in his body. And still, over the haze, one thought managed to break through.

Seto Kaiba, the Seto Kaiba… knew him. He knew him, Kise Ryota, and had acknowledged him, his skill, even after he lost. Realizing that perhaps this was not the best time to look like a fish out of water, Kise used the remainder of his coherent mind to snap out of his shock and haze, and stood straighter.

“The pleasure is mine, Seto Kaiba. Can I count on you to see us win in the next game? I’d hate for you to base my skills on this game alone.”

He was amazed at where this cool persona of his had come from. He expected his excitement and giddiness to make him act like one of his own fan girls in the presence of Kaiba, but something told him to keep himself in check. That if he had Seto Kaiba’s attention as it was, then he better not ruin it by acting like an idiot. Not only that, he needed to make sure it wouldn’t end here.

Kise watched in fascination as an amused smile spread across Kaiba’s previously stoic face, and a chill ran down his spine.

Damn, keeping his cool was harder than he thought.

“That’s quite bold you of you, Kise. Claiming you’ll win after a loss. Didn’t you come out here to mope?”

Ouch. That kind of stung. Well, he did know Kaiba was known for his ruthlessness as much as for his skill and genius. Still, Kise refused to let his words affect him. So instead, Kise only grinned, tucking blonde strands of his hair falling in front of his eyes behind one of his ears.

“Mope? I prefer the term ‘reflect’. Of course, I hate losing, and I’m definitely bummed. But moping won’t do me very good, would it? So, I came to enjoy the peace and quiet and reflect on my plays. What about you? What’s your excuse for being out here? You say you’re the type to only speak to winners, but I lost, and yet you’re congratulating me. Did I still make you a fan?”

Kise gave himself a mental to pat on the back for his great comeback, as well as for hiding just how much his loss did affect him, and waited with bated breath and a racing heart at what kind of response Kaiba would give him.

Unfortunately for him, Kaiba was silent, taking his time and merely staring at Kise in a way that Kise knew meant to unnerve him. And quite frankly, it was working. Although it was Kise that had challenged him with his questions, Kise felt as if it was him being judged, and he had to resist the urge to shift on his feet at the stare from the man across from him.

Finally, he answered, his hand reaching into his pocket while his body turned away from him as if getting ready to leave.

“Ask me again after your next game.”

With that, Kaiba’s coat trailed behind him as he turned in the direction of where the door that led back into the building was.

“Have a good evening, Kise Ryota.”

And with that, Kaiba was gone.


 

Kise would be lying if he said he wasn’t shaken after the meeting with one of his childhood idols. In fact, he was surprised his legs didn’t give under him from the way they felt like jelly, and it definitely wasn’t from the strain of playing a hard-fought basketball game.

“Holy shit…”

Kise breathed deeply, placing a hand over his chest and willing his heart to slow down before he had a heart attack. But before long, the excitement he was trying to quell became overpowering, like an energy spreading throughout his body as a large grin spread across his face.

“Ahh!” he couldn’t control the yell of victory as he punched the sky, “I met Seto Kaiba!”

Like a child, Kise couldn’t help but jump up and down, realizing that he probably looked ridiculous but not caring if anyone saw him. The happiness he felt was too strong to feel embarrassed about his antics.

How could this happen? What were the chances that Kaiba would be watching his game that night? But man, why that night of all nights? If it had been any other team, Kaiba wouldn’t have seen him lose. Then again, only the Generation of Miracles were able to bring out his best plays. So maybe it was a good thing that he had seen him play against Aomine. And now, he even knew his name! He even said he knew about him and his reputation. Talk about childhood dreams coming true.

“There you are!”

Kise turned to the sound of the voice, seeing the assistant coach, Koji, walking towards him.

“I’ve been looking for you. There’s someone that wants to meet you.”

Kise blinked, coming back to reality and remembering just where he was. He had completely forgotten that his team was probably still waiting for him. But who wanted to meet him?

“Uh, sorry coach. Who wants to meet me?”


 

“Seto! There you are!” Mokuba smiled as he watched his brother approach.

“Koji went to look for Kise,” Mokuba’s smile soon fell away and turned into confusion when Kaiba walked past him.

“Where are you going?” he asked, and was pleased when Kaiba paused, although he didn’t turn around.

“I’ll wait in the car. Take your time.”

“Eh?! You don’t want to meet Kise?”

Instead of answering, Kaiba just continued walking, and Mokuba frowned and crossed his arms across his chest.

“Typical Seto…” Mokuba sighed, but remembering that he would be meeting Kise, smiled and once more became excited.

He was just about to pull out his phone when he heard the sound of voices and footsteps coming towards him and looked up to see Koji with a smiling Kise next to him. Mokuba was able to see why Kise was known as the “Golden Boy”. He really did seem to brighten up a room with just his presence. Kise wasn’t doing anything but walking and smiling, making obvious small talk with Koji, and yet he exuded an aura of cheerfulness that somehow raised Mokuba’s spirits.

“Hey Mokuba, look who I found.”

Mokuba grinned at his friend and turned his attention to Kise once more as the pair stopped in front of him.  Kise was just about his brother’s height, maybe just the slightest bit shorter.

“Good evening! I’m Kise Ryota, on behalf of my team, thank you for coming and supporting our school!”

Kise politely bowed, and Mokuba smiled. Man, he really was an idol on top of a star basketball player.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you! My name is Mokuba. You and your team were amazing out there! I’ve never seen such an exciting basketball game. Thanks again for inviting me Koji.”

Koji smiled, obviously pleased.

“It would have been a shame for you to miss a game like this while your busy schedule allows it. I was just telling Kise about the scholar that you are, and that he might be able to get some advice from you now that he’s getting ready to make a lot of big decisions for where he’ll go after high school.”

Mokuba looked back to Kise, who was nodding in agreement.

“Well, considering your skill in basketball, there’s no doubt that will be an option for you. Is there any field that interests you aside from sports?”

Kise’s smile fell as his lips pursed and he looked contemplative.

“Well to be honest, I’ve tried thinking about it for a while now, but there’s not very many fields that interest me. I definitely can’t see myself working in an office all day, that sounds awful! I don’t really have a favorite subject, and the only things that I really enjoy are basketball and modeling, but they’re both things that I don’t see myself doing forever given the nature of them. So I really would like to have an education to fall back on in the future, I just don’t’ know what’s something I would like to do.”

Mokuba was surprised at the honesty that Kise presented him with, and it gave him a whole new perspective of what a genuine guy he was. It definitely added him to his list of respectable people.

“Well, have you ever thought about working for a gaming company? It might sound like an office job, but there’s actually a lot of creativity involved, depending on what you would like to work on. You could help design the games themselves, or help with the technology involved in playing them. It’s also a growing field, and one I don’t see dying anytime soon the more technology-centered our society becomes. I’m telling you this because my family runs a gaming company, and if you ever wanted to join us, I’d more be willing to take you on… well as long as you know what you’re doing. My brother doesn’t take kindly to mediocrity, and he has more say in the company.”

Just as he finished, Mokuba pulled out his wallet and reached for one of his business cards, the ones that featured the KaibaCorp logo and his contact information, before handing it to Kise.

As Kise read over the card in his hand, his eyes widened once more. The KaibaCorp logo was a familiar sight, and suddenly all the pieces fell into place.

“You’re Seto Kaiba’s younger brother! You’re part of KaibaCorp!” the words were out of his mouth before he knew it once the realization fell into place.

Mokuba looked sheepish as the sudden declaration.

“So you do know of us, huh?”

Kise nodded eagerly, his smile suddenly shining brighter.

“Of course! I used to play Duel Monsters when I was young and I always wanted a Duel Disk! But my family didn’t have the money for it so I was never able to get one. I remember wanting to work for KaibaCorp and helping make future duel disks. I just never thought I would ever be able to! Wow, I almost forgot about that. After I started playing sports and modeling seriously, duel monsters kind of became a thing of the past.”

Kise couldn’t believe the turn of events his life had suddenly taken. Not so long ago he had found out about the auditions to become a model for KaibaCorp products, and now he had met the Kaiba brothers in the same day! What were the chances? He had been thinking about the best way to make sure Kaiba noticed him during the auditions that he had never imagined he would end up at one of his matches and talk to him in person. And he had been so star struck that he had completely forgotten about the chance of battling him in a duel and possibly working for him.

“Well what do you know, maybe it was fate that we meet then. Tell you what, I’ll give you a complementary duel disk, and maybe you can rekindle your history with Duel Monsters. I can also give you a tour of KaibaCorp, and the different jobs involved. Maybe if you see something that piques your interest, it will make choosing a career easier for you.”

Kise was almost at a loss for words. His childhood self was screaming with joy right now, and he couldn’t believe the amazing opportunity that was now presented to him. Just how lucky could he get?

“Wow… that would just be… wow. You have no idea what that opportunity would mean to me! Thank you so much!”

Once more, Kise bowed, much deeper this time.

“H-hey don’t mention it. It’s not a big deal…”

Kise straightened up and flashed Mokuba another bright smile.

“Oh but it is!”

This time, Mokuba couldn’t help but smile back at the excited and grateful look on Kise’s face.

“Alright then, how does this weekend sound? I’m only here for a week, but I’d be more than glad to give you that tour.”

“A-are you sure? Wouldn’t you want to spend your time here doing something else?” while Kise sincerely hoped Mokuba would say no to that question, he knew it was only right that he ask.

“Nonsense. I’ll have plenty of time to do what I want and more. What’s a few hours to help someone who could be a future employee of KaibaCorp?”

Kise thought he might cry tears of joy at how those words sounded to his ears, and he had to resist the urge to throw himself at the shorter man with the sudden urge to hug him in gratitude. Not to mention… this paved the way for one more thing. The one thing he wanted most in that moment.

Surprising both men in his presence, Kise suddenly straightened, a very focused and serious look on his face replacing his previously excited expression as he stared straight at Mokuba.

With that look, Mokuba felt as if he was looking at a completely different person. Kise’s bright brown eyes were now a molten gold, burning with a fire that Mokuba had only seen during the basketball match, and it sent a chill down his spine.

“I have just one more favor.”


 

As Mokuba rode beside Seto on their way back home, he couldn’t help but think back on his night, and how it had turned out to be much more than just a great basketball game. Above all, Kise had turned out to be much more interesting than he initially thought. He really was more than just an amazing basketball player, and he hoped that he would be seeing many more sides of him.

“Seto, what are you doing on Saturday?”

Kaiba turned to his brother, wondering if he had thought of something else for them to do.

“I have nothing planned.”

Mokuba smiled.

“Good! Keep your schedule open. I have a something planned for us.”

“What’s that?”

At Kaiba’s question, Mokuba grinned.

“It’s a surprise. So don’t even bother asking anything. But I think you’ll enjoy it.”

Mokuba turned towards the window, knowing his brother would be giving him an inquiring look. Still, he knew that his brother wouldn’t ask him any questions as it would be a waste of time. And he knew that his brother trusted him enough to know he wouldn’t take him anywhere he wouldn’t like. Still, despite the fact that he really wanted to enjoy his time home, he already couldn’t wait for the plans he had for that day.

He only hoped that Kise wouldn’t disappoint.

Chapter Text

“Oi, Kise! What’s the big idea inviting Satsuki out?”

Kise looked up from the cards in his hand at the sound of the unmistakable loud voice to the sight of the two approaching figures of his pink haired female friend and his basketball rival, only to yelp as a basketball was thrown his way, directed at his face, and moved in time to just barely dodge it as he leapt away from the bench he had been sitting on.

“Aominecchi! Watch where you throw that! That’s my modeling face you were aiming at!”

Aomine only scoffed, making his way towards the blonde boy until he was directly in front of him.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

Aomine was currently glaring daggers at Kise, who only blinked in confusion until he realized just what the taller man was implying.

“Ehh, Aominecchi! You should know better than anyone that I have no such intentions towards Momocchi!” Kise pouted as he folded his arms and turned away from the blue-haired man in contempt.

From where she stood, Momoi just laughed at the exchange.

“Don’t listen to him Kichan. That’s just his way of trying to play one on one with you. That’s why he brought the basketball with him.”

Kise turned to look at Aomine’s guilty expression, and laughed at the dark tint on his cheeks. The fact that he wasn’t arguing spoke volumes.

“Well if Aominecchi wanted to play, he should have just asked. I have plans with Momocchi today! I don’t want to play basketball…”

Both Momoi and Aomine stared Kise in surprise. Kise always looked forward to basketball, even when it was spontaneous, and the only reason Momoi had let Aomine come was because she had been sure Kise wouldn’t have minded playing after their business was taken care of.

“Oi, Kise, do you have a fever or something?”

Without waiting for an answer, Aomine placed the back of his hand against Kise’s forehead, and Kise flushed in embarrassment before swatting the hand away.

“I am not sick. It’s just… this is a little more important right now, and I don’t have a lot of time to spare.”

Both Aomine and Momoi continued to stare at Kise as if he had grown a second head, and Kise shifted uncomfortably where he stood.

“Jeez, is it that hard to believe? Besides, we just played a game a few days ago Aominecchi. You can wait a little longer to play if that’s what you want. I’m sure Kagamicchi will be up for a one on one if you ask him, like a normal person would. I would think you’d take advantage of his visiting.”

Aomine only narrowed his eyes at Kise, clearly not pleased his plans hadn’t worked out if the frown on his face was of any indication. Kise had always been one of the few players that he learned would be there at the drop of a hat if he asked to play, unless he had a modeling job, and the fact that he was denying a game right in front of him told him there was clearly something wrong with the picture in front of him. For a second he wondered if maybe this was just Kise still being hung up on the defeat of said game from a few nights ago, but Kise wasn’t the type to openly show how much losing bothered him. He would force himself to play at the very least.

“Alright, then what is so important that you’re turning down basketball and need Momoi for?”

At Aomine’s question, Kise brightened, and held up his one of his hands to show that he had been holding onto what looked like a deck of cards.

“I need Momocchi to review my strategies with me!”

It was Aomine’s turn to blink in confusion, and it took a moment to remember the conversation they had some time ago.

Oh. Is this about those Battle Monster things you were going on about the other day?”

Kise’s eyes narrowed at the disinterested and almost mocking tone in Aomine’s voice.

“It’s Duel Monsters, and yes, I need Momoi to help me decide on the best strategy with the cards I’ve collected. Isn’t that right Momocchi?”

Momoi had chosen to sit on the bench and hummed in agreement.

“Yep! I’ve been reading up on Duel Monsters and I actually started collecting some packs myself. I don’t have enough for a good solid deck yet, but it’s actually really fun putting a deck together! I think I might have found a good hobby outside of analyzing you basketball nerds.”

“I can’t believe you’re turning down basketball for a card game. What a waste of a trip. Whatever. Let’s go to Magi burger and you nerds can talk about card strategies while I at least get something to eat.”

Kise and Momoi shared a look of annoyance before bursting out laughing.

“Alright Aominecchi. Since you came all the way out here, I guess the least we can do is feed you, even though you’re the one rudely interrupting us.”


By the time Aomine’s mini pile of burgers were ready, Kise and Momoi were already sitting down, cards splayed out in front of them, and the two animatedly talking and pointing, moving cards around and grouping them together, Kise seemingly explaining something about each of them while Momoi looked on with what looked to be intense focus, nodding here and there as she listened on intently.

To Aomine, it sounded like a bunch of gibberish. And when Aomine Daiki did not understand something, it only served to irritate him. Hence, the very reason why he tolerated very few things outside of basketball. Despite this, he sat down across from the two and set his tray of food down, unwrapping his first burger and narrowing his eyes as he looked at the cards splayed out in front of him, eyeing them as if he stared hard enough they would just make sense.

“This all looks great Kichan, you have a lot of different combos you can use, but the suggestion I would make is try to narrow down your cards. The less cards in yours deck, the better the chances that your combos will work out.”

Aomine watched as Kise looked at Momoi in amazement.

“You really are amazing Momocchi! That’s exactly why I wanted to talk to you, I can’t decide on which cards to take out in order to narrow down my deck. They’re each so useful and deciding is so hard!”

Momoi smiled at Kise, eyes shining with what Aomine knew to be determination.

“Don’t worry Kichan! We’ll figure this out. How about we start with this…”

Once more Aomine became lost in the gibberish, and by the time he was on his third burger, he had completely blocked out the excited pair, instead choosing to admire a brunet girl that had just entered the fast food place with her friends, her skirt particularly short and her shirt showing a nice amount of cleavage. He was just considering whether he should try talking to her when the voice of Kise broke through his musings.

“Aominecchi! Watch where you put your dirty wrappers! I don’t want my cards to get grease on them!”

Aomine blinked as he looked back at Kise, his eyes narrowed while his lips were pouting like that of an angry toddler whose toys were being played with by another kid. It was enough to make Aomine grin in amusement.

“Oh? So you mean I can’t do this…”

To demonstrate, Aomine pushed the dirty wrapper closer to the cards, and laughed when Kise practically shrieked and pulled the cards back and away from the wrapper, his face going an interesting shade of red as he glared at Aomine in a way that made him surprised he hadn’t suddenly burst into flames from the intensity of it.

“Geez. Calm your panties. Are you almost done? Or should I go find another way to entertain myself?” Aomine’s gaze flickered in the direction of the three girls that had come in and still ordering, but it seemed only one of his friends caught the discrete act.

“We barely got here Aominecchi! Stop being annoying and finish your food quietly like a good boy.”

Aomine glared at Kise while the blonde only smirked, before returning to the discussion he had been having with Momoi as they returned to the cards spread out in front of them, and Aomine unwrapped the next burger on his pile of food. It wasn’t long before he finished it and the rest, and quickly growing bored, returned to scanning the restaurant, glad to see that the group of girls that came in had sat within his line of sight.

He was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the girls was staring back at him, and he smirked when she caught his gaze and blushed, hurriedly looking away as if she had been caught doing something she shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t the girl that first caught his attention. This one had shorter hair, black hair cut just above her shoulders, and her attire much more appropriate, but maybe due to her smaller figure than anything else. Aomine decided to keep staring, hoping she would look back, and if she did, maybe he would seek out some entertainment after all…

It took a few moments, but eventually, the girl looked up, and as Aomine caught her gaze, he smiled, and when she hesitantly smiled back, Aomine made his decision.

“Be right back…”

Without looking at his friends, Aomine got up and made his way over to the occupied table, smiling before sitting across from the girl that he had smiled at. 


“Thanks again Momocchi. If you need any help with your deck, don’t hesitate to call. I have a feeling you might be needing one soon.” Kise winked at Momoi, and the pink-haired girl smiled at the blonde.

“Thanks Kichan, you’ll be the first I call!”

The three friends stood at the intersection that would take them home, the blonde going in a different direction than the other two. They had stayed at Magi’s most of the afternoon, the dusk sky a reminder of that. The streets had cleared out in their area, with most people being in the shopping districts at this time.

“Sorry we couldn’t play today Aominecchi, maybe next time we’re both free,” Kise smiled apologetically at the darker man, and Aomine had to resist the urge to pout.

“Yeah yeah, I’ll make sure to ask,” Aomine replied, and when Kise grinned, he couldn’t help but grin back.

“See you guys next time!” Kise turned around, offering one last wave before making his way to the train station where he would catch his train home.

Momoi watched from the corner of her eyes as Aomine’s gaze stayed on Kise’s figure, his face relaxed and quietly contemplating in such a serene manner that caused Momoi to frown and elbow him in the side, not hard enough to bruise but hard enough to cause some pain.

“Ow! What the hell was that for?”

Momoi’s glare did not leave her face as Aomine stared back with a frown, his hand over the area she had elbowed.

“Don’t you dare look at Kichan like that, especially after what you did tonight!”

Aomine’s frown turned into one of confusion, and Momoi sighed with exasperation, her hand cradling her forehead at the obliviousness of her best friend.

“Need I remind you that it hasn’t even been a half a year since you and Kichan broke up? It’s insensitive of you to flirt with those girls with him around! And to have the nerve to still look at him like a love-struck puppy! Urgh, you make me so mad!”

Aomine recoiled at the sincere anger radiating from his best friend, hands subconsciously digging into his pockets as his posture slumped and he resembled a scolded puppy, gaze averted and unable to look at the furious girl. It was rare when Momoi became angry like this, and he knew that when she did there was good reason for it, and that was enough to make him feel guilty about the situation. He opened his mouth to retort, but closed it when he realized he didn’t have anything snarky to say.

Seeing this, Momoi sighed, her anger leaving her at just how defeated he looked, and she felt the familiar tendrils of sadness and pity when it came to her best friend’s situation.

“I understand why you broke up with him, Daichan. But it’s been six months and the only thing that’s changed is that you’re both hurting over the breakup, and neither of you even bothered to talk about it. You guys pretend like it’s easy for you to go back to being friends, and you may be fooling everyone else, but not me. Kichan still has no idea why you broke up with him because he’s too prideful to confront you about it, and you haven’t even tried to tell him because of your stupid stubbornness. And as much as I would love to tell him myself, it’s up to you to salvage what you can, or continue to be an idiot and lose him for good.”

Aomine sighed, straightening slightly before beginning to walk in the direction of their neighborhood.

“It’s not that easy…” he mumbled, just loud enough that Momoi just heard him as she walked by his side.

“Why not? Anything is better than just ignoring the elephant in the room… how can doing nothing be easier?” Momoi felt her eyes begin to sting. Curse her sensitivity to things like this. She had really cheered for Aomine and Kise, loved the idea of them and thought that they were perfect for each other. They had been so happy together, and no matter what they said or how easily they slipped back into their roles as friends, she knew that they missed each other. She had seen in it in the way Kise’s light had dimmed when Aomine left to join those girls at their table.

“It just isn’t…”

And there it was. That tone of finality in Aomine’s voice that told Momoi he had nothing else to say, that whatever he was thinking he would keep locked up, and nothing she tried or did would get it out of him. She hated this side of him, this side that refused to let her in and help him, that didn’t want to share his problems with anyone else, even the one person that had been beside him through it all, the person who would do anything and everything to help him in any way possible.


Kise sighed as he leaned back against his seat in the train, hood pulled over his head and earphones in his ears. As the train began to move, the world blurred past him as he tried to focus on the steady rhythm of the band currently playing on his phone, but his mood was anything but the up-beat tempo of the music. What should have been a night full of accomplishment was now tinged with a bitter taste in his mouth.

He had done what he had set out to do with Momoi, his deck was near perfect, and while he should be giddy with excitement at the prospect of using his new deck, all he could think of was the stupid sound of Aomine’s laughter as he talked to those girls.

He had thought that after almost half a year of being broken up, he would be over that idiot by now.

“Stupid Aomine…” he mumbled under his breath, closing his eyes and resisting the urge to grind his teeth as an onslaught of memories flashed through his mind.

But it was hard. Aomine was his first love. He never thought he could care for someone like he did him. He had been his everything for so long, the fire that he had always craved in his life. He inspired him to play basketball, pushed him more than anyone else in his life, and when he thought he would reject him, accepted him with that stupid laid-back attitude of his.

He remembered the day he decided to confess his feelings for the boy, and the month it took to build up the courage to actually do it. He thought he had zero chances, given Aomine’s love for large breasts and female idols. There was no way he would ever give Kise the time of day, not like that, not when basketball wasn’t involved.

So one day, after a rigorous game of one on one at their favorite court, with the adrenaline coursing through his body, as they sat side by side catching their breath, sweaty and with the familiar burn in their muscles that came with a hard-fought match, Kise just went out and said it.

It hadn’t been the most romantic way, not the way he had pictured in his mind since they had been in middle school, but is just felt right.

“Aominecchi… I like you.”

He had thought Aomine would have laughed it off, thought he was joking, but once again, he surprised him. He didn’t seem the least confused, or even surprised. He could have meant anything by that sentence, but for the first time, Aomine understood something without having him explain exactly what he meant. And when he asked him for how long, Kise answered him in a whisper.

Aomine had just sat there, a contemplative look on his face as he stared up at the sky, completely oblivious to the boy beside him whose heart felt like it would pop right out of his chest.

Kise remembered how blank his mind had gone, or maybe a million thoughts had gone through his head at that moment and he was too overwhelmed to remember what they were, all the while it felt as if time had stopped.

Until the boy beside him said the last thing he expected.

“Alright… let’s give it a try.”

And with those words, it was as if Kise was brought to life, and the imaginary water he thought he had been drowning in was air once more as he gasped in a breath and tears ran down his cheeks. And through his blurred vision, he saw Aomine move from his place beside him to crouch in front of him.

“Idiot… why are you crying?”

And that unfamiliar tinge of warmth in Aomine’s usually gruff voice was enough for more tears to run down his cheek, only this time, Kise couldn’t help but laugh through it.

“You’re the idiot Aominecchi… I’m just… so happy...”

And then Aomine’s thumb was wiping away the tears on one of his cheeks, and Kise thought his heart might have stopped. Aomine had made his heart skip a beat plenty of times… but not quite like this.

“Really? Because I’m fucking terrified.”

And that was such an Aomine thing to say, but it was the best thing he could have said.

Kise sighed as the train came to a stop, glad that the arrival of the train at his stop momentarily distracted him from the bittersweet memories that had plagued him since Aomine broke up with him half a year ago. With a bitter smile, he realized that at least the pain had numbed with time. Still, there was only so much he could take with a brave face when it came to the two hanging out together.

As Kise exited the train and walked in the direction of his apartment, he looked up at the dark night sky and sighed deeply, and hoped that tonight would be a day he could reach home without being stopped for an autograph or two. Walking helped clear his mind, helped him relax, and he was in no mood to put on a fake smile for anyone.

Not tonight.

Days like today reaffirmed the doubt he had when it came to his relationship with Aomine, reaffirmed his belief that he was never good enough. Not good enough to defeat him in basketball, and not good enough to hold his affection. Not only was he beneath him on the court, but it seemed even a regular girl could catch Aomine’s attention better than he was able to hold it.

He had always wondered how long it would be before Aomine left him behind, how long before he decided breasts and the warmth of a woman was better than what Kise could offer him as a man. He always wondered whether Aomine truly loved him or whether he had just been a way to experiment what he liked.

Kise dug his hands into his pockets, and ducked his head, resisting once more the urge to clench his teeth at the thought that the year that they had dated had all been a ruse. He didn’t want to believe that all those warm touches, those heated looks, those nights spent tangled in each other’s arms had been fake on Aomine’s part.

How could Aomine of all people be able to lie about his wants and feelings? He was a man ruled by instinct and never one to hide exactly what he wanted.

And yet that was exactly why Kise couldn’t bring himself to demand an explanation when Aomine told him they should end things between them. He didn’t want to know, didn’t want to hear the words that he wasn’t good enough come out of his lips, didn’t want to be have those words replay in his mind over and over again in the days to come.

It was better to accept the fact and move on.

And as his hands wrapped around the deck of cards in his pockets, Kise knew that was exactly what he was doing.

He was going to prove that he wasn’t ordinary, he would prove that he had what it took to be good enough. Good enough to be a model for Kaiba Corp, and good enough to defeat Seto Kaiba himself.

Even if it all came crashing down and he failed, he had to try.

Chapter Text

Mokuba had insisted that they fly out the next day to one of his favorite places on earth to make the best of their week together since Seto had insisted of taking a vacation. After all, what good was a vacation if you just stayed in town the entire time?

Granada, Nicaragua was home to one of their handful of international vacation homes. They used that term loosely because it was really only Mokuba that ever used it as a vacation home while to Seto it was just another piece of real estate to dispose of once it was no longer profitable.

Still, out of the few properties that they privately owned, this was by far Mokuba’s favorite. He had made many memories here, and usually served as host of many spring breaks during his time in college. He felt comfortable and at home here, having become attached to not just the home, but the surrounding area and culture. This was where he first learned to be comfortable with the Spanish language, and met a few flames among the native women who helped him practice and taught him their customs and history.

This last minute trip would be the first time Kaiba had actually set foot in the home, since he had hardly cared for the actual place aside from the fact that the area could double in worth in just a few years from when he first purchased it. That had been some time ago, and indeed his initial estimate had been correct.

In fact, he should have probably sold the place a year ago, and he would have were it not for the fact that he knew Mokuba was quite fond of the place. Really, his coddling of his brother was Kaiba’s kryptonite, and the businessman in him knew that it was a bad investment to hold onto a property for too long, especially after it had already paid its worth.

While KaibaCorp certainly brought in the majority of his fortune, Kaiba knew the importance of claiming assets outside of the company. Being a businessman meant being prepared for the worst, and the worst case scenario truly would be the loss of his company. For that reason, it was imperative that he also invest in outside sources.

Still, as he stepped out of the car that delivered them to their destination, he could understand why Mokuba liked this place. The breeze against his skin was cool, neither humid nor dry. There was no need for a coat, and only a thin button up and pants were deemed necessary for the tepid climate during this time of year.

The home itself was also pleasing to the eye. It seemed he had done well to hire who he did to make it look like a modern vacation home, although this he knew from photos and Mokuba's personal accounts. Still, seeing the home in person reaffirmed his choices.

He would describe the home as medium sized as far as mansions went, but easily larger than the nearest homes in the area. It was sleek and angular, with plenty of large windows to add natural lighting inside. The warm tones of brown that painted the outside walls were complemented by the neatly maintained trees and plant life that made the home feel like a luxury getaway resort.

Just what Kaiba had envisioned.

“Welcome to our not so humble abode, Seto!”

Kaiba couldn’t help but grin back at his brother, knowing the truth of his words. After all, Kaiba was not known to be humble. Walking further into the home, Kaiba followed the slightly shorter young man as he led the way into the home. Despite the short notice, the home had been prepared for their arrival by the local caretakers, and Kaiba felt as if he was walking into a newly furnished home.

There was no dust or grime that he could see as they walked into the home, the white walls pristine and bright against the natural light that lit up the room from the large windows. It was sparingly furnished, with only the essentials, but the minimalistic look added to the modern atmosphere of the place. The only colors that popped out were from the rugs and paintings that adorned what would otherwise be empty spaces. Really, this is how Kaiba preferred it.

“Your stuff should be in the master bedroom, which is just up the stairs and to the right. Personally, I’m dying to go for a swim in the pool. Join me Seto!”

It was well into the afternoon, and despite the early hour that they left and the state-of-the-art technology of their private jet, it had still taken almost 8 hours to reach their vacation home.

“Don’t you want to eat first? You hardly ate on the way here.”

Kaiba watched in amusement as Mokuba stopped and scrunched his nose as if to seriously consider it, his eyes darting in the direction he guessed the pool to be in what he could only describe as a longing gaze.

“Mmm… I guess you’re right. I’m kind of hungry now that you mention it. Oh! There's a really good restaurant you’ll like right by the lake. The one I told you about, La Brisa Azul.”

Kaiba nodded his consent, remembering how highly his brother had praised the restaurant from the times he had visited.

“Sure. Should we call ahead?” He asked.

Mokuba shook his head with a grin.

“Nah. Idania knows we're here.”

Kaiba resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

“Why am I not surprised?”

Mokuba laughed before moving towards the stairs that would take him to his own room during their brief time there, probably to make himself a little more presentable for Idania.

It had come of a surprise to Kaiba that his little brother had turned out to be a mini playboy heartbreaker. Still, Mokuba was as kindhearted as he always had been, and he fell just as hard as the women did for him. It was only that his hectic schedule and traveling didn’t allow for him to really maintain a long-term relationship. And after a couple difficult breakups, the young boy had decided it was better to stick to brief flings with no strings attached, at least until his grueling school schedule was done.

If he remembered correctly, Idania was one of the girls that Mokuba spent his time with while he was here, not to mention one of the daughters of the restaurant owner who was hoping she would win over the handsome and rich young man.

Kaiba soon followed in his brother’s direction, climbing up the stairs and turning right as he had been directed, and had no trouble finding the double doors that led to the master suite of the home.

His two suitcases lay beside the bed, and Kaiba set out to put his clothes away in the large closet meant to fit more than what he had brought. They would only be staying for three days after all, and all he needed was a couple outfits and his work laptop.

Unfortunately, despite taking vacation time, he wasn’t comfortable completely leaving his work behind. He had informed his staff he would still reply to priority emails, but knowing him, he would have a hard time staying away from his work when Mokuba wasn’t with him. And he expected Mokuba to spend a decent portion with his local friends.

After hanging his two short sleeved button ups and one blazer, and folding the two pairs of thin slacks, Kaiba walked back to the bed where a blue button up shirt and pair of white straight-leg trousers were laid out on the bed. Just below it on the carpeted white floor were his favorite pair of brown saddle pebble loafers.

After being in a jet for 8 hours, it felt only right to change into a fresh attire for the remainder of the night. Knowing his little brother and how much he loved to entertain company and catch up with the local people he had grown fond of, he doubted dinner at the restaurant would be the end of their night.

In less than ten minutes, Kaiba was dressed in the new attire, and rolled up the sleeves of the button up to his elbows before grabbing and putting on the titanium smartwatch he had momentarily placed on the bed. This was one of the many technology-centered brands that used KaibaCorp technology, and one of the reasons why Kaiba wasn’t too concerned with the fall in popularity of his gaming technology. Slowly but surely, KaibaCorp was expanding into other industries, ones that were not centered on warfare and proved to be just as in need of their high-tech advances.

“Seto?”

Kaiba was just adjusting the strap of the watch on his wrist when Mokuba opened the door and slipped just inside the room.

“Car’s ready outside.”

His little brother had certainly made himself presentable. He too wore a button-down, only it was a short sleeved maroon with black slim fit pants rolled up at the ankles and dark brown oxfords.

He certainly was dressed to impress, and Kaiba wasn’t sure he would ever truly get used to seeing his little brother so grown up.

With the barest of nods, Kaiba followed his brother out the doors.


 

“Ah, is this the hermano you’ve told us about, Señor Mokuba?”

A man in what Kaiba guessed was in his late fifties and a head shorter than him looked him up and down with a large grin on his face, a heavy Spanish accent on an otherwise well-spoken English that both could speak and understand. Like the rest of the customer’s in the restaurant, he was dressed casually, with a plain tan t-shirt, jean shorts, and brown sandals.

Si, mi hermano mayor por fin decidio venir conmigo.”

Yes, my older brother finally decided to come with me, Kaiba translated in his head.

While Kaiba didn’t have the same practice of his brother, Spanish was one of the languages their stepfather had made sure to teach both brothers, and while Kaiba was fairly good at it, it wasn’t his most fluent.

“Seto, this is Osmin, the owner of the restaurant.”

Mucho gusto,” Kaiba said, extending his hand that was given a firm squeeze by the older man, giving the universal polite greeting.

El placer es mío, Señor Kaiba.”

“Come, come, let me take you to your table,” Osmin said as he ushered them deeper into the restaurant and out towards what they saw was an outdoor patio with a wooden ceiling that had a beautiful view of Lake Granada, but protected from mosquitos by the barely visible mesh that still allowed the cool breeze to seep through.

It was obvious that both brothers stood out like sore thumbs by the way people turned to look at them as they passed, but since both brothers were accustomed to often being the center of attention, they paid the looks and whispers no mind as they took their seats on the table.

The restaurant was… quaint, to put it lightly. To the young CEO that was Seto Kaiba, who was used to mostly high-end establishments, the local restaurant would not be a place Kaiba would have voluntarily visited on his own. The tables looked to be made out of wood, chipped and scratched in places from years of wear and tear, and uncovered by any cloth or plastic of any kind, and the only things adorning the top of the table were napkins and what looked to be condiments like salt, pepper, and various bottles of hot sauce.

The table was for two, and both Kaiba and Mokuba settled in across from each other. Those who still looked the two brothers over would see that the younger of the two looked quite relaxed and comfortable, and easy smile on his face as he looked around the restaurant and caught some people’s eyes and nodded in acknowledgement. It was no surprise since the young man was a familiar face around the small town despite the handful of times that he had visited. After all, it was easy to remember a foreign face that stayed in the biggest house on the beach.

Some of the locals might have even approached to greet the young man, were it not for the man seated across from him. Kaiba was the opposite of his brother, sitting so rigid it would have been easy to mistake him for a statue, he kept his eyes ahead, to the view of the outside and the lake beyond, and what looked like a permanent scowl and the slightest look of disgust on his face that made him practically unapproachable.

Still, no one would have denied that another reason for that unapproachable aura was because the man exuded an air of intimidation some might feel by an overly muscular man or someone holding a gun, although the man sitting was clearly neither of the two. It was also obvious to anyone that this was clearly the young man’s older brother, and if the rumors were true, the actual owner of the large house the young brother stayed in when he visited. Which meant, the very man known to be one of the richest men in his country, if not the world.

Yet despite being the center of attention in the quaint restaurant, Kaiba and Mokuba remained disinterested in the talk and whispers that surrounded their sudden visit.

“So Seto, how do you like it here so far? I know this place isn’t what you usually like, but trust me, their food is top of the line, better than some five-star restaurants we’ve been to.”

Mokuba met his brother’s stare, which as usual, were hard to read even for him.

“The climate is pleasant. It’s a nice change from the cooler weather back home. As for the rest, I’ll take your word for it.”

Kaiba replied with closed eyes and hands crossed in front of him. Mokuba grinned, typical of his brother to only answer what he knew to be a fact. Still, it was nice being able to drag his brother somewhere he normally wouldn’t go to. The more time passed, the more Mokuba could see just how mellow his brother was gradually becoming.

The expansion of KaibaCorp and its resources, a top of the decline in popularity in what was once his brother’s obsession that was Duel Monsters, and maturity that only age could bring was the reason Mokuba was able to sit comfortably across his older brother in a foreign country. On one hand, Mokuba could only describe this time as peaceful and calm. Their company was stable with few competitors of real threat left since most new gaming companies used their technology anyway, no ancient evils to fight, and steady growth with plenty of projects underway.

On the other hand, Mokuba couldn’t help but worry for his brother. His brother who was used to obstacles after obstacles and tackling said obstacles with a vengeance and fire only Seto Kaiba was capable of. Seto dedicated all his time to his projects, and while there was nothing wrong with wanting to keep making the next best technological advancement that would revolutionize the market, he also wanted his brother to experience what more life had to offer.

In his time away from home, Mokuba could honestly say he was having the best years of his life. Making friends, experiencing and exploring places all over the world, spending time with beautiful and intelligent women… Mokuba could honestly say he had it made. Although it hurt to say, he enjoyed not having the weight of the company on his shoulders. It was liberating, not to have to worry about letting his brother down or making a mistake that would cost their company and all the work it took to get it to where it was.

And while it made him admire his brother all the more, he also wanted his brother to experience the same happiness.

“Welcome back Mokuba!”

At the sound of a familiar English-spoken voice with a slight accent, Mokuba broke from his musings and looked up to the sight of a petite young woman with light brown curly long hair that reached her mid back and clipped on one side. She wore a plain black fitting t-shirt, jean capris that accentuated her narrow waist and shapely hips and legs, white tennis shoes, and a brown apron wrapped around her waist.

At the smile on her face, Mokuba’s eyes brightened as he smiled back.

“Idania!” he acknowledged, before quickly getting up and enveloping her in a hug.

The young waitress laughed as she eagerly returned the hug. Mokuba was almost a whole foot taller than the small girl, and the top of her head barely reached him at shoulder height, making it easy for Mokuba to rest his chin atop her head.

“I missed you!” she said against his chest, and Mokuba couldn’t help but wrap his arms tighter around her. While the warmth that filled his chest scared him, he also felt happy to be able to hold her after so long.

Although Mokuba wanted to hold her longer, he eased them apart, smiling brightly at her.

“I’ve missed you too, it’s been too long. Ah! Guess who I brought!”

Mokuba placed his hand behind her shoulder so that they both faced the still sitting Kaiba. As their attention turned to him however, Kaiba slowly stood up.

“Seto, this is Idania. Idania, this is Seto!”

The shorter girl looked up at the taller man with a hint of nervousness but smiled shyly and bowed slightly. Kaiba raised a surprised eyebrow at the greeting, his eyes momentarily flashing to Mokuba who was still grinning but now looked a little proud.

“Nice to meet you! Mokuba has told me a lot about you!”

Looks like Mokuba hasn’t been the only one learning a different culture between the two… he thought at the way the girl greeted him in the traditional Japanese fashion.

Respectfully, Kaiba too bowed.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Idania.”

As both stood straight once more, there was a sheepish grin and content look on the petite girl’s face.

“Please, sit! I’ll get you started with drinks and appetizers.”

Both men sat down, knowing that they were here to eat and talk would have to come later.

Idania took out two menus from the apron around her waist, but before she could set it down on the table, Mokuba raised a hand to stop her, and the girl paused as she looked at the young man with confusion in her eyes.

“Sorry,” he said briefly with a sheepish grin on his face, before turning to face Kaiba, “if you don’t mind Seto, I know exactly what to order for you. I had this dish on my first visit and I knew you absolutely would love it!”

With the barest of nods, Kaiba agreed to his brother’s suggestion, his face remaining in his usual neutral expression.

“Very well,” he voiced, almost as an afterthought.

Mokuba turned back to Idania, who returned the menus to her apron pockets.

“Two of my favorite, Carne Pinchada de Venado, por favor. And of course, two Macuá cocktails.”

Idania smiled and nodded.

“Coming right up!”

The young woman turned and left, leaving the brother’s alone once more.

Kaiba watched as his little brother never once removed his eyes from her as she walked away. He made a thoughtful noise, and smirked when even then Mokuba didn’t look back.

“Be careful little brother, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were falling for her.”

At the comment, Mokuba’s head swiveled back to look at his brother, a clear flush on his face and an otherwise unreadable expression that was cross between embarrassment and denial.

“W-what? No! I mean… ugh. I don’t know Seto… to be honest… I really like her. She’s different from other girls. She’s so smart, and sweet, and ambitious. She has huge plans for the future, and she works so hard to help her family. When we talk… I feel like I can talk to her forever. I’ve tried to stay detached but… I guess… for the first time in a long time… I don’t want to?”

Kaiba observed as his little brother’s previously tense body relaxed, how his hands began to fiddle with each, and how his voice gradually softened. It was almost as if he wasn’t really talking to him, but rather to himself as his eyes now had a far-off glassy look to them. It was a look he couldn’t say he had ever seen on his brother.

“I like the way she makes me feel. And I like hearing about her life and all the little and big things she does. And I get jealous when I hear she goes on a date with someone else… and the more time I’m away from her the more I miss her… and damn… I guess I really am falling for her…”

Mokuba’s expression changed from realization to defeat, as if he had come to terms with something he had been trying to fight off, and Kaiba only rested his chin on his interlocked hands in front of him.

“Well, I’m glad you realize it. I’m not one for romance, and there’s no advice I can give you. Just…  be careful. I’d rather not see a repeat of what happened last time…”

Mokuba didn’t need Kaiba to specify what the last time meant. It had been when Mokuba first left Japan to begin his foreign studies, and he had fallen for the first girl he made a connection with. It happened so suddenly and fast that Mokuba hadn’t really been prepared for it. But the relationship quickly deteriorated when it became clear she didn’t like his hectic schedule and constantly gave him ultimatums. It had been a very rocky and almost toxic relationship.

Yet surprisingly, and maybe not so, it had been Seto that convinced him to end it. In his blunt and brutally honest way, Kaiba had managed to snap him out of his guilt and depression over the failing relationship from back then. He made him open his eyes to the reality of the situation and not the fantasy romance Mokuba was trying so hard to save. It was his first heartbreak, but Seto had been there for him every step of the way to help get him through it.

Despite having a whole company to run, and the distance between them.

“Hey Seto?”

Kaiba looked back at his brother, and Mokuba knew he had his attention.

“Do you ever resent me for going away to study abroad and leaving you alone to run the company?”

Mokuba resisted the urge to look away from his brother, a part of him didn’t want to see what kind of look could be on his face.

It was something they had never talked about, something Mokuba had purposely avoided. After all, he had never quite asked what his brother thought on the matter. He only made his intentions known, and acted on them. Seto never once tried to stop him, and Mokuba wanted to believe that his inaction was permission enough.

Kaiba however, remained impassive, with only the barest flash of emotion in his eyes as his frown deepened slightly.

“It was… sudden, certainly.”

Kaiba spoke, his gaze averting as it tended to do when they broached emotional and personal subjects.

“But I trust you to do what you think is best for you. I set out to reclaim the fortune we lost, and thanks to you, we did it. But I know it was never your goal. You would have been happy if we had simply gone to a decent family together. Still, you followed me in my plan with our Stepfather. After everything you endured, it’s only right that you have the freedom to do what you want. And I see that you’re happy. That’s enough for me.”

Mokuba swallowed hard against the sudden lump in his throat and inhaled deeply to hold back what would otherwise be tears of relief and happiness. It would be unsightly to get emotional in such a public place.

Still… it was nice to finally hear confirmation of what he had only previously hoped was the case. Now he could rest a little bit easier when he was away. After all, if anyone could handle a multi-billion company single handedly… it was Seto.

“Hey Seto?”

Once more, Kaiba looked back at him, and Mokuba smiled.

“You’re the best big brother I could ever ask for.”

The warmth and sincerity in Mokuba’s voice was unmistakable, and despite the fact that his little brother had grown a few feet taller, and his voice had grown deeper, it was the same tone that had propelled Kaiba forward throughout the years, that had made him face his demons, and literally fight through hell to keep safe. The same voice that constantly let him know he wasn’t alone.

“Well… I could say the same about my little brother.”

Chapter Text

When the promised Saturday came about, Kise woke in the early hours of the morning after a restless sleep. He had been too excited and nervous to sleep peacefully, having taken hours to finally fall asleep with the ocean of thoughts on what he knew the next day had in store for him.

Since Kanagawa was quite a journey from Domino City, Kise had kindly refused Mokuba’s offer of sending a driver to pick him up, choosing to take the bullet train instead. Still, it meant that he had to get up extra early to get ready and make it there by the chosen time. He wanted to make the most of the opportunity Mokuba had given him, which meant getting there as early as was possible.

And so, Kise had chosen to wear his favorite pair of charcoal pants, along with a white v-neck shirt under a black vest, and a gray blazer. It was one of his best outfits, and considering his plans for today, Kise wanted to dress to impress.

Kise smiled in the full length of his room, happy with his appearance and glad that being a model meant learning how to conceal the bags under his eyes from the lack of sleep all week. After ruffling his hair for what must have been the millionth time, Kise breathed in deep before looking at his watch and making his way to the door where his coat and scarf awaited him.

Kise checked to make sure he had everything he needed before leaving his apartment and locking the door behind him.

It was so early the sun wasn’t even out, making the outside air a little cooler, enough that Kise felt a light chill. It was spring after all, and not quite warm just yet. He wanted nothing more than to make it to the train as soon as possible, and began a light jog to keep warm and get to his destination faster.

And all Kise could think of on his way there was… today is the day.


Mokuba set down his utensils at the table, having just finished eating breakfast with his brother who sat across from him. Even at the table he had pulled out his laptop and was scrolling through whatever it was that was currently occupying his attention, idly drinking what Mokuba knew was black coffee from the plain mug beside him.

They had come back from their trip just a few days ago, and while it had been a wonderful experience, leaving had been the hard part. Already he found that he missed Idania even more than he had prior to visiting, and he knew that he would have to visit again sooner than he had planned.

He had tried to introduce Seto to a few people, but it hadn’t seemed like anyone had really caught his attention. He had even tried to introduce him to some men, to no avail. Mokuba sighed as he looked at his brother.

While Seto preferred to keep his love life private(if it could even be called such), there were a few times Mokuba was able to get his brother to spill who his conquests were, and while Seto had never been in a relationship before, there had been plenty of one night stands. After all, his brother was quite the eligible bachelor, and he never had a shortage of offers from those around them.

Mokuba remembered wondering if his brother was asexual from the lack of interest he showed in the opposite sex, and then he wondered if maybe it was men he liked. Not that Mokuba would have thought any different of his brother, but the curiosity made him finally ask him outright when he was sixteen and Seto had been twenty.

Seto had admitted to him that he didn’t have a preference, and he had been with both sexes throughout the years. To say that Mokuba was surprised was an understatement. Not so much that his brother had been with both sexes, but that he had been with anyone at all! He had done well to be stealthy about the fact since Mokuba never had a clue, and Mokuba was usually good at knowing when his brother was hiding something. But as it turned out, none of those flings had been more than just sex.

Sometimes he wondered if anyone would ever grab his brother’s attention for longer than one night.

“Hey Seto, I’m gonna head out. You remember what we said right?”

Kaiba didn’t look up but nodded.

“Sure. I’ll be at KaibaCorp by five as promised.”

Mokuba nodded before standing and making his way out. Kise had texted him to tell him he would be reaching Domino soon, and he had told him he would be picking him up with their driver.

After having met him after Kaijo’s match against Touo, the two had texted briefly throughout the week to finalize their plans, and Mokuba was looking forward to what they had in store. Kise had proven to be just as charismatic and lively over text as he was in person, and Mokuba knew that Kise had the potential to go far in life.  Already he liked the young prodigy and could see the two of them becoming good friends with time.

He was especially excited for the surprise planned later in the day, and he knew it would probably be the highlight of his stay after seeing Idania in Nicaragua and spending more time with his brother.

Mokuba found himself humming as he made his way into the car that awaited him outside, the sun shining brightly in the sky only lifting his mood even more.

Sliding into his seat in the back, Mokuba smiled at the driver.

“Where to Mister Mokuba?” the driver asked.

“Domino train station. Thanks, Tanaka.”

The middle-aged driver smiled and nodded, before driving towards the given destination. It was nice having the younger Kaiba brother around.


It was Kise’s first time in Domino, and he surely wasn’t disappointed. On his way into the city, he was able to see from the bullet train’s window just how large and beautiful the city was. Unlike many of the crowded cities in Japan, Domino seemed to have a lot of parks and the buildings weren’t built so closely together that it felt suffocating. He caught sight of plenty of Sakura trees blossoming, and overall the city gave off a vibe of being clean and modern, futuristic even.

Still, the train ride had been exhausting. It had been almost a three-hour ride and one train change to make it, but despite being a little stiff and groggy, the sight of the city coming into view was enough to make Kise giddy with excitement once more.  He had kept Mokuba updated of his travel time and had just received the text that told him Mokuba and his driver were waiting for him.

Considering it was a Saturday morning, the train had been relatively quiet, with not too many riders, and as the mechanical voice announced their stop, Kise stood and made his way to the nearest door of the train, hopeful that it wouldn’t be too hard to find Mokuba in the unfamiliar station. He had said in his text that he would be waiting by the main entrance, and as Kise stepped down and looked around the arrival hub, he couldn’t help but marvel at how clean and futuristic it looked. He felt as if he was coming out of a plane rather than a train, and Kise made sure to follow the crowd as they made their way to what he knew was the main entrance and exit of the station.

Kise was right, and as he came to the main area, Kise was surprised to see how large the train station actually was. From where he had exited, he was on the second floor of the train station, and ahead of him were escalators that led down to a large area with multiple food places and even a few shops. It was almost like coming into a mini mall and food court, with a large open space with plenty of tables that people could sit at to eat and wait for their trains.

Kise was thoroughly impressed, and he was glad it was indeed a Saturday, because had it been on a workday, he was sure it would have been much harder to find Mokuba.

As it was, Mokuba was easy to spot from where he waited by a large column close to one of the many doors that led outside, and Kise waved when their gazes met as he took the escalator down. At the sight of him, Mokuba began to walk towards him so that they met halfway.

“Kise!” Mokuba greeted with a grin, “Glad you made it!”

Kise returned the smile.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world! This place is amazing, is all of Domino like this?” he asked.

Mokuba nodded.

“You could say so. This city strives to be state-of-the-art and is constantly trying to improve the infrastructure to stay up to date. There’s always new projects going around, which is why it’s a good city for us to have our headquarters in.”

“Wow that’s so cool! I can’t wait to see some more of the city then.”

“I’ll make sure to have our driver take us around then,” Mokuba offered, noting how bright Kise’s smile was at the prospect.

“Do you want to grab something to eat before we leave?” Mokuba asked, knowing how early Kise had left to make it.

Kise shook his head, his smile softening into a relaxed one instead.

“No, it’s okay, I grabbed something for the ride here, and ate it just before I got here.”

“Alright, then we’ll head out! I’m excited for you to see our headquarters, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.”

Kise chuckled.

“Considering it was a dream of mine to come here for your tournaments as a kid, I sincerely doubt I’ll be disappointed. I watched every tournament live when I could.”

The two made their way towards the car while making easy conversation, and in no time the two were seated in one of the many cars owed by Kaiba.

“By the way,” Kise started with a look of genuine curiosity, “Remember that time when there were Duel Monsters showing up all over the world?”

Mokuba visibly stiffened at the comment.

“How did you guys do that? I remember seeing some dragons in the sky, and from the town I’m from, I don’t think anyone had any kind of duel disk technology. Did you guys do it with a satellite or something? I’ve always wanted to know.”

Kise noted that Mokuba looked a little uncomfortable at the question, a sheepish grin on his face.

“Well um… it’s hard to explain. It’s kind of a long and complicated story, and honestly, I doubt you’d believe me if I told you.”

Kise was confused by the response. He vaguely remembered watching the news while that had happened and remembered Kaiba giving a statement that his technology was not responsible for the appearances of the Duel Monsters. If that was really the case, what had made them appear? A rivaling company trying to replicate the technology? But once the appearances stopped, no answers or new company came forward take responsibility.

“Try me,” Kise replied, leaning forward with a look of undivided attention.

Mokuba couldn’t help but laugh, thinking Kise looked like an excited puppy.

“Alright, you asked for it.”

Kise’s grin widened, and he completely forgot about taking in the city as he looked at Mokuba to speak.

“So, during that time there was a guy named Dartz, an ancient evil sorcerer sealed away in what is believed to be the lost city of Atlantis. Long story short, Duel Monsters are actually based on an ancient magic practiced in Egyptian times, and the man named Dartz wanted to use the power of the three Egyptian God cards to revive a creature known as the Great Leviathan. In the process, he opened a portal that let Duel Monsters enter our world, and my brother, along with some other duelists, had to fight through his henchmen and collect three ancient dragons to defeat him and prevent the Great Leviathan from being summoned and consuming every person on earth’s soul.”

As Mokuba ended his tale, Kise blinked at the slightly older man for what felt like an eternity, before sighing and leaning back against his seat, arms crossed and eyes closed with a pout on his face.

“Geez Mokubacchi… you could have just said you can’t tell me for legal purposes. But you should definitely think about making that a movie. I bet it’d be a hit, and it looks like you’ve put some thought into it!”

Mokuba laughed.

“I told you that you wouldn’t believe me.”

As both men turned their attention to the city around them, Kise admired the increasingly tall and shiny buildings around him, Mokuba pointing out to him what some of the especially remarkable buildings were and what they did.

This went on for about twenty minutes, before they finally made their way to their actual destination, and Kise watched in awe as they drove straight for what seemed like the tallest tower in the entire city.

It seemed he was proven correct when the car drove them to the entrance of said building, and Mokuba grinned.

“Here we are, welcome to KaibaCorp headquarters.”

As they stepped out of the car, Kise couldn’t help but stare in awe at the sheer size of the building, and how it made every other skyscraper in the city dwarf in comparison. The sun shining against its almost chromatic walls and what looked to be an infinite amount of windows making the building practically glow.

“You’re kidding me...”

Mokuba stood straight, hands in his pockets and a proud look on his face as he too looked up at the building.

“This is all thanks to my brother. When we first took over the company, it wasn’t even one tenth of what it is now. My brother had this entire building built from the ground up to commemorate our growth and success.”

Kise could only continue to blink as he looked up at the building.

“I’m almost afraid to think this is the size of his ego…”

At the comment, Mokuba laughed.

“You probably wouldn’t be wrong. Seto isn’t known to be humble, just the opposite. He likes to make sure no one forgets how powerful he is in the corporate world.”

Kise let out a nervous laugh.

“Well, with an HQ like this, how could anyone forget?”

Mokuba grinned.

“That’s kind of the point. See, my brother and I are actually adopted. We were born to wealthy parents, but they died in an accident, and instead of taking us in, our living relatives stole our family’s wealth and disowned us so we were left orphaned. My brother was never able to forgive them for that, and made it his goal to reclaim what he thought was our destiny, so he made sure we were adopted by the original CEO of KaibaCorp. Our step-father wasn’t the greatest father, far from it actually, but Seto made sure to work hard so he could take over the company, and rather than continue to be a company that produced weapons of war, he turned it into a gaming company instead, and grew it into what it is today. This building is to let everyone know that he worked hard to get to where we are, and to remind other competitors who exactly they’re dealing with.”

Mokuba wasn’t sure why he was compelled to share such a private part of their history, but he could see that Kise really admired his brother, and he hated to think that he would think less of him because of the more prideful part of Seto. After all, few people really knew what they went through as children, and all that they had faced to make their dreams a reality. It was their past that had hardened his brother, which made him distrustful of those around them. Seto hid behind his pride and money, to make sure no one stole from them again like their family had in the past.

Kise blinked at Mokuba, drawn in and grounded once more by the weight of his story.

“Wow… I never would have guessed…” he mumbled.

Mokuba smiled.

“It’s okay. Just don’t tell Seto I told you, and don’t tell anyone else. He’s a private person and doesn’t like our history being public knowledge.”

Kise smiled and nodded.

“I promise, your story is safe with me! Thank you for confiding in me Mokubacchi!”

Mokuba nodded, and made a motion for them to walk.

“Well, let’s get to what we came here for!”


It turned out that the inside of the tall skyscraper was just as impressive as the outside, if not more. Kise felt as if he had just stepped a hundred years into the future from the pristine walls, sleek furnishings, high ceilings, and high-tech plasma screens that played all sorts of updates and stories from around the world. There was even a holographic projection of a Blue Eyes White Dragon in the main reception that looked practically real, and if Kise didn’t know any better, would have certainly thought it was.

“Mokubacchi…” Kise mumbled as he took in his surroundings with unhidden awe, “Am I dreaming?”

Mokuba chuckled, and patted Kise sympathetically in the back. But what could he say? KaibaCorp certainly never disappointed.

“C’mon, you haven’t even seen the best parts yet! It’s pretty empty now, only a few people come in during the weekend. It’s completely voluntary for our employees to come in during the weekend, but it’s always open in case someone wants to work on a project and work ahead. We don’t even mind paying overtime if employees do that, as long as we see that they’re being productive and show results.”

Kise nodded, appreciating that it looked like KaibaCorp made sure to take care of its employees. He had done some research and seen that KaibaCorp had one of the highest employee satisfaction scores in the country, from pay, to benefits, and vacation time. While stress levels looked to be on the higher end, it was almost expected from the high expectations that Kaiba was known to have for the quality of his products.

“Actually, this weekend there’s more people working than usual, since Seto is launching a big campaign in the next few months, so some people are really putting in their best effort.”

Kise grinned, choosing to keep the fact that he was quite aware of their campaign a secret. He wanted to surprise the duo with not just his basketball skills, but his modeling career too. Not that Kise liked to brag, but he knew that he had quite the resume built up.

As the two walked around the building and went several floors up, they stopped in several departments, where some of the employees working shared their part of the projects they were currently working on.

Kise couldn’t say he was a genius by any means when it came to textbook material, so the coding aspects of their jobs kind of went over his head as most math classes tended to do in high school. After all, he considered himself more of a hands-on person, the reason he was so good at anything physical like sports and activities. Aside from his talent in sports and his good looks, it was hard for Kise to think of something he would be good at in the adult world.

Sometimes he considered just expanding into the acting world. As long as he could get his foot in, it seemed like a more reliable and long-term career, not to mention a better paying one if he managed to become an A-list actor. Not to mention, it seemed fun, there would be the opportunity to travel, and he wouldn’t be stuck behind a desk all day.

He did like the graphic design portion of game designing, and the process of looking at a card and being able to render the two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional projection. The employee also explained to him the creative ways that they came up with to produce the sound effects of each monster and their special attacks to make the game as realistic as possible. He said some employees even made the sounds themselves and modified them using sound manipulation. It was the one thing so far that Kise could see himself having fun with.

Half-way into the tour, Kise felt as if he had seen only a portion of everything they did at KaibaCorp, and while he personally knew of them for their Duel Monsters technology, the company was actually involved in a lot more fields than he would have thought. It looked like they were partners with multiple gaming systems, and were pioneering technology for systems Kise had only ever seen in the world of science fiction.

“Alright Kise, so you’ve seen most of what our employees do in general. Now it’s time to see what you’ve been waiting for.”

Kise instantly brightened, knowing exactly what it was that Mokuba was referring to, and made a sound of excitement that resembled a mix between a squeak and a yelp.

“You mean it?”

“Yep! We are going to see the latest in Duel Monster holographic technology!”

As Mokuba led the way, Kise practically skipped after him.

Mokuba led them to an elevator, which was fully surrounded by reinforced and bulletproof glass as Mokuba had explained to him, so that they were able to see the rest of Domino on their way up. It seemed like their destination was many floors up, to the point that Kise was able to see over every other building in Domino, and it felt as if the trip took a few minutes before it came to a stop on the 30th floor.

Kise expected the door to open up to a hallway, and was more than surprised to find that Mokuba needed to flash a special badge against a scanner for the door to open, and when it did, it opened up to an incredibly large room with what looked to be nothing in it other than a few panels and lights around the wall.

Kise was confused not to see one of the large dueling machines he remembered seeing in the old tournaments.

“So, where is it?” Kise asked, looking around as if he might have missed a one-ton machine in such a large room.

Mokuba chuckled.

“This is it. We don’t use the old dueling machines you’re probably thinking about. The only thing needed with the proper equipment now is our newest duel disk, which, when your cards have been digitized, you don’t even need a physical deck anymore.”

Kise blinked in surprise. To think, that you’d be able to digitize your cards. Still, a part of him thought he liked having the physical cards, it felt more real and as if there was a better connection. Not to mention that although he loved technology, he could see how a competent hacker could take advantage and cheat with the system.

Mokuba walked to one of the panels within the room, pressing a button that made a holographic projection appear in front of him, where Mokuba pressed a series of commands.

“Welcome, Mister Mokuba,” a mechanical voice spoke up that echoed throughout the large room, making Kise jump a little from the unexpected sound of it. Unlike most AI voices he had heard, this one sounded almost as if it belonged to a real person.

“Kisara, allow access to Duel Disk Alpha 2.”

“Voice command acknowledged. Allowing access to Duel Disk Alpha 2.”

There was a hissing sound from the middle of the room, and Kise looked up to see the floor open up and a table rise up, with what looked to be a blue and sleek mechanical device about the size of Kise’s forearm.

Mokuba walked up to the risen platform, and grabbed the device from it, before turning to look at Kise who had quietly walked up behind him, his eyes never once leaving the pristine device that Mokuba was holding.

“So Kise, do you want to test it out now, or do you prefer to wait until the main event?”

Mokuba watched as Kise’s expression changed from one of awe to one of mischief. A sly grin spread across his lips and a focused look came to his eyes.

“I think I’ll wait. After all, I’d rather get the full experience at one time.”


 

Kaiba didn’t know what his little brother had in store for him, but he had promised to be at KaibaCorp at five and the young CEO was nothing if not punctual, at least, when it came to his little brother’s requests.

It was odd for his brother to be cryptic, and while he knew he didn’t like surprises, Kaiba could see that his brother really meant to keep the plans for the day a secret. Were it anyone else, Kaiba would be apprehensive. But it was Mokuba, the one person he trusted.

Which was why, at exactly 4:55PM, Kaiba stepped out of his car and looked up at the main entrance of KaibaCorp Tower, before looking at his phone where his brother had just texted him to come up to the 30th floor, which Kaiba knew was none other than one of their dueling rooms.

He wondered if maybe Mokuba had added a new feature to the new system without telling him, or if perhaps he wanted to surprise him with a duel. While Mokuba did not share the same love for dueling as he did, it would explain why Mokuba seemed eager to keep it a secret, and it would indeed be a pleasant surprise if his brother had gone out of his way to put a strategy together.

Many other scenarios went through Kaiba’s mind as he made his way to the elevator that would take him to his brother’s meeting place, but Kaiba was quick to dismiss this. No matter what it was, it would only be a moment before he found out.

With that thought in mind, he walked through the unusual quietness of KaibaCorp Tower during a weekend evening. Most employees that had chosen to work should have left by now, but he wouldn’t be surprised to run into a few that had chosen to stay. After all, his vacation would be officially over when he returned to work on Monday, and he expected good progress from his employees while he had been gone. Otherwise, demotions and new employees would be in order.

He spared the familiar surrounding only a brief glace, to see if there was anything out of place, but seeing everything in order, went ahead to the elevator, stepping inside and pressing the button to the 30th floor of his tower.

As the elevator rose, Kaiba watched the outside world through the transparent walls, where he could see the sun was beginning its descent towards the horizon, but he didn't have long to take in the sight as the elevator slowed to a stop, and a soft ding let him know he had arrived at his floor.

Turning around, and flashing his wrist badge, the door opened, and the first figure he saw was not who he expected.

While the blonde hair and boyish face was familiar, it was the last person he had expected to meet in his tower. His eyes narrowed, and he looked around to see that indeed Mokuba was in the room, but rather than in the center of the room where the unexpected guest was, Mokuba stood near one of the walls, as if considerate of giving the other occupants of the room some space.

“What is the meaning of this?” Kaiba voiced, not bothering with formalities.

The young man in front of him only smirked and crossed his arms in front of him.

It was then that Kaiba noticed just what the young man had attached to his arm, and his eyes narrowed further.

“Seto Kaiba! I, Kise Ryota, challenge you to a duel!”

Chapter Text

To say that he was surprised would have been an understatement. The thought that the basketball prodigy he had just learned of just this week would be waiting for him in his very own tower, challenging him to a duel of all things, hadn’t even occurred to him.

Still, Kaiba was quick to get over the surprise, his own arms crossing as he disregarded the young man in favor of sending his brother a sharp glance.

“Mokuba, what is this kid doing here?”

Kise visibly bristled at how quick the young CEO was to dismiss him, and how blatantly he ignored his challenge.

“Who are you calling a kid!” Kise replied, a small frown and pout on his face.

Kaiba once more ignored him, his gaze still focused on his little brother. Mokuba, used to his brother’s antics, only grinned as he leaned back against the wall behind him casually.

“Exactly what he said. Kise wants to duel you. I thought you wouldn’t mind a new challenger.”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at his little brother, before turning back to look at the person in front of him visibly glaring at him. Kaiba looked at him long and hard, taking notice of the boy out of his basketball uniform. The kid had a taste in fashion, Kaiba would give him that, and looked as if he had just walked out of a catalog. As his eyes raked up his form, Kaiba took note of his tense posture and furrowed brows, and the way his golden eyes seemed to darken as their gaze met.

Kaiba smirked.

“And what makes you think you can take me on, pretty boy? Looks to me like you’re on the wrong court.”

Rather than let Kaiba’s haughty response rile him up, Kise forced himself to relax, his lips forming a confident grin.

“Well Kaibacchi, I’ll have you know that before I joined sports, I was actually my town’s local Duel Monsters Champion!”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes.

What did you just call me?”

Kise laughed, despite the dark look on Kaiba’s face and the way he ignored the point of his sentence.

“You should be flattered, I only add –cchi to the names of the people I respect! And it’s hard to find people outside of a basketball court I can call that way.”

Kise’s eyes then lit up again.

“But…” he said in a sing-song manner, “If you hate it that much… I’ll stop calling you that if you beat me in a duel, Kai-ba-cchi.”

Kaiba glared as Kise stressed each syllable of his newfound nickname, before grinning once more. This kid had guts, he'd give him that. To have the audacity to come to his tower, give him a ridiculous nickname, and challenge him to a duel. He’d have to teach him his place.

“Well, if you’re so desperate to lose, and just to shut you up, I guess I’ll go ahead and beat you. After all, it would be a shame if my little brother went through the trouble of getting you here for nothing.”

Kise’s face visibly brightened, and Mokuba couldn’t help but chuckle to himself at how Kise wore his emotions on his sleeve. Still, he got his brother to agree, which was no easy feat. He had tried to tell Kise not to get his hopes up, but Kise had managed to use his use of nicknames to lure Kaiba in. It was a start. He actually wasn’t sure how good Kise was, but if he was even a fraction as good as he was at basketball, he should do well.  And he doubted Kise would challenge Kaiba if he didn’t think he at least stood a chance. Like Kaiba, Kise was a competitor.

“Kisara! Ready my duel disk and prepare the field!”

Some lights around the room began to flash, and Kise looked around as the room began to glow from the lights that now illuminated it.

“Command acknowledged, preparing duel arena.”

Just like Mokuba had brought up the duel disk on Kise’s arm, the same platform rose up, and Kaiba calmly made his way towards it, grabbing the exact same duel disk that Kise currently wore. In one fluid motion, he had attached the device on his arm and the adjoining part to his forehead that now glowed blue, before walking to one end of the room.

Kise smiled, before walking to the side opposite of Kaiba. Thankfully, Mokuba showed him how the duel disk worked without having his deck digitized like he knew Kaiba’s was.

“Mokuba, do me a favor and shuffle his deck will you.”

Mokuba did as told and Kise handed over his deck when Mokuba approached him, who gave it right back as soon as it was shuffled.

“Good luck, Kise.”

Kise grinned.

“Thanks Mokubacchi, I know it won’t be easy.”

Mokuba nodded, before returning to the side of the room between the two players.

“Good luck Seto!” he also called out.

“Hmph. I won’t need luck to wipe the floor with this kid.”

Kise only stuck out his tongue at the older man, if only to hide that his heart was pounding in his chest and his fingers shaking from how nervous and excited he was.

“I’ll have you eat those words Kaibacchi!” Kise called back as he inserted his deck into the duel disk, and the sound of its activation caught his ears as the disk began to glow in response.

Kise watched in awe as the plain room around them visibly morphed, changing into what looked to be a virtual arena that looked to be straight out of a sci-fi video, where Kise and Kaiba now stood atop a purple-ish holographic free-flying platform with nothing but a black abyss below them, giving Kise a moment of vertigo at how realistic it looked and felt, while the rest of the room transformed into what looked to be stands and holographic people cheering them on.

Kise laughed.

“Wow, this looks so cool!”

Kise could hardly believe this was happening, but he planned to make the best of it. He had spent the past week going over every possible strategy he could think of, and he wouldn’t let his hard work go to waste.

Kise then watched as a holographic coin materialized between him and Kaiba.

“Commencing coin toss, players, call your bets,” the mechanical voice from the AI said.

“Your call, kid!” Kaiba said, his face impassive as his arms remained crossed.

Kise grinned.

“Fine! I call heads!”

Moments later, the holographic coin spun, and as Kise hoped, landed on heads.

“Awesome! Allow me to go first, Kaibacchi.”

Kaiba huffed, but uncrossed his arms.

“Makes no difference to me, kid!”

Why did Kise get the sense that despite their encounter after his basketball game, Kaiba wasn’t going to call him by his name?

Kise stood straighter, and despite the distance between them, their eyes met, both knowing what came next.

“Let’s duel!” both said simultaneously, and while Kaiba’s cards appeared holographically, Kise manually drew his cards. Their life points showed up next to them, and as asked, Mokuba had set it up to the classic 4000 LP, and Kaiba made no comment on it.

As Kise looked at his card, he smirked.

“Well Kaibacchi, looks like this might be a record defeat for you!”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at the younger man in across him. He didn’t know what to expect from him, and while he said he had been a local champion, Kaiba didn’t think he could be that good if he had never made an appearance at a large-scale tournament. Then again, Kise was still young, younger than even Mokuba, who had still been a kid himself during the height of Duel Monsters, maybe he had been too young still to make an appearance.

“Don’t get cocky kid, the match hasn’t even begun!”

Kise grinned, his finger grabbing a hold of one card and placing it face down in defense mode in the slot for monsters, before grabbing another card and placing it on the slot for magic and trap cards.

“I set two cards face down, and end my turn!”

“Ha! That’s it? I expected more after such a daring proclamation. Now it’s my turn!”

Kaiba grinned, before tapping on one of the cards on display.

“Say hello to my Kaiser Sea Horse!”

Kise could hardly contain his amazement as the card materialized right across from him, looking realer than he ever thought possible. The colors were vivid and bright, and the movements so fluid he could hardly believe the monster in front of him was a hologram.

“Your technology really is amazing, Kaibacchi! I’m glad I’m getting a front row seat for this!”

Kaiba frowned, thinking Kise a little too happy for someone whose monster was just about to be destroyed.

“I set two more cards face down!” he said, and tapped on the card onto the magic and trap zone. 

“Now, Kaiser, attack his face down monster!”

Kise felt as if he could feel the wind itself as Kaiser Sea Horse moved to attack, a condensed jet of water coming from seemingly nowhere and attacking his face down card, which then revealed his faced down Sangan card.

The three eyed monster appeared for only a second, before it was obliterated into a million pixels.

Kise smirked.

“Thanks, Kaibacchi! Now that Sangan is destroyed, his special effect activates, and I can summon a monster with 1500 attack points or less.”

Kise shuffled through his deck.

“And I choose this card!”

In one fluid motion, Kise placed down his chosen card.

“Meet my Queen’s Knight!”

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed at the familiar card, remembering that Yugi had used that card before.

“You see Kaibacchi, I know that dragons are your specialty. So I came up with a special deck just for you. After all, just like in the stories, the knight always slays the dragon in the end!”

At the tacky metaphor, Kaiba actually smiled.

“Please! If you’re resorting to children’s stories to win, you really are insane! I end my turn!”

Kise drew a card. He really couldn’t believe his luck, the hand he currently had was almost too perfect.

“We’ll see about that Kaibacchi! I summon my King’s Knight!”

His knight materialized next to his female knight, and realization sunk into Kaiba’s face.

“And when King’s Knight is summoned while Queen’s Knight is on the field, I can special summon another card! Can you guess who?”

Kise placed down the next card he retrieved from his deck.

“To complete the trio, here’s my Jack’s Knight! But that’s not it! I also activate Polymerization!”

Kaiba knew nothing good was coming, and grit his teeth as Kise activated his card from his hand. As Jacks Knight materialized in the field, his blade joined the blades of the knights beside him.

“I fusion summon Arcana Knight Joker! And with 3800 attack points, he’s nothing to joke about! Even your precious Blue-Eyes can’t stand up to my knight!”

As the heavily armored and bladed knight appeared on the field in front of him, Kise thought his heart might pop out of his chest at the sight of the larger than life figure. He could hardly believe that he had managed to summon one of his strongest cards in such a short time. Even when he practiced, the combo hardly came easy!

It seemed he wasn’t the only one that thought so, because Mokuba stared in amazement at the monster Kise had been able to summon.

“He summoned a 3800 attack monster on his 2nd turn! Looks like Kise really is more than just a good basketball player.”

Kaiba glared at the new monster card, but did not share in Kise’s excitement or Mokuba’s amazement at its appearance, but did admit to himself that it was a good play on Kise’s part, not that he would voice the thought aloud. Still, the strong monster did little to unnerve him, since his own play was already in motion.

Kise grinned up at his monster with a look of pride.

“Alright Arcana, attack his Kaiser Sea Horse!”

At the Knight lunged forward with his blade, Kaiba smirked.

“I don’t think so kid! I activate my trap card! Negate Attack!”

As his card revealed, a blinding light shot from the card, making Arcana Knight stop in its tracks and be pushed back to Kise’s side of the field.

“Not only is my Kaiser Sea Horse safe, but thanks to this card, your turn ends here and now!”

Kise frowned, but conceded to Kaiba’s counter attack. He should have known that Kaiba would be prepared. Still, Kise knew that even if Kaiba managed to summon his Blue-Eyes White Dragon, it still wouldn’t be able to destroy Arcana.

As Kaiba drew his next card, his grin only widened as he looked at his hand.

“If you’re feeling safe just because you have a decent monster on your field, I suggest you stop now! Watch and learn, kid!”

Using that card he drew, Kaiba placed it face-up on the field.

“I activate my spell card, Dragon Shrine! With this card, I can send one monster from my deck to my graveyard, and I choose my Blue-Eyes White Dragon! And since the card I sent to my graveyard is a Dragon-Type, I can send another dragon to my graveyard, which will be another Blue-Eyes White Dragon!”

Kise’s eyes widened as he watched Kaiba send his favorite card to his graveyard, not once, but twice. Kise knew he was up to something. There was no other explanation as to why he would willingly get rid of two of his strongest cards.

“Now, I sacrifice my Kaiser Sea Horse, which, thanks to his special ability, lets me summon my third Blue-Eyes White Dragon from my hand, in defense mode!” 

Kaiba’s game system certainly made sure to do justice to the summoning of his favorite monster. In a magnificent flash, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon that Kise had seen only on TV and downstairs in the main entrance of the tower materialized above Kaiba, the great flap of its giant wings making Kaiba’s white coat flair around him. Kise couldn’t help but be left awe-struck at the sight of such a magnificent monster, the way its skin practically glowed as it settled defensively in front of its master.

Kise had to remind himself that it was just a hologram, but since this was the first time he had ever dueled using Kaiba’s system, it was hard to get used to.

Still, Kise’s eyes narrowed, even more confused as to what Kaiba’s play was. Surely he knew that summoning his Blue Eyes was useless… he didn’t stand a chance against his Arcana Knight Joker, and he would surely be destroyed during his next turn. There had to be more to his strategy…

“I end my turn.”

Kise blinked. He had thought for sure Kaiba was going to do some insane move to counter… but that was it? Either way, Kise refused to let his guard down, and drew his next card.

“I gotta say Kaibacchi… I didn’t think you were the type to be so careless with your favorite dragons,” Kise said, but Kaiba didn’t respond, only waited for Kise’s next play.

“Alright then, I summon another monster, Obnoxious Celtic Guardian!” Kise called out, and placed his monster in attack mode.

Kise knew that it was best to be safe, and at least with Celtic Guardian on the field, any monster with more than 1900 attack points wouldn’t be able to attack him. This way, he could draw out weaker monsters, and although he doubted Kaiba was dumb enough to fall for this strategy while Arcana was on the field, he would be able to chip away at Kaiba’s lifepoints at the very least.

“Alright Arcana! Attack Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes!”

Kise knew that Kaiba had another card faced down, so it was easy to think it was a counter card, however, Kaiba didn’t activate anything, and Arcana’s blade easily slashed through Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes, oblitirating it into pieces. All the while, Kaiba remained unfazed at his monster’s demise.

“Now, Celtic Guardian, attack Kaiba directly!”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes as Kise’s Celtic Guardian lunged at him with his sword, and at the impact, only stumbled back a step as his lifepoints dropped to 2600, and Kise smiled at the small victory. Not only were all of Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes in the graveyard, but his Arcana remained safe on the field despite the card face down on the field.

“So Kaibacchi, what did you think of that?”

Kaiba only scoffed.

“I hope you’re taking notes, because this is how its done!” Kaiba replied, drawing his next card, “Watch as I wipe the floor with your knight!”

Kise narrowed his eyes, not liking the confidence in Kaiba’s voice.

“From my hand, I activate Dragon’s Mirror!” Kaiba called out as he set down the card with a flourish.

“With this spell card, I can use all three of my Blue-Eyes in the graveyard to summon my ultimate Dragon! Neo Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon! Behold, one of the most powerful creatures in all of Duel Monsters, and the source of your demise!”

Kise’s eyes widened as a mirror materialized on the field, and had to cover his eyes with his arm as a blinding light erupted through the mirrored glass. Through half-closed eyes, Kise watched as claws grasped the sides of the mirror, and as not one, but three, familiar heads came through the mirror’s surface, followed by a mighty roar that shook the very room and followed by giant wings. Before long, the mighty dragon stood behind Kaiba, its glowing accents accentuating every bit of the 4500 attack powered monster.

Kise grit his teeth at the appearance of the new dragon. It was easy to see why Kaiba had never once wavered in the face of his knight. Despite how strong Arcana was, he still wasn’t strong enough to take on Neo Blue-Eyes, not without help at least.

“Now my Neo Blue-Eyes, attack his Arcana Knight Joker!”

With a mighty roar, the giant three-headed dragon reared its heads back, pure white energy gathering in their jowls as they powered up their attacks and aimed them in Kise’s Knight’s direction.

“Neutron Blast Attack!”

At Kaiba’s command, the Neo Blue-Eyes released their attacks, the energy gathered in their mouth shooting straight to his Knight, and Kaiba smirked.

“I don’t think so Kaibacchi!”

“What?!” Kaiba gasped as Kise activated one of his face down cards.

“I activate my trap card! Draining Shield!”

A shield Materialized before Arcana Knight, absorbing the three blasts that had come from Neo-Blue Eyes.

“Thanks to my trap card, not only is your attack negated, but I also gain lifepoints equal to your attacking monster!”

Mokuba gasped as he watched the blasts completely disappear into the shield.

“That means Kise gains 4500 lifepoints!”

Kise grinned while Kaiba grimaced.

“That’s right, giving me a total of 8500 lifepoints! How do you like that, Kaibacchi?”

Once more, Kaiba scoffed.

“You might think you’ve stopped me, but you couldn’t be more wrong! Behold, my Neo-Blue Eyes special ability! Because by discarding a Blue-Eyes fusion monster from my extra deck, my Neo-Blue Eyes can attack again!”

Kise’s eyes widened in surprise as Kaiba sent a card to his graveyard.

“What?!”

“Go, Neo-Blue Eyes, attack his Arcana again!”

This time, there was nothing to stop the blasts that erupted from the giant dragon, and Kise watched horrified as his Arcana was disintegrated by Kaiba’s Dragons’ blasts, and his lifepoints dropped to 7800. This was bad news. Depending on how many Blue-Eyes fusion monsters Kaiba had in his extra deck, Kaiba could attack multiple times in a single turn. He needed something to stop that dragon!

“I hope that wasn’t your strongest card, pretty boy, or this match is as good as over!”

Kise narrowed his eyes, his eyes hardening with determination and defiance in the face of such a terrifyingly strong monster, then drew his card.

“It’s not over yet, Kaibacchi! I play, my pot of greed, and draw two more cards!”

Kise smiled at the cards he drew, and looked at Kaiba with molden golden eyes.

“Say, Kaibacchi, you remember seeing me play basketball on the court, right?”

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Kise’s confident glance. He didn’t like that look while his Neo Blue-eyes was on the field.

“What of it?” he humored him.

“Well, if you can remember how I play, then you’ll understand why this card is perfect for me!”

Kaiba didn’t know what the young basketball prodigy was getting at, so he remained silent and waited for him to play his next card.

“Say hello to a card after my own heart, Copycat!”

Kiba frowned as the clown-like monster materialized in front of Kise, and now understood what Kise had meant by relating to the card. After all, how could he forget the way that Kise had played during his basketball match? The way he had managed to copy the moves of his opponents after only seeing them once, and the way he had even managed to copy the monster that the opposing Ace had been.

“You’re right! The resemblance is uncanny!”

Kise only grinned at what he knew Kaiba meant as sarcasm.

“Well as you can guess, I’ll have Copycat copy your precious Neo Blue-eyes! Giving him the same attack and defense as your Dragon!”

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed as he glared at Kise.

“And now Copycat, attack his Neo Blue-Eyes, with Neutron Blast Attack!”

The mirror held in Copycat’s hand glowed, and three blasts of the same energy that had erupted from the dragons across them burst forth and towards the giant dragon, and with a roar, the giant dragon was destroyed, but not before sending its own blasts towards Kise’s Copycat and destroying him as well.

Kaiba grunted as his monster disappeared from in front of him, angry that his precious monster was destroyed by a measly one-star monster of all things.

Kise on the other hard, was ecstatic.

“And don’t forget, I still have my Celtic Guardian, which attacks you directly!”

With a battle cry, his Celtic Guardian lunged forward, cutting across Kaiba’s chest with his sword and making the man grunt in response as his lifepoints dropped once more.

Mokuba grimaced.

“Oh no, Seto is down to 1200 lifepoints, and Kise still has over 7000!”

Mokuba couldn’t help but be surprised that Kise was putting up such a good fight against his brother. Not only had he been able to summon a strong monster in only two turns, but he had also managed to defeat one of his brother’s strongest cards! And with 7800 lifepoints, defeating Kise looked like an impossible feat. What was Seto going to do?

“Still questioning my skills, Kaibacchi?” Kise taunted.

Kaiba made a thoughtful noise, closed his eyes and gave the barest of grins as he drew his card.

“I’ll admit, it seems basketball isn’t the only thing you’re decent at.”

At the remark, Kise balked and pouted.

Decent? I’m offended! I thought I was a little better than that.”

“Basketball is one thing, but this is my court. Let me show you! I play the spell card, card of Sanctity, which lets us both draw up to six cards.”

Kise grinned.

“My, I didn’t know you could be so generous, Kaibacchi!”

Kaiba grunted.

“Please, as if letting you draw more cards will make a difference in this match!”

Both players drew until they each had six cards, knowing that this would mean a fast play would most likely be coming up with a refreshed hand.

Kaiba smirked when he saw he had drawn just what he needed.

“Alright pretty boy, I hope you’re ready!”

Kise tensed, knowing something big was coming his way from Kaiba’s warning.

“First, I summon Axe Raider!”

The beast materialized in front of him, and it was easy to tell why Kaiba had summoned him. At just 1700 attack points, he was strong enough to destroy his Celtic Guardian, and weak enough that he wasn’t hindered by Celtic Guardian’s effect.

“And next, I activate my trap card, call of the haunted!”

Kise’s eyes widened as Kaiba activated his trap card, and as a tombstone materialized on the field, Kise could guess as to which monster he brought back.

“And I bring forth, my Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, that was sent to the graveyard as a result of Neo’s special ability!”

Kise grimaced as the three-headed dragon rose up from the grave, as lively as its previous counterpart, although not as bright due to the lack of accents.

Kaiba smirks at the frown on Kise’s face.

“So how about I clean your side of the field, kid?”

“Axe Raider, destroy his obnoxious Celtic Guardian!”

Kise grimaced once more as his Celtic Guardian was struck down by Kaiba’s monster. Now he was defenseless, and Kaiba still had another monster to attack with.

“And now, Ultimate Blue-Eyes, attack him directly! Neutron Blast Attack!”

The giant dragon gathered his energy, and with a roar, fired from all three heads directly at Kise, who grunted and shielded his eye swith his arms from the brightness of it all. His life points had dropped to 3000, and Kise was glad he had used Draining Shield early, otherwise this match would have been over and Kaiba would have won.

“I set three cards face down, and end my turn!” Kaiba called out as he set all his cards on the spell and trap zone.

Kise sighed. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy to defeat Kaiba, but damn it! This was hard! No matter what he did, Kaiba was always able to bring back his strongest monsters and counter his strategies. He didn’t have many options left, and quite frankly, he had only one good strong monster left that could take on Ultimate Blue-Eyes.

But as he looked at his hand, it looked like he just could summon that monster.

“Alright Kaibacchi, watch this! I activate my spell card, Pre-Preparation of Rites! To draw out my Black Luster Ritual and Black Luster Soldier from my Deck! Then, I play Black Luster Ritual, and sacrifice Beginning Knight and Familiar Knight to summon, you guessed it, Black Luster Soldier to the field!”

While impressed that Kise was able to bring out an impressive combo, his Black Luster Soldier was still not strong enough to take on his Ultimate Blue-Eyes.

“And here’s a nice twist, Kaibacchi, so listen up!”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at Kise’s assertive tone.

“Because I used Beginning Knight to summon Black Luster Soldier, my Soldier gains a special ability! Each turn, I can choose any of your monsters, and banish it! So guess what that means!”

Kaiba grimaced, eyes settling on his Blue Eyes.

“That’s right, I choose to banish your Ultimate Blue-Eyes!”

“I don’t think so!”

Kise’s eyes widened as one of Kaiba’s face down cards activated, revealing a trap card.

“I activate my Interdimensional Matter Transporter! Which means that for this turn, my Ultimate Blue-Eyes is removed from the battlefield, and kept safe from your monster’s ability!”

Kise frowned at the unexpected turn of events, and watched as the deviced transported the giant Blue-Eyes out of his reach.

“That’s fine! You might have saved your Blue-Eyes this turn, but all it takes is destroying your Axe Raider to get rid of the rest of your life points!”

Mokuba gasped at the truth of those words. If Kaiba didn’t do something, he was going to lose the match! But he had two more cards face down, surely one of them would keep him safe.

“Go, Black Luster Soldier! Destroy his Axe Raider and wipe out his lifepoints!”

With a mighty cry, his Black Luster Soldier lunged forward.

“I think not! I activate my trap card, Enchanted Javelin!”

Kise’s eyes widened.

“Thanks to my trap card, I gain life points equal to your attacking monster, meaning this game isn’t over!”

Kise frowned as his Black Luster Soldier slashed through Axe Raider, but rather than seeing Kaiba’s life points drop to zero, Kaiba first gained 3000 life points before damage calculation, leaving him with 2900 life points instead. They were back to even ground.

“I knew it couldn’t be that easy to beat you, I’ll place one card face down and end my turn!”

Kaiba smirked.

“Which means my Ultimate Blue-Eyes comes back to my side of the field, and say goodbye to your Soldier!”

Kaiba drew his card just as his Ultimate Blue-Eyes White Dragon descended on the field behind him, as impossing as ever.

“First, I’ll play this card! Burial from a Different Dimension!”

Kise wasn’t familiar with that card, so he hoped Kaiba could explain as the spell card was revealed on the field.

“With this card, I can add 3 bannished monsters, and return them to the graveyard, and of course, I choose all three of my Blue-Eyes White Dragons!”

Kise narrowed his eyes. That couldn’t be good. He didn’t doubt that with his Blue-Eyes in his graveyard, Kaiba would have ways to bring them back.

“Next, I’ll summon Assault Wyvern, in attack mode!”

The serpent like monster appeared on the field, and Kise felt as if it was staring at him directly.

“I gotta say kid, you put up a good fight! More than I expected from someone that spends their time on a basketball court. Still, this game is as good as mine! So attack, Ultimate Blue-Eyes!”

The familiar blasts of energy formed from the three heads, but Kise only smirked.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself Kaibacchi! This game isn’t over just yet! I activate my face down trap card, Mirror Wall!”

Kise watched in amazement as a multi-colored diamond-like wall rose up from the ground and absorbed the blast of the dragon.

“And when Mirror Wall is in play, during your battle phase your monster’s attack points are halved! Which means, your Blue-Eyes isn’t strong enough to destroy my Black Luster Soldier, and his attack goes right back to him!”

Kise admired the way the gaming system made his Mirror Wall deflect the mighty blast back to the dragon on the opposite side.

What Kise couldn’t see through the blinding light of the energy blasts however, was the grin that spread across Kaiba’s face as the blast approached.

“Good thing I have this then! I activate Half Unbreak! This card keeps my Blue-Eyes from being destroyed, and even better, I lose only half of the life points I would have lost!”

Kise frowned as Kaiba’s card created what seemed like hundreds of bubbles that hurled towards the giant blast of energy and dissipated it into nothing, leaving the Ultimate Blue-Eyes to remain standing proudly, and Kaiba’s life points only dropped to 2525.

“You might be safe from my Blue-Eyes for now kid, but you can only keep your Mirror Wall for so long with its high price! Once you can’t afford to keep it in play, your soldier is dead meat!”

Kise frowned, knowing that Kaiba was right. He had to pay 2000 life points at the end of his turn if he wanted to keep Mirror Wall in play, and with only 3000 life points left, he could only afford to keep it for one more turn unless he managed to pull a card that would give him more life points, and even then, he could only hide for so long before Kaiba found a way around his defense.

But no! Kise refused to give up! He had come too far and too close to stop believing in the cards he had worked so hard to gather. All week, even basketball hadn’t managed to hold his attention the way perfecting his deck had. He had poured hours of thinking and mock matches into which cards he wanted to keep. His friends had even helped him! The way that Momoi helped him with his combos, and even Midorima had agreed to play some practice matches with him!

He knew there was a card in his deck that could help him!

Kise breathed deeply as his hand rested over his deck, silently pleading with it that he draw the card he needed in that moment. This would decide whether or not he had a chance.

Here I go!

Kise drew, his eyes closed for a second, almost afraid to see what he had drawn, but when his eyes opened to look at his card, his heart skipped a beat.

And to the surprise of the other occupants of the room, Kise laughed.

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed at the younger duelist across him.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

Kise grinned.

“Well Kaibacchi, I said earlier that I believed knights to be the ones to slay dragons…” Kise started, looking fondly at his card.

“But I always did believe one more thing! That it was way cooler when they tamed them instead!”

Kise placed down his card, and Kaiba still didn’t know what Kise was getting at.

“So Kaibacchi, watch as I tame your Ultimate Blue-Eyes, with this!”

The card that Kise placed revealed itself on the field, and Kaiba’s eyes widened.

“What are you doing with that!”

Kise smirked, his eyes lighting up with glee.

“I activate Soul Exchange, and target your Ultimate Blue-Eyes!”

A blue light eminated from from the Soul Exchange card, and shot a stream that enveloped Kaiba’s Ultimate Blue-Eyes it its earie glow, making the Dragon cry out in confusion.

“Not only that, I use my Polymerization, to fuse your Ultimate Blue-Eyes with my Black Luster Soldier, to bring forth my ultimate card!”

Kaiba growled as his Blue-Eyes flew to Kise’s side of the field, where Black Luster Soldier jumped onto it, and a blinding light erupted from the Polymerization card.

“Say hello to the mighty, Dragon Master Knight!”

With a mighty roar, all heads of the dragon pointed towards Kaiba, with Black Luster Soldier sitting comfortably on the mighty dragon’s back.

Mokuba gasped as Kise took control of Kaiba’s most powerful monster, and used it to summon an even more powerful monster with 5000 attack points. And as he looked to his brother, Mokuba could see the surprise in his brother’s face.

The only time Kaiba had ever seen this card was back in that Ancient Egyptian shadow game, where Kaiba had fused his Ultimate Blue Eyes with the Pharaoh in order to fight Dartz, and then again against Zorc.  Back then however, Kaiba had voluntarily given his Ultimate Blue Eyes, very unlike what Kise had just managed to do.

“How dare you! I’ll make you regret taking my Blue-eyes!”

Kise grinned. In all honesty, putting this card in his deck had been for fun more than anything. Since Kaiba was the only person that could really summon Ultimate Blue-Eyes, this card was practically useless to any other dueler.

Unless of course, you planned on dueling Kaiba, and you had the right combination of cards.

Now that he thought about it, it had actually been Akashi that had somehow managed to get this card for him, and told him he would know when to use it. He would have never thought of it himself, but as always, it seemed that Akashi really could see everything. He would have to thank him after this was all over.

“Don’t worry Kaibacchi, I promise I’ll take good care of him! And lucky for you, because of Soul Exchange, I can’t attack this turn!”

Despite his success at managing to do the impossible, Kise knew that if Kaiba was able to counter with a card in his hand or field, he would have no way to recover. He only had one card left face down on the field, and nothing else to play.

“And as a precautionary measure, I’ll pay 2000 life points to keep Mirror Wall on the field!”

With only 1000 life points left, Kise knew that they were nearing the end. But as long as Kaiba had nothing up his sleeve, Kise should be able to finish the match on his next turn.

Kaiba was tense as he drew his next card, anger still flowing through his veins at the sight on his Ultimate Blue-Eyes on the side of his opponent’s field. He hated when people stole his Blue-Eyes, as if they had any right to the card that was his alone! Still, he would make sure that his Blue-Eyes was back with its rightful owner.

“Nothing pisses me off more than my dragons being taken from me, so watch me reclaim it!”

Kaiba then placed a card on the field.

“First, I activate Silver’s Cry from my hand, which lets me bring back my Neo Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon from the graveyard!”

For the second time during their game, the mighty three headed dragon appeared in a flurry of lights, taking shape into the identical monster on Kise’s side, only brighter and shinier than its counterparts from the glowing accents across its body.

Kise grimaced. Even though Neo Blue-Eyes was still weaker than his Dragon Master Knight, he didn’t doubt that Kaiba might have an attack boosting card that could give him the advantage, or something else up his sleeve.

“Next, I’ll sacrifice my Assault Wyvern, to activate this!”

Kaiba’s face down card activated, and Kise’s eyes wideded at the sight.

“No!”

“Yes! I activate my enemy controller to take back my Blue-Eyes, and your Soldier! Left, right, A, B!”

With Kaiba’s words, the buttons on the controller hologram were pressed, and the cord struck out towards Kise’s Master Knight.

“Not so fast Kaibacchi!”

Kise said, and his own face down card revealed, making Kaiba frown and glare at Kise.

“I activate my Riryoku Shield, and stop your enemy controller in its tracks!”

The three headed dragon roared as the controller ricochetted off its body, and Kaiba growled as his plan to reclaim his dragon failed.

“I end my turn.”

Once again, Mokuba couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Despite managing to constantly bring back his most powerful monster, Kise was still managing to counter his brother’s attacks, and now, even with Neo Blue-eyes on the field, it was still too weak to take on Master Knight. Was his brother actually going to lose?

Kise couldn’t believe what was happening. His heart was pounding in his chest so hard he could hear it in his own ears, his breathing had quickened slightly, and he was hyper aware of everything around him. This was almost the same feelings he felt on a court, on the last minute of play, with the score practically tied. And as he drew his next card, Kise knew that he might actually do it.

He might actually win.

With no more cards left on the field, and only one card in his hand, Kise couldn’t see how Kaiba could possibly counter his next attack, specially with the card he just drew.

“Alright Kaibacchi, this match was everything I hoped for and more! You really are amazing! I’ve only ever had this much fun during a basketball game!”

Kaiba grinned.

“You speak as if you’ve won.”

Kise blinked, but figured it was Kaiba just putting up a tough front.

“You’re right, I haven’t won yet, so why don’t we get the ball rolling!”

In one fluid motion, Kise placed down the card he had just drawn.

“I activate my Monster Reborn! And I use it to summon the one and many, Copycat!”

As the clownlike monster returned to the field, Kise grinned. How fitting it seemed to have this card give the final blow.

“And you guessed it! I choose your Neo Blue-Eyes to copy! So it ends here Kaibacchi!”

As if in preparation, Kise’s Dragon Master Knight reared back in preparation, as if it was expecting Kise’s next command.

“Attack, Dragon Master Knight! Destroy his Neo Blue-Eyes! Dragon Saber Blast!”

With a roar and grunt from his Dragon and Soldier, the massive beast attacked, the Knight atop of it urging it forward with a cry and its own attack from its blade.

As the blasts of energy hits its target, the opposing Blue-Eyes gave one last pained cry before it was destroyed, and Kaiba lost 500 life points.

“And this is it Kaiba! You’re defenseless! So go, Copycat! Attack!’

Kaiba smirked.

“Hold it right there!” Kaiba cried out as he set down a monster card in defense mode, and Kise’s eyes widened.

“Because when a Blue-Eyes of mine is destroyed, I can special summon this card from my hand! Meet my Deep-Eyes White Dragon!”

In an even more magnificent display than that of his Neo Blue-Eyes, the unfamilliar monster to Kise was summoned as if he was coming from space itself, a dragon that appeared even larger than all of Kaiba’s previous dragons. This dragon looked to be made out of pure platinum, with its large wingspan covered in glowing diamons, and an arc across its back that made Kise think of an Angelic figure.

Kise felt his heart quicken, not sure what to expect from Kaiba’s new monster, but took notice of it’s 0 attack and 0 defense points, which meant he could still be destroyed.

“Either way Kaibacchi, your monster can’t stand up to my Copycat’s 4500 attack points!”

Rather than looked perturbed by the proclamation, Kaiba only looked on calmly.

“You’re right, but its too bad you’ve already lost!”

Kise frowned, not liking Kaiba’s look of confidence.

“Because you see, when Deep-Eyes is summoned this way, his special ability activates! And for every dragon in my graveyard with a different name, you lose 600 life points, making it more than enough to wipe out the rest of your life points!”

Kise gasped, and realized the truth of his words. Kaiba had more than enough dragons in his graveyard to wipe out the rest of his life points, and Kise had no cards to counter it!

“So go forth, Deep-Eyes, destroy Kise’s life points!”

With an earth-shattering roar, the arc upon the dragon’s back and wings lit up, and a blast of pure white energy shot out towards Kise, forcing him to cover his eyes with both arms.

“Argh!” Kise cried out, and watched through barely-opened eyes as his life points dropped to zero.

“Game over, kid!”

Kise felt himself deflate in a familiar manner. He had been so sure he would win, but Kaiba was able to best him at the last possible second.

As the lights died down and the room returned to normal, Kise felt the familiar bitterness of losing in the pit of his stomach, and he clenched his hands into fists.

But despite that, there was something else coursing through him. Kise was surprised to feel himself smiling. Smiling as the adrenaline still coursed through his body, as his heart continued to hammer in his chest from the excitement he felt.

From his side, Mokuba looked at Kise with concern. He hadn’t yet moved or said anything else, and the way that his head was bowed low made him want to go over to the younger man and ask if he was okay. He knew that for people like Kise and his brother, losing was hard.

Kaiba only looked on at the boy, waiting for his reaction. Kise Ryota was indeed a good player, had he participated in the previous tournaments of years past, Kaiba had no doubt that he would have been a remembered name. It was a miracle he hadn’t heard of him before. After all, it was rare when Kaiba played a match this close, and those he had experienced such matches had usually been the result of foul play. But Kise had played fair and square, and managed to counter and challenge him constantly. No turn that either took had been meaningless, and for a second, Kaiba truly had thought he might not win.

Both Kaiba brothers were surprised when Kise finally looked up, a broad grin on his face and his golden eyes shining brightly as he looked at Kaiba.

“Again!” he said, “Let’s play again!”

Kaiba blinked as he looked at the blonde man. Rather than look defeated and destroyed, it looked as if he was even more eager than when he first came in.

“Are you an idiot? Do you really want to lose again?”

Kise grinned.

“C’mon Kaibacchi! Even you have to admit that was a close duel! Give me another shot! I know I can win!”

The look on Kise Ryota’s face told Kaiba that he didn’t intend on backing down, and Kaiba actually considered his request. Now that they knew what to expect from each other, it was true that they might try different strategies. And if Kaiba was honest with himself, it had been a long time since he had played such a good match with someone who could keep him on his toes. Not to mention, he was curious at what else Kise had up his sleeve.

After a moment of silence, Kaiba sighed.

“Fine, if you want to lose so bad, we’ll duel again.”

Kise wasn’t the only one that was surprised by Kaiba’s response, as Mokuba looked at his brother in shock. Was Kaiba really agreeing to play again? His brother certainly wasn’t known to play casually. He had already answered Kise’s challenge, beat him fairly. His brother wasn’t known to play rematches against people that had lost against him, and once someone lost to him, he tended to never bother playing them again. It was only gainst Yugi that Kaiba had ever insisted on playing multiple times, and only because Yugi had always bested him.

But this time, Kaiba really had no reason to play again. Could it be, that he was only playing for fun?

Mokuba blinked.

His brother never played for fun…was this really going on? Had Kise really managed to convince his brother to play without any stakes but for the sake of playing?

Kise on the other hand,  thought nothing more as he pumped his fist into the air.

Yes! Let’s go again Kaibacchi!”

Chapter Text

As it turned out, they played two more matches. The second had ended in an unexpected tie, which led to the third, which Kaiba once again won, and barely. After that, it was only thanks to Mokuba’s insistence that they take a break that they stopped, and mostly because it was Kise that insisted he was sure he could win the next duel.

“It’s late Kise, why don’t you join us for dinner tonight? Our treat?”

It was then that Kise took the time to look at his watch and the time.

“Oh man, it is getting late! I still have to look at the train schedule to get home!”

At his comment, Mokuba remembered that Kise really did live quite a way from them, but he’d hate to send him home without food after having him here all day. It just didn’t seem right.

“Don’t worry about that, let’s get some food and we’ll figure out rides home later.”

Kise seemed torn on the matter, the struggle showing clearly on his face before he sighed, one of his hands slipping into his pocket as he conceded.

“Sure okay, it would be nice to spend more time with you. Kaibacchi, you’ll join us right?” Kise’s eyes practically glittered, and Kaiba had to look away at the obvious excitement on his face.

“Only because its Mokuba’s last night here.”

At the realization, Kise looked back to Mokuba who was nodding.

“Yeah, I go back to America tomorrow!”

Kise had forgotten that Mokuba was only visiting. He did say he was spending his vacation in his home town with his brother. Now he felt guilty about intruding on their time.

“Are you sure you want me to go with you then? I’d hate to get between you on your last night here…”

Mokuba shook his head.

“Please, I’ve had twenty-one years with Seto, a dinner will hardly be getting in the way.”

Kise looked to see if Kaiba would object, only to see that he was just finishing a call on his cell phone.

“Reservations are made. Let’s go. Whether you want to come or not is your choice, kid.”

Kaiba didn’t wait for a response as he turned and walked towards the elevator, and Kise shared a look with Mokuba as the older smiled encouragingly. Kise had to admit, it wasn’t everyday he would get an invitation to eat with one of his childhood idols and most successful businessmen in the country.

“Alright, thanks for having me!” with a smile and a hop in his step, Kise followed after the Kaiba brothers.


The car ride to the restaurant was spent with Mokuba and Kise telling Kaiba what they had done all day, and all that Kise had learned about what went into the products and software.

Half-way to their destination however, the sound of Kise’s phone ringing paused the conversation, and Kise took out his phone to see just who was calling. Seeing the familiar name, Kise looked at the brothers apologetically.

“Sorry, I have to take this.”

The brother nodded their consent and Kise answered his phone.

“Ah, good evening Akashicchi!” Kise answered, his voice surprisingly subdued for the excitable young man.

“Good evening Kise,” the familiar deep but soothing baritone answered from the other end, “I thought I would call to see how your match against Seto Kaiba went. It was today, was it not?”

Kise blinked, since he didn’t remember telling his friends when exactly he planned to duel Kaiba, and wondered how Akashi had known. Then again, it was Akashi, and there were few things he didn’t know.

“Ah yes, it was. I’m afraid I didn’t win though. Kaibacchi is as good as ever. But I did come close, thanks to the card you gave me!”

At the mention of his name and cards, Kaiba couldn’t help but listen in on Kise's conversation. Whoever he was speaking to, it seemed they were responsible for giving Kise one of his cards, and considering how many rare cards he had shown to have, it could be any one of them.

“I see. I’m glad the card I gave you was of use to you, and despite the outcome of your duel, there might be a chance yet to win by altering your deck accordingly.”

Kise smiled at Akashi’s words of encouragement. While the call had been unexpected, he couldn’t say it was unappreciated. Like all of them, Akashi had changed a great deal from the absolute Emperor he had once made himself out to be, and while he was as imposing as ever, he was glad that his cold façade had thawed into the caring and efficient leader he had always been.

“I couldn’t agree more, I’ll make sure to improve my deck!”

“Very well, be proud of your accomplishments, Kise. Not everyone has the honor of battling Seto Kaiba. If you need any more help, don’t hesitate to come to me.”

Kise smiled brightly, warmth pooling in the pit of his stomach at Akashi’s words.

“Thanks Akashicchi! I will! Thanks for checking in with me, it means a lot to me.”

There was a thoughtful noise on the phone, and Kise could picture Akashi’s smile in his mind.

“It is no trouble. Have a good rest of your night, Kise.”

“Same to you, Akashicchi.”

Kise hung up the phone, and beamed at the two brothers who turned their attention back to him.

“Sorry, that was my middle school captain, Akashi Seijuro.”

Kaiba blinked, the name sounding familiar to his ears.

“Akashi? Is he by chance related to the Akashi Conglomerate?”

Kise nodded, not surprised that Kaiba was able to make the connection from the name.

“Yeah actually, Akashicchi is the heir, a very capable one at that! I respect him a lot. He’s a great leader, thanks to him, we were unstoppable in middle school, and managed not to kill each other. Not to mention his current team has won most of the past few basketball championships. In fact, it was Akashicchi that gave me the Dragon Master Knight card. At the time, I thought he was insane to give me a card I didn’t think I’d ever be able to use, but he sure proved me wrong as soon as I saw the combo during our game.”

Kaiba couldn’t help but be impressed. The Akashi Conglomerate was indeed a superpower in the corporate world, and to think that the heir to such a company actually dedicated his time to a sport. Being an heir himself, when he was sixteen, he had already taken over KaibaCorp, and although the circumstances had been different, he couldn’t imagine doing something like a club activity instead of learning how to run a company.

Then again, from the way Kise spoke of the Akashi heir, it seemed that he was more than capable of taking on a club activity atop of what was expected from him as heir. In fact, the fact that he had the precognition of giving Kise such a specific card, not to mention rare, that could only be summoned under the smallest of conditions spoke volumes. If he could apply that kind of intuition in the corporate world, then he could see the young heir be quite the formidable businessman.

Kaiba also had to give Kise props for being able to see the combo as soon as it became available. Not everyone was able to do that.

“I’ve seen some of his plays, and to be an heir too, he’s amazing! Then again, all of the Generation of Miracles are pretty amazing…” Mokuba spoke up.

Kise visibly brightened up with pride.

“Yeah, everyone is amazing. It’s only thanks to them that I’ve stuck with basketball for so long!” Kise confided.

“What do you mean?” Mokuba asked.

Kise looked sheepish.

“Well, once I started playing all kinds of sports, it didn’t take long before I mastered them and, no offense to the players, but no one could really give me a challenge, and it got boring after a while so I would quit after only a year or less. Then in middle school, when I met everyone in Teiko, it was like finally finding players that could challenge me. I could never copy them until high school, and even then, going up against them is a challenge!”

Mokuba couldn’t say he was surprised from what Kise said. It was easy to see how he could quickly master a sport and finding players on the same caliber as the Generation of Miracles was rare enough, to find five in one school was practically unheard of.

Kaiba on the other hand, couldn’t help but relate to Kise’s words. Growing up, he had been raised to believe winning was everything, and to him, winning came easy. In Duel Monsters, no one could come close to defeating him. And until he met Yugi, he had been practically invincible. And it was only after meeting and being defeating by Yugi and Atem that Duel Monsters began to be enjoyable again. The thrill of knowing he might lose, was better than the certainty that he would win. The frustration when losing however, was just as bitter.

“Well Kise, I gotta say, out of all the Generation of Miracles, you’ve always been my favorite!” Mokuba said as he smiled at Kise, who looked shocked at Mokuba’s confession.

“W-what? Why? Are you sure you’re not just saying that?” there was a small blush across Kise’s cheeks, and Mokuba laughed.

“I’m serious! I mean, look at you. You joined basketball much later than everyone, and not only that, you can do everything everyone else can do and more! You’re so versatile, and can play just about any position. I mean, take Aomine, the ace, for example! He’s been playing since he was a kid, and yet you’re able to match him perfectly! You’re the entire Generation of Miracles in one!”

Kise was used to praise. In fact, most of his life had included constant praise by others. Whether it was his looks, or his athletic abilities, there was never shortage of praise. Sure, there were still people that tried to tear him down, but he had learned to see those comments as ones made from jealousy, and they never much bothered him.

Still, to be told that he was the best out of all the Generation of Miracles? Well, Kise couldn’t imagine a higher praise than that.

Kise blinked, his lips forming a thin line, before he practically threw himself against Mokuba, wrapping his arms around him in a tight hug.

“Mokubacchi!” Kise cried out dramatically, “You’re too kind! I’m not worthy!”

Mokuba laughed, and Kaiba rolled his eyes at the display.

Thank goodness they were practically at the restaurant.


By the time they had been sat down at a table, Kise was glad he had sort of dressed up for the occasion. While Kaiba hadn’t chosen an over-the-top restaurant, Kise still managed to feel underdressed. Still, from the way they had been greeted and escorted to their table without hesitation, it was obvious to Kise that this restaurant would have served them if Kise had come in his pajamas from the way the staff practically groveled for Seto Kaiba. To be expected for the CEO of what was no doubt the most successful company in the city of Domino.

The restaurant Kaiba had chosen was at the top floor of one of the buildings in the city, with large windows that showed an amazing view of the city beyond, and the sun had set so that the city lights came alive. Kise tried not to seem as overwhelmed as he felt. To think, that not only was he able to challenge Seto Kaiba to a duel, but he was having dinner with him and his brother! Even if Kise had lost, this was more than enough to shake the bitter taste of defeat.

As Kise opened his menu, his eyes widened at the prices of the food.

“Neh… Kaibacchi, Mokubacchi… this is nice and all… but this food is pricey…”

“Hey, we said our treat! Don’t worry about it, money is of no consequence,” Mokuba reassured him.

“Seriously kid, don’t sweat it, but if you don’t want to eat, it’s your choice,” Kaiba also added.

Kise pouted, but knew that for the owners of a multi-billion dollar company, money really was of no concern. Still…

“Neh Kaibacchi… can you stop calling me kid? My name is Kise Ryota. Ki-se Ry-o-ta.” he said, sending Kaiba a small glower and pronouncing each syllable in his name.

Kaiba only smirked.

“Sure, I’ll stop calling you kid when you drop the –cchi on my name,” Kaiba replied.

Kise sighed.

“Well that’s not happening. I like calling you Kaibacchi, it suits you.”

Kaiba returned to his menu.

“Well there’s your answer.”

Kise looked to Mokuba, as if to plead to talk sense to his brother, only for Mokuba to shrug as if to say there was nothing he could do on the matter.

The matter was dropped, and it wasn’t long before all three had their drinks and food in front of them. And as soon as Kise had the first bite of the steak he had ordered, he felt as if he was in heaven. It was no doubt the best steak he had ever eaten, and it better damn well have been from the price of the meal. He also wasn’t disappointed by the potatoes, and even his side salad was among the best he could ever remember having.

“Man, if being rich means eating like this all the time, I might actually have to go pro in basketball!”

Kise said as he finished another bite.

“I support that decision!” Mokuba replied, “I would love to see you play in the big leagues!”

Kise smiled at the sincerity and excitement in Mokuba’s voice, but deflated when he remembered the reason he didn’t think he could get into big leagues.

“Well, I guess it would be nice, but even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could get into the pros,” Kise admitted, the admittance of it taking some of his appetite away.

Mokuba blinked in confusion, and even Kaiba’s interest looked piqued.

“Why do you say that?” Mokuba asked, “You’re amazing! How could you not be picked by a pro team?”

Kise sighed dejectedly.

“Well, during my first year of high school, I had an injury during a game. I was stubborn and didn’t rest or let it heal properly, and during another game, another player purposely hurt my leg even more. It’s one of the reasons my stamina isn’t as good as it could be, and why even though I can still play better than most average high school players, it’s hard to go up against really good players like the Generation of Miracles, and I’m sure it would be harder with pro-level players.”

Mokuba frowned.

“What a jerk! Are you saying your leg injury never healed properly, and you’re still able to play as good as you do? That makes you even more amazing Kise!” Mokuba replied, smiling excitedly at Kise, who blinked in confusion.

He had never really looked at it that way, but even so, it just meant that even if he had once had the potential to be better, that potential had been squashed the moment his leg held him back. Thinking about it made him look down at his plate, not being able to feel worthy of Mokuba’s stare.

“I mean… not really. Because of that injury, I can’t hold out long enough to keep a point gap or get ahead when it comes to the strongest teams. I’ve been lucky a few times, and some of the new underclassmen have really changed the dynamics for the better, and that’s probably the only reason why we’ve managed to win as many games as we have. Especially when the others go into the zone! Individually, I can’t hold a candle to them.”

Mokuba knew exactly what he meant, since he had seen some of the players in times when they were especially amazing and unstoppable.

Kaiba was surprised to see Kise speaking so lowly of himself, for someone that seemed to exude confidence and optimism. In fact, it was the last thing he expected to come out of his mouth after he had the audacity to challenge him to a duel. But it did explain one thing.

“Tell me kid, wasn’t that guy you played against in your match that Mokuba and I went to considered the Ace of the little group of prodigies you belong to?”

Kise blinked, surprised that Kaiba had spoken up and remembered such a detail from the match they had seen. Nevertheless, Kise nodded.

“Ah… yeah. I’ve always thought Aominecchi was the best individually. I don’t think even Akashicchi could beat him alone. Akashicchi’s true strength is in the way he can use those around him.”

Kaiba folded his hands in front of him, and stared at Kise straight in the eye in the way that made Kise tense. It was as if Kaiba was staring at his very soul, as if he was challenging him to question what he was about to say. It was the kind of pressure Kise had only ever felt on the court, making the back of his neck sweat slightly.

“From where I was sitting, it seemed to me as if you were handling yourself just fine against this Aomine. In fact, it seemed to me as if not only were you a perfect match, you had more in your arsenal than he did. If you didn’t win, it wasn’t because of your lack of skill, but because you gave up before the game was even over.”

Kise felt Kaiba’s words sting to his core, making his fists clench against his thighs as he looked away from his gaze and away, a frown on his face.

Kise wanted to protest. He wanted to deny Kaiba’s claim.

After all, what did he know?

What did Seto Kaiba know of just how hard he had tried, how he had never given up, but how he had never been good enough. That no matter how hard he tried, he always fell short? This past year had been nothing but constant reminders that he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t get better. What did a successful billionaire know of failure?

But he did know.

Kaiba prided himself in his ability to distinguish winners from losers, and the look of someone who didn’t give up versus someone that did. During tournaments and duels, Kaiba had seen time and time again the very moment when someone gave up. Back then, it always gave him a sense of superiority at being able to crush his opponents to the point that they gave up before the last card was even played. After defeating countless of people, Kaiba knew the signs enough to recognize them in any medium. And as he watched the final play between Aomine and Kise, Kaiba had seen the very moment in which Kise had given up.

Whether Kise would come to terms with it or not was a different issue.

“Ah, so guys, any dessert? Because I could sure use some dessert!” Mokuba spoke up, wanting to move past an obviously uncomfortable situation as Kise still hadn’t replied to Kaiba’s comment.

Kise was quick to take the out.

“Ah me! I love dessert! I can only imagine how good their dessert is here! What do you wanna get Mokubacchi?”

Kise ended up getting their specialty cheesecake, while Mokuba got a type of chocolate cake, and to the surprise of Kise, even Kaiba got a dessert; a type of tiramisu.

As Kise savored his dessert, he never wanted to finish it, and long after Kaiba and Mokuba had finished theirs, Kise still had some of his.

“Will you hurry up and finish your food, or do you plan on staying here all night?” Kaiba chastised as rested his cheek on the back of one hand and glared at Kise.

Kise only grinned and stuck his tongue out at the older man.

“Listen Kaibacchi, I might never have a dessert this good again! I’m trying to savor it!”

Kaiba blinked and sighed, before pressing the button on the table that would flag their waitress to them.

In less than what felt like thirty seconds, the young woman was at their table, smiling brightly at Kaiba and asking what she could do for him.

“Check, and another of those desserts to go,” Kaiba replied, barely looking at the girl who had been ogling him the entire night, and pointed to Kise’s dessert.

Kise blinked in surprise, but didn’t have time to stop the girl as she walked away to do as told.

“Kaibacchi! Are you serious?” Kise protested.

“What? If it’ll make you finish your food faster.”

Mokuba laughed, seeing on Kise’s face that he was not so secretly pleased.

It was true though, it was getting late, and Kise still hadn’t looked at train schedules! He had been so caught up in listening to Mokuba talk about his studies overseas, and all the fun and adventures he had gone on, that he had forgotten about his own situation.

“Well we can’t leave until I know the train schedules! Let me look it up.”

Kise took out his phone and pulled up the schedules he had used to get to Domino City, and while there were still trains heading out from Domino, Kise was able to see a problem.

“Uh oh…” he said aloud, looking over the train schedule again to see if he saw wrong, and groaned when he saw that he had seen right.

“What is it, Kise?” Mokuba asked, looking concerned.

Kise looked up with a worried expression.

“Well… It looks like there’s no more trains going out from the station where I switched trains by the time I get there… so I’d be stuck there until morning.”

Mokuba grinned.

“Oh, well that’s no problem. Just stay with us for the night! And you can go back tomorrow,” Mokuba offered.

“Really?” Kise asked, his face lighting up as relief filled him.

Mokuba nodded.

“Of course, as if we would leave you stranded!” He replied, then looked at Kaiba, “Right Seto?”

Kaiba scoffed.

“Well, he’s already stayed this long,” he replied.

Kise grinned.

“You guys are the best!”


Kise should have known.

Really, what was he supposed to expect from a man that made sure he had the tallest tower in Domino City? The man who apparently even had his own private jet that looked like a Blue-Eyes White Dragon!

Of course he would have a huge mansion as his home.

Kise would bet Kaiba’s middle name was ‘Luxury’, and even his home showed it.

As if the long driveway and gated entrance wasn’t enough, the home practically lit up the sky from the dozens of many large windows along what Kise could see as two floors, while the entire home looked to be the same length as his apartment complex that housed at least 15 apartments.

It was made out of reddish-brown bricks, and looked like a traditional mansion rather than a modern one. The grass and surroundings bushes and trees were perfectly maintained, not a stone out of place.

“Nice place,” Kise commented as he exited the car that took them to the mansion’s entrance.

“Thanks,” Mokuba replied with a smile as he followed after Kaiba into the mansion.

As expected, the inside was just as impressive. Upon entering, Kise was greeted by two staircases leading up to the second floor, one to his left and the other to the right. In front of him was a large open space, with white stone-like walls that made Kise think of a roman temple, especially with the statues at the base of the stairs, and the large paintings along the walls of what looked to be oil paintings of perhaps Kaiba’s family? He saw a resemblance from the woman seating on the chair with long blue hair with Mokuba, and the resemblance to Kaiba from the man standing beside her, with his brown hair and angular features.

There was also a painting of Kaiba and Mokuba as children, and a more up to date painting of them that must have been within the past few years as Mokuba’s hair was a bit shorter.

The remainder of the room was furnished with a few couches along the walls, rugs, and a table.

Overall, the inside of the home exuded an air of sophistication and power.

Did Kaiba really live in this huge place by himself with Mokuba off overseas? How did he do it? Didn’t he get lonely?

“Wanna play some video games?” Mokuba offered, and Kise looked at him in surprise.

For some reason, the suggestion of video games was the last thing Kise expected when in a mansion.

“C’mon! We have an awesome game room!”  Mokuba urged as he led the way to the stairs on the right.

Kise smiled and saw that despite Mokuba being a few years older than him, he had an air of innocence that Kise found endearing.

Well, a game room sounded about right for the Kaiba brothers.

“Alright Mokubacchi! Although I gotta be honest… I’m not very good at video games…” Kise admitted with a laugh as he followed him up.

Mokuba paused mid-way up the stairs, making Kise almost run into him, and saw that Mokuba was looking across to the other stairs, where Kaiba was walking up.

“Seto! Feel free to join us!” Mokuba called out encouragingly, and Kaiba only nodded and spared them a brief glance before continuing his way up the stairs to his own destination in the large home.

Kise continued to follow Mokuba, taking in the seemingly long hallway with many doors and more paintings and furnishings.

“This place is huge, have you lived here your entire life?” Kise asked.

Mokuba turned to glance at him and nodded.

“Yeah, we’ve lived here since we were adopted, but to be honest, we were so busy while growing up that we hardly spent time here. There were so many nights spent in headquarters when Seto first took over that we have our rooms there, and even now, Seto has a penthouse in the city for when he doesn’t want to come all the way here.”

Kise looked at Mokuba in wonder. He couldn’t imagine having the luxury of choosing where to spend the night every day, and owning multiple homes at that. More than that, he couldn’t decide if that was a burden or a freedom in on itself…

“Here we are, this is actually my first time in here in months!” Mokuba said as he turned on the lights, bathing the large room in bright lighting, and as expected, the room as was impressive as the rest of the house.

There were actually two large flat screen curved TV’s on adjacent deep blue colored walls, with plenty of shelf material lined with movies and games alike, couches and reclining chairs arranged perfectly around the TV’s, a pool table, dart board, and even what looked like a bar, with more appliances than Kise could make sense of.

Mokuba grinned at Kise’s surprised face.

“My brother and I used to sneak in here during the middle of the night after he was done with his studies, and sometimes our stepfather would let us spend our birthdays here, but other than that, it’s been kind of left alone. But since my brother still gets new games and consoles for free from other gaming companies and systems since a lot of our tech is used by them, we pretty much have anything you would want to play that’s out right now.”

Kise nodded in understanding, but was still surprised. He knew that KaibaCorp was big, but he didn’t know that it was so widely used!

“Yeah! There’s this new game that came out that we should play. It’s called Overclock! And then there’s the new Final Fantasia which I heard is also good,” Mokuba said excitedly.

Kise had heard of them from classmates, and many had pushed him to get them, which was hard to do considering he didn’t even own a console to begin with.

Kise smiled sheepishly.

“Which do you think would be easier for me?”

Mokuba grinned.

And that’s how an hour and a half hour later, Kise and Mokuba were on the floor, laughing as they played Marlo Kart for the tenth race, with Kise slowly getting better with each race but not good enough to dethrone Mokuba from his 10th win. They had played a few other games, but it turned out Kise was awful at shooter games, too scared to play horror games, and had no attention span when it came to open world and puzzle games.

The two found it easy to be in each other’s company, making it easy to talk and play while sharing stories about themselves and their lives. Mokuba had even told Kise about Idania, and their most recent trip to Nicaragua where he had seen her and realized he liked her more than he thought.

“Do you want to make it official with her?” Kise asked, just barely dogging a banana peel left behind by one of the NPC’s and activating the torpedo that he had just collected, propelling him into 6th place.

Mokuba sighed, expertly countering a red shell sent his way with a banana, and giving himself a speed boost as he rounded a sharp corner.

“I don’t know. I think I do want to, but I don’t know if I should. Long distance relationships are hard, not to mention we’re from two completely different countries, with different native languages, and our common language isn’t even one of them. I mean, if I couldn’t even make it work with a girl that lived on the same campus as me, what makes me think I can make it work with a girl that lives a whole continent away?” Mokuba pondered.

Kise hummed in thought, groaning when he was hit by a star-powered NPC.

“Well, for one, Idania is a different girl than the other one. Just because your first relationship didn’t work out, doesn’t mean it won’t work with Idania. She sounds like a much more kind and understanding girl, and you have been talking to her for a year already. She hasn’t pushed you into anything, and seems content with the time you do give her. It sounds like the complete opposite of the first girl you told me about.”

Mokuba blinked and thought on Kise’s words.

“I guess you have a point…” Mokuba said. Who knew Kise was good with relationship advice?

“And you know what they say Mokubacchi, it’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all!” Kise said dramatically, and Mokuba laughed.

“That’s so cheesy! Anyway, what about you? Have you had a serious girlfriend?” Mokuba asked, and Kise’s grip on his remote tightened slightly.

“Ah well, I did date someone a bit ago for about a year. We broke up a few months ago, but we’re still good friends,” Kise replied, deciding it was best not to share the fact it had been a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend. After all, no matter how much he liked Mokuba, he had still only known him for a short time. Not enough time to know whether he could openly come out to the man, and especially not when he didn’t have a place to stay for the night. Mokuba seemed like a great and understanding guy, but a topic like his sexuality was a little more sensitive than he was comfortable discussing on their first time hanging out.

“Ah well at least it doesn’t sound like it ended badly. And I bet there’s a bunch of girls lining up for you, basketball prodigy and all,” Mokuba said, just as he passed the finish line in the expected 1st place.

Kise chuckled nervously.

“Yeah, you could say that…” he said, thinking of his fan clubs.

Not that he was interested in any of them.

“We should play Ketten next. It’s a fighting game that should be easy enough for you,” Mokuba suggested as they finished the last race of the Grand Prix, with Mokuba ending in 1st place while Kise in 5th, a vast improvement from the first race they played.

“Sure! Not that I think I stand a chance against you,” Kise said as he tried to make himself more comfortable on the floor, his jeans rubbing up on him uncomfortably as he did so.

“Hey, do you mind if I borrow some clothes to change into?” Kise cut in before Mokuba could change the game.

“Oh yeah, of course! You’re probably better off borrowing from my brother though, his clothes will probably fit you better.”

It was true, Kise and Kaiba were about the same height and build, with Kise maybe having a slightly broader build from playing basketball while Kaiba was an inch taller. Mokuba’s clothes would probably be a little too snug on him now that he thought about it.

“That’s a good idea, is his room just down the hall? I’ll ask him,” Kise said, already getting up from the floor.

Mokuba nodded.

“Yeah, I’ll walk you over and then change too, Seto might be in his office.”

Well, that wouldn’t surprise him at all. From what Mokuba had told him, it seemed as if all Kaiba did was work, but given his position, it was no wonder.

As Mokuba led the way out of the video game room and down the hallway in the direction Kaiba had gone, Kise tucked his hands into his pant pockets, smiling as he continued to admire the sophisticated décor of a place he never thought he would find himself in. It was as if one moment Duel Monsters had been a thing of his past, and the next, all at once, KaibaCorp brings it back into his life, along with the Kaiba brothers themselves.

Who would have thought that Mokuba had followed his basketball career despite being oversees for his studies? He had said that it was mostly due to Kaijo’s new assistant coach who was Mokuba’s good friend for introducing him to their team in particular, but what were the chances of that? And to have met them just weeks after learning of the modeling job for KaibaCorp? And now here he was, spending the night after being able to challenge Seto Kaiba himself to a duel? Kise could hardly believe it. Still, he couldn’t help but hope that he could become good friends with the brothers. Mokuba was a good and caring guy, and according to Mokuba, Kaiba only had one good friend, the King of Games himself as it turned out.

For some reason, Kise wanted to be Kaiba’s friend. Perhaps because from what Mokuba had said, it seemed as if maybe Kaiba could use more than just one close friend and his little brother.

“Here we are,” Mokuba said as they approached one of the many doors along this hallway, before bringing back his hand and knocking against the door.

“Seto?” he called out, and as the two men waited for a moment and no answer came, Mokuba turned the knob and opened the door, peeking inside, and seeing that the lights were off, turned them on.

Mokuba looked inside before turning back to Kise.

“Yeah, he’s definitely in his office. But he won’t mind if you borrow some clothes, I’ll give them to you,” he said, and motioned for Kise to follow him in.

Kise felt a little uneasy about going into Kaiba’s room without his permission. He certainly seemed like the kind to mind very much if a stranger invaded his personal space, and despite having Mokuba’s permission, it still felt wrong that it wasn’t coming directly from the owner. Still, Kise made his way into the room, and was surprised to see a simple room with sparse furnishings.

The walls were plain and white, with the exception of the ceiling that was painted black, with a large low riding bed with a large black backboard in the middle of the room against one wall, and matching black nightstands on both sides and a lamp on each. He had a black dresser to another wall, and a reclining chair that was likely a reading area on the opposite side by a large window. The rest of the room was wide open space. 

While he was busy admiring the room, Mokuba had walked into the large walk-in closet and in no time came out with an extra set of clothes.

“Here, I got you some sweatpants and a t-shirt,” Mokuba said as he handed Kise plain gray sweatpants and white t-shirt.

Kise took them with a smile, mentally hoping Kaiba wouldn’t chew him out for borrowing his clothes without his saying so.

“Ah, thanks Mokubacchi,” he said, looking around the room to see if there was maybe an attached bathroom he could use.

“No problem, just come back to the game room when you’re done changing. I’ll show you the guestroom later. I’ll go change too,” Mokuba said as he walked back to the door, and Kise nodded in understanding.

While it did seem that Kaiba had an attached bathroom, Kise decided he might as well change where he was since no one else was in the room. It would take only a second after all. And with that, Kise took sat on the bed, finding himself sink into what was most definitely memory foam and the softest sheets he had ever laid on, making him practically sigh with pleasure as he rolled onto his side, practically nuzzling the material, both his hands caressing the silky material underneath his fingertips.  This was so unfair, no wonder people did awful things for money when luxury meant eating amazing food and sleeping on beds that felt like clouds and water.

After what felt like a few minutes of just enjoying the softness of the bed and sheets, Kise sighed dejectedly as he forced himself to sit up, and finally got to the task of changing.


Kaiba had just finished some progress on his latest personal project, deciding to call it a night since he needed to make a few calls before he could move ahead, and being so late at night, knew those calls wouldn’t be made today.

He thought about Mokuba and his newest, not to mention unexpected, friend, if he could even call him that. He knew Mokuba was a fan of Kise, but he certainly hadn’t expected to find himself face-to-face with the young man in his own company, only for him to challenge him to a duel. It seemed the basketball prodigy was full of surprises.

Kaiba found himself frowning as he thought back to the three duels they had played. Normally, Kaiba would have never given someone who lost to him a second chance. He had always believed a loser was a loser, and there was no almost, or close enough. It was all or nothing, good or bad, win or lose. There were no grays with him. It had always just been easier that way. Was he so bored that he had overlooked his ideology and given in to what should have been a petty request from nothing but a loser? Sure, Kise had proven to be a decent duelist by the combos and counters that he had used. He had definitely been no Joey Wheeler when it came to knowing his way around a deck. Was it that it had been that long since he had had a decent duel? That he was willing to replay the same duelist that had just lost to him only because he was pretty good?

Kaiba shook his head as if to shake the thoughts from his mind as he made it to his room. He was wasting time overthinking irrelevant things. He had done the kid a favor and that was that.

As he turned the knob and opened the door, his gaze was drawn to the now familiar blonde figure of the person he had just been thinking about, his back towards him, and just in time to see the blonde pull his shirt up his body and over his head, revealing the well-defined and lean muscles of his back. Kaiba’s eyes widened at the unexpected sight, before frowning as he came to the realization that someone was in his room without his permission.

Kise on the other hand, froze when the sound of the door opening reached him, his arms pausing in front of him just as he pulled his t-shirt over his head, and turned his neck to see who it was that had opened the door.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Kaiba’s voice pierced through the air, and Kise felt his heart skip a beat and his cheeks flush as Kaiba glowered in his direction before chuckling nervously.

“Ah, Kaibacchi! Mokubacchi said it was okay to borrow some of your clothes for the night. I thought it would be okay to change here!”

Kaiba’s gaze strayed to the folded clothes in front of Kise on the bed and saw the folded sweatpants and plain shirt that told him Kise was telling the truth. His gaze returned to the shirtless man in front of him who remained frozen in place, trying to avoid looking at the lean and defined abdomen that he caught a glimpse of, and focused on the embarrassed look on Kise’s face instead.

Without a word, Kaiba walked over to his closet, and Kise felt a moment of panic as he entertained the thought of putting his shirt back on and running back to Mokuba, only to see Kaiba step back out, a pair of black sweatpants in his hand that he tossed to him, making Kise yelp as he barely caught the material with his arms still wrapped in his shirt.

“Those pants will fit you better,” he said, making Kise blink at the older man in shock, before a smile formed on his lips and his eyes brightened.

Kaiba swore he could go blind from the look of happiness on Kise’s face.

“Thanks Kaibacchi!”

Kaiba however, only glared at him again.

“Just change and get out.”

Kise only smiled wider, before finally fully taking off his shirt and placing it on the bed beside him as he grabbed the shirt Mokuba had given him, and pulled it over his head. It smelled clean and fresh, and Kise felt refreshed with the soft material against his skin. Without thinking, Kise pulled the collar of the shirt to his nose, breathing in the scent once more before looking over at Kaiba whose gaze was still on him.

“Kaibacchi, your clothes smell really good. Can you do my laundry so it smells like this too?”

Kaiba rolled his eyes.

“I’ll make sure to have my cleaning lady stop by your place,” he answered sarcastically, and Kise grinned, before grabbing the new pair of sweats that Kaiba had tossed him.

“Although I’m sure you’re dying to see me take off my pants, I think I’ll change in your bathroom,” Kise teased, and made sure to look and see Kaiba’s reaction, only to be disappointed by the lack of reaction. Seriously, how could this guy have such a good poker face? He was better than Midorima!

“As if I want to see that,” Kaiba retorted, folding his arms in front of him.

Kise stuck his tongue out childishly.

“I’ll have you know some people would kill for the view!” this time, Kise turned away, and made his way to the bathroom door, not waiting for a response as he closed the door behind him.

I’m sure they would…

Kaiba thought to himself, at the same time berating himself for letting his gaze stray to Kise’s backside as he walked away, and for noticing the way his pants hugged him just right in all the right places.

He felt like a dirty old man, taking notice of Kise’s assets. But he would also be blind not to see how ridiculously pretty the boy was. Kise Ryota was as attractive as he was talented, and Kaiba berated himself more for the way he could still recall the brief look he had of the boy’s shirtless torso.

He would be prettier if he wasn’t so loud and obnoxious…

Not to mention how blinding he was when he smiled. He practically glowed. Kaiba had never met someone who smiled as much as Kise had the entire evening they had spent together, no matter how many sarcastic and cutting remarks Kaiba had made towards him.

Kaiba didn’t have much time to linger on those thoughts, before the door opened once more and Kise walked out. Unfortunately for Kaiba, Kise looked just as good in sweatpants, and Kaiba had to keep himself from thinking inappropriate thoughts about the younger man. 

Kise was surprised to see that Kaiba hadn’t moved from his spot and moved to gather the clothes he had left on his bed before turning to the older man once more.

“Why do you smile so much?” Kaiba didn’t know what made him ask, but the question was out of his mouth before he could stop himself.

Kise blinked, honestly shocked by the seemingly random question, before he rubbed his head and thought about the question.

“Hm. Honestly… I don’t think that I smile all that much,” Kise said after a thoughtful moment, making Kaiba frown.

“That’s ridiculous. You’ve been smiling the entire time you’ve been with us,” Kaiba pointed out.

“Well, that’s because I’ve had fun. I didn’t think I would ever meet you, let alone use your latest duel arena and hang out with you guys! The only thing that could have made this better is if I had actually beat you,” Kise replied with a wink, smiling brightly at Kaiba, and spoke again before Kaiba could reply.

“Kaibacchi, you should come play with Mokubacchi and me, we could make it a mini tournament. I think he would really like to play with you again.”

Kaiba was surprised by Kise’s suggestion, which brought back memories of nights that he and Mokuba had spent playing video games in that room, one of the few happy memories he had from his childhood. Had Mokuba shared that part of their childhood to Kise? It sure sounded like it.

“And lucky for you, I’m not nearly as good at video games as I am in basketball and Duel Monsters, so you’ll have no trouble beating me!”

At this, Kaiba raised an eyebrow, amusement in his blue eyes.

“And this is supposed to be different from our duels today, how?” Kaiba asked, smirking when Kise pouted.

“So mean Kaibacchi! I did good and you know it!” he huffed as he also shot a glare at the brunette.

“But seriously, it’s Mokuba’s last night here, we should make it memorable!” Kise added, smiling once more, making Kaiba frown and look away.

“I’ll think about it,” Kaiba finally replied, and Kise beamed before making his way back to the door that would take him back out to the hallway.

“See you soon, Kaibacchi!” Kise said, before closing the door and turning in the direction he hoped would take him back to the game room.

Kaiba glared at the door, hating that Kise had the audacity to think he knew his choice. He hated when people thought they knew him enough to know what his actions would be.

What he hated more though, was the fact that he already knew his decision, and that Kise was right. While he couldn’t promise to join in on their games, Kaiba did want to spend what time he could with his brother. After all, he doubted he would be visiting anytime soon once he went back to his studies.


“Kaibacchi! No fair, you’re cheating! Mokubacchi, he has to be cheating!” Kise cried out as his character was on the receiving end of an onslaught of a barrage of kicks and punches by Kaiba’s character, completely defenseless despite the button smashing on Kise’s part to try and defend even the slightest against him.

Mokuba on the other hand, only laughed as he watched Kaiba knockout Kise’s character for the second time in a row.

“Sorry Kise, Seto has always been the best in Ketten. Even I have a hard time beating him,” he replied.

Kise pouted as the next round began, and yelped when Kaiba’s character advanced.

“But Mokubacchi! You said Kaibacchi was bad at video games!”

Kaiba made a noise akin to a snort and Mokuba laughed nervously.

“Well, he sucks at pretty much every game except Ketten, FPS’s, and MOBA’s.”

Kise blinked. So he wasn’t bad at all… which should be expected from the CEO of a gaming company. Still, how did Kaiba have time to even play games when he was running a company?

 “Oh, and Super Marlo,” Mokuba added, almost as if in afterthought.

At that, Kise couldn’t help but laugh even as his character was once more knocked out while Kaiba’s character remained with perfect health.

“Kaibacchi? Rescuing a princess from a castle and jumping on turtles? Now that I have to see!”

Kise passed the remote to Mokuba, who eagerly took it from him and returned to the main screen where he chose his favorite character while Kaiba chose a different character than the one he had used against Kise.

“Well, too bad you’ll never get to,” Kaiba replied, and Kise couldn’t help but notice how Kaiba straightened when the match against Mokuba began, and he seriously doubted he had looked that focused while he had fought against Kise.

Kise whistled when the match began and Kaiba and Mokuba were evenly matched. Both players stopped talking and focused on the battle in front of them, each doing a good job of blocking each other’s attack, both their defenses impenetrable as they traded attacks.

The first to land a hit was Kaiba, who managed to land a decent combo that depleted Mokuba’s health bar by a quarter, only for Mokuba to retaliate with an even better combo that took half of Kaiba’s health away, making Kise yelp in excitement for the younger brother. Still, it looked like Kaiba was having none of it, executing a perfect jump over Mokuba’s character and blindsiding him, delivering another combo and a special attack that managed to knock out Mokuba’s character, making the younger brother groan.

Kise couldn’t help but look on intently as the brothers faced off, and Mokuba managed to barely win the next two rounds, hooting in excitement each time that he bested his brother. Kise couldn’t help but look at their faces, and was surprised to see a small grin on Kaiba’s face as they began the fourth round, which Kaiba managed to win by a good margin.

“Alright big bro, last round! May the best player win!” Mokuba said, making a show of squaring his shoulders and adjusting his grip on the controller as the countdown began.

Both brothers were fairly cautious the last round, trying to bait an opening from the other player, until finally it looked as if both advanced at the same time, Mokuba going for an attack just a split second too early, enough for Kaiba to retaliate against him and land the first combo. Mokuba groaned aloud and went on the defensive, managing to break Kaiba’s combo and landing his own that did substantial damage, and while Kaiba managed to recover and both players went on the defensive again, Kise decided to watch Kaiba’s face, which he was able to see easily as he had sat down on one of the couches perpendicular to where Kise and Mokuba were sitting on the floor. And it was because he was watching Kaiba’s face that he saw something he would have missed otherwise.

Kise watched as Mokuba laughed at the mocking gesture his character made to Kaiba’s character, and saw how Kaiba’s gaze was drawn to the sound. Kise watched as Kaiba’s blue eyes softened ever so slightly at the sight of his brother laughing, before it returned to the screen where their match was taking place. And Kise knew, without a doubt, that when Mokuba managed to find an opening in Kaiba’s defense and land a combo big enough to knockout Kaiba’s character and win the match, that Kaiba had let him do it.

“Woo Mokubacchi! The reigning champion!” Kise cheered on, raising Mokuba’s arm that was closest to him up into the air like a wrestler after a win, making Mokuba laugh alongside him.

“How do you like that, big bro?!” Mokuba taunted, a huge grin on his face.

Kaiba set the controller down beside him, only to cross his arms and grin.

“You got lucky,” he replied.

“Luck had nothing to do with it!” Mokuba replied, and Kise was right behind him.

Who would have thought, that the great Seto Kaiba would lose a game on purpose just to make his brother happy? It made Kise smile even wider when Mokuba demanded a rematch and Kaiba made a show of not wanting to before giving in and picking up the remote again.

Who would have thought that the so called heartless Seto Kaiba was such a good brother?

Chapter Text

Kaiba found them just as he had left them the night before.

Mokuba and Kise each sprawled out on different couches, Mokuba facing the back of the couch and snoring lightly while Kise lay on his stomach, his arm and leg practically falling off the edge of the couch, a small throw blanket draped over each of them.

Kaiba had left halfway through a movie they insisted on watching, after both had fallen asleep late into the night, when both were too tired to stay awake but not quite ready to call it a night. They only managed to stay awake through one whole movie, and Kise was the first to fall asleep during the second, probably because he had been up so early in order to visit them.

“We should hang out with Kise again, don’t you think Seto?” Mokuba had asked when he noticed Kise had fallen asleep.

Kaiba remembered looking over at the blonde, and for the first time was able to see his face without a blinding smile and bright eyes. He was able to take in the relaxed state, the sharp angles, high cheekbones, the defined nose, and long lashes. Even asleep, Kise Ryota was attractive.

“Hn,” had been his only reply.

Now, it was time for the sleeping figures to wake up and get ready for the day. Kise had to go home, Mokuba had to go back to his studies, and Kaiba had to prepare to go back to work.

So, being the pleasant person he was, grabbed one of the pillows from the foot of Mokuba’s coach, only to toss it in Kise’s direction.

As soon as the decorative pillow hit Kise in the back of his head, he shot up from the coach, yelping and almost falling off the couch as he looked around to see what had hit him, confusion and sleep still in his eyes as he blinked and tried to remember where he was. He felt a moment of panic when he didn’t immediately recognize being in his room, before his gaze settled on the standing figure in the room, and recognizing the imposing figure of Kaiba, remembered just where he had spent the night.

Kise blinked against the grogginess he felt, rubbing his eyes and letting out a yawn.

“Good morning, Kaibacchi… did you throw something at me?” Kise asked.

“It’s late. You should get up and wake up Mokuba. You’re welcome to shower in one of the guest room bathrooms, and breakfast will be ready downstairs once you’re done.”

Kaiba didn’t wait for a response, only turned and walked out of the room, leaving Kise blinking as he tried to process what Kaiba had just said.

Kise stretched, before looking over to where Mokuba was still sleeping, noticing the blanket that had been placed over him and the similar blanket over Mokuba. He didn’t remember getting a blanket… had Mokuba gotten those blankets? Or could it have been Kaiba?

It was hard to picture Kaiba being thoughtful enough to get them blankets, but without thinking too much on the subject, Kise set to do as Kaiba asked, and moved to wake up Mokuba and ask him which bathroom he could use to shower and change.


As Kaiba sat at the head of the dining room table drinking from his coffee mug, he busied himself with reading the latest news that affected him and his company, but saw nothing that concerned him.

“Kaibacchi,” a now familiar voice called out, and Kaiba looked up from his computer to the sight of Kise walking into the room, hair darker and still wet from the shower he must have just finished. He had changed into his clothes from the day before.

“Do you know where Mokuba put my cheesecake last night? I’m really craving it right now,” Kise asked, and Kaiba raised an eyebrow.

“Cheesecake before breakfast?” he asked.

Kise smiled.

“I don’t see why not! It is really good cheesecake,” he said, looking hopeful as he looked at Kaiba.

Kaiba motioned to the arched opening in the wall that led to the adjacent room.

“Check the fridge there,” he said, and Kise brightened before following his instructions.

It didn’t take long before Kise returned, the familiar box that had been given to him the night before on one hand and a fork in the other, before sitting down to the left of Kaiba, opening up the box with the dessert and using the fork he had helped himself to from the kitchen to dig in for the first bite.

The creamy dessert practically melted in Kise’s mouth, and as the flavor assaulted him, Kise couldn’t help but moan at just how delicious it tasted.

Distracted by the sound, Kaiba glanced up to look at him, trying not to stare as Kise savored the dessert and whose face lit up with each small bite that he took. Kaiba narrowed his eyes.

“Is it really that good?” he asked, and Kise paused mid-bite, looking over and blinking at Kaiba, before nodding.

“Yeah! Do you wanna try some?” Kise asked enthusiastically, pointing his fork with a piece of cheesecake towards Kaiba.

“No thanks, I’ll take your word for it,” Kaiba replied, before returning to his computer screen.

Kise on the other hand, frowned.

“C’mon Kaibacchi!” he whined, “You shouldn’t deny the worlds delicacies when they’re right in front of you.”

Kaiba didn’t even spare Kise a glance as he typed something into his computer, and Kise, hating to be ignored, huffed.

Fine, we’ll do this the hard way… Kise thought to himself, a sly smirk forming on his lips as an idea popped into his head.

Kaibacchi,” this time, Kise’s tone was much different. It was softer, with a sing-song quality, bordering on seductive, making Kaiba snap his eyes towards him.

He wasn’t ready for the look on Kise’s face. The look on his face was one that Kaiba was used to seeing in the bedroom, with inviting and half-hooded eyes. He was also leaning forward over the table, holding out the fork towards the young CEO.

“It’s really, really good,” Kise added, voice husky, pushing the fork even closer to Kaiba, who had to remind himself that he should not be swayed by that look on Kise’s face or the sound of his voice, no matter how tempting he found it to lean over and push the blonde onto the table, only to really show him the best way to eat desserts.

Kise thought he saw a flash of something in Kaiba’s eyes that made him think he might relent, only for his blue eyes to return to their usual icy stare.

Kaiba glared at the young and too attractive man, forcing himself to look away from him and back to his laptop.

“I’ll pass,” he said, and Kise deflated, but not quite to the point of giving up.

“Okay then, how about a game?” Kise asked, and once more, Kaiba looked up with mild interest, giving Kise his cue to continue.

“How about a simple game of rock, paper, scissors, and if you win, I’ll leave you alone. But if I win, you have to taste the cheesecake?” Kise explained, a glint in his eyes as Kaiba stared back at him.

Kaiba knew he shouldn’t indulge him. But somehow, Kise knew exactly what to do to lure him in. Kaiba was never one to turn his back on a challenge, no matter how small and petty. He refused to let people have the upper hand.

“Fine.”

Kise grinned, and put down the fork and dessert in order to focus on Kaiba, who also set aside his laptop for the time being, and turned to Kise as he made himself comfortable enough to play the game.

“How does best out of five sound?” Kise asked, and Kaiba glared.

“Makes no difference to me,” he replied.

It wasn’t as if this game took any real skill, which although it bothered Kaiba, still wasn’t enough to have him back down.

Kise readied his hands, and Kaiba sighed as he did the same, already regretting letting Kise talk him into such a pointless game.

“Alright, here we go…” Kise said, “Rock…”

“Paper…”

While Kise tapped his fist against his open palm, Kaiba didn’t repeat the words and only mimicked Kise’s movement as he waited on Kise to call out the final word.

“Scissors!”

Both Kise and Kaiba chose paper, but little did Kaiba know what Kise had a trick up his sleeve.

In the end, Kise used a simpler version of his copy of Emperor Eye to beat Kaiba, and whooped in victory when he chose rock and Kaiba chose scissors for their deciding round.

“I win Kaibacchi!” Kise gloated, clapping his hands together grinning widely.

Kaiba glared.

“Whatever, it’s not like this game takes actual skill,” Kaiba said, and Kise chose not to tell Kaiba about his little trick. Either way, a victory over Seto Kaiba was not to be taken lightly.

That being said, Kise grabbed ahold of the fork he had set down and once more brought the piece of cheesecake towards Kaiba, taking the time to grab a little more than the small bites Kise had been taking.

Kaiba glared and sighed as Kise leaned forward, bringing the fork closer.

“I can eat it by myself,” he cut in, and Kise only smirked.

“Ah, too bad I’m already here,” Kise said as the fork stopped just before Kaiba’s lips.

The young CEO glared defiantly at Kise, who chuckled lightly as he brought the fork even closer.

“C’mon Kaibacchi, say ahhh,” Kise coaxed, making Kaiba glare even harder, “You should know by now I can do this all day.”

Somehow knowing that Kise was right, Kaiba sighed before relenting. He had never been fed anything in his life as far as he could remember, but it was probably better to just get it over with than risk getting cheesecake on his face if he struggled against Kise’s antics.

With that logical decision in mind, Kaiba opened his mouth to wrap his lips around the fork and piece of cheesecake on it, pulling away slowly as he took the dessert into his mouth.

Kise on the other hand, felt his heart skip a beat as he watched Kaiba eat from his outstretched fork. In truth, he hadn’t expected Kaiba to actually let him feed him the dessert, and even less to look him straight in the eye as he took the piece into his mouth. Kise felt his blood pump behind his cheeks as he watched Kaiba’s lips wrap around the fork, so leisurely that Kise wondered if he was taking his time to savor the flavor or to purposely make Kise feel warm from the piercing look in his eyes.

An indirect kiss…

Even though Kise had always known that Kaiba was attractive, in that very moment, he looked more delicious than the cheesecake itself, and Kise momentarily forgot how to breathe.

Kaiba chewed the dessert slowly, savoring the sweetness and the way it dissolved in his mouth. Yet despite the pleasing taste, Kaiba couldn’t help but focus on Kise’s face as he savored it. For once, Kise wasn’t blinding him with a smile, rather, he looked… focused? As if he was fully concentrated on Kaiba’s reaction to the dessert. At the same time, Kaiba couldn’t help but entertain the thought of what it might be like to use the remainder of the cheesecake for other purposes that still included the two of them…

Finally swallowing, Kaiba licked his lips, not missing the way Kise’s gaze darted to his tongue.

“It’s good,” Kaiba said, and Kise blinked, as if brought out of a spell by the sound of Kaiba’s voice.

Kise’s brow furrowed, only for him to put down the fork on the table, and when his hand slowly darted in Kaiba’s direction, Kaiba’s own hand came to intercept him just before Kise could reach for his face, his hand wrapping around Kise’s wrist as his own eyes narrowed.

“What are you doing?” Kaiba asked, voice clipped.

Kise only blinked.

“There’s some cheesecake on you…” he replied casually, and for some reason, Kaiba’s grip on Kise’s wrist loosened but didn’t let go, and Kise focused on the speck of white under Kaiba’s bottom lip, only to close the distance with his thumb and slowly swipe at the stray piece of dessert.

At the touch, Kaiba felt himself tense when a sharp and familiar trill traveled down his spine, making him feel warm as his gaze focused on Kise, whose gaze was on his lips as his own hand tightened around Kise’s wrist, holding him in place.

Kise’s golden eyes darted to meet his own, and as his lips parted, Kaiba could see a burning in his eyes that made his grip on him tighten even more.

“Kaibacchi?” Kise asked softly, and Kaiba found his own eyes travel to the younger man’s lips as he said his name, before looking back to his eyes and face as it seemed to get closer.

Kaiba drew in a sharp breath, not willing to move back from the approaching figure.

“Sorry I took so long!”

Kaiba let go of Kise, who jumped away faster than he ever had at the sound of Mokuba’s voice coming into the room, making the cheesecake and fork clatter to the floor as blood rushed to his face and he looked in the direction of the entrance to the dining room.

Relief flooded his system when he saw that Mokuba was holding a towel in front of as him as he dried his hair, the fabric curtain keeping the other two occupants hidden from his sight that caused him to miss Kise’s behavior.

“Is breakfast ready?” Mokuba asked as he placed the towel around his shoulder and smiled at his brother and Kise, only to see that Kise had bent down to the ground to pick something up.

“What happened?” Mokuba asked.

Kise chuckled nervously from his place on the ground.

“Ah, I just dropped my cheesecake! No biggie Mokubacchi!” he called out, not turning to look at the older man as he used the fork to pick up the pieces of cheesecake from the ground.

Mokuba blinked.

“Do you need help?” he offered.

“Oh no it’s okay! It was my fault, I’ll get it! I just need some napkins” Kise replied in a flurry, picking up the box with ruined cheesecake and rushing to the adjoining kitchen.

Mokuba only made his way over to sit next to his brother, who was now looking intently at his computer as he usually did in the mornings.

“Morning Seto,” Mokuba said as he sat down.

“Morning.”

Mokuba looked around.

“Where’s breakfast?” Mokuba asked, remembering how his stomach had growled earlier.

“It should be ready in a few minutes,” Kaiba answered and Mokuba nodded.

Their food was usually cooked in a separate and bigger kitchen then the one next to this room as this kitchen was more of a snack storage for them after all.


From the other room, Kise was trying to wrap his mind around just what had happened.

His face still felt hot, his heart was still pounding in his chest, and he could still feel a burning and tingling around the wrist that Kaiba had grabbed.

Did I… did we… almost…?

Kise felt his heart speed up as he replayed the scenario in his head, as he remembered the burning look in Kaiba’s eyes, the way he had looked at his lips as his hand tightened on his wrist.

Yeah, there was no doubt in Kise’s mind that if Mokuba hadn’t walked in when he did, Kise would have tried to lean in and kiss the Seto Kaiba.

The biggest question was… would Kaiba had let him?

Kise wanted to say yes. After all, anyone else would have already pushed him away and been freaked out by Kise’s advances. Kise was used to being pushed away. In fact, one of the reasons he found it so easy to tease his friends was because he knew they would just push him away knowing he wasn’t serious.

He had thought Kaiba would do the same, but he hadn’t.

He had let Kise keep going as if to see just how far Kise would go.

Kise resisted the urge to groan.

Why did Seto Kaiba have to be so damn handsome? How was he going to be able to sit through breakfast with him without getting turned on from thinking about what could have happened every time he put something into his mouth?

Worse yet, not only did Kise have his hopes up that maybe Kaiba found him attractive enough to let him kiss him, but he would have to go back home after breakfast, and he doubted they would have a similar opportunity like this one now that Mokuba was in the picture.

What was he going to do?

In that moment, Kise smelled the delicious aroma of food waft into his room, and the sound of plates and utensils being set and arranged on the table.

“Kise, food is ready!” Mokuba called out.

Kise took in a shuddering breath, took one last look at the remains of the delicious cheesecake, and made a silent promise to himself that he wouldn’t let the cheesecake’s sacrifice be in vain.

He would get that kiss from Seto Kaiba.

One way or another.


 

Breakfast had been as tough as Kise thought it would be. He had sat across Mokuba and next to Kaiba at the head, and while the food had been delicious and plentiful, he couldn’t help but sneak glances at Kaiba, who seemed adamant on ignoring Kise unless he asked him a direct question.

Kise already knew his train schedule, and it wouldn’t give him very much extra time after breakfast. Mokuba had already informed their driver who would be dropping them off, and Kise wasn’t even sure if Kaiba would also accompany them.

Still, Kise was overall disappointed that their time was coming to an end. From the sounds of it, it would be months before Mokuba returned, and the two had really connected during his time back. He would have liked to take another trip to Domino and enjoy what else the city had to offer, not to mention, he would really like to take a trip to the game store of the King of Games himself. And he doubted Kaiba would be willing to take him around town the way Mokuba would have. He was running a multi-billion company, and had no time to take him on a tour.

Sure, the marketing campaign and his chance to represent KaibaCorp was still an opportunity, but there was no guarantee that Kise would be picked, and if he didn’t do something, this could very well be the last time Kise would be in the presence of the Kaiba brothers.

“Oh Kise, when is your next game?” Mokuba asked, bringing Kise out of his thoughts as he thought about Mokuba’s question instead.

“Hm… well we have a match this coming week, but it’s not against one of the power houses, so I’m not really worried.”

Mokuba nodded, finding Kise's confidence endearing rather than off putting, the way Kise spoke making the difference.

“What do you do to train?”

“Well, I run almost every day, and we have practice after school and try to do as many morning practices too, and weekend practices at least twice a month. We also try to set up practice matches against other schools, and have sport camps that are the absolute worst. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a camp where I didn’t throw up at least once,” Kise grimaced just thinking about it, and even though the practices were brutal, they were also fond memories with his teammates.

“Wow, that sounds pretty intense,” Mokuba commented, and Kise nodded.

“Do you think you’ll manage to come to another of my matches?” Kise asked hopefully, and even Kaiba seemed interested in Mokuba’s answer as he glanced in his direction.

Mokuba grinned.

“I would like to. But it might be a little hard. I might try to make it for the Inter-High though, since it’ll be one of the last tournaments with the Generation of Miracles,” he said, and Kise brightened.

“That would be awesome!” Kise exclaimed, then looked to Kaiba.

“Will you come too, Kaibacchi?” Kise asked, resisting the urge to shiver when Kaiba’s blue eyes settled on him.

“Only if Mokuba drags me along with him.”

Kise would take it.


They were on their way to drop Kise off at the train station, and Kise was both pleased and surprised when Kaiba joined them, although he made it be known he was only doing it because he and Mokuba had plans in the city before Mokuba had to be dropped off at the airport. Kise also learned that even if Mokuba left later in the day, when he went back to America, it would actually be morning of the same day by the time he landed, so he was practically going back in time!

Kise would have loved to stay and see Mokuba off as well, but his trip home was long and train schedules only ran for so long that it was best for him to leave early. Not to mention he still had homework and studying to do before he went back to school the next day.

“It’s been really fun this weekend Mokubacchi, Kaibacchi, thank you for having me,” Kise said as they neared the train station.

Mokuba nodded, and Kaiba did little to acknowledge he even heard.

Unfortunately for Kise, he had been right to think that they wouldn’t have an opportunity like the one they had earlier, and so far he didn’t see his luck changing.

“I agree, I’m glad you were able to make it, and I hope giving you an idea of what we do helped you think about your future. Not to mention, you’re an amazing duelist! I think it would be great to have another weekend like this,” Mokuba replied with an excited smile which Kise mirrored.

“I would love that! Neh, Kaibacchi…” Kise said tentatively, looking over at the young CEO who sat with his arms crossed as he looked out the window, who glanced in his direction at the sound of his nickname, a feat that Kise acknowledged in silence.

“Can we trade contact information? I want to be able to contact you for another duel once I upgrade my deck,” it was the most obvious excuse Kise could think of, the only one he thought might even have a chance of success when it came to Seto Kaiba.

Because unfortunately, can I have your phone number so I can stay in contact with you and hopefully seduce you, would not have been tactful or appropriate, and if Kise had learned anything, it was that Kaiba only responded to challenges. And even though seducing him was a challenge for Kise, he doubted Kaiba would think of it the same way.

Kaiba for his part, looked at Kise with his usual stoic and unreadable demeanor.

After the morning they had, it was hard to know whether Kise’s motives could be taken at face value. The moment between then had been… unexpected… and Kaiba had been surprised to find himself so easily taken in by his attractiveness. It really had been too long since he had satisfied his carnal desires if he was so easily drawn in by Kise’s pretty looks.

Then again, pretty looks was all Kaiba cared for in his partners. He never cared for any talents or personality traits so long as they were tolerable enough to spend a night with, so long as they were able to satisfy him and not ask anything else of him.

And after confirming that Kise was indeed interested in him, it normally wouldn’t have taken Kaiba long to make his own advances.

Unfortunately, there was one problem.

Kise was young, maybe too young. And although Kaiba was hardly old by any measure, Kise was in high school, which put him right at the border of being underage and of legal age, and quite frankly, right now was not the time to ask him his age. If he was underage however, then it would be a dangerous move for Kaiba to make any kind of advances on the boy. He had too much to lose from a scandal of that sort, and he had worked too hard to jeopardize his career over a simple lay, no matter how attractive the boy.

Which meant the logical response was to say no to Kise’s request.

He should not set himself up for any future trouble that could be invited by staying in contact with someone he clearly felt an attraction to that posed a threat to his livelihood.

Not to mention, Kaiba never gave out his personal contact information. The only ones who could say they willingly got it was Mokuba and Yugi. Everyone else had to have the resources to somehow get ahold of his information.

And while that thought had never bothered Kaiba before, as he thought back to the years since Mokuba had left, and the lack of personal interactions he had, Kaiba had never been more aware of the lack of people in his life that weren’t work related. The people he had gone to high school with and dueled evil forces with had all but scattered, each finding their own calling, and none that Kaiba had really connected to.

He was in a rut.

Maybe… a new face could break that.

Maybe, he already had.

After all, Kaiba couldn’t even remember the last time someone had garnered his respect when it came to something beyond duel monsters. Kise’s basketball skill had caught his attention in a way nothing had in a long time, in a way he didn’t think a sport could. His skills had turned an ordinary game into something extraordinary, not a feat easily achievable for someone of Kaiba’s standards. Not only that, he couldn’t remember the last duel he had, the last few years of the franchises decline and other projects making sure of that, only for a more than competent duelist to show up when he least expected it. Someone that even his little brother seemed fond of.

Kaiba sighed.                                                                     

“Fine, but don’t think it’ll make a difference.”

And Kaiba knew, in the way that Kise’s golden eyes brightened and his smile widened, that he would regret this decision.

He just didn’t yet know how.

Chapter Text


 

Kise was restless.

There was no better word to describe his feelings since the day he left Domino City.

And it was easy to know why.

In the three days that had passed, his eyes had been drawn to his phone more than usual. And not to check his social media accounts, group chats, basketball schedule, or news of any kind.

The simple reason he couldn’t help but itch for his phone in a way he hadn’t in a long time was simple; the only thing that had changed in those three days, or rather the only new contact in his phone.

Tall, rich, and handsome…

Seto Kaiba.

Or Kaibacchi as he had him listed in his contacts.

For the umpteenth time, Kise sighed as he tapped his pencil against his thigh from his seat in his desk. Thankfully it was his last class of the day, before he was off to basketball practice, and the same question that had plagued Kise for the past three days floated through his mind.

The first time that Kise had met Kaiba, when they spoke in the courtyard of his high school, and Kise had asked him if he had made him a fan, Kaiba had said to ask him after his next game, which happened to be in two days’ time.

Kise wanted nothing more than to text Kaiba and remind him of the fact, if only for a reason to see him again.

He had constantly hounded his manager for updates on the modeling job for KaibaCorp, only for Anami to sigh and tell him that they had submitted their part and it was still a waiting game, and that she would let him know as soon as she knew.

Why was it taking so long? What if they had already filled the slots? What if Kise hadn’t made the cut?

And while Kise tried to remind himself that if that was the case, they would have at least sent a rejection letter, it did little to make him feel better about the possibility of failing.

Sure, he could probably ask Kaiba or Mokuba to give him a shot in the campaign… but asking for a favor by the CEO or his little brother wouldn’t sit well with his pride. Kise wanted to fail or make it on his own, without any help from anyone. If he couldn’t make it by himself, then he didn’t deserve to work under KaibaCorp.

DING DONG DING

As the final bell sounded, and the students began to pack up their things, Kise lingered, taking out his phone and placing it front of him, only to stare at it with an intensity that gave pause to anyone watching him, before tapping his fingers against the desk and letting out a sigh.

He should just do it.

What did he have to lose?

Either Kaiba would say yes, although doubtful, he would say no, understandable, or he wouldn’t text him at all, also understandable from a man running a large company of that caliber.

Either way, it had to be better than letting the question hang over him, making him as restless as he was.

“Alright!” Kise mumbled to himself, feeling a burst of determination, and grabbing ahold of his phone and opening up his contacts, only hovering over Kaiba’s contact information for a moment before opening a new message.

15:04

Kaibacccchhiiiii. Remember how you said you would tell me if I made you my fan after my next game? Well my next game is in two days, so I think you should go through with your word and come! =^~^=

Kise forced himself to send the message right away before he changed his mind, and rather than get up and make his way to the gym, he simply sat and stared at his phone.

After what felt like an eternity, Kise groaned, and dropped his head on his arms.

“What am I doing? There’s no way Kaibacchi would text back right away… he’s probably too busy and at work still…” Kise mumbled to himself.

After all, as Mokuba had told him, all his brother did was work, very much late into the night. The only reason he had even gone to his game against Touo was because Mokuba had brought him, and now that Mokuba was back overseas, Kaiba really had no reason to go out of his way to come see Kise play.

It was a stupid idea.

With a sigh, Kise finally packed up his things and got up from his desk, before making his way to the gym, trying to lift his mood for the onslaught of fans that were probably waiting for him outside. Not to mention, if he was late, he would really hear it from their captain.


Kaiba was in his office when his phone beeped to let him know he had a message.

The only person who ever texted him was Mokuba, so he was surprised when he opened the message to see an unknown number and a message from the only person that called him Kaibacchi.

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at the message, processing the request before placing the phone back down beside the keyboard.

His initial response should have been to just ignore the message. No matter what he said to Kise that day after the match he had seen, Kaiba was under no obligation to indulge his request. Not to mention, he was busy. Now that he was back at work, he had more to look over, things to give his final approval for, and certain changes he deemed necessary.

While he had been right to confide in his employees to handle the work while he was away, there were things only he could do. Such as attend certain meetings with possible partners that would be required of him for the next few weeks while the marketing campaign for his Duel Monster was still being finalized.

Not to mention, a part of him still berated himself for even giving Kise his number, the part that instinctively knew that it was a dangerous move on his part. Still, the other part of him was confident that he could maintain their relationship as acquaintances, if only for his brother’s sake. Mokuba had really taken a liking to the boy, and he seemed to want to remain in contact with him despite the distance if at least to see his games. And while Kaiba would only ever admit it to anyone but himself, he was willing to snatch any opportunity to spend time with his brother.

And as if to remind him of his busy schedule, a familiar beep from his computer told him he had a new email, and as he clicked on the pop-up box on the lower right corner of the screen, Kaiba first skimmed the title of the new email. It read; Final List of Candidates and Audition Slots.

And while part of Kaiba would have liked to leave this part to his employees, an even larger part of him wanted to make sure he approved of the list and knew enough about each candidate. While Kaiba didn’t particularly follow popular media where idols or models were involved, past experiences had taught him to be wary of those representing his brand, and whether they might have a troubled past that might pose a threat to his event. The last time someone had slipped through his security, it had only been his and Mokuba’s quick acting that saved his company.

With that thought in mind, he scrolled to the body of the email, and opened the attachment of the Extel sheet that contained the list of said candidates. The list itself was organized into time slots that showed the audition process would be in two weeks’ time, and in several blocks.

As Kaiba read through the names, only a few sounded vaguely familiar, perhaps names he remembered from Mokuba or the news and articles he read, but none that he could place a face to by name alone. Thankfully, his staff had thought to attach pictures of the idols, which would help him recall the name if he were to ever personally come across one of them.

They were all young, as he had asked his staff to focus on, since after all it was the younger demographics that they were trying to attract. They also ranged from various industries; music, social media figures, actors, and models.

Kaiba didn’t expect to recognize anyone from this list, so when he read a familiar name, his eyes narrowed. The picture attached to the name left no doubt that he had read the name correctly, and Kaiba wasn’t quite sure how he felt at the sight. Certainly, it came as a surprise… although in hindsight, perhaps it shouldn’t have. The person of interest certainly had the looks, and the fashion for it. Perhaps what didn’t quite sit well with him was the fact that they hadn’t thought to bring it up despite having several opportunities to do so, and Kaiba could only wonder why that was.

Kaiba couldn’t help but grin as his gaze strayed back to his phone, and the text still opened on the screen.

Kise Ryota…

Just how many surprises did he have up his sleeves?

Kaiba sighed and closed his eyes, leaning his head against his fist.

It seemed trying to put this boy out of his mind would be harder than he had thought, if he continued to pop up where he least expected it. It wasn’t like Kaiba to easily acknowledge someone. But it was hard to deny that once again Kise Ryota had shown himself to be quite the talent. Basketball prodigy, decent duelist, and what now appeared to be a popular model figure.

Against his better judgement, Kaiba found himself opening up the search engine on his computer and typing in Kise Ryota’s name. Various links immediately populated, ranging from his social media sites to magazine appearances, basketball articles, fan sites and blogs. His social media revealed that he was popular by the sheer number of followers he had. Most of his posts included advertising the magazines he was showcased in, mundane tasks like what he ate, and a few statuses about his basketball practices and games, and pictures of himself featuring various clothing and accessories most likely sponsored to him.  

His search also revealed the question Kaiba had but had avoided when it came to the blonde pretty boy. Several sources confirmed that his birthday was in June, and currently he was seventeen. That meant that it was only a little over a month before Kise turned eighteen. Before his thoughts could trail down that road however, Kaiba forced himself to look at the next link, which was a blog that spoke of an “ultimate basketball match” by the Generation of Miracles.

Intrigued, Kaiba read the article, which spoke of the combined force of the basketball prodigies against a team from America. The writer was clearly impressed and included the link to official footage recorded of the game. It seemed that the basketball prodigies had joined forces in a team dubbed “Vorpal Swords” against the American team “Jabberwock”. Kaiba had to appreciate the literary references as he clicked on the video.

And before long, it proved that Mokuba’s admiration of these basketball prodigies had proven to be warranted. Despite the screen that separated him from the court, Kaiba could immediately feel the intensity of this game. It was much like the game he had seen with Kise and the rival school, but rather than only the ace standing out, every player stood out. While Kise and the dark-skinned boy were the only ones he recognized, it was obvious that each additional player was talented in their own way. It seemed as if both teams were evenly matched, neither giving way and both teams scoring.

It was easy to see from their plays that they had once been teammates as Mokuba had explained. Their teamwork was seamless, each player seeming to know exactly what to do and where to be in order to pass the ball and score.

Kaiba immediately noticed that Kise’s hair was different during this time, much shorter than he currently kept it. It made him looks slightly more mature, and his features sharper and more masculine. He also noticed how happy Kise seemed during this game. Kaiba also found himself surprised to see that Kise seemed particularly good at teaming up with the dark-skinned boy named Aomine that he had seen him play against, and the air between them was completely different than it had been at the match he had seen. The way they fist bumped and smiled at each other made Kaiba frown in confusion. It was hard to believe that these two players that had gone so fiercely at each other could also be so friendly and supportive when on the same team.

Kaiba watched intently as the tables seemed to turn in favor of the American team, where it seemed they had been holding back in the beginning and making it harder for the Vorpal Swords to keep up. And it was then that Kaiba saw each individual player shine, each seeming to bring forth the most of their talent to slowly close the gap between their scores. And Kaiba saw just what Kise Ryota was capable of.

He saw the full potential of his Perfect Copy and watched in fascination as Kise went into what the announcer called “the zone”, and Kise practically dominated the court, as no other player could touch him for those few minutes. It was like watching a wild exotic cat on the height of its hunt. Every movement he made was fluid and perfectly executed, his eyes so focused that nothing got by him and no one could stand up to him as he scored point after point. Only for Kise to fall to his knees when he reached his limit.

Thanks to the camera angle, he was able to see the anguish and disappointment on Kise’s face and watched as the red head he now knew to be Akashi Seijuro helped him to the bench where it appeared Kise would remain for the rest of the game.

Kaiba could only imagine what toll that kind of ability had on Kise’s body. To be able to copy all the talents of known prodigies could not be easy, and for Kise to be able to manage to do it so effectively on the court. In that moment, Kise had no doubt been the strongest player on the court, and even though Kise wouldn’t be able to play for the remainder of the game, Kaiba couldn’t help but once more admire his talent.

In the end, Vorpal Swords managed to win, and Kaiba was able to see Akashi Seijuro’s superb leadership skills and decision making when it came to the formidable American team and the unexpected play by a blue-haired player. All in all, it was a game Kaiba almost wished he had seen in person.

As the video ended, Kaiba closed the window, cursing the fact that he had just spent over an hour of his time on the very boy he had told himself to avoid when he should have been working.

Kaiba sighed once more and tapped his fingers on his desk, his eyes straying to his phone before shaking his head and returning to the program he was currently working on.

There was a time for everything, and now was not the time to indulge a high-school boy, no matter how pretty and talented he was.


Kise sighed as he lay in bed, his wet hair laying on a towel behind his head to keep from soaking the pillow underneath, and his phone suspended in the air above his face.

Kise tried to keep from pouting as he frowned at his phone.

“He didn’t text back…”

It was almost midnight, Kise finally settling in for the night after finishing what he could of his homework, not that he really tried, but he had to at least keep up his grades so he could stay on the basketball team and not look too stupid for any prospective colleges he might want to go to.

He knew he shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up, but it was still disappointing to see that Kaiba hadn’t texted him back despite the late hour. While he wouldn’t put it past Kaiba to still be working so late, he really didn’t expect him to take the time to reply to his message.

Kise placed his phone down beside him on the bed and closed his eyes, suddenly feeling too tired to get up and finish drying his hair so it wouldn’t look like a bird’s nest in the morning like he knew it would if he slept on it while wet.

“I’ll just rest my eyes for a few minutes…”

Just as Kise was beginning to doze off, he felt his phone vibrate and his eyes immediately shot open and his hand moved to grab his phone as he turned over, his fatigue forgotten as his heart skipped a beat in excitement.

He knew exactly what he hoped he would see on his phone, he hoped to see the name of the person he had been thinking about nonstop for the past few days.

As he unlocked his phone and looked at the screen however, the text box read a different name, and Kise was surprised to feel disappointed despite exactly who had messaged him.

It was the first time he could say that he received a message from Aomine and was disappointed by the fact. Usually when Aomine texted him his heart did a pitter patter with a mix of dread and hope all rolled into one. Dread that the man he still had feelings for reached out for him, and hope that maybe he would tell him something that would make their breakup easier to understand.  

This time however, the reason he felt his heart sink was because Aomine was not the one he wanted to see the text from. He had wanted to see Kaiba’s name on his screen, and a part of Kise couldn’t help but laugh at the situation, his disappointment ebbing slightly as he finally read the text.

Aominecchi 00:07

Hey, when’s your next game? And against who?

Kise was surprised by Aomine’s question. It seemed out of the blue, and Kise knew that if Aomine wanted to know his next game, he could just ask Momoi and she would know exactly when his next game was. Maybe he was just curious and didn’t want to wait until Momoi was awake, after all, Aomine wasn’t the most patient person around.

00:09

Shouldn’t you be sleeping Aominecchi? My next game is in two days against Fukudo Sogo, why do you want to know?

Kise sent the text and decided to finally get up to dry his hair. After all, it was hard to feel tired after that brief moment of excitement and disappointment.

By the time he returned to his phone, Aomine’s reply was waiting for him.

Aominecchi 00:15

I fell asleep after practice and I’m wide awake now. Damn, Haizaki huh? You better not lose against that bastard. Why are you awake? You usually go to sleep early.

Despite himself, Kise couldn’t help but smile. It was just like Aomine to fall asleep right after practice and be awake late into the night. He had always chided him that he needed to maintain a proper sleep schedule so he wouldn’t be sleeping in class, but of course Aomine had just shrugged it off. The fact that Aomine remembered his own sleep schedule tugged at Kise’s heartstrings. It was one of things they had learned about each other when they dated, during those stays over at each other’s houses when Kise would ramble on about everything and nothing and Aomine seemed to doze off next to him but was silently listening. He had said that the sound of his voice soothed him, so Kise had no problem rambling until Aomine really did fall asleep.

00:20

Typical of you Aominecchi. I actually did homework today! Can you believe it?? I just finished it and I’m sure I got most of them right! And Aomineccchiii! How can you even doubt me? I haven’t lost to Haizaki even once during high school! I’m not about to let that happen my last year!

Kise sent the reply as he turned off the light of his room, leaving only the bedside lamp to illuminate the room before settling under the covers.

A part of him wanted to close his eyes and go to sleep, but another part, the part he wished he could bury, wanted to stay awake for Aomine’s next reply. The thought made Kise sigh, and he forced himself to close his eyes as he settled deeper into his bed.

He should be over that, and he hated that he wasn’t. Aomine had made his decision, and Kise should have moved past that. They were friends now, and that was all. He just wished his heart would remember that.

When the phone vibrated once more, Kise hesitated only for a moment before grabbing the phone.

Aominecchi 0030

No I don’t believe it. And yeah well just so you know if you lose to Haizaki I’ll never 1v1 you again. Anyway, you should sleep. Goodnight

Kise felt his heart sink once more as he finished reading the text. He couldn’t help but remember how he once treasured the times when Aomine would text him goodnight, when it would make him smile and feel like the happiest guy in the world. He remembered how he would insist to stay up just a bit longer if only to talk to him more, even if it meant he would be tired in the morning.

Now though, Kise felt as if his energy was drained by this text. Rather than smile, he couldn’t help but grimace.

For the first time, Kise didn’t text him back, and chose to sleep instead.

Chapter Text


 

For the past few days, Kise hadn’t been feeling his best. All the things that he had put out of his mind in preparation of his duel with Seto Kaiba had returned like an avalanche, and the weight of it all once more settled on his shoulders. Maybe things would have been different if he had won, but his loss against Kaiba still stung and left his confidence shot.

Not to mention that he still hadn’t heard back from KaibaCorp about his entry for the Kaiba Marketing Campaign as a representative, and he didn’t have a shoot scheduled until next week. Not that he would tell anyone, but despite his nonchalant attitude towards modeling, it really was a confidence boost, now more than ever.

And worst of all, it looked like his teammates were taking notice of his mood. They had been eyeing him with concern since the previous night, a few even asking if he was okay. He tried to reassure them that he was fine, but they hadn’t seemed too convinced. His captain had even taken him out for ice cream after practice, and even though Kise was flattered and it had lifted his spirits a bit, his mood just sunk again once he was back home and plagued by the same thoughts. They were probably worried that his mood would affect their game later that night, and the thought didn’t sit well with him.

Fukuda Sogo wasn’t the strongest opponent, and Haizaki he could handle. He had improved along with them, but Kise was confident that he hadn’t improved to the point of being able to overtake him. Of that, Kise was sure. Still, it didn’t mean he would underestimate Haizaki and his team either.

It was only third period, but Kise was already hungry and it was two more periods before lunch. It was English class, so he didn’t even have to really pay attention since he was probably the most fluent in their year. Instead, he looked through his phone and media sites, scrolling the profiles of familiar celebrities and their current projects. From the looks of it, many were doing some ambitious projects, and Kise felt jealous of their accomplishments. Many that he had collaborated with had told him he could do the same, that he had what it took to make it in the world of idols and already had a good base.

But that didn’t really interest Kise.

The worst part was that he didn’t know why.

Kise wasn’t much of a soul searcher, and it made it hard to figure out what he wanted from life.

All he knew was that he wanted to be happy. He wanted to wake up every morning with a fire to carry him throughout the rest of the day, and every day to be an adventure.

He didn’t want a monotonous, never changing life, sitting at a desk and absorbing useless information or catering to a boss in a dead-end stressful job.

But he didn’t want it to be easy either.  

He wanted to be passionate about what he did and wanted to have a reason to carry throughout the years to come.

But everything just seemed so temporary. Basketball was temporary. Modeling was temporary. And once he was done with them, what then? Would he be stuck in a dead-end job after all? What options were out there for him? What else was he good at? What else made him happy? What else would give him the challenge he craved?

It was the questions that plagued him that he didn’t have answers to and weighed him down.

It was then that he felt his phone vibrate to let him know he had a text message, and Kise clicked the notification to see that the message was from Anami. Eyes widening, Kise read the message.

Call me when you can.

Kise felt his heart skip a beat, and it took all his will power not to rise from his chair and ask to go to the bathroom then and there.

What could Anami have to tell him?

Another shoot?

Did she finally hear back from KaibaCorp about his audition?

Did he get it? Was he rejected?

Kise’s foot was tapping impatiently against the floor now, and as he looked at the clock, the time until lunch seemed too long. Maybe he could sneak out to the bathroom before the next class… yeah, that seemed like a good idea.  He doubted he would be able to concentrate if he didn’t find out soon, and quite frankly, math was one of the subjects he actually had to pay attention to if he hoped to make it by.

And after fifteen minutes which felt like hours, the bell that signaled the end of the class period sounded, and Kise made his way to the bathroom as soon as he was able to. He brushed off anyone that tried to approach him, and hopefully his hurry was evident and no one’s feelings were hurt, but then and there, he didn’t care.

As he reached the bathroom, it seemed no one else was there, but Kise only went to one of the corners of the bathroom, phone already pulled out and hovering over the call button on Anami’s name.

She finally picked up after the fourth ring, and Kise felt his heart hammer in his chest at what the news could be.

“If it isn’t my favorite model! I didn’t expect you to call me so soon. You usually avoid calling me during school.”

Kise rolled his eyes.

It was true though. When it came to scheduled shoots, Kise tended to avoid calling Anami until he couldn’t avoid it anymore. Sometimes he was just too exhausted with basketball and shoots that it was hard to make that call to find out just what shoot would be next.

“Nice to talk to you too Anami!” Kise started sarcastically, “And don’t act as if you don’t know why I’m eager to call!”

Kise pouted, and he was sure it reflected in his voice. The laugh on the other end told him Anami knew exactly what was going through his mind.

“Well, I guess I won’t torture you any longer.”

Kise liked the sound of those words, and he could only hope that what she said next wouldn’t sink his already sullen mood recently.

“Congratulation Kise! You got the audition with KaibaCorp!”

The excitement in Anami’s voice was like music to his ears, and Kise felt his heart race with relief and excitement.

“You have your audition in two weeks, and I’ll forward the email with the details of where and what time.”

The rest of what she said sounded muffled to his ears, and Kise couldn’t say he remembered the rest of their brief conversation. He just remembered shrieking some unintelligible thing and thanking her for the news and telling her how excited and happy he was to get the audition.

Once he had hung up the phone, Kise felt as if he couldn’t contain the grin on his face or the sudden burst of energy that made him feel jittery and ready to take on the world.

With just these news, Kise felt like his best self again. The uncertainties that had plagued him were immediately forgotten, overshadowed by the overwhelming happiness at accomplishing this immediate goal.

Now, to make sure his audition went well so he could be a part of the KaibaCorp campaign. Not to mention, a chance to see Kaiba again. With that in mind, Kise welcomed the sudden burst of happiness that accompanied the thought, making him grin wider and his heart beat just a bit faster.

It was only when the bell rang that Kise remembered he was supposed to be back in class, and with a curse, Kise rushed out of the bathroom and back to his classroom.

But even with the knowledge that he would get in trouble, the grin on his face never fell from his lips.


“It’s a pleasure to do business with you Mr. Kaiba,” the man in a crisp suit in front of him bowed, and Kaiba stood from his seat, also bowing at the older man.

“Likewise. We will be contacting you with the official dates as soon as they are decided. Thank you for your time.”

Kaiba didn’t wait to be dismissed as he grabbed his briefcase and made his way out of the meeting room, his long coat flaring behind him as he walked with the purpose of a man on a mission not to be messed with.

The business man left behind the desk sighed with relief as the intimidating presence of the CEO left the office as abruptly as he had arrived. As rumors had it, Seto Kaiba was a man of pure business. There was little idle chat where he was involved, and despite his young appearance, he had the experience of someone double his age, and thrice to offer. Which was why finding a business partner in KaibaCorp was not something to be turned down, especially for any business wanting to reach a broader clientele.

As Kaiba reached the car waiting for him just outside the doors, he sat in the back, closing his eyes and sighing as he closed the door.

The meeting had actually gone as expected, if not better, and finished ahead of time. A success by all accounts.

“Where to next, Mr. Kaiba?” Tanaka asked as he looked at him from the rear-view mirror.

Usually, Kaiba knew exactly what his next destination was. His mind was a constant checklist of things to do at any given time. There was always an agenda to be followed and completed.

Today however, something had been pricking at Kaiba’s thoughts. A lingering thought that for the past two days he had tried to ignore, but somehow managed to remain.  Perhaps it was curiosity, or his subconscious need to escape the rut that continued to plague him. Either way, it had remained in the back of his mind, tantalizing if just to see something different. Perhaps the reason he had rushed through his meeting more than usual.

“Tanaka, how far are we from Kanagawa?” Kaiba asked, looking out the window to the afternoon skies.

“Ah, about forty-five minutes, sir,” Tanaka replied, and Kaiba remained silent for just a moment.

He knew it was in the opposite direction of his company and home, but the thought of just how close it was made that thought in the back of his mind even more appealing, and Kaiba tsked before sighing once more. Looking at the time on his watch, Kaiba knew that he had just enough time to make it.

After all, he already knew what time the game would start.

“Take me to Kaijo High School.”


His spirits high, Kise was looking forward to his game against Fukuda Sogo. It looked like his energy had also transferred to his teammates, and all of them looked more confident in turn. It was still some time before the game was set to start, and his team was in the locker room while the gym was being prepared for the upcoming match.

Their coach would be coming in shortly to go through their plays and plans to take on their opponent, as well as give them their pep talk and pump them up for the game.

“Kise! You’re looking better!” one of the second years, Hachiro said, slinging an arm around Kise’s shoulders from his seat on the bench with a large grin.

Hachiro was the team’s starting point guard, and probably one of the best they’ve ever had. He was one of the best players Kise had ever seen as a ball handler, and his passes were almost as good as Kuroko’s without having to use misdirection. He had a very energetic and positive personality that often raised the team’s moral, and Kise personally thought he would make a good captain if it wasn’t for his carefree attitude and lack of discipline. Much like himself. It was one of the reasons they got along so well.

“Yeah! I got some amazing news this morning and I’m very excited about it!”

Their teammates overhearing their conversation then seemed to converge in on them.

“Eh, what news is that Kise?” Izumo, their second-year black-haired center asked.

Kise grinned and winked in his direction.

“It’s a secret, I can’t go public with it just yet,” he replied and his teammates grinned as they shared a look.

“We know what that means, it must be model related news,” their captain, Ashia Takeshi, said with a smirk.

Their captain was a second-year as well, and even though Kise was the only third-year on their team, he had turned down the offer to be their captain. He had known from the moment that Takeshi became a first-year member that he should be captain when their seniors left, and had made sure everyone understood his reasoning. Takeshi had everything they needed in a captain. He was strong-willed, passionate, disciplined, and had the backbone to keep the rest of their teammates in line when slacking off while also bringing their spirits back up when they felt down.

Not to mention, Kise never saw himself as captain material. He was much too carefree and more of a loose cannon. He needed someone to ground him and remind him of his place many a times. Not to mention, being a captain was a lot of responsibility, and Kise didn’t like responsibility at all. He enjoyed his freedom as Ace and only having to focus on his own improvement to help their team win. Anything more would probably be too much pressure and basketball wouldn’t be as fun as it was. It was for that reason that Kise greatly respected and admired his captains.

For his part, Kise only grinned wider and said nothing.

“Just don’t forget that we still need you as our Ace, don’t slack off just because you landed a good gig,” Takeshi continued, giving Kise a whack on his head with his fist in a playfully reprimanding way, causing Kise to pout in return.

“Takeshicchi! How dare you doubt me! You know how important basketball is to me!” Kise replied, rubbing the spot on his head where his captain had playfully hit him.

The rest of his teammates laughed.

“I’ll show you! We’ll beat Fukuda Sogo by a landslide! Right guys?”

Kise looked to the rest of his team with a confident glint in his eyes, causing everyone to straighten with resolve as they also looked confidently back at him.

“Yeah!”

“Damn right!”

Yeah, this was what being an Ace was about.


By the time Kaiba arrived, the parking lot was almost as busy as the last time he had come to see a game at Kaijo. The only difference being that he didn’t have a ticket this time. Not one to be deterred by his spontaneous decision however, Kaiba told Tanaka that he would call him when he needed him, and closed the door behind him as he followed the crowd of people going inside the gym like last time.

From there, it was easy to see the ticket stand, and Kaiba made his way over to it, glad to see that it wasn’t very long. When it came to be his turn however, the two young girls behind the counter looked at him in the same way most woman tended to do, confused and awestruck at the unusually tall and handsome man and at a loss for words. Kaiba glared at the two girls, hoping that would break them of whatever pubescent thoughts they were having about him.

“One ticket,” he said, reaching for his wallet in his back pocket.

One of the girls seemed to snap from her trance, and blushed.

“Ah, I-I’m sorry sir, but we actually just sold the last ticket. We’re at full capacity.”

Kaiba frowned.

“I see. Very well.”

The girls looked troubled as they shared a look, but before they could say anything else, Kaiba had turned around towards the people still lingering outside the gym, and looked around until he spotted what he was looking for.

Making his way to a short and lanky boy, Kaiba grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him around as he was passing by. The boy looked confused, and his expression quickly turned to startled as he was met with the sight of the intimidating and frowning face of Seto Kaiba.

“You, boy, do you have a ticket for this game?” Kaiba asked, face stoic and voice short as he looked down at the boy.

The boy in question blinked behind his round glasses and nodded shyly as if afraid to voice his answer.

Kaiba smirked.

“Perfect. I’ll buy it for fifty-thousand yen,” Kaiba said, and immediately the boy’s eyes widened as he stared back at Kaiba in shock.

“W-what? Fif-fifty-thousand?” the boy stammered out in what sounded like a squeak.

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed.

“Did I stutter? Fine, forty-five thousand. Take it or leave it kid.”

As if to prove his point, Kaiba dug out his wallet and took out the money, making it obvious that he wasn’t lying about the fact that he could back up his claim. Seeing physical proof, and never having had that amount of money to his name at one time, the boy squeaked before fumbling for his ticket inside his coat and handing it to Kaiba who gave him the wad of cash in turn.

The boy blinked and stared at the cash in awe, and Kaiba smirked.

“Pleasure doing business kid.”

Kaiba turned towards the entrance with ticket in hand and handed it to the boy collecting said tickets before making his way into the already buzzing gym.

Kaiba made his way to an open space and sat down where he had a decent view of the court which was already being used for the warm ups by both teams. The current drill for Kaijo’s team was to make shots from the free-throw line, and Kaiba’s gaze immediately locked onto Kise’s bright blonde hair in the line of dark-haired players.

After the players in front of him made their shots and jogged back to the end of the line, Kaiba expected Kise to also shoot a familiar shot, only for Kise to surprise him by running to the basket and making a layup instead, before running back to the back of the line while some of his teammates high-fived him on his way back.

It was when Kise reached the back that Kaiba noticed a member of the opposite team approach him, the number eight on his red jersey.


“Show off as always, Ryota.”

At the sound of the familiar voice, Kise turned around to face his rival of the day, a smirk already on his face.

“Nice to see you again Shogo,” Kise greeted slyly, stepping out of line so he could properly talk to his opponent without getting in the way of his teammates’ warm-up.

It seemed as if every time he saw Haizaki his hair was in a different style. This time was no different. Unlike the last time they had played each other, Haizaki’s hair was shorter and spiked atop his head, cut shorter on the sides but with bangs that hung over his left eye.  It made his features look sharper but more boyish, and Kise couldn’t help but think that he looked kind of attractive with his new hairstyle. If it weren’t for his awful personality, Kise might have considered him his type as far as looks went.

“I wish I could say the same Ryota, but quite frankly, seeing your face makes me want to throw up,” he replied, only making Kise grin further.

“Well you should be careful with that, it’d be a shame if that affected your playing. Or don’t tell me, is that the excuse you’re using as to why you’ve lost to me all these years? Kind of cheap, don’t you think?”

His words made their mark, causing Haizaki’s face to darken as he glowered at Kise.

“Watch your mouth Ryota,” Haizaki said, stepping closer into Kise’s personal space, “Or you might just regret those words.”

Kise didn’t flinch back from Haizaki’s advance, and instead made his own, closing the distance further so that their noses were only a breath apart.

“How’s that? Are you going to give me another injury?” Kise challenged, his own voice dropping and his gaze darkening, “because we both know you won’t be satisfied unless you beat me at my best.”

Their stalemate lasted only a few seconds, before someone called Haizaki over and the dark-haired boy tsked before breaking away from Kise with a glare and walking back to his team.

Takeshi also walked over to Kise, placing his hand on Kise’s shoulder before meeting his gaze.

“Everything okay?” he asked, and Kise smiled back at him.

“Yeah, typical Shogo trying to get to me. No worries,” despite Kise’s reassurances, Takeshi didn’t look convinced and only frowned.

“Watch yourself around him Kise. Haizaki is trouble, especially when it comes to you.”

Kise’s response was to sling an arm around the shorter captain, grinning freely.

“C’mon Takeshicchi! Don’t be a kill joy. I can handle Shogo!”

Takeshi only sighed and shrugged Kise off.

“Well then, stop slacking and get back to your warm-up!”

Kise laughed and saluted.

“Aye-aye captain!” Kise replied before getting back into the line for a few more shots before the game began.


Kaiba watched as the buzzer sounded and the players got into their starting positions. It looked like this time the tip-off would not be done by Kise, as a different player took the center. He was probably a little taller than Kise, but his height would definitely be needed considering the player on the opposing team was massive as far as height. He could have easily been seven feet tall considering how he towered over every player on the court. His dark complexion and features made it obvious that he was from a foreign country, and most likely a foreign exchange student.

Kaiba was familiar with certain school practices when they would offer scholarships to students from other countries for the purposes of having an advantage in sports. Kaiba had no doubt that this school had done just that.

That’s why when the buzzer sounded, and the referee tossed the basketball in the air, Kaiba wasn’t surprised when the foreign student was able to quickly tip the ball towards his side of the court, and into the opponent’s hands.

The player with the ball quickly dribbled into Kaijo’s territory, before being marked by one of Kaijo’s players who halted him in his tracks. The player with the ball tried to get past Kaijo’s player, but when it became obvious he wouldn’t get past, he looked for an opening before passing the ball before a travel could be called.

In his desperation to pass the ball to another player, Kise was able to easily intercept the sloppy pass, and was able to get past 3 different Sogo players, including the player that had seemed to confront Kise earlier with the number eight jersey. Reaching the basket, Kise smoothly did a successful layup, scoring for Kaijo and making the buzzer sound. The second round resulted with another advance by Kaijo, but this time, the tall foreigner had stayed on defense by the basket, and when a player of Kaijo’s tried to score, it was easily blocked by the foreigner’s long reach, before the player threw the ball to a player past the half-court line, and one of Sogo’s players that lay in waiting caught the ball and made for Kaijo’s basket, Kaijo’s players unable to reach him in time to stop his from scoring a three-pointer.

As the buzzer sounded, Kaijo’s team reformed, but none looked shaken by their opponents score.

Only a few minutes into the game, Kaiba could tell that this game didn’t quite have the intensity that the first match he had seen against another member of the Generation of Miracles had, and the only player that seemed to give Kaijo trouble was the tall foreigner. So far Kaijo was ahead by two points, but with Fukuda Sogo quickly catching up.

“Daichan! I told you we should have left earlier! We missed the first ten minutes!”

Kaiba’s was distracted by the familiar figure of a tall and tan boy that sat down next to him on the benches. Turning his head slightly, Kaiba was able to confirm that the person next to him was none other than the member of the Generation of Miracles that had played against Kise during the last game.

Aomine Daiki.

And next to him was a long pink-haired girl with a legal pad in her hand.

“Relax Satsuki, it’s only the first ten minutes, and Kaijo’s in the lead,” Aomine’s gruff voice replied as he casually leaned back against the empty bench behind him.

The girl, Satsuki, pouted.

“Ten minutes is a lot when I’m trying to gather data Daichan! I mean look! Fukuda Sogo has a new player. He’s gigantic! No doubt he’s been giving Kaijo some trouble.”

Kaiba turned his gaze back to the game but made sure to listen in on the duo’s conversation. He wasn’t sure what the girl meant by gathering data, but since she was with Aomine, he could only assume that it was for his team.

“He’s tall, so what. Kise’s gone up against taller guys before.”

Satsuki huffed.

“You’re missing the point Daichan. Either way, if you’re confident Kaijo will win, why did you tag along? You rarely come with me to games,” she asked.  

There was a moment of silence, a moment in which the player with the number eight jersey took possession of the ball and went one on one against Kise, and Kaiba was shocked to see that he managed to get past Kise, and score two points with a particularly aggressive move.

“I don’t trust Haizaki,” Kaiba heard Aomine practically growl.

“You don’t really think Shogo would try to hurt Kichan again, do you? He hasn’t tried anything since he hurt him on purpose our first year,” Satsuki replied, concern laced in her voice.

Kichan… was she talking about Kise? She must be, because Kise had mentioned being injured during his first year. This Haizaki Shogo must have been the one to hurt him, and from the confrontation before the game, there was no doubt that this Haizaki was the one with the number eight jersey.

“Yeah well, Haizaki hasn’t managed to beat any of us even once during high-school, and he hates Kise more than anyone. I wouldn’t put it past him to try something during our last year to try and get back at Kise.”

At this Satsuki sighed.

“I hope you’re wrong Daichan. But say he does, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to beat him up again to protect Kise’s honor?”

Again? Aomine had fought Haizaki to get back at him for Kise? It seemed that he and Kise were closer than Kaiba had thought.

“Damn right I will. And I’ll leave him worse for wear than last time.”

At this, Satsuki giggled.

“You’re seriously hopeless Daichan…”

“What do you mean??”

“Forget about it! You’re too dense to understand!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Aomine demanded, obviously offended.

“Anyway! We can’t underestimate Shogo. It’s only the first quarter and we know he’s a slow starter. It won’t be long before he shows his ability and changes the dynamic of the game.”

Abilities? So this Haizaki guy had more to offer? He couldn’t have been one of the Generation of Miracles, he hadn’t seen him anywhere during the game with Vorpal Swords. As he watched the game, the point gap had closed slightly, and Kaijo was only ahead by six points now.

It seemed that Satsuki was right when she had said Haizaki was a slow starter, and perhaps that went for the rest of the team, because not long after, Haizaki did something that shocked Kaiba.

One of Kise’s teammates had done a particularly tricky move that had scored Kaijo a few points, and as Kaiba watched their movements, he saw that Haizaki was doing the exact same move…

Can it be? Can Haizaki copy moves too? Kaiba thought to himself as he watched in fascination as Haizaki scored with a smirk on his face, before throwing Kise a confident look and going back to his side of the court.

“There he goes, Pillage, Shogo’s ability. Now Kichan’s teammate won’t be able to use that move for the rest of the game…” Satsuki said, and this confused Kaiba.

How could copying a move make someone unable to use it?

Again, it wasn’t long before Kaiba was able to see what she meant, as Kise’s same teammate tried to do the same move again, only for his shot to miss and for him to look shocked by the fact.

“I’ve always hated his ability…” Aomine said.

“You have to admit its kind of interesting… to be able to change the rhythm of a move so that the original player can’t use it successfully.”

Kaiba spared the duo a glance, just in time to see Aomine shrug nonchalantly.

“It makes no difference. Haizaki might be able to copy Kise’s teammates, but since Kise can copy the Generation of Miracles, something Haizaki will never be able to do, as long as they pass the ball to Kise and Kise uses our copies, he’ll be able to win.”

Satsuki frowned.

“That may be so Daichan, but that’s if Kichan’s stamina doesn’t run out. You know how copying you guys takes its toll on his body, and if he doesn’t hold out, Shogo could very well win. Especially with that new tall player that can keep a tight defense. And from the looks of it, Kichan is trying to hold off on copies of the Miracles, and that’s what it might also take to get past him. Kichan can’t possibly go up against those two by himself.”

Aomine was silent, and Kaiba turned his full attention to the game.

As the game progressed, Kaiba was able to see that just like Kise, Haizaki could copy a move by seeing it just once. But as Satsuki had said, once Haizaki copied the move and changed its rhythm, the original player wasn’t able to use it any longer, meaning that Kaijo had to be smart about when and how they used their best moves, which meant Fukuda Shogo quickly got ahead of Kaijo by six points as Kaijo was more often than not missing their baskets.

By the time the third quarter began, some of the players were beginning to look tired on both sides, but Kaiba took notice of the way Kise remained confident despite Haizaki’s unique challenge.

How did Kaijo plan to close the point gap as Haizaki took all their quickly dwindling moves?


“C’mon Kise! Where’s your copies of the Miracles!” Haizaki asked as he guarded him while his own teammates were handling the ball and making their way towards Kaijo’s basket.

Kise only grinned at Haizaki.

“What? You actually think I need them to beat you?” Kise taunted, and this caused Haizaki to frown.

“Are you making fun of me? There’s no way you can win without using your copies!”

As if to prove his point, Haizaki’s teammate scored a three-pointer, making them ahead of Kaijo even more.

Despite the growing gap, Kise didn’t falter in confidence.

“Watch us Shogo! Don’t underestimate my teammates!” Kise retorted, his eyes darkening as his teammate took possession of the ball and made a hard drive towards the opposing basket, and Kise sidestepped another guard while at the same time positioning himself to receive the ball.

Hachiro, as expected of him, managed to successfully pass the ball to Kise, who looked up at the imposing figure of the tall foreign player Fukuda Sogo had managed to recruit. With resolution to win for his team, Kise didn’t hesitate to take on the giant, feigning left and right, doing some complex ball handling moves to confused the giant, before jumping back and making a two-pointer, smiling when he managed to get the better of the tall player and being able to shoot the ball into the basket faster than his opponent could block it, managing to close the gap slightly  between his team and Haizaki’s. As Kise had quickly learned, their tall player might have height and long limbs on his side, but speed was not one of them.

As the third quarter came to a close, Haizaki didn’t stop in his onslaught, scoring yet another basket for Fukuda Sogo.

As Haizaki gave Kise a cocky smirk, Kise only frowned slightly through his labored breathing.

“Are you sure you don’t want to bring out those copies of yours?” Haizaki asked.


As the buzzer sounded the end of the third quarter, Aomine groaned aloud.

“Argh! What is Kise doing! Why hasn’t he copied us to get the better of Haizaki? Is he trying to lose?”

Kaiba had to agree with Aomine. He wasn’t sure what Kise was up to, but it certainly seemed as if he was holding back. He knew Kise was capable of much more, just from his match again Aomine and even more so from the game against Jabberwock. So why was Kise taking it easy on his opponent? Especially against the very player that had worsened the very injury he blamed for not being a better player? Why wasn’t he using his best moves?

What’s your angle, Kise Ryota?

Despite’s Kise’s obvious holding back, Kaiba noticed that his teammates still didn’t look worried as they drank from their water bottles on the bench. Any team behind in points should be worried, especially in the final quarter. And the calmness of Kaijo made Kaiba curious. It seemed Kaiba wasn’t the only one who noticed.

“Neh, Daichan, don’t you think it’s odd that Kaijo doesn’t look nervous?” Satsuki asked with a tone of surprise.

“Eh? What do you mean?” Aomine asked.

“Well, look. They look awfully calm for a team whose majority of moves were stolen by Haizaki and behind in points, especially considering it’s the last quarter. And with Kise not using his copies of the Miracles… it all just seems off.”

Kaiba once more glanced at the duo, and saw Aomine frown as he took a closer look at Kaijo.

“I guess you have a point… do you think they’re up to something?”

Satsuki didn’t answer, and the buzzer signaling the start of the final quarter sounded.


As the ball was once more tipped in the directions of Haizaki’s team, Sogo didn’t hesitate to drive forward, intent on keeping their point gap and score against Kaijo.

But as Haizaki passed Kise, he froze when he noticed that Kise hadn’t followed after him, and instead gone the opposite way towards their basket. Frowning, Haizaki noticed that the formation of Kaijo had changed, and in a split second, the ball was stolen from Sogo by Kaijo’s captain, who rushed forward while the rest of Kaijo marked the opposing players. Seeing what was going on, Haizaki made his way towards Takeshi, who tried to keep the ball away from him, only for Kaijo’s point guard to sneak past them and receive the ball from his captain, causing Haizaki to pivot in shock.

“Steal this, Haizaki!” Hachiro yelled as he moved forward.

Haizaki’s gaze traveled further ahead, where Kise was currently still making his way to their basket, guarded by their giant, and watched as Kise jumped up towards the basket to everyone’s confusion, only for Hachiro to throw the ball into Kise’s waiting hands, and with a perfect pass, Kise slammed the ball into the basket, and the crowd went wild.


 “An alley-oop! Of course!” Satsuki gasped as she watched Kaijo’s play.

Both Kaiba and Aomine turned to look at her, curious at her excitement.

“It’s genius! Shogo might be able to steal a player’s moves, but he can’t steal an alley-oop! This was their plan all along!”

Aomine on the other hand, frowned.

“Well sure, but that won’t work twice against their team now that they know what they’re up to…”

At Aomine’s comment, Satsuki seemed to sober up.

They were surprised however, when both teams regrouped, and yet a new formation was done by Kaijo, their team moving towards a drive, and when it looked like Kise would once again go for an alley-oop, and the giant went to stop him, another of Kise’s teammates snuck around the other side, and rather than Kise receiving the ball, it was the other player who caught it and scored.

Despite knowing what to expect, Kaijo continued to successfully score with alley-oops, with each of the players doing their own combinations, each slightly different from the others, and managed to keep up their defense so they were a solid five points ahead of Sogo by the middle of the last quarter.


“You see Shogo? I don’t have to use my copies, because my team can handle you just fine on their own!” Kise replied as he bounced the ball between them, and Haizaki practically shook with fury.

“But you’re right, I shouldn’t disrespect you by not playing my best. But remember, you asked for this!” Kise said with a grin as he took a step back, and despite being behind the half court line, took the familiar stance of Midorima, and the familiar high arc of Midorima’s famous high trajectory three-point shot made its way into Sogo’s basket, propelling Kaijo in farther ahead in points.

After that, Kise used the rest of the time in the final quarter and the last of his stamina to use his copies of the Miracles and absolutely crush Fukuda Sogo, and by the times the last buzzer sounded, Kaijo was ahead of Fukuda Sogo by fifteen points.

As the players of Fukuda Sogo tried to catch their breath, Kise made his way over to his own team, who converged on him and patted him on the back and slung an arm around him, cheering as they reveled in their victory and the success of their plan.

When it came to bow to the other team, Haizaki refused to even look at Kise as he and his team quickly retreated to retrieve their things before leaving.

Kise thought he would feel prouder about the sound defeat they had accomplished against one of their rival schools, but for some reason, Kise felt a little guilty, and he wasn’t quite sure why.

As he gathered his bag and wiped the sweat from his neck and face, Kise made sure to thank and congratulate his teammates for their solid win, and as he looked up into the stands, he noticed that they were mostly clearing out. It really was a shame that Kaiba never replied to his text, but maybe it was for the better. After all, he really didn’t think his game against Haizaki was that great.

As he followed his team outside the doors and towards the locker, Kise stopped when a familiar shade of pink caught his eye.


“Momocchi! Aominecchi!”

Aomine and Satsuki stopped when they heard the sound of their names being called, and turned to the approaching figure of a smiling Kise.

“Kichan!” Satsuki called out with an excited wave, while Aomine just stuffed his hands in his pockets.

Kise stopped short of them, his smile widening.

“I can’t believe you guys came to my game! Well, I believe that Momocchi came to gather data….” Kise said with a pout at which Satsuki only smiled cutely and tilted her head, “But seeing Aominecchi here! That’s a treat! Wait, is that why you asked when my next game was?”

Aomine only looked away.

“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t lose to that bastard…” Aomine gruffly replied, “Speaking of! What the hell were you thinking holding off on your best copies until the final quarter!”

At the reprimand, Kise rubbed the back of his head and grinned sheepishly.

“Sorry… it was a little reckless but I guess I just wanted to prove a point…” Kise replied.

“You did great Kichan! And the plan you and your team came up with to go against Fukuda Sogo was brilliant!”

Kise smiled brighter as Satsuki’s praise.

“Yeah! It was actually Hachiro that came up with it! He brought it up—” Kise stopped abruptly, and both Satsuki and Aomine frowned in confusion as Kise craned his head to look at something behind them and watched as his face went through a flurry of emotions. First, he frowned, as if catching sight of something unusual, then surprised, only for his face to break out into a bright smile.

“Ah sorry guys! I just saw someone! Thanks for coming to my game! I’ll see you guys next time!”

Kise didn’t wait for their response before he rushed past them in the direction of where Kise had seen what caught his attention.

Both Aomine and Satsuki followed his running figure as he made his way through the still moving crowd of people to a tall brown-haired man with a long white coat leaning against a wall, stopping short of him and smiling brightly at him, looking even more excited than when he had seen them.

“Who is that?” Satsuki asked, eyes wide as she took in the unfamiliar man.

Aomine didn’t answer but frowned as he also took in the form of the man. He looked familiar, but Aomine couldn’t quite place why.

“Wow, that guy is handsome, but I’ve never seen him before… and it didn’t look like Kichan was expecting him. Do you think he’s Kichan’s…” Satsuki stopped herself, remembering just who she was with, and looked to see Aomine’s expression.

It was blank, his usual stoic expression in place as he looked at the two figures.

“It doesn’t matter, let’s go home,” Aomine said, turning and walking towards the exit of the gym.


Kaiba hadn’t exactly planned on sticking around after the game, and it was more of a coincidence when he caught sight of Kise talking to the very same people he has sat next to during the game. He knew he should leave before he saw him, his reason for coming to see his game was only to sate the urge to see a good game and break his monotonous life.

It was also just timing that caused their gaze to meet and Kise to see him, and Kaiba figured that trying to make a break for it would be unsightly. So instead, he merely leaned against the wall beside him and made to show that he was waiting for him.

To his surprise, Kise immediately made his way over to him, the familiar bright smile on his face.

It was odd, no one besides his brother and Yugi ever looked genuinely excited to see him. And unlike the case of Mokuba and Yugi who he had gone through so much with, he hadn’t done anything to really warrant Kise’s excitement.

“Kaibacchi!” Kise cried out as he stopped short of him, and Kaiba took notice of Kise’s bright gold eyes shining as he looked at him, “You came!”

Kaiba gave a simple nod as he crossed his arms in front of him.

“I was nearby for a meeting, and figured I’d see if it was true you would live up to your word.”

Kise did his best to reign in his happiness at seeing Kaiba at his game. After having no response from the young CEO, Kise was beginning to think that maybe Kaiba had given him a fake number after all. It was more than a pleasant surprise to see him at his game. It didn’t even bother him that Kaiba didn’t text him back, just the fact that he had come to his game despite his usually busy schedule more than made up for it.

“Yeah! What did you think? I told you we’d win the next one.”

To this, Kaiba smirked.

“Well I have to say, I didn’t think you had it in you to be so brutal,” he replied.

To this, Kise blinked, looking slightly confused.

“What do you mean?”

“C’mon kid, you practically kicked the other team while they were down during that last quarter,” Kaiba said.

This time, it was Kise that smirked, and Kaiba was surprised to see his eyes darken with something Kaiba could only call malice.  

“Ah well, about that. There’s a good reason for that. I needed to beat Shogo soundly, so he wouldn’t think he had ever had a chance. Shogo has always been a little too full of himself even though he’s lost to me all these years, I thought it would be a good idea to show him his place,” even Kise’s voice sounded different, almost husky and filled with confidence and pride.

Kaiba couldn’t help but give Kise an appraising look. It seemed that despite his pretty boy and cheerful personality, Kise Ryota had a darker side. Perhaps he wasn’t as nice as he made himself out to be, and that certainly made him a little more interesting.

“Hn. Well I must say, you certainly crushed his spirit. Still, it was an interesting match to see someone with a similar playing style as you. For a moment I actually thought you might lose, yet you turned the match around like it was nothing. It was quite impressive, although different from your last game.”

Kise felt himself blush as heat gathered in his cheeks, causing him to duck his chin slightly to try and hide the effect of Kaiba’s praise. It still felt unreal to be recognized by someone like Seto Kaiba, and it was embarrassing how obvious he made it.

Kaiba couldn’t help but feel a trill of pride seeing Kise’s apparent blush and thought that it suited him quite well. The way he ducked his head caused Kaiba to take notice of his particularly long lashes and the warm golden eyes behind them.

“Yo! Kise!”

At the sound of his name, Kise swiveled his head in the direction of the familiar voice. It was Hachiro, who stopped just short of him.

“Everyone is waiting for you. The coach wants to go over the game before we leave,” Hachiro told him, and Kise nodded.

“Oh yeah, sorry. Give me just one more minute! I’ll be right there!” Kise put his hands together in front of him, as if begging for a favor, and Hachiro only gave him an odd look before shrugging and making his way back towards the locker room.

Kise turned back to Kaiba who met his apologetic gaze. Kise didn’t really want to say goodbye. Having the opportunity to see Kaiba recently was something he would never have dreamed of just two weeks ago. To simply bid him goodbye and not know when he would see him again didn’t sound appealing to him.

So Kise did the next best thing.

“Kaibacchi, do you have anywhere to be right now? I know it’s getting late but if you want, we can go grab some food nearby. I can’t promise a grand meal, but we have some decent food places you might like. I just have to talk to my team and change clothes if you don’t mind waiting like ten minutes.”

Kise knew it was a long shot, but then again, so had been inviting him to his game, yet here he was.

Honestly, had Kise known that Kaiba would be watching his game, he would have probably played better and showed off a lot more, but as it was, he had decided to toy with Haizaki more than anything. Perhaps that’s why he had felt a little guilty earlier.  

As Kaiba eyed Kise in front of him, and the hopeful look in his eyes and the apparent desperation in his voice, he couldn’t help but sigh.

Kaiba’s distrustful nature had made him consider a few things since Kise had popped into his life unexpectedly. And with the recent knowledge that Kise had applied to their Marketing Campaign, that part of him wondered if his recent involvement with them was because he hoped to use them in securing a spot for himself in their campaign. After all, working for KaibaCorp would be considered quite an accomplishment for anyone, and the compensation was nothing to scoff at. Did he plan on asking him for favoritism? If that was the case, Kise Ryota would surely be disappointed.

Still… part of Kaiba was interested to see just what kind of play Kise planned on making if that was the case. Kaiba loved nothing more than catching someone in the middle of their plan and thwart their efforts, only to leave them humiliated.

For that reason, he would play whatever game Kise Ryota was getting at.

And if he thought he could use him and his little brother for his own agenda, then he would have another thing coming.

“Sure. I’ll wait for you by the fountain.”

Chapter Text

It took a little longer than he hoped for their coach to wrap up the meeting, and Kise changed lightning fast into his track suit, forgoing a shower as he normally would so that he wouldn’t keep Kaiba waiting longer than he had to. Knowing Kaiba, he would probably leave if Kise took too long.

He could only hope that he didn’t smell too bad from the game and that the amount of deodorant and body spray he used was enough to cover up any bad odors.

After saying a final goodbye to his teammates and turning down invitations to go get something to eat in celebration, Kise rushed in the direction of the fountain where he would meet Kaiba. As he got closer to his destination, Kise silently pleaded that Kaiba still be there, and a he broke through the double doors that led to the courtyard, Kise’s heart raced as he looked around.

It was already dark out, with only a faint hue of purple in the sky. And as Kise took in the scene in front of him, to his relief, the familiar form of Kaiba beside the fountain, his figure and flaring coat illuminated by the outdoor lights from both the fountain and the overhead lamps. Kise smiled, his heart skipping a beat as he was once more taken back by just how handsome Kaiba was, and thanking his lucky stars that he had the opportunity to be in his presence.

“Kaibacchi!” Kise called out, smiling and slowing to a jog as he approached Kaiba, “Sorry it took a bit longer, the coach had more to say than I thought.”

Kaiba didn’t return his smile, just stared back at Kise with his usual stoic face and crossed arms.

“I was just ready to leave if you didn’t show up.”

Kise tried to look apologetic.

“Well, I’m glad you waited,” Kise said, smiling sincerely, “But anyway we should head out! I know the perfect spot that’s walking distance. And I don’t want to take too much of your time, I know it’s a long way home for you.”

Kaiba didn’t say anything, but he did uncross his arms, choosing to put one of his hands in his pockets and looking expectantly at Kise, who took this as his cue to lead the way.

The restaurant Kise had in mind was a place he frequented often when he could. It was kind of a small place, tucked into a corner that wasn’t the most noticeable, and you kind of had to know was there. The only reason Kise had found it was because he had been looking to hide from a group of fan girls that had been following him one day after school.

He knew that it was a place he could have his privacy, and with Kaiba alongside him, privacy was exactly what Kise wanted. Not that he planned on doing anything in particular, but he rather not be seen by anyone that would recognize him and would want to talk. He wanted to make the most of his time with Kaiba.

It was the reason why Kise decided to take the quiet streets, where he knew very few people would be out and about.

As they started what Kise knew would be a ten-minute walk, Kise glanced over to Kaiba who walked beside him in silence. Lucky for him, Kise was used to the silent type. Practically all of the people he tolerated and got along with were the silent types, especially when it came to the Generation of Miracles. He was used to being the one to start conversations, and knew that asking questions was the best way to make conversation with someone who didn’t participate in much small talk.

“Neh, Kaibacchi, why didn’t you text me back? I was beginning to think you gave me the wrong number,” Kise started, stuffing his hands in his pockets to keep them warm from the slight chill in the air.

Kaiba spared him a glance.

“I was busy with work. Some of us have jobs you know.”

To this Kise laughed, as if what Kaiba did could be considered a simple job.

“You call being a CEO a job? That sounds more like lifestyle you know. Did you always want to be a CEO?” he followed up.

Mokuba had already shared a lot of their past with him, especially the reason for pursuing the path to CEO, but Kise wanted to hear it from Kaiba. He wanted to see just how much he was comfortable sharing, and how he made it sound.

“Not particularly. I wanted a comfortable life for Mokuba and I, and it just so happened that the opportunity to become a future CEO crossed my path. I would have been a fool not to take it.”

As expected of Kaiba, he kept his answer vague, but Kise was happy that he had answered him at all, not to mention even though he had kept his answer cryptic, he wasn’t lying.

“That’s pretty amazing Kaibacchi. I envy that you were able to know what you wanted and went for it. And you became a CEO at such a young age. I’m almost eighteen and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life,” Kise added with a sigh, looking up at the sky and the moon that hung over them.

Kaiba once more spared Kise a glance, taking note of his forlorn expression.

“You seem to be doing well for yourself. I noticed you had more than a few scouts keeping an eye on you at the game,” Kaiba said, causing Kise to look at him with surprise.

It wasn’t so much that there were scouts, hell, Kise had scouts since he was a first year. It was more so that Kaiba had noticed. Then again, it was Kaiba. Kise smiled.

“Ah well, like I said during dinner last weekend… It just feels that high school should be it for me as far as basketball is concerned. I’ve always felt that once I graduate, it’s the end of basketball for me too. It’s why I’ve played so hard these past few years. I still love basketball… but I feel that if I keep playing, I’m going to start hating it sooner or later, just like every other sport before I found the Generation of Miracles. I should quit while I’m ahead, while it’s still a nice memory, you know?”

Kaiba absorbed the meaning of his words, trying to decode what Kise meant by it. Kaiba had never played sports to the level that Kise did, so it was hard to relate. But when he thought of it in terms of Duel Monsters, Kaiba was able to understand it a lot more. When Kaiba had been around Kise’s age, Duel Monsters had been the center of his world. He lived and breathed the challenge of it, craved every victory that came his way. When Yugi and the ancient evils they faced came along, Duel Monsters had even more meaning. It wasn’t just a game anymore; it was the difference between life and death.

Now however, Duel Monsters was nothing but a shadow of what it once was. There were no ancient evils, and no rivals at every corner. The thrill that had once accompanied the game was gone, and even though Kaiba still enjoyed the game, he couldn’t say he craved it as he once did. Was that what Kise saw in his future with basketball? If that was the case, he was more intuitive than Kaiba would have thought for someone his age.

“Hn. You sound like an old man.”

At his comment, Kise laughed, his remark lifting his mood a bit.

“You know Kaibacchi, you’re actually kind of funny.”

“You just noticed?”

Kise grinned even wider, just as he caught sight of his destination. The little restaurant was tucked in between a convenience store and a small business, its sign reading ‘Rampo’s’ barely visible from the lack of lighting.

“Ah, here we are Kaibacchi! I know it’s not a five-star restaurant, but the food is really good, they have a lot of original recipes, and it’s nice and quiet for the most part.”

Kise led the way, Kaiba following him into the quaint establishment.

The inside was slightly bigger than Kaiba would have thought from the look of the restaurant from outside, the large room dividing into two sections that were lit by red paper lanterns that gave the place a more calm and private ambiance. Several traditional style pieces of art were hung around the room, portraying coy fish, geisha’s, and dragons.

“Ah, Kise! Welcome!” a young woman with strawberry blonde hair and brown eyes came out from a door to the side of the main entrance, most likely leading to the kitchen of the place. She wore a white button up collared shirt and black pants with a red apron tied around her waist.

“Harumi! Nice to see you!” Kise greeted with a bright smile.

Harumi took notice of Kaiba behind Kise and smiled shyly.

“Good evening sir, welcome to Rampo’s,” she said with a polite bow.

Kaiba said nothing, but nodded in acknowledgement, and Harumi turned back to Kise.

“Do you want to sit at your usual table?”

Kise nodded.

“Yes please!”

Harumi led them to the back of the restaurant, and despite not having many customers at this hour, took them to one of the more secluded tables as far as Kaiba could see. She placed two menus on the table and bowed once more, claiming to be back with water.

Kaiba and Kise settled across from each other, and Kaiba took note of just how at home Kise seemed in this place.

“Seems you come here often,” he noted, and Kise nodded.

“Well, I live by myself, and with basketball practice and games, I don’t always have time or energy to cook for myself, so I end up coming here most of the time. I like it here, and it’s the perfect distance between school and my apartment. Not to mention, Rampo and Harumi give me a discount,” Kise added with a proud wink.

Kaiba knew that it wasn’t unusual for high school kids to live by themselves in order to be closer to their school in Japan, but it was something Kaiba had never had to experience for himself. It made Kaiba wonder about Kise’s family, and how far they were from him.

“How far from your hometown do you live?” Kaiba found himself asking.

Kise was surprised by Kaiba’s interest, but it made him smile as he answered.

“Well, my family and I have lived in a few places growing up, but right now my parents and two older sisters live in Tama,” Kise replied, delighted that Kaiba had taken initiative to ask about him.

“I see,” Kaiba said, looking at the menu in front of him.

He hadn’t eaten since about noon, and he was hungry. The selection wasn’t large, but full of traditional dishes, and Kaiba was surprised to also see some western style food. By the time Harumi came back however, Kaiba knew what he wanted. He was surprised to see that Harumi had brought some appetizers alongside the water that she set down on the table in front of them.

“Rampo says on the house,” she said with a smile, making Kise smile widely.

“Awe, tell him I said thank you!” Kise replied and Harumi nodded.

“What will you have today Kise?”

“My usual after a game,” Kise replied, and Kaiba noticed that he hadn’t so much as touched the menu. Harumi probably never gave him a menu when he came and did so today out of courtesy to Kaiba.

“Oh! How was your game?” she asked.

Kise gave her a thumbs up with an accompanying grin.

“Nailed it!”

Harumi smiled.

“That’s great Kise! Congratulations!”

Harumi then turned to Kaiba.

“Have you decided on what to have, sir?” she asked, and Kaiba nodded.

“I’ll have the namerou,” he said, and Kise blinked as he saw the way her eyes brightened at Kaiba’s choice.

“Good choice! Rampo makes a delicious mackerel!” Harumi replied, “Anything to drink?”

“No thank you, water is enough,” Kaiba replied, and Kise shook his head.

Taking the menus from the table, Harumi nodded before leaving.

It wasn’t long before Kise turned his attention to the appetizers that Harumi had brought, gyoza and shumai.

“Itadakimasu!” he said, before breaking his chopsticks and grabbing a gyoza and dipping it into the soy sauce beside it.

“You sure are spoiled here,” Kaiba commented as he watched Kise eagerly eat the appetizer.

Kise smiled as he chewed.

“Well, they like me because I also give them free tickets to my games, they’re actually big fans of mine,” Kise replied once he finished the food in his mouth, “Eat Kaibacchi! Don’t make me feel bad.”

Kaiba broke his own chopsticks and grabbed a hold of a shumai, actually one of his preferred appetizers. It tasted better than he expected, maybe even better than most he had had at higher tier establishments.

“I’m always starving after a game,” Kise mentioned, taking a sip of his water.

Kaiba looked at Kise, thinking back to the game and not surprised that he would be hungry after it. After all, Haizaki hadn’t seemed like the easiest opponent, despite the victory.

“What’s the story behind number eight? He seemed to have the same ability as you to copy moves after only seeing it once,” Kaiba brought up.

Kise blinked at him, not surprised that Kaiba was able to catch Haizaki’s ability.

“Ah, well his name is Haizaki Shogo. We actually went to middle school together when the Generation of Miracles first started there. He was actually one of the original starters before I joined the team. He’s always been kind of a brat. He rarely went to practices and had an awful attitude, but he did his part on the team and helped them win so no one did much to him.”

“I joined kind of late, but when I started we had a bad relationship. He didn’t like me very much, and tried to one up me during practice all the time. Like his ability of stealing moves, he was constantly trying to take things from others. Once he even tried to steal this girl that called herself my girlfriend, when she wasn’t even my girlfriend to begin with! Anyway, since I’m a fast learner I was quickly added to first string, and from then Shogo became even more competitive with me. Eventually though, he ended up leaving the team, it seemed kind of sudden at the time, but I guess Akashi told him to quit since he knew I would soon replace him.

Ever since then Shogo has pretty much hated me. He’s the one that injured my foot when I was still recovering from my first injury during our first-year competition. He’s the reason we lost against Shutoku in the inter-high, and only got fourth place. Because of my injury I couldn’t play in the game, and my team lost. Thankfully we got our revenge during the inter-high the following year! We made it to the semi-finals but lost against Touo. Rakuzan ended up winning that year, but Touo managed to win the Winter Cup since Akashicchi was away on an important family business trip during that competition, and Rakuzan didn’t make it past the quarter-finals without him. Man, that was a good match though! It’s too bad Kagamicchi went back to America before that, Seirin isn’t the same without him.”

Kaiba raised an eyebrow at Kise, surprised that it seemed he hadn’t taken a moment to breathe during that entire conversation. Kise also seemed to realize his talking and blushed in embarrassment.

“Hehe, oops, I’m rambling. Sorry Kaibacchi, sometimes I don’t realize how much I talk. You probably don’t even know who I’m talking about.”

No, he didn’t, but he did recall Touo being the school Kaiba had seen Kise play against the first time he saw him play, and Rakuzan the team that Akashi Seijuro led. Kagami he barely recalled from the match with Vorpal Swords.

“So anyway Kaibacchi, how’s Mokubacchi been? I’ve been meaning to text him but keep forgetting.”

Kaiba took a sip of his water before answering.

“He’s been busy with school since he got back. According to him he has an important research project to do for the next few weeks. It might be hard to get a hold of him if you want to talk to him.”

Kise made a noise of understanding.

“That’s a shame. I really liked hanging out with him. I think we could be really good friends,” Kise admitted.

“He seems to have taken a liking to you too.”

Kise smiled. He didn’t plan on telling Kaiba, but Mokuba had asked him to try and be friends with Kaiba if he could. He had said that he was worried that his brother worked too much, and never put effort into making any friends, and since Mokuba studied abroad, he wasn’t able to be there for his brother like he used to be. He was glad that Mokuba had confided in him for that, but Kise was more than glad to befriend Kaiba even without Mokuba having asked him.

Then again, considering the moment they had shared that past weekend, an even bigger part of Kise hoped that friends was only the beginning of what they could be… Kise was still trying to convince himself that it had happened to begin with, and that he hadn’t just imagined it all. He also hoped that the fact that Kaiba had taken the time to come to his game meant that it wasn’t all in his mind, and that he was at least a little bit interested in something, even if that something was just friendship.

There were too many unknowns when it came to Kaiba, but Kise felt driven by the fact that the handsome man was sitting across from him.

“Say, Kaibacchi,” Kise said as he broke from his thoughts, “let’s play a game.”

Kaiba met his gaze, his interest piqued, and Kise continued.

“Twenty questions. We take turns asking each other questions, and we have to answer truthfully. But you can also pass if you don’t feel comfortable answering anything.”

Kaiba raised an eyebrow.

“Sounds more like truth or dare without the dare. You do know that 20 questions is an actual game right? And its not played like that at all,” Kaiba retorted, causing Kise to blink.

“Eh, is that so? Well okay, let’s call it Truth or Pass!” Kise replied with a grin.

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at the much too enthusiastic boy.

“No. I don’t play juvenile games.”

Kise immediately pouted at Kaiba’s response.

“C’mon Kaibacchi! It’s a good way to get to know each other!”

Kaiba sighed, sitting up straighter.

“Who said I want to get to know you?”

More and more Kaiba was beginning to regret his decision to come here. Sure, he wanted to know what Kise’s motives were, and sure, maybe this was a great way to answer some of his questions, but there was also no guarantee that Kise would be honest with his answers. Still… perhaps he could have a little fun with this mini interrogation.

“Kaibacchi!” Kise whined louder, and Kaiba could have sworn this is what a kicked puppy looked like.

“What do I have to gain from this?” Kaiba asked, crossing his arms in front of him and leaning against the back of his seat, intent on playing his part of stubborn.

Kise pouted. Honestly? What did Kise have to offer to someone like Kaiba that had everything he could ever want and more? This was such an unfair question. Kise leaned his cheek against one of his hands, a thoughtful look on his face. Thinking was not his forte, he left that to his superiors and captains, but Kise decided to just go with the first thing that popped into his head.

“You drive a hard bargain Kaibacchi. How about you get to ask two questions per turn and I’m not allowed to pass anything? And, I won’t tell anyone about the things you do tell me!” Kise offered, a focused look on his face as he leaned forward and stared hard at Kaiba, willing him to agree to his terms.

Kaiba smirked at his offer. For someone that was used to bargaining entire livelihoods, Kise’s offer over a silly game was certainly humorous. Still, so long as Kise was honest, he could possibly have more leverage to use over him later on.

“You do realize that in the business world, your word means nothing if it’s not on paper,” Kaiba challenged, and Kise blinked at him.

“So… you want me to write it down?” Kise asked, a confused look on his face.

Normally, Kaiba wouldn’t hesitate to talk down to someone that asked such an obvious question… but oddly enough, he found the look on Kise’s face endearing. The thought immediately caused him to frown.

“Obviously,” Kaiba replied.

Kise blinked once more before opening his school bag and looking around, before taking out a notebook and pencil.

“Okay! If it will get you to play with me, I have no problem being legally responsible,” Kise said as he opened the plain notebook to a clean sheet, “although I see why you have a hard time making friends Kaibacchi.”

Kaiba glared at the blonde in front of him.

“Good thing for you Kaibacchi, I don’t mind challenges,” Kise added, this time with a confident grin.

“Joy,” Kaiba replied flatly, causing Kise to laugh.

“Okay so how do you usually start this stuff in movies….” Kise said as he held the pen in his hand over the first line in the paper.

“I, Kise Ryota, promise that in this game of Truth or Pass, will answer two questions instead of one, cannot pass or lie, and will not speak to anyone about the questions asked or answered during the game,” Kise read aloud as he wrote it out.

“There! How does that sound?” Kise asked as he looked back at Kaiba.

“Not bad for someone that knows nothing about business,” Kaiba commented, “However, I think I’ll have you add that should you break any of the conditions, you will pay in restitution as seen fit my me, Seto Kaiba.”

Kise blinked at Kaiba once more.

“Heh you really drive a hard bargain Kaibacchi, but fine!” Kise went ahead to add Kaiba’s request in the sheet in front of him, only to sign his name below the impromptu document and add the date next to it.

“Is that good enough?” Kise asked.

“You do realize this means that should I catch you in a lie I can ask whatever I want of you right?” Kaiba asked the much to proud looking blonde in front of him.

Kise only grinned wider.

“Yep! That’s okay, my life is an open book! And I trust that despite your reputation, I don’t think you’d be too harsh with me. And I don’t plan to lie to you,” Kise said with such a soft look on his face that it caught Kaiba off guard.

Kaiba wasn’t sure whether to believe that this guy was that genuine or just plain stupid. Despite the legal aspect of it though, Kaiba knew that if he really caught Kise in a lie, evidence to back up his case would all be circumstantial unless it was caught in video. Still, for someone to do something so reckless for a mere game. It was stupidity as its finest.

Kaiba sighed.

“Alright, fine. I’ll indulge you.”

Kise grinned widely, not caring how easily Kaiba had given into his demands.

“Ok! I’ll go first then!” Kise began, taking a moment to think before his eyes brightened with excitement, “How many languages do you know?”

Kaiba considered just passing every question Kise asked, but that might only serve to cut the game short.

“Fluent in four, and a moderate amount in two others,” Kaiba replied, and watched in amusement as Kise’s eyes widened.

“What! I expected more than one… but six? You really are amazing Kaibacchi!” Kise said.

Kaiba said nothing, already thinking of what his first question would be. After all, to anyone who wants to grow their business, knowing multiple languages is a must.

“My turn,” Kaiba said, and Kise tenses in preparation.

It was only then that Kise became nervous. Kaiba was a genius, which meant he probably wouldn’t ask any silly questions like Kise planned on doing. He knew that since Kaiba was a private person, it would be better to keep his questions general, and perhaps test his luck as they went along. There were a few questions he was dying to ask, but questions he wasn’t sure Kaiba would easily answer. He however, was doubly vulnerable to whatever Kaiba wanted to ask. And even though Kise didn’t think he had anything to hide per se, he wasn’t sure what to expect from Kaiba’s questions. And unlike Kaiba, Kise had nothing protecting him. He could only hope Kaiba wasn’t as bad as some people made him out to be.

“When I first introduced myself to you, you didn’t seem to recognize me, but when we dueled, you seemed familiar with my play style and favorite cards, did you already know who I was or not?”

As expected of Kaiba, he hit right where it counted. Kise had known who Kaiba was, but he had pretended not to, to save face. The thought caused Kise to grin sheepishly.

“I did know who you were, I’ve known who you were since I started playing Duel Monsters as a kid and you created your holographic technology,” Kise replied.

At his answer, Kaiba narrowed his eyes.

“Good thing I have two questions per round, now, why did you pretend not to know me?” Kaiba asked, and once more Kise was reminded that Kaiba knew exactly what to ask.

Kise didn’t really have to think too hard for his answer. The memory was still clear in his mind of the moment it happened. Still… how to properly word it without being too embarrassed…

“Well, when you first talked to me you were kind of condescending…” Kise started, rubbing the back of his head and trying to not sound offensive but truthful. He could have certainly used more colorful wording when it came to how Kaiba came off during their first meeting, but he knew that would get him nowhere he wanted.

“So I thought maybe you were a bully or had a grudge against me, and didn’t want to seem intimidated. And when you revealed who you were, I was taken off guard, but I didn’t want to seem uncool by acting like one of my fan girls…especially around one of my childhood idols. I was actually really happy when Mokubacchi approached me and told me about seeing KaibaCorp for myself, because it gave me the chance to be able to plan on fulfilling my childhood dream to duel you,” Kise admitted, and when he felt himself blush, looked off to the side rather than chance a look at Kaiba’s expression. Although knowing him, it was probably the same stoic look he always had on his face.

Kaiba found himself believing Kise. Either that, or he was that good of an actor. More than that however, his answer also revealed more about Kise. It seemed he was not unfamiliar with bullies, which he could see why from Haizaki alone. Just how often did Kise have to deal with people with grudges against him? It also seemed that Kise was familiar with fan girls, and considering his good looks, didn’t come as a surprise to Kaiba either. During high school, and even now, Kaiba was aware he had a few fan girls himself, and how annoying they could be. He could understand why Kise would not want to come off that way. Mokuba had already told him how they had planned the surprise duel, so Kaiba knew that Kise was telling the truth on that as well.

And for the love of the Egyptian Gods, why did Kaiba feel the desire to make Kise blush and look embarrassed more often?

“My turn Kaibacchi?” Kise asked tentatively when Kaiba didn’t say anything to his answer.

Kaiba gave a single nod.

Kise felt on the spot. After answering that question, he wasn’t quite sure what to ask next, until he thought of the one question that had egged Kise to ask Kaiba to come to his game.

“Well… after seeing this game, did I end up making you a fan?” Kise asked, his embarrassment momentary forgotten as pride and excitement replaced it at the thought of finally getting his answer.

Seeing how excited Kise was, Kaiba knew exactly what to do to get under his skin, and smirked at what he knew would come.

“Pass.”

As expected, Kise’s face immediately dropped, and Kaiba felt both accomplished and amused at all the drastic changes that Kise’s face was going through in such a short amount of time.

“Kaibacchi!” Kise practically shrieked, “that’s so not fair!”

Kaiba grinned wider.

“I’m not obligated to answer, remember? You should have had me sign something. Bad business practice, kid.”

Kise pouted and crossed his arms, glaring at Kaiba as hard as he could, and looking much like a too-old toddler who hadn’t gotten his way.

“I hate you right now.”

For the first time in a long time, Kaiba had the urge to laugh, but as always, Kaiba held himself in check and suppressed that urge.

Kise sighed, and averted his gaze to the side.

“Whatever, just ask your questions. You probably just won’t tell me because you want me to invite you to more of my games.”

While Kaiba certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a few more of Kise’s games against other members of the Generation of Miracles, he certainly wouldn’t let that fact be known.

There wasn't a lot Kaiba cared to know about Kise, and the only reason Kaiba had agreed to this ridiculous game was to find out about his intentions when it came to his involvement with him and Mokuba, and how that coincidently happened while trying to be hired as part of their Marketing campaign.

“It must get pretty expensive living on your own away from your family. Do you have a job outside of basketball?”

Shit.

The one question that Kise didn’t want to answer. The one thing he wanted to keep a surprise.

Had Mokuba mentioned it? Mokuba knew he was a model, but he hadn’t told him he had hoped to audition for KaibaCorp, and he had been careful during his time with them to steer clear of that topic. But if Kaiba had asked… then he had to suspect something, or even already know. And if he lied, he would call him out and thanks to the piece of paper Kise had just signed, would no doubt use it against him and get something out of him. Well, if that was the case, Kise would do more harm lying.

“Well, I’m also a model actually,” Kise replied with a sheepish smile.

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed. So, he told the truth. It was a start, but only a start. Now to dig deeper.

“Seems like you really do have a full plate. Modeling atop of basketball, that’s quite a bit for a high schooler to handle.”

Kise was able to see that Kaiba didn’t look at all surprised by his admission. Most people tended to be surprised to know he modeled, but then again, it was Kaiba, who showed little of any kind of emotion no matter the situation in the short time he had known him.

“Do you have any big auditions coming up?” Kaiba asked, and Kise froze.

He knew.

He absolutely knew.

He had to, right?

Should he try to bluff his way out of it? Maybe tell the truth without saying where his audition was?

Kise was taking too long to answer, and it caused Kaiba to narrow his eyes at him.

“Well… there is one big audition I have in a few weeks. I actually just got the call today and I’m really excited to try my luck.”

Kise was glad that Kaiba’s two questions were over, but despite it being his turn, he just knew that Kaiba would ask him who he had the audition with. He really would prefer to keep that part a secret, if only to save face if he didn’t make the auditions.

As if fate knew that Kise needed an intervention, Harumi arrived with the food in tow, and it was only then that Kise realized he had almost forgotten exactly where they were and how hungry he had been. His hunger was practically nonexistent, but the delicious aroma of the food made his stomach churn with newfound appetite as their plates were put in front of them.

“Ah, it smells delicious as always!” Kise said, and Harumi smiled.

“I’m glad, can I get you anything else?”

Kise looked to Kaiba with silent question, and when Kaiba shook his head, Kise looked back to Harumi.

“We’re okay, thank you Harumi,” Kise said.

Harumi gave one last smile and bow before leaving them to their dinner, and Kise took the moment to give his full attention to the food as to prolong any further questions. Maybe, if he played his cards right, he could forgo the game all together so that he wouldn’t have to answer any more questions about his audition. Kise had thought that this would be a good opportunity to get to know Kaiba, but now he realized he had sold himself short.

Perhaps turning the focus to the food would be a good way to escape his self-imposed interrogation.

After a game, Kise always had udon and vegetable tempura to replenish his energy and feed his muscles, not to mention, it was one of the few times he could enjoy high carb meals without guilt to maintain his model physique.  And by far, Rampo’s udon and tempura was his favorite. The bowl of udon was steaming hot, the aroma savory even without the added seasoning on the side. Each vegetable tempura was golden to perfection, and Kise felt his mouth water.

Looking over at Kaiba’s plate, his food looked just as appetizing, if not more. The presentation was definitely much fancier than Kise’s plate, and from the way Harumi had reacted to Kaiba’s choice, it seemed this was probably one of Rampo’s favorite dishes to make, and the way he set up the plates showed it.

The white bowl held tightly packed white rice at the bottom, topped with what looked like chopped fish that must have been the mackerel Harumi had mention, mixed with chives and other green garnishes that Kise couldn’t identify. It was a dish that Kise would have never thought to order himself, but it seemed fitting for a man as put together as Kaiba.

“Your dish looks good Kaibacchi! Are you a big fan of fish?” Kise asked, taking a bite of one of the sweet potato tempura, resisting the urge to moan at how it seemed to melt in his mouth.

“Is that your question?” Kaiba asked, chopsticks posed to grab a bite of his food as he looked at Kise.

Kise for his part, kicked himself for forgetting the nature of the game he started and wasting it on a question like that.

“Will you let me change it if I say no?” Kise asked sheepishly.

“No,” at his flat answer, Kise couldn’t help laughing.

“I didn’t think so, so I guess that is my question,” Kise replied.

As if wanting to torture him, making Kise wonder if he would pass again or actually answer, Kaiba took a bite of his food, chewing leisurely while Kise waited, but also taking advantage of the drawn out silence to enjoy his own food.

Finally, Kaiba swallowed, and Kise’s chewing slowed.

“I prefer steak,” Kise was hoping that Kaiba would elaborate, but it seemed that was all he would disclose even with such a simple question.

So the ball was back in Kaiba’s court, and Kise knew the question Kaiba was bound to ask.

Kaiba for his part, debated if he should end the game so soon. He knew he should, to prolong his answer was only a waste of time, but a part of him wanted to know more about the boy that was Kise Ryota.

“Who is your favorite Generation of Miracles player?” Kaiba asked, and Kise’s eyes widened in shock.

“Neh, that’s an unusual question to ask Kaibacchi,” Kise replied, honestly surprised that Kaiba had steered from the modeling questions toward basketball instead. Still, it was a question Kise was delighted to answer, but maybe not the easiest one…

“Well,” Kise started, putting his chopsticks down in a way that showed he was thinking deeply about it.

“I guess if I had to choose… it would be Kurokocchi!” Kise answered excitedly with a bright and honest smile.

Kaiba could see by the look on Kise’s face that this Kurokocchi made Kise happy with just the thought of him, and he wondered why that was, not to mention, he didn’t even know who this Kurokocchi was.

“Which one is he?”

Kise’s face brightened even more.

“Kurokocchi was my basketball mentor in middle school! He plays for Seirin now.  After I joined basketball and got put into first string, Kurokocchi was assigned to teach me the ropes. He isn’t a like the rest of the Generation of Miracles, when I first met him, I was completely underwhelmed. He was awful! Couldn’t even make a shot! I couldn’t understand how he was a starter in a team of prodigies. It kind of pissed me off actually,” Kise chuckled, and Kaiba could see that as he spoke, Kise was thinking back to his memories of that time, he could see it in the emotions of his eyes.

“But when I saw him play, saw his amazing passes and the way he changed the momentum of a game, it changed the way I saw him. I guess what makes Kurokocchi amazing is that even though he was horrible at basketball, he never gave up on the sport he loved, and found a way to be useful to the rest of the team…”

Kise paused to take a bite of his tempura, but Kaiba could tell from the far-off look in his eye that he wasn’t done.

“I guess that since I’ve always been good at sports, I was never able to relate to people like Kurokocchi, and he inspired me to stop thinking about just me and really see and appreciate those that work so much harder to be where people like me and the rest of the Generation of Miracles are. See, in middle school, winning was easy, and we never had to worry about each other, and since no one could challenge us, we were pretty inconsiderate to the other teams. Kurokocchi reminded us what it meant to enjoy basketball again, and to respect the basketball from other teams even if they weren’t as strong as us.”

The look on Kise’s face was one of contentment, and for a moment, Kaiba felt an emotion he tended to push to the back of his mind. Here was a seventeen-year old boy. A boy who had barely lived, who seemed to have had a relatively easy life, who had probably not seen nearly as much as he had seen in his own life, and yet… he looked as if he had discovered the key to life when he talked about his experiences with basketball. It made Kaiba angry, how naively happy Kise seemed. And if he thought too hard about it, Kaiba knew that he was angry because he envied that look on Kise’s face. That look that said Kise was genuinely happy with his life, when all his life, Kaiba had searched for a semblance of that same happiness that he had yet to find. It was that look that Yugi always had, that even that nobody and talentless Wheeler did.

How could people that had nothing seem so happy, while someone like him, who had everything, felt so numb?

“Kaibacchi… it’s my turn,” Kise said, breaking Kaiba from his thoughts.

Kaiba took another bite of his food. It really was a decent meal.

“You know my rivals…Who is your rival?” Kise asked, eyes bright with curiosity.

Kaiba blinked.

His rival? Well, it was an easy question. His rival had always been the Pharaoh. Atem. He had thought it was Yugi at first, but after everything they went through connected to their ancient pasts, it was obvious that only Atem could be considered his rival. Yugi was good no doubt, he had managed to defeat Atem as only a King of Games could, but he was never able to see Yugi as his rival after everything was made clear. Perhaps it was the fact that he was never able to defeat Atem that made him his rival, and he had never pursued the same path with Yugi. To him, Yugi had always just been the vessel to the Pharaoh. Sure, with time he was able to see Yugi as more than that, but still never to the same caliber as his rival.

“My rival… the only person I’ve ever considered a rival was in duel monsters. The one person I was never able to defeat. He bested me time and time again, no matter how often I changed my deck and strategies. He seemed to always be one step ahead. He’d spew nonsense like destiny, friendship, and heart of the cards. As if he knew all the answers in the world…”

Kise blinked, his heart beating faster in is chest. The look on Kaiba’s face was different. For the first time, he was able to see a hint of genuine emotion in his eyes. He looked pained, in a way that made Kise hurt in turn. He found himself wanting to reach out and comfort Kaiba, but knowing better, held himself back. Kaiba wasn’t the type to accept comfort.

Still, Kise was surprised that Kaiba had answered. He was even more surprised by the answer itself. Even though Kaiba had been as vague as could be… Kise felt as if Kaiba had told him a story heavier than the words could speak for themselves. Kise knew what a rival was, knew the effect that it had on people, knew the weight they could be. And somehow, he could see that Kaiba’s rival was indeed a formidable person. They had to be, if Seto Kaiba himself could look so pained at the thought of them.

For his part, Kaiba didn’t know why he told Kise. He should have passed such an intrusive question, but the words escaped him before he could stop himself. Had he been too lost in thought?

Kaiba clenched his fist. Worse yet... why did telling Kise make him somehow feel lighter?

“Kaibacchi…”

As Kaiba looked up from his food to meet Kise’s gaze, he was taken aback by the look on his face. Kaiba was already used to seeing the myriad of emotions that Kise was capable of, but this look was different. It was soft, in a way that Kaiba wasn’t used to seeing when it came to how people looked at him, and his golden eyes spoke of a warmth that only Mokuba and perhaps his parents had ever looked at him with.

“I really want to play Duel Monsters with you again…” Kise’s voice was soft, almost a whisper to Kaiba’s ears. It wasn’t a proclamation, not the way Kaiba was used to being challenged by most duelists. There was something different about the way Kise said it…as if the idea of playing with him was something to be cherished…exalted… desired. It was a look of longing, the look of a man who had found something worth chasing...

Ba dump.

And for the first time in his entire life…

Seto Kaiba felt his heart skip a beat.


After that moment, their “game” was over. Neither quite willing to continue.

For his part, Kise was glad that he hadn’t had to tell Kaiba about his auditions with KaibaCorp and hoped that it meant Kaiba still didn’t know about it.

Kise spent the rest of dinner talking about himself mostly. He told Kaiba about how his sister got him into modeling, and about the shoot he had next week that involved being a merman for a mermaid tail making company that had recently taken off in popularity and was trying to market to the male demographic.

Afraid that Kaiba would still ask about his upcoming audition with KaibaCorp, he steered the conversation away from modeling to his younger days when he was more active with duel monsters. He told Kaiba about the best cards he managed to win from people, and the kind of decks he had made over the years only to recently find out that his mom had given away all his cards to one of the neighboring kids.

“I really thought I was done with duel monsters… but when I met you and Mokubacchi… I knew that I had to play against you. I knew I couldn’t let that chance slip by… so I put together a new deck and well… you know the rest…” Kise said.

Their plates were empty, the two having finished quite a bit ago. Kise didn’t know how much time had passed, he only knew that he wished they could stay longer, but also knew that Kaiba had a long way back home and a company to get back to in the morning. He couldn’t keep him back much longer.

“You mean to say you put that deck together in a week?” Kaiba asked, an eyebrow raised.

Kise grinned sheepishly. Technically… it had been two weeks since Kise had started putting his deck together when he first heard about the auditions… but Kaiba didn’t need to know that.

“Well, I had some help from Momocchi, Akashicchi, and Midorimacchi, but for the most part I really did have to scout around and try my luck. It actually ended up kind of expensive,” Kise scratched at his cheek when he remembered just how much money he had spent on packs and rare cards, not to mention the traveling costs for places that were a fair distance away.

Kaiba was impressed.

To put a deck together like the one Kise had… it was the kind of deck that took people months and tournaments to put together, but Kise had done it in a week? And to come so close to defeating him with it…

It was then that Harumi came with the check and placed it on the table with a smile.

“Take your time,” she said, before turning back to attend to a different table.

Kise was reaching for the check when Kaiba beat him to it, making Kise blink only to frown at the older man.

“Kaibacchi! Give me that! I was the one who invited you, I should be paying!” Kise protested with a pout.

Kaiba was quiet for a moment, and only spared Kise a look before taking out some cash and placing it on the table.

“Consider it a reward for winning your game.”

Kise was about to protest some more, but once more, Kaiba beat him to it.

“Besides, you should save your money to get better cards if you plan to beat me in Duel Monsters.”

Kise blinked again, before smiling at what Kaiba’s words implied.

“Deal!” he replied happily, causing Kaiba to look away.

“My driver will be here soon; do you need a ride home?” Kaiba asked as Kise gathered his things, after all, it was only right to offer.

At the question, Kise paused. While he would love to spend more time with Kaiba, Kise really didn’t want to keep him any longer than he had.

“Ah no that’s alright, thank you! You have a long way home and I could use the walk home. It’s not very far and I really like walking at night.”

Kaiba shrugged.

“Have it your way.”

Kise smiled as they stood and he slung his bag over his shoulder.

“Kaibacchi… it really means a lot to me that you came to my game and had dinner with me,” he said.

Kaiba huffed as he led the way towards the restaurant’s exit.

“Don’t overthink it. Like I said, I was nearby and had nothing better to do.”

Kise sweat dropped as he followed, why did he feel as if he was talking to Midorima?

Catching sight of Harumi, Kise waived to catch her eye.

“Have a goodnight Harumi! Tell Rampo I said the food was delicious as always and I’ll be back soon!”

Harumi smiled and offered a small wave back.

“Have a good night! See you next time!” she replied.

As Kise and Kaiba exited into the cool night, Kise felt both refreshed and tired. After sitting down for so long, his legs felt a little heavier than usual from the game.

“Either way Kaibacchi, I had fun with you! And now that I know your phone works, I’m going to text you every day until you reply!” Kise said, pointing in Kaiba’s direction accusingly.

Kaiba grimaced, somehow knowing Kise would do as he said.

“I make no promises…”

Kise laughed and it was then that a familiar car pulled up in front of the restaurant.

“Well Kaibacchi… have a good night, and a safe trip,” Kise said, stuffing his hands in his sweatpants pockets as we watched Kaiba approach the car.

Kaiba only spared him a glance before he opened the car door and entered the vehicle, closing the door behind him.

Chapter Text

Kise had held true to his word.

A few days after his dinner with Kaiba, Kise had probably texted him at least twenty times a day.

It had become like an experiment to him, seeing what Kaiba would text back to and what he would ignore completely.

Kise started with general questions; birthday, favorites; color, number, drink, location, book, sports team. To which Kaiba had answered as vague as could be; Wednesday, blue you idiot, all of them, whatever sounds good at the time, away from idiots, a good one, and sports are stupid, especially basketball.

Basically, Kise learned that Kaiba was far more sarcastic than he would have guessed. Still, his answers always brought a smile to Kise's face and a feeling of accomplishment for managing to at least get a response out of the guy, even if they never told him anything of actual value.

Kise would also send him funny memes and cute and funny animal videos. Those he mostly did in hopes that it might make him smile even a little, a thought he sincerely doubted he would ever admit if any ever did.

The last thing that Kise did was send him pictures he would take, whether it was of himself, whatever was in front of him, or scenery around him.

He had asked Kaiba to send him pictures too but had only received a flat no.

Despite it all, Kise was having fun. The small interactions that he had with Kaiba brightened his day considerably and put him in a better mood.

It was what he had missed when it came to having a crush, which he knew it was exactly what Kaiba was to him now.

For years it had been Aomine that had given him that kind of excitement and after their breakup, it was nice to have those warm fluttery feelings again.

Even if nothing came out of it, Kise welcomed the distraction that was Seto Kaiba.

“Kichan!”

Kise looked up from his seat at the booth of a nearby ice cream shop, and smiled at the approaching figure of his pink-haired friend as she slid into the seat across from him, bright and eager smile on her face.

“Hi Momocchi!” Kise greeted, but his expression changed to one of confusion when he looked behind her towards the door, surprised when he didn’t see a familiar figure right behind her.

“No Aominecchi with you today?” he voiced his thought as he looked at the girl across from him.

Momoi shook her head.

“Kichan, you act as if I’m always with Daichan! Sometimes even I need a break from him you know,” she replied with a sheepish grin.

Kise couldn’t say he blamed her, Aomine could be a handful sometimes with his attitude and lack of filter. Still, it was odd when Momoi wasn’t attached to Aomine at the hip. It was something that had intimidated Kise during the time he had liked Aomine before they dated. The two were inseparable, and Kise had thought that they could end up together despite Momoi’s crush on Kuroko. But, after being both their friends for years, Kise knew that the two were more like best friends and a little bit of siblings to each other.

“I thought this would make up for having him get in the way of our last hang-out to help with your deck,” she added.

“Ah, well it’ll be nice to catch up with you Momocchi!” Kise told her.

Kise had admitted to himself that he hadn’t been too fond of Momoi in the beginning. He had thought her ability to gather information was useful for their team during Teiko, but had thought little else of her. It had annoyed him that she was always around Aomine, making it hard for Kise to get him to himself, and it annoyed him that she brought it upon herself to call him ‘Kichan’, despite his own habit of adding -cchi to certain people’s names.

It had only been during his time in high school that the two had grown closer. Momoi had been the first person to guess at his crush on Aomine and confront him about it. Then again, he was sure Akashi had probably known since the beginning, after all, he hadn’t seemed at all surprised when they made their relationship known to them.

Momoi had told him that she didn’t have any negative thoughts about his crush, and that she would support them and help in any way she could if Kise wanted to pursue Aomine instead of liking him from afar. Kise had been hesitant at first, but he knew Momoi was trustworthy, and finally having someone to talk to about his deepest secret was a welcomed relief.

He had a feeling that it was thanks to Momoi that Aomine hadn’t been too surprised when he finally confessed at the basketball court that day, but neither had ever told him exactly what she might have told him. Still, knowing her cleverness, she had probably planted ideas and thoughts to get Aomine to start thinking about Kise as more than just a friend and rival, something that Aomine had later confessed he had always thought about but had ignored since he thought he was supposed to only see girls in that way. Momoi had probably known this about him too and was the reason she wanted them to be together and encouraged Kise to pursue him.

Despite how things had ended, Kise was grateful for what Momoi did, and he was glad to have a feminine figure in his life besides his sisters, mother and manager that he could go to that didn’t annoy him like the vast majority of females in his life.

Which was why he welcomed her friendship, even after his breakup with Aomine. He was glad that she hadn’t come along with Aomine, actually. The less contact with him outside of basketball, the better.

“So Kichan, when is your duel? You never told us when you would do it,” Momoi asked, looking at Kise intently with her bright red eyes.

Kise grinned sheepishly. In truth, he had never told his friends outside of Akashi what had happened between him and Kaiba. It was out of embarrassment more than anything, really. And hoped that in his rematch with Kaiba he would be able to win and then be able to tell his friends about it.

“Ah about that…” Kise clapped his hands in front of him, “Please don’t be mad… but…”

There was a brief pause, as Momoi looked at Kise expectantly.

“I already dueled him…” Kise said, admonished look on his face.

As expected, Momoi’s eyes widened, before her surprised turned into an angry pout.

“Kichan!” Momoi whined, “Why didn’t you tell us! I wanted to see the duel!”

Kise smiled apologetically.

“I’m sorry Momocchi… it’s just that it was kind of an unexpected opportunity that came up, and I couldn’t pass it up! And well… I ended up losing so I was kind of embarrassed to bring it up…” Kise admitted.

Her angry pout became more prominent as the girl crossed her arms in front of her.

“Kichan! Well now you have to tell me all about it!” the girl demanded.

And Kise did. He told her everything. From the KaibaCorp audition, to meeting Mokuba and Kaiba at his game against Touo, to being invited to see KaibaCorp by Mokuba, dueling Kaiba and spending the night at their mansion.

“So, you like him now.”

Kise choked on the strawberry milkshake he was drinking at Momoi’s comment. After a short coughing fit and several concerned looks from other people in the small ice cream parlor, Kise managed to get his coughing under control.

When he could breathe normal again, Kise was met by Momoi’s knowing gaze. There had been no question in her statement, she had spoken with the confidence of someone who doesn’t doubt the weight of their words.

“W-what?!” Kise tried to look surprised by her words as heat gathered in his cheeks, tried to deny her claim.

Momoi rolled her eyes.

“Kichan… I’m offended you think you can keep this from me. May I remind you who figured out your last crush?”

Kise sighed as he leaned back against his chair, knowing she was right.

“You’re right Momocchi… I can’t keep anything from you,” Kise admitted.

“So… what else happened?” Momoi pried, this time an excited quality to her voice as she looked at Kise with bright eyes.

Once again, Kise was relieved to have someone that he was able to confide in, someone he could tell all his concerns and wants with.

“Okay so…” Kise leaned in, his voice quieter in a way that caused Momoi to also lean in at its conspiratorial tone.

“I think he and I had a moment…”

Kise told her about the cheesecake incident, the chemistry and pull he felt between them and about how he thought they might have kissed but were interrupted. He also told her about how Kaiba came to see his game a few days earlier, and how they had gone out to eat after, and their recent text exchanges.

“I just don’t know what to think of it. Kaibacchi is so sarcastic and hard to read. I’d like to believe that he’s even a little interested… what do you think Momocchi?”

Momoi was surprised that so much had happened in the little time since she had last seen Kise. She was also torn. On one hand, she was glad to see that Kise was happier than he had been in a while since the break-up with Aomine with his new crush on this Seto Kaiba. On the other hand, she was saddened that Aomine would lose Kise if he didn’t get his act together and confront Kise about the reasons behind their break-up and the feelings she knew Aomine still had for the blonde.

“Well Kichan… from what you’ve told me, it sounds like this Kaiba guy is a complex guy. He’s a CEO billionaire, and that makes me a little nervous,” Momoi started, a small frown of contemplation on her brow.

Kise blinked.

“Why’s that?”

Momoi bit her lip.

“Well think about it. He’s older, and runs a multi-billion company, dating him won’t be simple like it is dating someone our own age. Not to mention, being a public figure would complicate things, don’t you think? Japan isn’t exactly a supporter of same-sex relationships, and I can’t imagine a CEO willing to risk his reputation in that way. Not to mention that you’re technically still underage, even if you’re turning eighteen soon. That kind of scandal could ruin him if the wrong people found out. I know you and Daichan weren’t exactly public either, but you were the same age and I don’t think it’d be as easy to hide that kind of relationship with someone like Kaiba that might have a lot more eyes on him.”

Momoi paused, and Kise knew that she was right, he had briefly thought about some of those things too, but when it came to being gay in a mostly conservative and traditional country, it was things that he had known would always factor into whatever relationship he managed to find himself in. The fact that Kaiba was a major public figure, however, was certainly something that further complicated things.

It was the age difference that Kise hadn’t really thought about. He knew Kaiba was older sure, but he hadn’t considered that their age gap could be dangerous to Kaiba and his position. But like Momoi had pointed out, he would be turning eighteen soon. If things turned out that Kaiba was interested, he was more than willing to wait until then for Kaiba’s sake.

“On the other hand,” Momoi began again, “It sounds to me that he does seem interested in you. I mean, I honestly doubt a busy CEO would take time out of his day to come see one of your games and then have dinner with you, and he’s taking the time to text you back. Anyone who didn’t like you would definitely be too annoyed with you and would have blocked your number by now,” Momoi said with a smile.

Kise chuckled.

“Gee, thanks Momocchi…” said with semi-offended pout on his face.

“And he is cute!” Momoi gushed, to which Kise’s demeanor brightened considerably.

“Isn’t he!” Kise replied, only to pause, “Wait… how do you know what he looks like?”

Momoi grinned.

“I saw you ditch us for him after your game, so naturally I got curious and did some research of my own,” Momoi revealed innocently, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Ah! That’s why you asked me to meet up in the first place! Did you already know who he was then?” Kise accused, pointing at the girl across from him.

Momoi grinned.

“I put some pieces together… and there was plenty of information on him online and through the company. It wasn’t hard to find if my hunch was right.”

Kise sighed, not exactly surprised when it came to Momoi. Gathering data was her forte after all.

“Well… did you find anything I might not know about? Something that should worry me?” Kise asked.

Momoi drank from her vanilla milkshake, a contemplative look on her face as she thought back to what she had gathered online. She was glad that Kise had confided in her and had told her everything. It made her feel better about the digging she had done to sate her own curiosity.

“Nothing in particular. He’s actually a pretty impressive guy as far as career goes. He’s only twenty five, but became CEO at age sixteen, came out with his holographic technology and revolutionized his company and gaming technology, has hundreds of patents under his name and company name and partnered with virtually every gaming company in some shape and form. He practically runs Domino City.”

Kise listened intently.

“As far as his personal life though, he seems to be a very private guy. I found nothing on his dating life, even though he’s considered one of Japan’s most eligible bachelors. He’s popular with the female population but no incriminating pictures that show he’s dated anyone, or even gone out on a date. The only pictures outside of work I found were with his brother and what seemed to be some high school friends. The only other thing I found was that his father went missing before he took over the company, and was later confirmed to have died. Which does sound a little fishy and maybe too convenient…”

Kise looked horrified at what Momoi was implying.

“Are you saying that he might have done something to his dad to take over the company?”

Momoi’s face sobered, looking far too serious for Kise’s liking.

“As your friend, all I want to say is that be careful. Some CEO’s are used to doing whatever it takes to get what they want, even if it means hurting people. Kaiba in particular seems like a very ambitious man, and his lack of friends and relationships makes me a little nervous. So just… make sure he’s the right guy before you pursue anything with him, okay?”

As Momoi’s words sunk in, Kise considered it.

There was truth in her words. Kise didn’t know anything about Kaiba. Everything that Kaiba shared with him was vague and evasive. He was stubborn, prideful, and seemed to have plenty to hide. He was good at using sarcasm and jading words to get to others and seemed to enjoy said words to talk people down. He was selfish, and egotistic.

By those traits alone, logic would dictate that Kise was bound to get hurt by becoming involved with someone like Seto Kaiba, even if he was good looking and the two had chemistry.

But as Kise thought back to his weekend with Mokuba and Kaiba, as he thought back to what Mokuba had told him about their past, about the look in Kaiba’s eyes when he heard Mokuba’s laughter, about the way he had let Mokuba win, even the way he had talked about his rival... Kise instinctively knew that Kaiba wasn’t a bad person.

There was a reason for Kaiba’s coldness, a reason for why he kept others at bay.

Kise wanted to know why.

He wanted to understand the enigma that was Seto Kaiba.


Kaiba’s phone hadn’t alerted him of a text all day, and for what must have been the tenth time, Kaiba checked his phone to see if he had missed an alert.

It unnerved him, and that made Kaiba upset with the whole situation, especially himself.

Kise had been practically texting him every time he had some free time for over a week now, but today, already into the afternoon, Kaiba hadn’t received a single text from him.

Kaiba had never cared so much about his personal phone. It typically went ignored throughout the day, and Mokuba tended to call his work phone during the week and only called his cell phone if he didn’t answer his work phone.

Since Kise had started texting him however, his phone had been very lively, full of questions, pictures, videos, and more emoji’s than Kaiba had thought he’d ever see from a single person.

Kaiba knew that the only thing he should feel when it came to Kise’s persistence in wanting to talk to him was annoyance. He should have done nothing but ignore him, told him to stop his antics and put him in his place to stop pestering him.

The only thing was… Kaiba didn’t actually mind the onslaught of messages from Kise.

They broke the monotony that was his daily life. Even through his texts, Kise’s bright and cheerful personality shone through with his wording and amount of emoji’s in his texts. Kaiba didn’t think it was possible to project such energy through a simple message.

The nature of Kise’s texts also stirred something in him. The mundane questions that Kise asked him were refreshing. No one had really cared to know Kaiba’s favorite things or tried to make him laugh with idiotic videos of animals and online fad jokes. Even in high school, when he had been surrounded by peers who seemed to want to befriend him, his attitude had always done its job in keeping them at bay with an insult here and there.

He had always thought making friends was a waste of time. Friends wouldn’t help him achieve his goals. Friends weren’t the key to his future.

Even when it came to saving the world, Yugi’s friends had only ever tolerated him when they had to work together, and in those times, they didn’t hide their displeasure about it. It was no secret that they didn’t like him, and only worked with him out of necessity.

Only Yugi wasn’t put off by his attitude and seemed to genuinely care about his well-being.

He’d like to believe that Kise was the same way. That there weren’t ulterior motives behind his words.

But he also knew he’d be a fool to think so.

Kise’s auditions with his company would be in a week’s time. And it would be then that Kaiba would see if Kise’s intentions were truly sincere, or if everything up to this point was all a ploy to land a good paying job.

If that turned out to be the case, Kaiba would make sure to tarnish Kise’s reputation in the modeling industry beyond repair, so that he would pay the price for ever trying to cross Seto Kaiba and his family and company.

It was then that Kaiba’s phone beeped, letting him know he had received a text.

He was surprised to see that it wasn’t Kise, but Mokuba, and was even more surprised by the disappointment he felt when reading his brother’s name and not the name of a boy he had only just met.

Mentally berating himself for such a thought, Kaiba opened his brother’s text.

Mokuba 13:26

‘Hey Seto! Call me in six hours if you can, I need your advice on something!’

Because of the time differences between them, the two brothers had learned to talk in amount of time when it came to planning things like phone calls and video chats. It was quicker than having to remember what the time difference was depending on where he was in relation to each other.

He wondered what it could be that Mokuba needed advice on, but if he hadn’t called right away, he knew that it wasn’t an urgent matter.

Kaiba replied a quick affirmative before putting his phone down and returning his attention to the current project on his monitor. There was still a fair amount of work and calculations to be done before he could consider this project ready for production, but Kaiba knew he had most of it figured out and was confident that it would work in the end.

It was a whole hour and a half before his phone beeped again, but by the way it beeped two more times within a short amount of time was enough to let him know who they were from.

Annoying Blonde 15:03

Kaibacchi! Sorry for not texting earlier! I woke up late so I had to rush to school, got in trouble and had to do some extra chores and got my phone taken away for the day! It was awful! I actually had to listen in class! Then we had a test in math and I don’t think I did too well…

Math is seriously the worst, it’s like a different language! But harder! Its an alien language! I swear by it!

Anyway, did you miss me? I have practice soon so I expect a retelling of your day when I get out! Or if not, how’s the weather over there?

Seriously… this kid.

Despite himself, Kaiba found himself rereading Kise’s texts.

Why was he even apologizing? He didn’t owe Kaiba a text, much less an explanation. And yet he had still taken the time to message him and bombard him with emoji’s with each tale.

He hated that getting his messages made him feel relieved. Had he been worried that something had happened to the obnoxious blonde?

As much as he hated to admit it, he enjoyed the texts he received from Kise. They were ridiculous and melodramatic, but Kise never seemed offended or undeterred by his sarcastic and vague responses, he only tried harder to get a response from him.

More than once Kaiba had caught himself revisiting the pictures that he would send. Particularly the ones that featured Kise Ryota in several everyday poses. Some he sent before school, freshly out of bed, during lunch, before and after practice. And in each one, Kise was as photogenic as he was pretty in person.

Not only that, but Kaiba found himself thinking about the blonde more and more each day. It was an unwelcomed distraction when it came to his work. But no matter how often he tried to keep his thoughts from going back to him, he couldn’t help himself.

He found himself thinking back to the cheesecake incident, the look of Kise’s golden eyes so close to his own, the way his skin burned from the touch of Kise’s finger against his lip as he wiped away the lingering cheesecake, the way Kise’s lips looked so soft as his gaze strayed to them, and how Kise’s gaze burned into his own as he leaned in.

As he replayed the scene in his mind, Kaiba felt a sharp trill of desire in his core, followed by a flash of anger for the way his body reacted to just the thought of Kise.

Never had the mere thought of someone excited him so much.

The people he had taken to bed had always been people who had been around him at the right place and right time. People he had felt an attraction to and who had shown their interest in him during a fundraiser, gala, or some other kind of social business gathering that he had been invited to. They were instances where Kaiba had known that it would be a one-night stand to satiate his lust and never see them again, exactly how Kaiba preferred it.

Never before could Kaiba say he lusted after someone who he couldn’t have. At least, not quite yet. The fact that Kise was still underage and whose motivations Kaiba couldn’t fully trust meant that it was too dangerous to make any advances.

It made Kaiba ache, in a way he never had before. Kaiba always got what he wanted, but there were too many gray lines to cross.

Kaiba sighed, phone still in his hand, before his fingers typed out his reply.

‘Idiot, you should always listen in class. Math makes more sense than you, just pay attention.’

Kaiba purposely ignored Kise’s last questions, knowing it would annoy him. He could practically picture the pout on his lips.

Before Kaiba even sent his reply, he saw that Kise had sent him a picture.

It was a picture of Kise in a black tank top and a wink on his face, a peace sign held in front of him, and a content smile on his lips in what Kaiba could see was the gym of the school.

Annoying Blonde 15:07

‘We’re having a competition to see who can get the most baskets with only one hand, who do you think will win?’

Perhaps though, it wouldn’t hurt to throw him a bone every once in a while.

‘You, of course.'

Chapter Text

Never had Kise Ryota ever been so nervous for an audition.

Then again, never had he been so emotionally invested in an audition, and never had he tried to represent a brand that he personally supported and felt an attachment to.

Not only that, but Kise was looking forward to what could happen after the auditions. He had enlisted Mokuba’s help so that he could surprise Kaiba at work and hopefully make the best of his visit to Domino City.

As Kise sat in the company car on his way into the city, he unconsciously bounced his leg, making Anami next to him look over with concern on her face.

“You okay Kise? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this nervous before,” she spoke up in a soft inquisitive tone, causing Kise to break from his thoughts and look over to his manager, offering her a small smile.

“Ah, yeah don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I’m more nervous than I thought I’d be too, though,” Kise admitted.

Anami smiled back and placed a comforting hand over Kise’s still bouncing knee.

“Don’t worry, you’ll do great. You have the looks, the personality, you’re popular, and atop of that, you have knowledge of their product.”

Kise knew she was right. But it didn’t help that KaibaCorp was known for their ridiculously high standards, and just how competitive their compensation was. There was no doubt they would have many people interested in working with them, and although Kise knew he was popular, he wasn’t nearly as popular as other candidates he was sure would be here. After all, the fact that he had to audition instead of being offered a contract outright meant that he wasn’t guaranteed a slot.

Well, what was that American saying… Fake it till you make it!

With that in mind, Kise stopped the bouncing of his leg, straightened in his seat, and smiled confidently at Anami.

“No doubt!” he added, and Anami looked relieved at the confidence boost.

“Alright so review game plan, we should get there in about forty-five minutes, and that will give us another half hour before your scheduled audition block to make sure we’re at the right place and sign you in with time to spare. Depending on how many candidates are also in your audition block. They said it might run a little long, but if it’s a traditional interview they’ll just go over your portfolio, maybe ask you to pose, and ask you a few questions about your fan reach and demographics.”

Traditional was the keyword. For some reason, it was hard to imagine KaibaCorp as being traditional, at least while it was led by none other than Seto Kaiba. Kise wouldn’t be surprised if KaibaCorp had something unexpected up their sleeve, but no matter what, he knew he had to do his best. Like Anami had said, he had the knowledge of Duel Monsters behind him, and he was confident that would give him an edge in whatever KaibaCorp threw at him.

He only hoped that would be enough.


Kaiba knew that today was none other than Kise’s audition block for the few remaining slots in his marketing campaign for idols and representatives. The biggest and most influential candidates had already been offered contracts, and the slots that Kise would be auditioning for were smaller scale candidates to further increase their reach on specific demographics and specifically for candidates that claimed to have a strong background in Duel Monsters but didn’t have the reach that other more popular idols had.

For these roles, Kaiba had introduced a slightly different approach to how to recruit the candidates, and after seeing that Kise would be among them, Kaiba was even more interested to see the outcome.

Initially, Kaiba hadn’t planned to oversee the outcomes, merely review the footage once it was done to see who had passed. Knowing that Kise would be there however, made Kaiba want to oversee the auditions personally, and his staff had been informed of the change in plans.

It was with that in mind that Kaiba rose from his office chair, before grabbing ahold of his briefcase atop his desk and making his way over to the elevator that would take him down to the floor where his staff and candidates would be waiting.

Kaiba chose to wear a suit for the occasion. It was a navy-blue Armati suit with a paler blue button up shirt and matching navy-blue vest and tie. He wanted to portray the intimidating figure that he was, after all, what was more amusing than seeing wannabe duelists shake with nerves when faced with Seto Kaiba, one of the best duelists in the world?

The auditions would be held in the eleventh floor, and it didn’t take Kaiba long for his own private elevator to come to a stop on the designated floor, and once the door opened, Kaiba began making his way to the large room that had been prepared for the event.

Said event would take place in three different rooms all connected by a door. In one room, the candidates would check in, likely where Kise currently was. Once each candidate was checked in, they would be led into the second room, where they would be placed into individual cubicles for the first part of the event. Once that was done, they would be led to third room, where in Kaiba’s opinion, the real fun began.

As Kaiba walked down the white colored hallways lined with large windows to his left and doors to the right, he turned down a familiar hallway until he reached his destination, stopping short of the black door and opening it to reveal the room with his staff waiting for him, checking to make sure everything was in order.

Seeing the young CEO enter the room, his staff straightened, greeting him politely while those in charge approached him to give their report.

Noticing the young woman in charge of the event, Kaiba turned his attention to the brown-haired woman in business attire and the tablet in her hands.

“Is everything ready?” Kaiba asked.

The woman nodded, and to her credit, looked only slightly nervous as she faced the intimidating figure of Kaiba.

“Yes sir, the candidates are all checked in. All preparations are complete, and everything is set to start at your word.”

Kaiba nodded.

“Good. Then let’s begin. No use in waiting any longer. Let’s find out who has what it takes to be a part of KaibaCorp’s new campaign.”


So far everything looked pretty standard to Kise as he and Anami waited alongside the other candidates. There were a few candidates that Kise recognized as prominent figures from social media and even a few that he had worked alongside in for some shoots.

The room they were in was full of chairs for the candidates, which faced a stage with a podium and a large screen behind it. It looked more like a presentation room, and considering they were in KaibaCorp headquarters, it made sense to have a presentation room of this size. There were less candidates than Kise thought there would be. If Kise were to estimate, he would say there were only about thirty-five other candidates. For an event of this caliber, Kise had thought there would be more. Then again, this was only one block, so there were sure to be other blocks as well.

He was currently making small talk with one of the models, and while they weren’t exactly friends with each other, had worked together for the same magazines and Kise had known would be here. His name was Takahara Kokei, two years older than him, with silver hair and wearing blue contacts. He wore black jeans with a black V-neck shirt and a dark gray blazer. He knew that Kokei had quite a following on social media and was even thinking about starting a career as a singer in a boy band and currently looking for potential band-mates.

“Are you sure you don’t want to be in my band Kise? I know you love to sing and I’ve seen videos of you dancing! You’ll be perfect!” Kokei said with a smile.

Kise smiled as he rubbed the back of his neck.

“I’m flattered Kokei, but I really don’t think being in a band is for me,” Kise replied, trying to sound more apologetic than he really felt. He really had no interest in being in a band. He had enough fan girls, why want more?

Thankfully, Kokei looked only a little dejected.

“Ah well, guess you’re going to pursue basketball?” Kokei asked, and Kise shrugged.

“I don’t know. I haven’t really decided yet. Right now I just want to make the auditions for KaibaCorp,” Kise admitted off handedly.

He really didn’t want to talk anymore. No offense to Kokei, but Kise hoped the auditions started soon. He hated making small talk with people he didn’t really associate with, and he hated being asked questions that he didn’t have answers to. The sooner the auditions began, the better. He wanted to get this over with.

As if to answer his silent wish, a door beside the stage opened, and in walked the last person Kise expected to see at the audition.

As the handsome man that Kise hadn’t been able to stop thinking about for weeks made his way to the center of the stage, Kise felt his heart skip a beat.

“Whoa, is that Seto Kaiba himself?” Kokei said from beside him, and from the muttering in the room, it seemed they weren’t the only ones to recognize the imposing figure of KaibaCorp’s CEO.

Shit.

He really hadn’t expected Kaiba to be at the audition at all! He hadn’t wanted him to know about his audition until he knew he had made it, he had wanted it to be a surprise…

Well, it couldn’t be helped. Kaiba was here, and it wouldn’t change the way Kise tackled this audition. If anything, Kise felt more fired up knowing that Kaiba would be overseeing them.

As Kaiba stood beside the podium looking down at them, Kise only smiled sheepishly as Kaiba raked his gaze across the room and the candidates, stopping for only a second longer on Kise before he looked at the rest of the room. Kise had never seen Kaiba in a suit before, but he had to admit that he wore it well. Without the flaring coat behind him, Kise could appreciate his figure better than ever, and it was obvious it was a custom fit suit from the way it perfectly contoured his figure. While always intimidating, the suit gave Kaiba a more authoritative presence.

In that moment, the screen behind him lit up, revealing the KaibaCorp logo.

“Welcome to the KaibaCorp auditions for our newest marketing campaign,” Kaiba began, his voice projected from a microphone that wasn’t visible on his person.

“My name is Seto Kaiba, the CEO of this company.”

Kise tried not to laugh, as if he really had to explain that.

“Let me begin by saying that this isn’t your typical auditions for a modeling gig,” Kaiba continued, and Kise could see some people straighten at the news. Kise for his part, couldn’t say he was surprised as he continued to listen intently.

“This audition block is reserved for those who claimed to have a background and knowledge of Duel Monsters, and the role of those chosen will be more than simple modeling and advertisement,” Kaiba announced, and Kise felt his interest piqued.

“While I can’t disclose the specific details as our plans are not yet public, know that it will in fact be a more involved role than some of you might be used to.”

From the corner of his eyes, he could see several heads turn to their manager as if to question what that could mean. Kise kept his own gaze trained on Kaiba.

“With that being said, the nature of this audition is not to know how well you pose, or how pretty you look in pictures, but rather…”

Kaiba paused, and Kise had an idea of where he might be going with this.

“How well you duel.”

The previous silence was broken by the sound of whispers from the candidates.

“Well, I guess this is definitely not a traditional audition…” Anami muttered from beside him, but Kise couldn’t help but grin.

Dueling huh? Well if that was the case… Kise felt his chances had suddenly gotten better. But how would they measure their dueling ability? They hadn’t been asked to bring their cards or anything of the sort, and while Kise had indeed brought his deck in the case that he might be able to play against Kaiba again, he doubted many of the other candidates had.

“In order to gage your knowledge and ability, there are two parts to this audition.”

The screen behind Kaiba changed to a moving background of Duel Monster cards.

“In the folder given to you when you checked in, you’ll find a unique login and password. In the next room, you’ll find individual cubicles with a computer. You’ll use your login to access the computer, and open the only program installed. This program will be used to build your own deck, with which you will have every duel monster card ever created to choose from,” Kaiba explained, and Kise felt his excitement grow.

Every duel monster to choose from? They could practically build any kind of deck!

“This includes rare cards such as the lost Egyptian God cards and even my own Blue Eyes White Dragons. But don’t get too excited,” Kaiba cut in, “This is only a virtual deck, so don’t get attached.”

Kise frowned. While it was amazing that they could access any card, it also seemed odd that this would be used to gauge their ability. Anyone could create a decent deck if they could just pick the strongest cards. Why not make people make a deck from a limited number of cards to test their ability?

“You will have forty-five minutes to create your deck, and once you are finished, you will download your deck onto a flash drive provided for you next to your computer. After this step, the second stage will begin.”

Forty-five minutes? To choose from every card ever created? Kise wished he could have all day so that he could make his dream deck. Already Kise was thinking of all the cards he had ever wanted, and how to best put them together, before Kaiba continued and Kise forced himself to pay attention again.

“In the second stage, you will be paired up and will duel each other with the decks you’ll create, and the first ten winners will be the ones to secure a spot in our campaign.”

More whispers and mutterings rose up, and Kise grinned wider. A tournament style audition? Now this was what he was talking about! He didn’t know how well everyone else would be, but Kise was confident he would be among the winners. He had almost gotten the best of Kaiba in their duels, he knew he could handle anyone in this room if he could face Seto Kaiba himself.

“Any questions?” Kaiba asked, but no one rose their hands.

Kise did.

Kaiba’s gaze turned towards the blonde, who had a grin on his face.

“Will we be able to duel you with the deck we make?” Kise asked, taking satisfaction in the way Kaiba smirked.

Kise knew that Kaiba understood the hidden challenge. Kise had come close to beating Kaiba with his own deck, which meant that if Kise could access any card he wanted, he just might be able to create a deck strong enough to defeat Kaiba.

“Perhaps, if I think your deck is good enough,” Kaiba answered, and more whispers rose up, excited this time.

Another hand shot up, by a guy Kise didn’t recognize.

“Will we be using your duel disks to duel?” he asked.

“Of course. It would be a shame to let them go to waste in the KaibaCorp headquarters.”

More excitement from the crowd. And Kise wasn’t an exception.

“Now, make your way to the next room through the door to your left, and build your deck!”

Kise looked over to Anami, who smiled reassuringly.

“Good luck, Kise.”


The computers in front of them were sleek and every bit of what Kise expected. There was no keyboard, and it was made evident that it was touchscreen. More than that however, when Kise pressed the screen, a holographic keyboard appeared where a normal keyboard would normally be found.

“So cool!” Kise muttered, before taking typing in the login and password given to him.

The computer unlocked, and on the computer screen only one icon was displayed on the center. It was shaped like the back of Duel Monsters card, which Kise immediately clicked on. As soon as he did, the screen changed to show a deck and what looked like a playmat design.

Keeping in mind that they were being timed, Kise quickly familiarized himself with the array. Clicking on the deck, another screen opened that showed all the cards ever made, which could be sorted by alphabetical order, card type, and could be filtered more specifically by stars, special effects, card attribute, and attack points and defense points. Clicking on a card would give the description and effects.

While Kise would love to explore every card, forty-five minutes would not be enough to build a proper deck with cards he didn’t know and had the chance to test. He wasn’t sure how good the rest of the candidates were, but he knew better than to underestimate anyone. Kuroko had taught him that well.

His best chance would be to build his best deck from his younger years, but add in cards he had only dreamed of ever possessing. Should he include an Egyptian God? As cool as it sounded, Kise knew summoning a card like that wouldn’t be easy.

No.

He would win without a card like that. Summoning a card like that could take a while, especially since he wasn’t familiar with a strategy. And the way Kaiba made it sound, it seemed that it wasn’t just the winners that would be chosen, but the ones that finished first. Which meant speed would also come into play. Still, he would need to focus on cards that could counter and protect him against extremely strong cards like that. That’s fine. Kise could think of plenty.

Kise closed his eyes, trying to remember all his favorite strategies from a time he had pushed to the back of his mind for years. It would take more than remembering what cards he had, but which would work best together and which he should add from the limitless arsenal that KaibaCorp had provided for them.

And with less than forty minutes, Kise needed to think fast but smart.

And it took every minute to complete his deck.

Kise diligently searched for each card, looked over cards he thought would work well with his combos, changed his mind, and did his best to create a strong and balanced deck within the allotted time.

Kise was practically sweating the last five minutes, but once the announcement that time was up was made and his deck was downloaded into the provided external drive, Kise was satisfied with the result. It was a good deck, perhaps his best deck ever. He was more than excited to test it out, and he was very confident that he could secure a spot in the campaign with this.

The announcer let them know to follow the directions of the staff waiting outside their cubicles, who pointed Kise down one of the halls between the cubicles, where already a few other candidates were walking down, until they reached the end of the hall where another staff member pointed them to a brown door along the way, where everyone else was converging on.

Kise followed suit, and once he entered the next room, and as his eyes widened, he knew he wasn’t the only one amazed by the sheer size of it. It was a room larger than even the room he had dueled against Kaiba in. It felt like two full sized basketball courts, with two levels to it with what looked to be a higher level that wrapped around the room like a balcony.

In the center or the white-walled two-story room, laid out on several long rectangular tables, were the same devices that Kise and Kaiba had used to duel each other only weeks prior.

“Welcome to your duel arena! And what you see on those tables are your weapons, duel disks!”

This time, Kaiba was on the second level, looking down over them as Kise's and everyone else's gaze traveled up to him.

“Before you can claim a duel disk, however, you must give your deck to one of the staff members. Your decks will be digitized and transmitted to a duel disk.”

As Kaiba explained, his staff members were already moving around the room, and as one came by Kise with his hand outstretched, Kise handed over the external drive that held the deck he created.

In exchange however, the staff member gave Kise a strip of paper with a number, and Kise blinked as he read the number 113 on the strip.

“While we download your decks, the number given to you is the number of the duel disk assigned to you. Find and pick up your duel disk, and a staff member will help you set it up on your person. Just make sure not to break anything.”

There were several excited cheers and mumbles as the candidates who had received their number moved towards the tables, Kise being among them as he approached the nearest table. Thankfully it looked like they were clearly labeled, and following the numbers, Kise only had to go two tables down before finding the table with his duel disk.

With a grin, Kise grabbed the familiar disk and moved away from the table to make space for those still looking for theirs and found an empty space where he put it on like he remembered Mokuba telling him. It was fairly simple really, but as he watched others in the room, it looked like there were several candidates who still needed help.

As Kise waited, he looked up to where the figure of Kaiba was, only to see that he was gone, and Kise couldn’t help but pout with disappointment.

Kise wasn’t sure how Kaiba felt about his being here. Since he was hosting the event, surely Kaiba had known that Kise was in the roster. But he hadn’t brought it up.

Either way, this was the most fun audition Kise had ever had. It wasn’t traditional by far, but he was reminded of a mini tournament. He was more curious than ever how their dueling would play into KaibaCorp’s plan to market their product.

It felt like ten more minutes had passed before Kaiba reappeared at the spot he had previously occupied, standing tall and hands crossed across his chest, while the tables were cleared away.

“Alright so-called Duelists. Your decks have been digitized and transmitted. Now, if you look at the screens around the room, they will show who you have been matched up against by your duel disk number.”

There were several screen along the walls of the room, each depicting sixteen pairs.

Kise was quick to find his number, and saw that he was paired against number 124. Kise didn’t recognize the accompanying picture. It was of a black-haired guy, but not with enough detail that Kise could make an opinion of him.

“Next to your duel match, you’ll see your designated area where your duel will take place. There are sixteen areas, if they are designated to the lower floor, it will have an A next to it. If it’s on the second level, it will have a B next to it. Find your area and opponent so we can get these duels started.”

Kise's area was 6A, which meant he wouldn’t have to go far to find his area. Signs were held up by staff members, and Kise approached the older woman that held 6A.

The area was clearly marked by a red line that enclosed the area into a rectangle enough to give them space for the hologram projections that Kise had only recently experienced for the first time in person.

The sight and anticipation made Kise’s heart beat faster, and Kise confidently entered one side of the rectangle, readying his duel disk and resolve as he waited for his opponent.

Thankfully, it didn’t take his opponent long, as only a moment later he approached. He looked a little lost at first, still looking around the room instead of at Kise, giving time the opportunity to get a better impression of him.

He was shorter than Kise, which was often the case since few people were taller than him. The boy was likely older, but it was hard to tell, and his fashion was as expected of a model. He wore a pair of white skinny jeans, black high-tops, and a long shirt that reached almost to his knees with a high collar.

Finally, the boy turned gaze to Kise’s, and offered a small smile and a wave.

“Yo! You’re Kise Ryota right?” he asked, his voice deeper than Kise expected from his extremely boyish appearance.

Kise was a little surprised to know that he knew him, considering that their names hadn’t been on the screens, only their numbers.

“Ah yes, I am. Sorry, but I don’t know your name,” Kise replied sincerely.

“My name is Kaito, but feel free to call me Kai,” the boy across from him replied, not looking the least bit offended that Kise didn’t recognize him and offered him a bright smile instead.

Kise blinked, a little put off that this person he didn’t know wanted to be so familiar upon first meeting him.

“I’m actually a fan of yours Kise,” Kaito said, “You’re one of the modelsthat inspired me to go into this field, but I didn’t expect to see you here! The fact that you duel too just makes you cooler!”

Despite himself, Kise couldn’t help but feel a little flattered at his words.

“Ah, well thank you for your support. I’m looking forward to dueling you,” Kise said with a grin of his own.

As they waited for the next set of instructions, the two made small talk. From the looks of it, Kise got the impression that Kai was pretty good when it came to duel monsters. He seemed to have also participated in tournaments in the past and had a solid knowledge of deck strategies. The two purposely avoided their own chosen strategies, but from what they spoke of, Kise knew that his duel against his opponent would be a fun one.

“You seem to know your way around a deck Kai, I wish we could have dueled in the past when I had my best decks,” Kise said.

“Ah well, it’s better late than never. And in a place like this? You have to admit, meeting in KaibaCorp isn’t a bad way to duel for the first time,” Kai replied, and Kise couldn’t help but agree.

“Alright, listen up!”

Their conversation was cut short at the familiar and commanding voice of none other than Kaiba, who once more occupied the spot that overlooked them.

“Now that you are all matched up, it’s time to duel!” Kaiba said, and at his words, the duel disks on them glowed to life.

“You will start with 8000 life points, and the first ten winners will be the ones accepted into the new KaibaCorp Campaign. However, there will also be a time limit. If you have not won in twenty-five minutes, the duelist with the most life points will be considered the winner.”

There were chatter in the air, and Kise felt himself smile with excitement.

“Oh, and one more thing… those decks that you made? I never did say they would be used by you…” Kaiba added in an almost taunting tone, and the implications of his words made the chatter in the air increase.

“In fact, you’ll be playing with a random deck made by another participant. Let’s see how well you can adapt to a deck you didn’t make,” Kaiba elaborated, and Kise felt his heart sink.

He wouldn’t get to use his deck? He would be using a deck that someone else made? But he had worked so hard to put that deck together! It was near perfect! And now… someone else would be using it? It made Kise’s blood boil.

“But don’t worry, I won’t be so cruel as to let you have no say. In fact, you’ll have fifteen minutes to look over the deck given to you, and you have the option to replace five cards of your choosing with any other cards, and discard any cards you don’t want while keeping your minimum of twenty.”

With a quick look around, Kise could tell that he wasn’t the only one to feel disappointed by this turn of events.

“Let’s see what you can do. Your fifteen minutes to look over your deck and make your strategy starts now!”

With those words, a holographic time appeared behind Kaiba, who turned around and walked out of sight.

Kise grit his teeth as he activated his duel disk and opened up the virtual deck. He needed to see what cards he had to work with, and what strategy its maker had chosen.

While Kise wasn’t happy with the turn of events, he had to appreciate Kaiba’s way of testing its applicants. Had Kise been able to play with his deck, he would have been confident in his victory… but now… his confidence was shaken with the knowledge that he would be working with an unfamiliar deck, and angry that someone else would be using his.

Kise’s heart sunk further as he looked over the deck given to him.

“What is this?!” Kise whispered to himself.

This deck was complete garbage! Just from a quick look over, Kise was able to see that there was no set strategy to this deck. This was the deck of an amateur! The ratios were completely off, the monsters looked like they were picked by looks alone and there was hardly enough firepower to take on a potentially powerful deck. There were hardly any combos that could be used, and hardly any spell or trap cards.

“Shit…” Kise cursed as he forced himself to concentrate.

Not only was he not able to use his perfect deck, but he was given a deck that looked to have been made by a someone that had no idea what duel monsters were! What an insult! Kise sure had a lot to yell at Kaiba for after this…

Still, now was not the time to despair. He needed to think of a way to turn his luck around. How could he make this deck worthy of a victory?

Think Kise… think…

Monsters weren’t the issue. In fact, he had too many. He needed to replace some with some spell and trap cards. But with only being able to exchange five… Kise needed to think quick and hard. What strategy could best be used to give him an edge in such a hopeless situation?

He really hoped that Kai had just as bad luck as he did…

Chapter Text

Kise had never felt so out of his comfort zone as he did then. To think... that he had gone from the excitement of looking forward to using his dream deck to the dread of using a useless and pathetic deck.

But no... he shouldn’t say that. His five additional cards had made sure to at least give him a fighting chance... all he could do was hope that fate was on his side and he could draw the cards he needed at the right time.

Kise hated to rely on luck... he preferred a solid strategy over the aspect of chance when it came to Duel Monsters... but it seemed today was not going to be that day.

“Alright Kise, are you ready?” Kai asked with a grin as they stood on opposite ends of the duel area, and Kise tried to hide his unease. At the very least, he had to at least pretend his deck was worthy if only to bluff. Unfortunately, his deck would not hold out against an aggressive attack. He needed to make Kai believe Kise had plenty of counters so he could be on the cautious side.

“Born ready!” Kise replied with his own grin, and as all duelists stood on their respective areas, the monitors scattered around the room lit up to display a timer set up to twenty-five minutes.

Kaiba looked down at the area, and smirked as he watched the duelists put on their game face as they faced their opponent. He truly had missed this part of tournaments. The tension between opponents, the anticipation of the next play, the fear of defeat, and the pursuit of victory.

And this was only the beginning of his plans.

“Alright duelists, your duel disks are ready, and the countdown starts now! Get ready, set, duel!”

At Kaiba’s command, the timer began.

“Let’s duel!” a chorus of the voices from the players familiar with the game coursed through the large room as they drew their cards. It had been previously chosen who would go first, and Kise would be going second for this duel.

Kise preferred to go first, so already things were not in his favor.

“Alright Kise, here we go! I start with this, pot of duality!” as Kai pressed the holographic panel, the blue pot with a face on both sides materialized on the field, “And with this, I can look at the top three cards of my deck, choose one, and return the rest!”

The jar on the field spit up three virtual cards in front of Kai, and when Kai chose one, the other two returned to the jar, and the deck was virtually shuffled as Kai grinned victoriously.

“Now, I play Reinforcement of the Army, to draw out a level four or lower monster from my deck and add it to my hand.”

Kise frowned as he realized what Kai was doing. He was digging for the appropriate cards, which meant he was preparing to summon something big… and Kise wasn’t sure if he was prepared for it.

“Now, I summon Nin-Ken Dog, in attack mode!”

Kise resisted the urge to grimace. At 1800 attack points, this ninja dog was no picnic… and with the cards that Kise had been given, he lacked the firepower to take it on.

“Alright Kise… your turn!”

Kise frowned as he drew a virtual card, and hid his disappointment at the useless card he drew. He had drawn all monsters for his opening hand, and all were too weak to take on Kai’s monster.

“I place a monster face down in defense mode, and end my turn.”

Kai looked surprised at Kise’s move.

“What’s wrong Kise? Did you get a bad deck?” Kai asked with a taunting grin, but Kise refused to fall for the bait.

“Well Kai, it’s still early in the duel. Don’t you think its too soon to tell?” Kise replied back with a smirk.

“You’re right… sorry, there’s plenty of time to see what deck you got. Now… I summon Goe Goe the Gallant Ninja!”

Kise frowned as the blue-haired ninja carrying a strange weapon on a pole materialized on the field.

“Alright Kise, I’ll attack your face down card with Nin-Ken Dog!”

The ninja dog lunged towards his face down card, taking out some hidden kunai daggers on its person and slashing through his face down card, destroying his Mermaid Knight and leaving Kise defenseless.

“And now Goe Goe, attack Kise directly!”

Kise grimaced as the ninja lunged at him, and hit him with his strange weapon, and while Kise didn’t feel any pain for the blow, his life points certainly did, as they dropped to 6500.

“Not only do you lose life points, when Goe Goe successfully attacks you directly and you have four or more cards in your hand, you discard two random cards from your hand!”

With a grimace, Kise randomly discarded two cards, not that it was much of a loss considering how weak his hand was.

“Alright, that does it for now. Let’s see if you can do better this turn, Kise.”

Kise felt dread settle in the pit of his stomach as he drew his card, and this time he couldn’t hide his grimace as he drew another useless monster card.

With a sigh, Kise decided he might as well let Kai know his dumb luck.

“Sorry Kai, it looks like whoever made my deck should have stayed home, and I wish I could give you a better challenge. Unfortunately, the most I can do right now is play this, another face down defense card, and end my turn.”

Kai blinked at Kise’s admission, before he drew his next card.

“Ah, well that really is a shame. But maybe after I win this round, we can play a match with our own decks afterwards.”

Kise felt his stomach turn at Kai’s confidence that he would win, and he forced himself to remember that he still had some tricks up his sleeve.

“Well Kise, for this round, I’ll go ahead and attack your face down card with Goe Goe!”

The blue-haired ninja swiftly attacked his face down card, and his Wolf card was easily destroyed. Kise had to admit that Kai was indeed smart. Since he only had three cards in his hand, Goe Goe’s special ability wouldn’t activate, so why not attack directly with Nin-Ken Dog who could deal more damage? Damn, of course he had to be paired up against a good duelist.

Goe Goe destroyed his face down Wolf card, and as expected used his other monster next.

“Go Nin-Ken Dog, attack him directly!”

Kise grimaced as the ninja dog attacked, and it was a good thing that it seemed he wasn’t able to put down another monster yet, or his life points would have suffered even more. Still, they dropped to 2900, which meant Kise couldn’t withstand much more. He needed one of his cards… and fast…

“Alright, Kise, you’re up!”

Kise didn’t answer, and took in a steadying breath, closing his eyes as he virtually drew.

C’mon Fate… be on my side for once!

Kise opened his eyes to look at what he had drawn, and smiled. It wasn’t what he needed… but it would help.

“Alright Kai, I know you’ve been working towards something. So I’ll do this to buy some time!”

Kai looked apprehensive, but said nothing as he waited for Kise’s move.

“I activate Card Destruction! And I’m sure you know what that means!” Kise said as he pointed at Kai, who looked far to unconcerned for Kise’s liking.

“Actually, that shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, you’ve probably helped me more than you’ve hurt me with that move.”

Kise frowned as they both discarded their hand and drew again. What did Kai mean by that?

And as Kise drew two new cards, he smirked at the cards he drew. Perhaps fate was on his side after all…

“Heh, you’re actually making me nervous Kai!” Kise teased as he set a monster face down in defense mode, and placed a face down card in the spell and trap card zone.

“So let’s do this! Your turn!”

Kai definitely did not look bothered, and the easy grin on his face remained.

“Well Kise, I can honestly say thank you for helping me to bring out my best monster so quickly.”

Kise tensed.

“Behold! I special summon Dark Simorgh! By banishing a wind and dark attribute monster from my graveyard, I can bring forth my creature! So come forth my monster!”

Kise grimaced as the large dark and armored bird like monster appeared on the field, and with an attack of 2900, Kise’s lifepoints would be wiped out if his plan didn’t work…

Thankfully… it looked like Kai had grown overconfident, because instead of playing something to ensure his victory by paying attention to his face down card, he continued to his attack phase.

“Now Kise, time to win this duel… and probably in record time! First, I’ll attack your face down card with Goe Goe!”

Just as Goe Goe’s attack landed, Kise smirked as his Giant Germ card was revealed.

“Thank Kai! Because you fell right into my trap! You triggered my Crush Card Virus!”

Kise revealed his other face down card, and finally, Kai did look concerned.

“Now, by activating my trap card, you trigger its effect! Which means that all monsters in your hand and on the field with attack power over 1500 attack points is destroyed! So guess what? That’s all of them! And let’s take a look at your hand.”

Kise watched in satisfaction as Kai’s face fell as he watched his monsters on the field be destroyed, and he revealed the cards in his hand. Surprisingly enough, there was only one other monster in Kai’s hand that had the required attack power, but off it went to the graveyard as well.

“And don’t forget to destroy the monsters from your deck with the required attack power too! Oh yeah… and did I mention that when Giant Germ is destroyed you also lose 500 life points?”

Once more Kai frowned as his monsters were sent to his graveyard.

“I end my turn.”

Kise felt his heart beat with excitement at his devastating blow. Take that whoever built his deck! The right cards could always make the difference. Still… Kise knew that he still had a ways to go. With hardly any attack power, and with Kai still having most of his life points, this did not mean he was any closer to winning. He had bought time… that was all.

Kise drew, and smiled. Perfect. Just what he needed.

“Alright Kai, I activate pot of greed, which lets me draw two more cards!”

Kise drew his cards.

“Next, I’ll place a monster face down on the field!”

It was one of the few monsters in the original deck that Kise had found useful, and exactly what he needed for the next phase of his plan.

“But that’s not it, I activate this! Confiscation! By paying 1000 life points, I can look at your hand, and banish one card!”

As Kise’s life points dropped to 1900, Kai looked apprehensive as he revealed his hand, and Kise was glad for having this particular card as he chose to discard a spell card that would have ruined his plan in the next round, and definitely cost him the duel.

“Alright Kai, that’ll be it for now… show me what you can do!”

Kai was glaring now, and Kise could see that he was not happy at all about what Kise had done. He would definitely be more cautious now, but that was okay… the bluffing part was over, now Kise knew what he had to do.

“You might have made me destroy my monsters… but it doesn’t mean I can’t bring them back! I activate my face down card, Warrior Returning Alive, and bring back one of my discarded warrior monsters back to the field! And I choose Nin-Ken Dog, which I also summon to the field!”

Kise grinned, unconcerned, and his heart beat excitedly in his chest. He knew from having looked at Kai’s cards that he had no way from stopping his next move. He could see that Kai was apprehensive about his next play, but every good duelist knew that risks had to be taken in order to win, and since Kise only had 1900, Kise knew Kai would attack.

It’s what he was counting on…

“Alright Nin-Ken Dog… attack his face down monster!”

Kise’s face down monster flipped up, to reveal Big Eye.

“Thanks for that Kai, because now Big Eye’s effect activates, and lets me look up to five cards from the top of my deck and rearrange them however I want!”

Kise did exactly that, and grinned as his plan further solidified.

Kai glared at Kise.

“I don’t know what you have planned Kise, but I won’t let you do it! I place two cards face down, and end my turn!”

Kise grinned as he looked at the card he drew, although he didn’t need to.

“Alright, take a look at this Kai! This is how I turned a useless deck into a decent one, and just strong enough to defeat you!”

Kai frowned as he looked at Kise expectantly.

“I activate my card, Reverse Quiz!”

Kai’s eyes widened.

“No!”

Kise chuckled as the funnily dressed man on a podium materialized on the field.

“So you know of it? Good! And because I have no other cards in my hand or on the field, it’s all gain from this card! Because now I can call the card on the top of my deck, and if I get it right… I get to exchange my life points for yours!”

Kai frowned.

“But… you already know what card it is!”

Kise smiled victoriously.

“That’s right! Thanks to Big Eye’s effect, I know exactly what my next four draws will be! And I say the card on top of my deck is a spell card!”

The man on the podium revealed the card, and Kise’s answer was correct, which meant its effect was activated and Kise and Kai exchanged life points, so that Kise now had 7500 and Kai had 1900.

Kai looked absolutely furious as their life points were switched, and Kise only stood straighter with pride.

“Well, that ends my turn.”

“This makes no difference! I’ll just chip away at your life points and win the duel!” Kai said as he drew another card.

“I activate my face down card, another Reinforcement of the Army, to draw out a level four or lower monster from my deck to my hand! I also place one monster face down in defense mode!”

“And don’t forget you’re defenseless, Kise! So attack, Nin-Ken Dog!”

Kise hardly made a show of indifference as his life points dropped to 5700. It was a hit he would gladly take now that he had more life points to spare.

“I promise you, by my next turn you’ll see that no matter how clever your plan, it won’t work!”

Kise frowned, but tried not to let Kai’s words get to him as he focused on his own plan. He had an idea of what Kai was planning, and he had no intention of letting that work.

“We’ll see about that. Because here we go! I draw!”

Kise already knew what his next draw would be.

“I play card of Sanctity, which lets us replenish our hand to six cards! But don’t get comfortable because this helps me more than it helps you! Watch this! From my hand I play this; finite cards! So that we can only have three cards in our hand at a time, so that’s right, discard all but three cards Kai!”

Kai frowned, but did as instructed.

“Now, I activate all remaining three cards in my hand! Watch this! First, I activate Swords of Burning Light! So that as long as I have no monsters on the field, your monsters can’t attack! Next, I’ll activate Deck Shutdown! Which means that neither of us can draw for two turns, or special summon any monsters! And the final piece… I activate wave motion cannon!”

Kai gasped audibly.

“No way! Impossible!”

Kise grinned.

“That’s right. I’ve won Kai!”

Kise watched in satisfaction as they both skipped their turns twice each as they had nothing to play.

“By doing all of this… I prevent you from attacking me, I keep you from special summoning Dark Simorgh like I knew you planned on doing next turn, and my cannon powers up to just the amount of power I need to wipe out the rest of your life points!”

Kise almost felt bad at the lack of utter devastation on Kai’s face.

“So now here we are, and I have just the amount of power I need to win. By sending my cannon to the graveyard after the two turns, you lose 2000 lifepoints, just enough to end this duel!”

“No!”

As Kise’s cannon fired directly at Kai, the blinding light made Kai fall to the ground in defeat as his life points reached zero.

Kise felt himself relax once he knew that there really was nothing that Kai could do against his plan. If his face down had been a saving grace… Kise would have probably lost.

“Oh man… this was such a scary duel…” Kise mumbled to himself as he felt the tension leave his body, before he took in a deep breath and walked across the duel arena to Kai who was looking down at the ground.

“Good game Kai, that was tough…” Kise said as he reached out towards that young man.

Kai looked up at Kise’s encouraging smile and hand, and after only a moment and a sigh of acceptance, took Kise’s hand as the taller blonde helped him up.

“Are you kidding… that was insane… how on earth did you manage that combo?” Kai asked as he rubbed the back of his head.

“To be honest… all I can say is pure luck. That deck was mostly awful… the fact that those cards aligned like that… well… luck is the only thing I can say saved me,” Kise grinned sheepishly, and Kai frowned.

“The way you say that pisses me off…” at the affronted look on Kai’s face made Kise blink.

“You’re saying I lost my chance to work for KaibaCorp because of dumb luck? That’s annoying…”

Kai let out a sigh of exasperation and turned to look around at the duels still going on. They were actually one of the first to finish it seemed, and that only made Kai even more upset.

“Still… the fact that you were able to win without ever attacking me with a monster is pretty amazing… and the fact that you were able to think of that combo was impressive too… not just anyone could do that…”

Kise smiled.

“Well, if it makes you feel better… I didn’t expect it to work out so well. I still had another plan after this… you would have still lost even if I hadn’t done it this way.”

Kai looked at Kise with surprise, before he burst out laughing.

“Oh man you’re killing me!” Kai continued to laugh heartily, and now Kise wasn't sure if he had said the wrong thing.

“But you know what… it does make me feel better. You really are an incredible duelist! I guess if I was going to lose, I’m glad it was to someone who knows what they’re doing.”

Kai extended his fist out, and Kise grinned as he bumped it with his own.

“Let’s play again sometime!”


Kise had won.

That had been a miracle, but Kise was happy that he had played his cards right and secured a spot with KaibaCorp.

Before Kise had left, they had explained that Kise would have to return in a week to sign his contract and go over exactly what his role would be while working with KaibaCorp. Kise was looking forward to it.

But more than that, Kise was looking forward to his next plan.

With a win over his shoulders, Kise felt more confident in what he planned for next.

He had already contacted Mokuba to confirm their plans, and everything seemed to be in order.

Kaiba had left after the duels had ended, and it was the rest of his staff who took over and explained what would happen next. And according to Mokuba’s intel, Kaiba was already in his office.

While Kise was disappointed that Kaiba hadn’t waited around and pulled him away, Kise hoped that it was to keep things strictly professional.

That was fine, Kise was more than willing to make the next move.

He had already given Anami instructions to go get lunch without him, since he had lunch plans with another idol and that they would meet up after.

It was a lie of course, but he couldn’t tell Anami that he was really going to see the CEO himself. Like Momoi had pointed out, his interactions with Kaiba should be kept as private as possible to make sure his reputation wasn’t hurt in anyway, especially considering what Kise had planned next.

Today was the day Kise would find out if Kaiba felt the same attraction that Kise felt for him.

With that in mind, Kise followed the instructions that Mokuba had given him that would lead him to the private elevator reserved for the brothers. Mokuba had given him a temporary access code that would let him use it, and Kise hoped to surprise Kaiba, if that was even possible. Since Kaiba knew that he was here, it would certainly dull the surprise that Kise had initially planned.


Kaiba was surprised that he hadn’t yet received a string of texts from Kise after the result of his duel and his marketing campaign.

He had to hand it to the kid, to have pulled off a win despite the odds against him. Kise Ryota was certainly a talented duelist, that was for certain. It had been the most worthwhile match he had witnessed, and while entertaining, certainly made him question other aspects of his plans.

As Kaiba was lost in thought behind his desk, an unexpected ding made him look up in the direction of his elevator that was currently shown to be moving, causing Kaiba to frown.

Who could be using his personal elevator? He certainly wasn’t expecting anyone.

Guard up, Kaiba waited for the elevator to come to a stop, body coiled in case he needed to make any sudden movements. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time someone came after his life.

When the elevator came to a stop however, and the door opened to reveal who was inside, Kaiba relaxed.

“Yo, Kaibacchi!”

Hand raised in greeting, there stood none other than Kise Ryota and his stupidly bright smile.

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at the blonde, thinking that he looked far too at home for someone that showed up uninvited.

“Well well, looks like my security is lacking. Who should I fire for letting you into my office so easily?” Kaiba asked, not bothering to greet him.

Kise only grinned wider.

“Ah, no need to be rash Kaibacchi, I just happen to know the perfect person for an infiltration mission like this,” Kise replied, stepping out of the elevator and into the large office.

Kaiba resisted the urge to roll his eyes, knowing exactly who the only person that would have the access to give to someone like Kise was.

Before he could voice his thought however, Kise whistled as he looked around the room.

“Neh Kaibacchi, this is a really nice office…”

Rather than approach Kaiba directly, Kise began to walk around the room, towards the small kitchenette tucked into the corner of his office, around the table and couch that Mokuba had often occupied while Kaiba worked, only to pause at the large windows and the view they offered.

Kaiba took in the look of awe on Kise’s face as he stared out into Domino City, the way the sun brightened his already golden eyes and caused his pale skin to glow as he placed a hand against the glass.

“Wow, it’s beautiful…” had Kaiba not been paying attention, he probably wouldn’t have heard Kise’s words of admiration.

Kaiba sighed.

“I didn’t think I needed to have a talk with my little brother about the importance of not letting strangers into my office,” Kaiba said, and Kise turned his attention towards him, a pout on his face.

“I hardly think I should be considered a stranger at this point Kaibacchi… Mokubacchi did me a huge favor my letting me pay you a surprise visit. Please don’t be mad,” Kise defended, moving closer to Kaiba until he was in front of his desk and leaning his body against it.

“And what exactly do you want from this visit?” Kaiba asked, raising an eyebrow and looking expectantly at the younger man in front of him, who only grinned sheepishly and shrugged.

“I just wanted to see you while I was in town, it’s been a while after all, and I thought it’s be nice to see how a CEO worked. And boy, am I not disappointed,” Kise replied, giving the room another once over.

“Is that why you didn’t tell me you would be auditioning for my company?” Kaiba asked, leaning back against his chair and giving Kise a piercing gaze with his blue eyes.

Kise smiled sheepishly and fidgeted under his stare.

“You could say that… I didn’t want to say anything in case I didn’t get the part. It would have been too embarrassing...” Kise admitted, “I really didn’t expect you to be a part of the auditions, though, so you surprised me!”

“This was the only audition block that interested me since it was the only one that involved dueling. Congratulations on getting the part,” Kaiba said, and Kise found himself blushing despite himself.

“Thanks, I was really nervous for a second. Did you see the horrible deck I got? That was torturous Kaibacchi! I don’t know who made the deck, but I really hope they didn’t win and get a part.”

“Hn,” Kaiba said. Making a show of going back to work on his computer and ignoring the blonde.

Kise only grinned before walking around the desk so that he was standing behind Kaiba, peeking over his shoulder and into the screens he was currently immersed in. The fact that Kaiba hadn’t kicked him out told Kise he wasn’t really bothered by his visit.

But those thoughts were momentarily forgotten as Kise took a moment to simply watch Kaiba work. The way he maneuvered between multiple screens, the way he manipulated diagrams Kise couldn’t begin to understand, work on formulas and algorithms that reminded Kise of the very subject that gave him hell in school with ease.

“You know Kaibacchi….” Kise spoke up, leaning closer behind Kaiba so that one of his hands was behind the chair he was sitting on and his face practically next to Kaiba's.

“It’s really not fair to be both smart and good-looking…” Kise's tone was teasing, but it gave Kaiba pause as his eyes flickered in Kise's direction.

“You’re one to talk, for a model and basketball prodigy,” Kaiba replied, and it caused Kise to perk up.

“Oh? Is that a compliment I hear?” Kise replied, his heart beating faster in his chest.

Kaiba scoffed as his hands returned to typing on his computer.

“Please. I’m only stating the obvious. I don’t flirt with underage kids.”

At this, Kise perked up even more. He knew that what he said next could potentially change the course of their interactions. Now his heart was practically hammering in his chest.

“I didn’t think you knew how to flirt at all Kaibacchi… but does that mean you’ll flirt with me once I’m eighteen?”

Kise took delight in the way that Kaiba once more paused in his work, and this time, actually turned his chair so that he could have a better look at Kise who was now leaning over him as one hand rested atop his chair.

Kaiba for his part, knew that this was dangerous territory. He could see what Kise was doing, and worse yet, knew it was working. His proximity over him made him take in the scent of his cologne, and the way he bore down on him with darkened and hooded eyes gave Kaiba a sharp thrill of desire. It would be so easy… to stand up and push him up against his desk.

But no. He couldn’t. He knew there were too many lines he wasn’t willing to cross.

Still, his pride wouldn’t let him let Kise get the best of him.

So instead of returning to work, he made sure to give Kise a long and obvious once over, letting his eyes slowly travel down his body and up again, only to meet his golden gaze with his own icy blue eyes and letting a slow and confident smirk form on his lips.

“Perhaps…if I’m tempted enough,” Kaiba replied.

Kise couldn’t help the way his heart skipped a beat, and couldn’t fight back the blush that gathered on his cheeks as those words made him more flustered than anything had in a while. The iciness of Kaiba’s stare made Kise’s blood pump faster, made him feel hot in the most torturous way, and Kise had to bite back a groan.

Kise felt as if he was in a daze, the desire coursing through his system clouding his judgement as his body leaned even closer to Kaiba, so that his lips were next to his ear.

“It’s a good thing I turn eighteen in two weeks then,” Kise whispered against his ear, voice husky and heavy with desire.

At the feel of Kise’s breath against his ear, Kaiba shivered, his body tensing as he tried to reign in his own desire.

“But two weeks seems like such a long time…” Kise added in an even more husky voice, only this time, Kaiba felt him lean closer and tilt his head lower and held back what would have been a groan at the feather like touch of Kise's nose against his neck.

Not being able to stop himself, and not wanting to let Kise have the upper hand, Kaiba rose from his seat, pushing Kise back so that he was trapped between him and the desk, hands on either side of his hips and one of his legs between Kise's.

This time, it was Kaiba that whispered into Kise's ear.

“I'd be careful if I were you, Kise.

Kise shivered and bit his lip as he listened to Kaiba say his name for the first time since they first met over a month before, knowing he knew what he was doing since he made sure to say his name in a slow drawl.

“You’re playing with fire...”

As Kaiba hovered over him, Kise felt impossibly aroused and vulnerable. The way that Kaiba had trapped him, he could feel one of his thumbs against his hip, and the way Kaiba's leg rested between his legs and so close to his half-hard erection made him breathless.

Through the haze, Kise couldn’t fully grasp the situation, but he did know that if Kaiba hadn't already pushed him away, it was a good thing.

It gave him the confidence to push himself off the desk slightly so that their bodies were even closer, and to trail his hand up Kaiba's torso, taking delight in how Kaiba tensed under his fingers.

“What if I said I like playing with fire?” Kise whispered, his gaze fixed on Kaiba’s blue eyes, enjoying the excitement he felt when Kaiba’s gaze strayed to his lips.

“You know…” Kaiba said, “I really didn’t expect you to win your match.”

Kise was a little taken aback by the sudden change in topic, but before he could voice his confusion, Kaiba was talking again.

“I wanted to see you lose. And I made sure to give you the worst deck and match you up with a good player with a good deck to make sure of it.”

At this revelation, Kise drew back from Kaiba, a frown on his face as he looked at Kaiba's unchanging features.

“What? Why?” Kise was confused, and very bothered by Kaiba’s declaration, especially because he knew that Kaiba didn't lie.

“If you think that getting me to sleep with you will advance your career, you are sadly mistaken, kid.”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes as he looked at Kise, who blinked back as he processed his words in his head.

It was what felt like a delayed response, but it only took seconds for Kaiba's accusation to sink in and for Kise to feel anger and betrayal rise up in his chest like a tight ball of fire.

Before he knew it, Kise pushed Kaiba away, glaring hotly in his direction.

What? You think I planned on sleeping with you to get this job?” Kise’s voice was no longer playful or cheerful, it was icy and angry, his eyes a molten gold.

Kaiba for his part, remained the same picture of calm nonchalance as he always was, but crossed his arms as he regarded the angry boy in front of him.

“Am I wrong? Why else would you so wantonly throw yourself at me and keep your audition a secret? Do you think I’m stupid? What better way to blackmail someone like me than to get me to sleep with an underage high schooler? Did you really think I would fall for that?”

Kise clenched his fists at the boiling anger her felt.

“Are you serious?” he accused, “How about because I actually like you? Because I wanted to be your friend? To surprise you? I had planned to audition for your company before I met you! I knew about you since I was a kid and thought it would be amazing to be able to work for you! Meeting Mokuba and you at my game was something I hadn’t expected and only dreamed of! Everything that happened after—”

Kise paused, the frustration he felt making his eyes water and his voice tremble.

How had it come to this? How could Kaiba be so cruel? He had just wanted to be friends… he had thought they had gotten along just fine, he had thought maybe he was getting through to him. Had everything he’s done just to test his theory? Coming to his game? Going out to eat? Was it all to test what he would do?

And what was he doing now? Why did he want to cry? He felt so stupid! So embarrassed!

Kaiba felt something stir in him at the sight of Kise. The anger was gone from his face, replaced with a pained look as his eyes watered, and his lips trembled. Kaiba wanted to know what else he had to say, but Kise took a step back, his hand angrily wiping away at his eyes. He seemed to gain his composure, his anger returning but not as fiercely as before.

“You know what Kaiba?” the lack of his usual nickname told Kaiba just how upset Kise was, and it bothered him more than it should have.

“Think what you want…” he continued, “But seriously… fuck you… and fuck your company. Find another model! I don’t want anything to do with you or your company anymore!”

With those words, Kise stormed away from him, heading to the elevator and pressing the button that opened its doors. The last image that Kaiba saw as the blonde entered the elevator and pressed the button to take him down was of him unable to look back at Kaiba, his posture defeated as he looked off to side, his eyes only straying to Kaiba as the door closed in front of him, giving him one last look at his golden eyes.

Kaiba felt his chest tighten with an unknown emotion.

He didn’t think Kise was capable of looking so sad.

Chapter Text

It had been a week since the confrontation he had with Kise.  

And despite his best efforts, Kaiba couldn’t get that day out of his head.  

No matter how hard he tried to focus on his work, his thoughts always returned to Kise, and the haunting look of the tears and sadness in his eyes. It made him feel… guilty? Regret? Emotions that Kaiba shouldn’t be feeling in this situation.  

He had done the right thing and eliminated a possible threat to his business and livelihood. Nothing good would have come from continuing their play of that day. He had come impossibly close to letting Kise’s antics get the better of his logic, to letting his desire win. If he had given in, Kise would have had more control over him, something to blackmail him with, something to ruin him with. It was a good thing that he had pushed him away.  

But no matter how many times Kaiba tried to justify his reasoning, he often found himself reaching for his personal phone, almost out of reflex, to see if Kise had reached out to him. 

And why would he? He had been angry, and just recently Kaiba had received an email that Kise’s manager had reached out to formally decline on the contract that had been offered to him when he won the audition duel. 

And it was that which sowed his doubts.  

Kaiba had been convinced that Kise planned on using him to secure a spot in his campaign, but he had done nothing before the audition to get an upper hand. And despite his efforts to thwart him, Kise had managed to win the duel that secured a spot for himself. Kaiba had wanted him to lose to see his true aim, to see if Kise would have come to him asking to give him a spot anyway. But when that hadn’t happened, and Kise still made such a bold advance on him, what could he have done but told him what he thought of the situation, to try and force his hand? He couldn’t let anything happen without knowing Kise’s motive. 

And as it turned out, Kise had even cut ties with Mokuba.  

The last time they had talked, Mokuba had mentioned that he hadn’t heard from Kise recently, which he had found odd since he had told him about getting a spot in the campaign to work with KaibaCorp, but when Mokuba had reached out to congratulate him, Kise hadn’t answered. Mokuba had asked him to reach out to him and make sure he was okay, since his silence was unusual for Kise.  

Kaiba hadn’t been able to tell Mokuba what had happened, and that Kise had rejected the offer. It would have opened a whole can of questions that Kaiba wasn’t sure he could answer. But he hadn’t agreed to checking in on him either.  

How about because I actually like you? Because I wanted to be your friend?  

Those were the words that haunted Kaiba the most. 

The possibility that Kise had actually liked Kaiba as a person? That he wanted to be his friend? 

People that met him never liked him. Those that he worked with envied him, admired him, and feared him or hated him at most. Those outside of work that he met were always put off by his coldness, and no one besides Yugi and Atem seemed to care to be his friend, and even that so called friendship might just be a result of the bond they shared in a past life.  

How could anyone really want to be his friend? How could someone exist that wasn’t out for his power? His money? His influence? 

Kaiba wasn’t a fool.  

He knew he wasn’t a good person. He knew he wasn’t friend material. He had never tried to believe otherwise. It was just who he was. He was distrustful of everyone, and he cared only for himself and his brother. The rest of the world could burn for all he cared… 

That was how he had lived his entire life. And it had worked out fine. He had everything he could possibly want. 

Why are you so bent on seeing yourself as the villain?  

Kaiba frowned at the foreign thought. 

Was that true? 

Did Kaiba truly see himself as such a bad guy? 

After all… he didn’t completely hate the world and everyone in it.  

If he truly only cared for success, he wouldn’t have demilitarized his step-father’s company and turned it into a gaming company, so children everywhere had a game they could enjoy. He wouldn’t have built the KaibaCorp theme parks where families could spend time together. 

Had his own image of himself been so distorted by the way that others seemed to see him? 

Had he at some point began to believe that he was as bad as people made him out to be? 

Be honest with yourself…  what do you want?  

Was he going insane? Surely this had to be a foreign voice in his head. Was it his past self? Honestly, after everything he had gone through, he wouldn’t be surprised if his past self  was  talking to him right now. 

Kaiba sighed. 

Did he want to always be that way? The cold, stoic figure that he felt he had to maintain because anything else would be a sign of weakness? 

So much so that he would push someone away as harshly as he had Kise? 

If he was honest with himself… 

He was upset with how much he felt Kise’s absence.  

He hated how badly he wanted to click on his name on his phone and scroll through the pictures he had sent. 

He hated that he might miss his stupid texts and daily updates. 

He hated that he had visited some of his social media in the past week, just to see if he was okay. 

Maybe it’s time to give people a chance… maybe not everyone  only wants to be close for selfish reasons.  

Kaiba tapped his finger against his desk as he looked out the window of his office.  

He was working on a Saturday… when most people looked forward to spending time with friends and family. 

Yeah… most people. He wasn’t most people.  

Usually, he prided himself in the fact. 

But right then… it made him feel alienated.  

Alone. 

He had thought he had been fine with being alone. 

Why did that no longer comfort him? 


“Yo! Kise! Get your head in the game!”  

Aomine’s angry retort snapped Kise out of his thoughts when he missed what should have been an easy shot.  

Kagami was already on the move, taking the ball that bounced off the rim in mid-air and dribbling it to the opposing basket. 

Kagami was spending his summer break from America in Japan, which meant that Kise was often asked to come and play streetball with Kuroko, Aomine, and Kagami. They usually played two on two, and sometimes Seirin’s other players joined in. And since they were the closest to each other, it was easy to get together for these games often. 

Today happened to be a day of just the usual four, but unlike previous times when Kise was more than excited to be invited to play, today his heart wasn’t in it, and he hated that he was showing it with his awful plays. 

Trying to listen to Aomine, Kise forced his body to move, chasing after Kagami as he tried to take the ball back, only for Kagami to pass the ball to Kuroko wherever he was and continue on towards the basket. 

From years of playing with them, Kise had a feeling that they would try for their signature ally-oop, so he made sure to keep close to Kagami and trusted Aomine to block Kuroko.  

It was easier to play against the Shadow and Light duo when it was two on two and there was someone to cover Kuroko, and usually it was Kise and Aomine that won. But it didn’t make their games any less fun, and they often rotated teams to keep it interesting. 

“Heh, not today Kise!” Kagami told him with a smirk as he jumped in the air. 

Kise frowned and followed, but even so, Kagami had managed to jump faster and higher, enough for Kuroko’s pass to make it into his hands out of Kise’s reach and for Kagami to slam the ball into the basket. 

Kise cursed as he landed, pausing to breathe and wipe the sweat from his forehead. It was getting hotter out, and even in his blue shorts and a white tank-top, Kise felt the heat getting to him. 

“What the hell Kise!” Kise looked up to see Aomine stopping in front of him, frown deeper than usual as he regarded him with his dark eyes, “Why are you so playing so bad?” 

Despite himself, Kise felt himself get angry at the remark as he glared at Aomine. 

“So what? It’s just a stupid game! Get over it!” Kise snapped. 

Aomine’s eyes widened at Kise’s retort, and he wasn’t the only one surprised by the angry outburst as both Kagami and Kuroko looked over to the blonde.  

“Jeez Kise… I wasn’t being serious…” Aomine mumbled as he frowned in confusion. It wasn’t like Kise to get angry so easily… and call their games stupid. Especially basketball. 

“Kise… is something the matter?” Kuroko asked as he approached them, ball in his hands and usual blank expression on his face, but concern in his eyes. 

“Yeah, I’ve never seen you angry before…” Kagami added as he also approached. And it was true. Kise was always either happy, or cool and collected. They had seen him frustrated sure… but angry? An angry Kise was an incredibly rare sight, even to them. 

Kise frowned, not liking their questions. 

Yes, he was angry.  

He had been angry all week.  

And he hated it. He wanted to move past it, but he couldn’t. It was as if that ball of anger and betrayal that had formed a week ago was still sitting in the pit of his stomach.  

And it wasn’t their fault, it was the fault of a stupid narcissistic CEO. And it bothered him so much that it was affecting his games. He had been lucky that the games they’d had were against low tier schools and easily winnable, otherwise Kise’s team would have had a fit about his plays. 

He had never been more offended in his life, and that said a lot when a lot of people went out of their way to try and offend him. 

“I’m fine,” Kise growled out as he walked to the middle of the court, “Let’s just play.” 

The three only shared a concerned look as they followed the blonde to continue their game. 

After that, Kise played much more aggressively, hardly passing the ball to Aomine and using his copy of the Generation of Miracles to dominate the game and reach the winning score.  

As he came down from the winning dunk, Kise looked over to a frowning Aomine. 

“There,” Kise said coldly, “We won… happy?” 

Aomine glared at Kise but said nothing, and neither did Kagami or Kuroko. 

They usually enjoyed their games, none really caring about who won and who lost.  

But this game had been different, Kise’s attitude a complete one-eighty from his usual positive and overly cheery self. Something was clearly wrong, and it left them all on edge after his aggressive play, and not being used to seeing this side of Kise, no one knew just what to say. 

“Should we… call it a day and just get some milkshakes?” Kagami tentatively suggested, almost as if he was scared to say the wrong thing. 

Kise wasn’t really in the mood. He had thought coming out would help him forget about what was bothering him, but instead, he felt worse for ruining their game with his bad attitude. 

He was just about to decline the invitation and say that he was going home when his line of sight followed the direction the ball had rolled off to. His heart skipped a beat as he saw the last person he expected to see step in front of the ball and stop its motion, only to lean down to pick it up.  

The rest of them seemed to catch Kise’s surprise as they followed his gaze to the tall unfamiliar brunette that was now holding the ball.  

It was none other than the source of Kise’s awful mood, sans the signature long white coat. Kise wasn’t used to seeing him without his coat, but the heat must have been enough reason to leave it behind, giving Kise a clear few of the man’s slender figure. 

Seto Kaiba. 

“Who’s that guy?” Kagami asked. 

The only ones that recognized him were Kise and Aomine, but neither answered Kagami’s question. 

“What are  you  doing here?” Kise asked, voice clipped and cold as he placed a hand on his hip. The rest of the guys easily caught onto Kise’s accusing tone, only making them more curious about who this guy was. 

“We need to talk.” 

So they knew each other, that was obvious. But why did Kise seem bothered by him? 

“I don’t think we do,” Kise replied, narrowing his eyes at Kaiba, his anger shining brightly through his golden orbs. 

Kaiba began walking towards them, and almost instinctively, both Kagami and Aomine stepped forward and in front of Kise. They didn’t know who this guy was, but they knew Kise didn’t want to talk to him, and the guy was clearly not getting the hint. 

“You heard him pal, he doesn’t wanna talk to you,” Kagami voiced, glaring at the approaching figure.  

This guy was tall, but he didn’t look too intimidating. He certainly had a presence, but they had more muscle on them, and it was just one of him against the four of them.  

Despite his resentment at seeing Kaiba, Kise felt warmth in his chest at the way Kagami and Aomine were stepping forward to protect him. He knew he didn’t need their protection, but it was the thought that counted.  

Kaiba paused, regarding the two boys with indifference, before looking at Kise once more.  

“Kise…” he said, and Kise hated the way his breath hitched at the sound of his name, and the softness that accompanied it.  

“Please…”  

Kise felt his heart skip a beat, and the anger that had previously consumed him seemed to evaporate at that single word. 

Was Kaiba…  pleading with him? 

The Seto Kaiba? 

The proud, narcissistic man that Kise had grown to know?  

Kise felt his body taking a step forward without his realizing it, and something flashed in Kaiba’s eyes for a second, something like hope, before it was gone and replaced with the same stoic and icy blue.  

“Let’s talk…” Kaiba urged again, before his eyes flashed to the other boys, “In private.” 

Said boys seemed to tense at Kaiba’s words, but Kise took another step forward so that he was in front of them, and Aomine reached out, grabbing ahold of the crook of his elbow and holding him back.  

Kise turned to look at Aomine’s face, who looked concerned, maybe a little nervous? 

“Kise… you don’t have to go. We can take him on if we have to,” he said. 

Kise smiled reassuringly at Aomine, the first real smile he had seen all day from him, and that only served to unnerve Aomine more. 

“It’s okay Aominecchi. I’m fine,” Kise reassured him, gently pulling his elbow away from Aomine, before turning to Kaiba again. 

“Fine. We’ll talk,” Kise told him, his tone no longer angry, but still stern.  

Kaiba said nothing, only waited until Kise walked past him to get the bag he had brought with him. While he retrieved his things, Kaiba looked to the other boys. The red-haired looked confused more than anything, the short blue-haired boy simply looked passive, but Aomine looked angry, distrustful.  

“Here.” 

Kaiba tossed Aomine the ball, who easily caught it but whose frown never once wavered.  

Aomine didn’t know why, but he knew that he didn’t want Kise to leave with him. 

“Sorry guys. I’ll catch you later. I’ll make up for this next time, okay?” Kise said as he came to join the brunette, bag over his shoulder.  

Kise could see that his friends weren’t comfortable letting him leave with Kaiba, could see the unease in their eyes. He didn’t blame them, since they didn’t know who Kaiba was. 

He tried to smile reassuringly. 

“Don’t worry, I trust him…” Kise told them, knowing it was the only way to ease their minds.  

They didn’t look fully convinced, but they trusted his judgement. 

“Fine… but text us later okay?” Kagami said, stuffing his hands in his pockets.  

Their display of protectiveness reminded Kaiba of Yugi’s friends, and they looked at him just as his friends had. They didn’t trust him with Kise, even though they didn’t know him. Proof once more that Kaiba wasn’t a likeable guy. So why did Kise take a liking to him? What did Kise see that others didn’t? 

“I will! Have fun without me okay! Sorry about my attitude today…”  

Kagami and Kuroko nodded, only Aomine still looked completely unhappy with his decision from the apparent scowl on his face.  

Either way, Kise didn’t wait for a reply as he turned around and walked out of the basketball court, with Kaiba following him.  

Once they were out of ear-shot, Kaiba spoke. 

“Did you mean that? That you trust me?” Kaiba asked.  

It had surprised him after all, that Kise would tell them that after what he had told him during the last time they spoke, after admitting to trying to sabotage him. 

Kise didn’t answer right away, didn’t look at him as he continued to walk with his hands in his pockets. 

“Well, I trust that you won’t hurt me, which was what they seemed worried about. It would be a stupid and pointless thing to do, and you don’t do stupid and pointless things, right?” 

Kaiba found that he didn’t like this side of Kise. This side that talked to him in an indifferent tone, who didn’t radiate the glow and enthusiasm that he always did around him. Was this how Kise treated those he didn’t like? 

“Anyway… where do you want to talk?” Kise asked with a sigh, as if he just wanted to get this over with. 

“I’ll drive you home, I parked the car this way,” Kaiba told him, taking the lead as they walked, and Kise looked interested. 

“You drove?” Kise asked.  

“I didn’t want to bother Tanaka on a personal matter such as this,” Kaiba admitted.  

Despite himself, Kise laughed.  

“I didn’t think you were capable of something so common  as driving yourself,” Kise was only half-joking. 

Kise didn’t want to admit it, but the fact that Kaiba had driven himself so far from home to talk to him in person instead of calling made more of his anger ebb away. He had an idea of what Kaiba wanted to talk to him about, but what had made him want to reach out to talk about it? 

Kise wanted to stay angry, but seeing Kaiba again, hearing him plead to talk… it practically made him putty in his hands. How could he be so weak to someone? For all he knew, Kaiba might want to extort something out of him. He would like to think that Kaiba came to apologize… but what were the chances of that? 

“How did you know where I was anyway?” Kise asked, softer and more defeated this time. 

Kaiba spared him a glance and saw that Kise’s indifference was replaced with a softer look, with a hint of the same sadness he had seen on the elevator.  

“I’m the inventor of some of the most advanced technology in the world, with access to my own satellite… it wasn’t hard,” Kaiba replied, taking out the keys in his pocket to remotely unlock his car just ahead. 

Kise tried not to think about how invasive and kind of scary that sounded, and only because it was such a Kaiba thing to do, even if he was joking. As he looked at the lights of the car flash as it unlocked, Kise noticed that it was a much fancier car than the one his driver drove him around in. This was a sports car, top of the line, and more of the luxury model that Kise would expect from someone like Kaiba.  

Kise entered the car, trying not to admire the sleek and modern interior, and began to give Kaiba directions to where he lived.  

Not wanting to sit in silence, and with too many questions in his mind, Kise just dove in. 

“Kaiba…why are you here?” Kise asked. 

It was a good question, one that even Kaiba himself couldn’t fully answer.  

“I’d like to know that myself…” 

He found himself tracking down Kise and driving down all the way to where he was before he could fully rationalize why he was doing it. The only thing that he knew, is that he wasn’t happy with the outcome of their last conversation. 

Kaiba sighed. 

“I don’t trust people…” Kaiba continued, and Kise could hear the strain in his voice, as if he wasn’t exactly comfortable with the subject, so he stayed quiet, and waited for him to continue. 

“I’m used to people taking things from me. I’m used to people hating me and disliking me for what I have and what I’ve done. All my life, people have only taken from me. It started with my own family, who stole the fortune our parents left behind after their death and left us to be poor orphans with nothing to our name. I’ve had to work hard for what I have and even harder to keep it. Mokuba has been the only person I could ever trust, because if my own family would forsake us for money, how could I trust anyone at all?” 

Kise felt his heart sink, felt his heart beat fast at the words that Kaiba was telling him. Even if Mokuba hadn’t shared the same story with him, Kise would have believed him.  

“Those that have tried to get close to me have always wanted something. Whether it was money, a position in my company, or even my life. And the few people that have gotten to know me by chance and circumstances tend to hate my guts. It’s not news to me that I’m not the most likeable guy.” 

Kise lips quirked at Kaiba’s own jab at his personality.  

“So when you say you want to be my friend… and actually like me… I find it hard to believe.” 

If it weren’t for the fact that he was hearing it with his own ears, Kaiba wouldn’t have believed that he was having this conversation with Kise. Just five years ago, Kaiba probably wouldn’t have been able to talk this openly.  

But since he had been the one to raise Mokuba through his teenage angst and rebellious phase, Kaiba had learned to verbalize his feelings to have a better conversation that didn’t push him away. It had been a turbulent time, with a lot of trial and error on Kaiba’s part. A lot of letting himself be vulnerable to someone. 

And somehow, Kise had brought out that side of him as well.  

“So when I found out that you were auditioning for my company, it made perfect sense that what you were really after was a way to advance your career, especially since you didn’t seem to think basketball was an option for you. I wanted to thwart your plan by making you lose the duel, so you couldn’t claim a spot, to prove that you would try to get me to get you a spot anyway. But you surprised me by winning the duel…” Kaiba admitted.  

Kaiba paused, and Kise absorbed what Kaiba had confided in him with.  

The vulnerability that Kaiba was willing to share with him warmed Kise. It further reinforced what he had thought about Kaiba all along. That Kaiba had his reasons for being cold, aloof, and known to be cruel. Someone as pure as Mokuba wouldn’t love his brother so deeply if that wasn’t the case, wouldn’t defend him at every turn.  

“You know…” Kise said tentatively, “The only reason I was able to win was because of you.” 

Kaiba glanced away from the door to look at Kise, who was looking at his lap. 

“I honestly had no clue how I was going to win with the deck I got, but then I thought of you, and how I didn’t want to lose while you were watching, and then I remembered your virus deck. I immediately knew it was the only way to stand up against a powerful deck, and I chose my five cards around that strategy. Even so… I was lucky to have gotten the cards I needed.” 

As Kaiba looked back to the road, he couldn’t help but remember Yugi and Atem’s words of Heart of the Cards , and that perhaps that’s exactly what Kise had. His plays certainly reminded him a lot of his own rival, the way he made the impossible happen. 

“You’re more impressive than you give yourself credit for,” Kaiba admitted, “A bad duelist would never have come so close to beating me, and not just anyone would be able to turn such a bad deck around with the perfect five cards. The day you surprised me at KaibaCorp was the first time in a long time that I’d enjoyed dueling…” Kaiba hesitated, as if he caught himself rambling. 

“I guess what I want to say is… you’re one of the very few people I find tolerable, and someone whose skill I can actually acknowledge.” 

Kise felt his heart soar. He knew that in his own way, Kaiba was apologizing. He was telling Kise in the most roundabout way possible that Kise was someone he wanted around.  Him ! Kise Ryota! It gave him butterflies in his stomach and it was hard not to immediately forgive Kaiba for the torture he had gone through for the past week. 

Kise found it more sad than anything…. That Kaiba trusted so little even friendship seemed like a plot against what he had. It made Kise want to try harder to be his friend. He wanted to show him that he was wrong, and that he really wanted to be his friend. 

“Kaibacchi…” Kise continued, and this time, Kaiba felt as if a weight was taken off his shoulders once Kise addressed him with his usual nickname, warmth laced in his tone. 

“I appreciate you telling me all this. I know that it couldn’t have been easy for you. And even if it’s hard for you to believe me… I want you to know that I really  do  want to be your friend.  Growing  up, I admired you. And when I found out about the auditions, I was beyond excited at the possibility of meeting you if I got the part. And then  meeting Mokuba and getting the chance to duel you, it was a dream come true!  I could hardly believe it!  And yes, you were— are —kind of a dick, but from the way that Mokuba talked about you, and from seeing how you treated Mokuba in return, I knew there was a reason why you were the way you were. I wanted to be your friend because I knew there was good in you too, and hell, I’m not the nicest guy around either, I can be a dick too you know.” 

Despite himself, Kaiba couldn’t help but grin. He wanted to believe Kise, wanted to believe that it was sincerity behind his words.  

“So when you accused me of using you to advance my career… well I was insulted and hurt. I’ve always worked for what I have. Granted, I stick to what I’m good at and like instead of what will get me the most money and power… but I’ve never wanted anything to be handed to me. I would  never  sink to sleeping with someone to get a job, just like I would  never  cheat to win in basketball , and why I  will  win in a duel against you one day. I want the satisfaction of attaining things by my own means. And the only reason I didn’t tell you was because I wanted to surprise you, because I still look up to you and only want to seem worthy in your eyes,” Kise felt himself blush at his own vulnerability, but he knew that since Kaiba had opened up to him, he had to do the same in return. 

“I believe you,” Kaiba said. 

And it was true. Kaiba believed him. He fought against his every notion and belief that told him otherwise and  trusted  Kise. It was an odd sensation. Never before had Kaiba felt so vulnerable, and it while it bothered him, he pushed that feeling away. 

Kaiba had come to terms that he needed to make some changes in his life.  

This was where he would start. 

Kise continued to give Kaiba instructions to his apartment, and the rest of the ride there was spent in contemplating silence. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence, but there was a certain elephant in the room. The one thing they hadn’t broached about what else had happened in Kaiba’s office that day.  

Kise snuck several glances at Kaiba, his heart beating nervously in his chest. Kise knew that they had reached a new level in their relationship, and Kise felt as if a great responsibility had been given to him. Kaiba had chosen to trust him, and for someone that didn’t trust anyone but his brother, Kise knew that he could never take Kaiba’s trust for granted. He wanted to show Kaiba that he was right to trust Kise with his friendship. 

But also… Kise knew that he wanted more than just Kaiba’s friendship.  

His attraction to Kaiba hadn’t gone away. In fact, the fact that Kaiba opened up to him made him like Kaiba even more. 

He wanted to continue where they had left off in his office. Kise had been sure that Kaiba was also attracted to him from the way he had seemed affected by his advances.  

So the question was… should Kise just forget about it and keep their friendship as it was… or should he be open with Kaiba and tell him he also wanted  him

“You should sign the contract.” 

Kise blinked as he looked at Kaiba. 

“Huh?” 

“The contract… to work for KaibaCorp. You won the duel fair and square. You deserve the position. I told the project leader to hold off on extending the contract to someone else. Your manager can call and arrange the meeting next week.” 

Ah, so that was what he meant. He hadn’t thought about that.  

In truth, he  would  like to be a part of KaibaCorps campaign. It still sounded as appealing as it had before, especially now that it seemed he had patched things up with Kaiba.  

“I guess I could only…” Kise paused, and Kaiba glanced over. 

“Next weekend is my birthday weekend, and my family wanted me to go and visit to celebrate with me. But the weekend after would work, if it’s not too late?” 

Kaiba wasn’t too concerned. There was no real deadline by when they would need the contracts signed, and there was still plenty of time before the project that Kise would be involved in would officially start. 

“It should be no problem,” he assured Kise, just as Kise motioned for him to stop in front of the apartment complex they had just arrived at. 

Kise glanced over in the direction of his apartment, and then back at Kaiba. 

“So… I guess… we can consider each other friends now?” Kise asked, tentatively.  

Kaiba looked at Kise. The warmth was back in his eyes, and it gave Kaiba a sense of relief.  

Before he could stop himself, he felt himself reach out with his hand and ruffle Kise’s hair, causing Kise to blink at him in surprise before his eyes brightened, a content smile formed on his lips, and a tint of pink dusted his cheeks.  

As much as Kaiba hated to admit it… this boy was nice to look at, nice to be around too.  

He was glad to see his happy demeanor back.  

He almost reminded him of a puppy wagging his tail as he looked back at him. 

“Yeah… I guess so…” Kaiba replied. 

In that moment, Kise chose not to bring up the chemistry that the two had shared in his office.  

For now… Kise could be content with this.  

He could be content with Kaiba’s trust and friendship. 

Chapter Text

Kise was in a much better mood in the coming week. He had gone back to constantly texting Kaiba, and even apologized to Mokuba about his absence. Kaiba had said that he preferred his little brother not know about what happened between them, since it was their business and he rather Mokuba didn’t get involved.

Kise of course, respected his wishes, and told Mokuba that he had problems with his phone and had gotten busy which was why he had disappeared for a week. Mokuba seemed to accepted his excuse easy enough, and the two continued on as they always had, with Mokuba being happy and excited that he would be working with KaibaCorp now too.

The best part of it all, was that Kaiba bothered to answer his questions now. And while Kise tried to keep his questions general and things that weren’t too personal, he felt as if he was really getting to know Kaiba. The real Kaiba.

Everything seemed to be falling into place.

He had the audition, which although Anami was confused with Kise’s indecisiveness, had arranged for the contract to be signed the weekend after his birthday.

Now, there were only three things on Kise’s mind.

Winning the inter-high.

Winning a duel against Kaiba.

And trying to keep his attraction to Kaiba manageable as he tried to be the best possible friend that he could be.

For now though, his priority should be on basketball practice so that he could finally give his team the championship title they deserved. He had to put in his all so that he could finally defeat the Generation of Miracles and claim his place at the top.

His positive mood and abundance of energy had given him the drive to push himself as much as he could the coming week, training harder and longer than he had in a long time, and rather than feel tired by the extra exertion, Kise just felt more energized and determined.

So much so that although Kise should have been more excited for his birthday, it was hardly at the front of his mind as he continued on with his training regimen and shooting schedule.

It was a big birthday. As one of the oldest in his group of friends, he should be more excited to be turning eighteen.

He would officially be an adult by society standards.

But that’s also what scared him.

Was he ready to be adult?

He certainly didn’t feel ready.

“Kise, you ready?” Hachiro asked as he leaned against the locker next to his.

Kise broke from his thoughts as he turned to Hachiro, those were concerns for another day.

Today his concern was winning his basketball game against one of the lesser known schools in his district. It wasn’t one of their rival schools, but they had heard rumors that their team this year was one of the best. They had gotten a few really good players the year before, and it was rumored that the first years this year were even better.

They were known as the “Rising Kings”, a title bestowed on them during their middle school playing years. Unlike the Generation of Miracles however, the so called Rising Kings had chosen to stay together during high school, and he had heard from multiple sources that they planned to dethrone the Generation of Miracles and claim the inter-high and winter-cup. They said they would prove they had what it took to defeat the Generation of Miracles by going to a school that didn’t have the most reputable history with their games.

The interesting thing was, so far, they were backing up their claim and were currently undefeated as far as Kise knew.

“Yeah, just getting the rest of my stuff.”

This game would be an away game, and their bus would be leaving soon so the team had changed into their away uniforms with their sweats over it.

Kise grabbed his travel bag and put it over his shoulder, walking out with the rest of his team and towards the bus that was waiting outside.

Their coach was going over plays with Takeshi, strategizing and probably incorporating some of their new plays, and Hachiro continued to walk next to him, teasing him about the girls that had confessed to Kise this week and chastising him for turning them down since one of the girls was one of the most popular and liked girls at their school. As always, Kise just laughed it off and did his best to evade and change the subject. It was hard to really justify why he always turned down the girls that confessed without being open about his sexuality.

His teammates invited him to mixers all the time and Kise was always more than happy to go since it was one of his favorite social activities, but he never ended up giving the girl he was paired up with the time of day, just enough not to make her feel completely left out, and often times the girls fought over him anyway and ignored the boy they were actually supposed to be paired up with. It was things like that that reminded Kise why he didn’t ever feel the need to date a girl just for show.

And since Aomine had been the center of his world for so long, he never found a boy to like in his own school either. Now, his crush was a billionaire CEO. Go figure.

“Hey, look who it is,” Hachiro said as he nudged Kise with his elbow.

They had just exited the doors of the building as Kise followed Hachiro’s gaze. It wasn’t hard to see who he was referring too, and Kise blinked in surprised to see the green haired boy laying in wait, holding what looked to be a sand-glass in his tape-wrapped hand and wearing the black uniform that belonged to Shutoku High.

“What’s Midorimacchi doing here?” Kise asked aloud before jogging up to the green-haired boy and stopping short of him with a smile.

“Ah, to what do we owe the pleasure Midorimacchi! It’s kind of a bad time, we’re on our way to a game,” Kise informed the taller boy.

As expected, Midorima’s expression remained unchanged as he looked back at Kise.

“Kise, I came to tell you something important,” he replied, and were it not for the serious look on in his eyes, Kise would have teased him on lightening up.

“So serious Midorimacchi… what’s up that you would come all this way for?” Kise asked, glancing over to the bus where his team was already entering. Only the coach and Takeshi waited outside and looked over in Kise’s direction.

“The team you’re playing against… Yamakai High. Don’t underestimate them,” Midorima said, narrowing his eyes slightly, and causing Kise to blink with confusion.

“Ah… is there a reason for that?”

Not that Kise was underestimating them, but why would Midorima come all this way just to tell him that?

“Two days ago, Shutoku had a practice match against Yamakai,” Midorima continued, and Kise listened intently.

“Kise…we lost.”

Kise’s eyes widened as he stared back at Midorima.

“What?!” Kise exclaimed.

Shutoku had lost? The team that Kise had lost to in their first year at the Winter Cup? One of the teams which had a member of the Generation of Miracles? How could that have happened?

“I would have told you sooner if I had known you would be playing against them so soon, but I only found out about your match today and came as soon as I could. I would have texted you but my phone is broken and Takao stayed home sick.”

Kise still couldn’t believe what Midorima had told him. How could Shutoku lose to a team that had never before been a challenge? That had never even been in a tournament?

“They’re good Kise, very good. Their teamwork is seamless, and they didn’t even play their upperclassman in the match.”

What? They won against Shutoku without even playing their seasoned players? How could that be possible?

“Listen Kise, their strength is in their teamwork, I’ve never seen something quite like it. They reminded me of us … in our middle school days. But individually, they aren’t as strong as us. I don’t know if that will help you much, but I don’t have the time to tell you everything.”

Kise narrowed his eyes, his body tense as he absorbed Midorima’s warning.

He had felt pretty confident about his game… but now… with Midorima’s urgent visit to give him this warning… he felt different. Midorima wouldn’t have come all this way if it wasn’t urgent, if he didn’t feel this was truly a warning that he needed.

Still… he had worked hard. His team had worked hard. He couldn’t let a warning like this shake his confidence. So, he hardened his gaze and smiled at Midorima.

“I appreciate the warning Midorimacchi… but don’t forget who won against you last inter-high. Even if Yamakai beat Shutoku, they won’t beat us. I won’t let it happen,” Kise replied.

Midorima looked at Kise before smirking.

“Hn. I see… very well Kise. According to Oha Asa, Gemini ranks first today.”


In the end, Midorima had driven with them to the school, and told him what he knew of their would-be opponent. He was able to tell them about each of the players, and how and why they had been able to get the better of Shutoku and win the match. It might have just been a practice match, but it didn’t make it any less of a loss.

Midorima’s retelling of the events certainly sobered up the team and made them more cautious for what would come. It made the rest of the team on edge, and Kise hoped that they would be more focused and not shaken by what Midorima had told them.

Kise felt his phone vibrate in his hand, and despite his turbulent thoughts, Kise smiled when he saw that it was Kaiba’s response to his text earlier.

Kaibacchi 15:39

And you didn’t think to invite me this time?

Kise grinned. He had told Kaiba that he had a game today, but unlike other times, Kise hadn’t invited him, but until recently, it had been with good reason. What made him smile was Kaiba’s witty remark. He truly enjoyed seeing this more open and playful side of Kaiba, despite how sarcastic he could sometimes be.

Well, I thought it would be too boring for you. It was supposed to be against one of the worse schools, but apparently, their new members are good. Good enough to have won against one of the Generation of Miracles in a practice match.  You’re welcome to come if you want! I might need the moral support!

Kise was kidding of course. It was much too late of a notice for Kaiba to make it, and even if he did, he doubted he would make it in time. Maybe if he left now he could make the last quarter, but that just sounded like a waste of a trip for only a quarter of the game.

They were only five minutes away from Yamakai, and Kise resisted the urge to tap his leg.

While he had hoped for an easy game, he couldn’t help but also feel excited at the news of a challenge in these new players.


Yamakai High School certainly wasn’t to the caliber as Kaijo. It was smaller, and much less impressive. But Kise and his teammates knew better than to underestimate a team based on the school itself, now more than ever thanks to Midorima’s warning.

The bus parked outside what seemed to be the athletic entrance, where everyone was surprised to see a large group of people waiting outside, both students and adults. It was an unusual sight, which raised more than a pair of eyebrows.

Seeing the bus pull up, one of the adults, a woman with black hair in a ponytail and a track suit with the Yamakai colors, approached the bus and waived over, and Coach Takeuchi didn’t hesitate to step out and meet her outside.

As they spoke, the Kaijo players decided to step out, and as they filed out, the students that could only be the Yamakai players from their red and white basketball uniforms approached them. From what Midorima had told them, they already knew who each was.

The boy leading the team with orange-hair in a bun and faded sides was the captain, Yasumi Rintaro, point guard. According to Midorima, he was quick-witted and efficient, managing to quickly change the course of their plays in a split second.

Behind him, was a boy with blonde hair, more broadly built than the others and the power forward of the team, Inai Dai. He had an easy-going expression on his face, looking more bored than anything.

While the players certainly held a presence for being first years, not to mention having the height that made them look older, it was the other three that really got their attention.

Yamikai’s Triple Threat.

A set of identical triplets that made up the core of Yamikai’s team. Just from looking at them, it was apparent that they were identical triplets, considering they looked exactly the same in build and looks. They all had the same burgundy eyes, and kept the same hairstyle, black spiky hair, with the only separating feature being a white streak in their hair in different locations. One had it on the right side, the other the left, and the other in the center.

Midorima had spoken of their seamless teamwork, their unorthodox plays, and the fathomless arsenal of plays just between the three of them.

The Miura triples. Miura Shuji, shooting guard. Miura Izuki, center. Miura Kinji, small forward.

They were the ones they had to worry about the most.

Takeshi took the lead as the two groups stopped in front of each other, and more than one player raised their hand in greeting.

“What’s going on?” Takeshi asked.

Their captain, Rintaro, was the one to answer.

“Well, some unfortunate news,” he begun, looking behind him with a look of disappointment on his face to the entrance doors and hands on each hip.

“Some pipes burst, and the gym is flooded. Looks like the game is cancelled.”

Takeshi frowned at the news, before sighing and crossing his arms. Behind him, there were groans of disappointment among the Kaijo players. They had been riled up for nothing.

“Well, that’s unfortunate. We were really looking forwards to playing against you,” he replied.

“We would have called and saved you the trip, but it just happened less than an half an hour ago as we were getting ready.”

As the captains continued to talk, Kise noticed that the eyes of the triplets were on him.

They looked at him as if analyzing him, which being the Ace of Kaijo, Kise was used to. This was the first time they had been in such proximity after all, and if the rumors were true, the Rising Kings were out to dethrone all those that had belonged to the Generation of Miracles, Kise being one of them.

“Kise Ryota, the copycat!” the triplet with the white streak on the left side approached him, a large grin on his face, “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you!”

The boy in front of him looked pleased and overly joyful. Standing in front of him, Kise was able to see that the triplets were shorter than him, maybe by about two or three inches. It was a fact that could also be a disadvantage to them, but given the rumors, Kise knew not to put too much faith in that. While the taller in basketball a player was, the better, it wasn’t always the case, as Kuroko had taught him early on.

“Ah, likewise,” Kise said, although he hardly meant it and lacked the same enthusiasm behind his words.

“I’m Kinji, the youngest of my brothers, we play the same position!” Kinji said with a grin of pride, causing Kise to blink and resist the urge to grimace.

He wasn’t quite sure why, but this guy rubbed him the wrong way.

“Ah, is that so? I look forward to seeing you in action in the next game then,” Kise replied unenthusiastically, his gaze colder as he regarded the boy in front of him.

Kinji’s grin turned colder as well, and as he extended his hand for Kise to shake, Kise’s eyes narrowed, but his pride caused him to also reach out and grasp the smaller boy’s hand.

Kise didn’t expect the tight grip that followed, or the way that Kinji used his other hand to grasp Kise’s wrist. Kise knew that if he tried to pull away, it wouldn’t be easy, and Kise tried to quell the rage that filled him at the blatant show of a dominance that he was being shown by this underclassman.

“I look forward to making you obsolete, senpai…” Kinji said, and before Kise could try to rip his hand away, the younger boy let go and turned around to return to his brothers who had silently watched the exchange.

Kise was livid, and he was surprised when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Kise, don’t let him get to you.”

It was Midorima, who Kise had forgotten was there, but it did little to reign in the anger that Kise felt then and there.

How dare this kid? Who did he think he was?

Kise would show him just who he was messing with.

“You’re right Midorimacchi. I’ll show him on the court.”


Kise was annoyed all the way back to Kaijo, and ended up sending Kaiba a long rant about what had happened and how annoyed and pissed off he was on his way home. He felt better after the fact and sighed as he felt himself decompress.

He still wasn’t satisfied with the events, especially since they hadn’t been able to play so he could show those so called Rising Kings their place in their rankings, to remind them why he was among those with the title of Generation of Miracles.

As he looked up at the still bright sky of his town, Kise tried his best to forget about the events that had just happened and thought of what he had to look forward to. His birthday was the next day, and his teammates wanted to take him out after practice to eat since he would be going to see his parents that weekend.

It was very kind of his teammates, and Kise was looking forward to it. He also knew that due to his popularity, he would have a surplus of notes, gifts, and chocolates in his locker from his fangirls, which was never fun to clean and bring home after. Usually he gave out a lot of the edible gifts to his teammates anyway, and took the rest home where he sometimes bothered to read and sometimes he just threw out.

It wasn’t that he was insensitive to their feelings and confessions, it just got tiring after a while and he knew that he was never going to really give those girls the time of day. Sure, he would greet them, smile and speak to them, but never did he plan on indulging them outside of school hours unless they somehow managed to track him down somewhere.

It had also been some time since he had seen his parents and sisters, since modeling jobs often occupied his weekends and school and basketball the rest of the time. It would be nice to see them and get spoiled by them and teased by his siblings.

It would be especially nice to see his sisters, since they were one of the few people that knew about his sexuality and had known he dated Aomine. They were incredibly supportive and Kise was looking forward to telling them about Kaiba and asking for their advice on what he should do after their most recent developments.

He would be going to KaibaCorp to finalize his contract the weekend after and although Kise hadn’t brought it up to Kaiba yet, he was really hoping he could see him and spend some time with him, and Kise was more than willing to pull the birthday card to do so.

Kise was pulled from his thoughts by the continuous vibrating of his phone in his pocket, and knowing it was a call, Kise pulled it out to see who was calling him, expecting to see the name of Anami but surprised to see another name, a name that made Kise’s heart skip a beat at the rarity of such a call.

With only a moment of hesitation, Kise answered the call and placed the phone against his ear.

“Aominecchi,” Kise said, trying to sound cheery despite the slight dread he felt at his call, “What a surprise, to what do I owe this call?”

There was a grunt from the other side of the call, the familiar masculine sound that had always managed to make Kise weak in the knees.

“Are you busy right now?” Aomine replied, not really answering his question.

Kise blinked.

“Ah, not really. My game was cancelled so I was just heading home to eat and do homework,” Kise answered.

There was a pause, and Kise was about to speak again when Aomine beat him to it.

“Do you want to get dinner? I’m in the area, and since it’s your birthday tomorrow, consider it my treat,” Aomine offered, his voice that familiar tone that Kise had learned to recognize as Aomine’s shy voice.

It surprised Kise enough for his steps to falter and cause him to stop on the sidewalk, his eyes wide and his heart picking up speed in his chest.

Since they broke up, Kise hadn’t been alone with Aomine. The times they hung out were always with either Momoi or Kuroko and Kagami. If Kise was honest, he had avoided being alone with Aomine because he didn’t feel as if he was ready to be with him without a buffer for all the questions that Kise had left unanswered. But perhaps he was wrong, and Aomine was with Momoi. Why would he be in the area by himself otherwise?

“Oh um, would Momocchi be going with us too?” Kise asked, tentatively.

“No… just me,” Aomine answered, also a bit hesitantly.

Kise thought about it, wondering if he should accept Aomine’s offer. It had been over six months, should he still be avoiding being by himself with Aomine? He wasn’t sure if he was fully over him, but Kise didn’t think it was productive to keep putting it off. After all, Aomine was still someone that Kise treasured and valued, despite how things had turned out between them. And this was their final year in high school, with neither knowing where their paths would take them in the coming year. Shouldn’t he be trying to spend as much time as possible with his friends?

With that in mind, Kise had his answer.

“I would love to Aominecchi, where to?” Kise asked, his outlook on the situation much more positive than before.


Aomine had ended up suggesting Rampo’s, claiming that it had been a while since he’d been there and it was one of Kise’s favorites.

When they met up, Kise had to try harder than he would have liked to keep out of his mind how familiar it felt, from the many dates that the two had gone on at this very location.

Aomine made it a little hard considering that for once, he hadn’t opted to stay in his school uniform or track suit. He was actually nicely dressed, with dark blue jeans that hugged his butt just right and a form-fitting dark gray long-sleeved t-shirt that he had rolled up to his elbows. His appearance alone reminded Kise just how handsome Aomine was, and why he had been the object of his affection for so long.

The two sat down at Kise’s usual table, and while it hadn’t been that long since Kise last visited, it felt different when Aomine was sitting across from him. Despite himself, Kise felt nervous, and a little on edge without a buffer between them as Kise had feared.

And it bothered him that he felt that way.

It had once been so easy to be around Aomine, to tease him and press his buttons. Aomine had always been playful with him too, and when they started dating they had been pleasantly surprised that their dynamics didn’t change all that much, rather, it was more so adding affection into their dynamic. Which for Kise, had been easy. He had dreamed of being affectionate with Aomine for so long that it was actually hard to keep himself in check to take their relationship at a pace Aomine was comfortable with. After all, it was Aomine who wasn’t sure how to go about a relationship with a boy, and Kise had to tell him that he could do with him anything he would do with a girl, like late night phone calls, flowers, dates, and everything that people did in a relationship. Kise was a hopeless romantic after all. And anything Aomine did with him would make him happy.

Now though, there was a sadness and disappointment when it came to being around Aomine. Sad because Kise had hoped for a forever with him, and disappointment because it didn’t happen. It made Kise feel insecure, because he didn’t even know what he did or didn’t do that caused Aomine to break up with him. He felt even worse because he didn’t have the courage to ask.

Yet here they were, with Aomine looking just a little bit nervous across from him. Did he also feel those same feelings as Kise did when it came to the two of them being alone? Or were they different kinds of feelings that he had? It had to be different, perhaps he was nervous that he might be giving Kise the wrong idea by being out here with just the two of them.

Kise refused to believe it was anything else. He couldn’t hope for anything else.

Harumi remembered Aomine from the times the two had come together, and the small talk she made with Aomine had seemed to ebb some of Aomine’s nervousness away. She had left some water for them, and said she would come back in a few minutes since they were a bit busy that night and she had to attend a different table.

“So, why was your game cancelled today?” Aomine asked.

It was the perfect question for Kise, since the feelings he felt from the events that had happened that day resurfaced, replacing the feelings he felt being around Aomine as he launched into another retelling of the events with enthusiasm.

He was glad to see that Aomine was empathetic and on his side once he learned of everything, even showing to be angry about the triplet's actions near the end.

“That little shit! Who does he think he is? I can’t wait to play him and show him just who he‘s going up against.  I hope we play them soon,” Aomine said, a mix of anger and annoyance on his face.

Harumi had already brought their food to them by this point, and the two were slowly eating their share.

Kise was happy to know that recounting his story significantly eased the air into a more comfortable one. He was happy to know that his feelings about the whole situation were reciprocated in Aomine, even if Aomine was a hothead to begin with and it didn’t take much to upset him.

“Yeah I’m not sure when, or even if, we’ll be able to make up that match. We might not get to play them until the inter-high,” Kise said with a sigh as he ate another bite of his food.

“Well, don’t worry, I’ll make sure to pay him two-fold for you,” Aomine replied, and Kise grinned.

“Neh, protecting my honor Aominecchi?” Kise teased, and tried to hold in a laugh at the way Aomine visible almost choked on his drink, before a subtle blush graced his dark complexion.

As expected, Aomine didn’t reply, and despite himself, Kise felt just a little proud of still being able to read Aomine despite the time that they had drifted apart.

“Anyway, I’ve been thinking…” Aomine started, a far-off look to his eye.

“What?! You’ve been thinking?” Kise interrupted, doing his best to fake surprise and laughed at the immediate change in Aomine’s demeanor as he glanced at Kise with a look of indignation.

“Shut up! I’m not an idiot you know!” Aomine practically growled out, and Kise waved his hand at the fuming boy.

“Sorry, sorry, you’re right, now what were you saying?” Kise tried to appease him, but not even the least bit sorry about getting the reaction he wanted.

This was nice, feeling at ease with Aomine enough to tease him without the help of someone else. Usually, when they were with either Momoi or Kuroko, he could count on them initiating the teasing and he would just jump in. Although sometimes, it was him that was on the receiving end.

Still, perhaps there was hope for them yet as friends.

“Anyway… I guess wondering is a better word…” Aomine continued, his face once more pensive, making Kise wonder just what it was that could make Aomine look so serious.

Suddenly getting the inkling that perhaps this dinner that Aomine had set up had more than met the eye, Kise held his tongue and waited for Aomine to say what he wanted to say.

“That guy that came looking for you a week ago…”

Kise felt his body tense as Aomine brought up the incident at the basketball court, confused at his own reaction as he thought of Kaiba.

Aomine paused in his line of questioning, and Kise honestly had no idea where he was going with it, or more importantly, why?

Aomine for his part, wasn’t quite sure why he decided to bring it up. It was probably a stupid thing to do, but he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it for the past week at all. That guy that had come looking for Kise, was no doubt the same guy that had been at Kise’s game the last time he went. The game where Kise had all but forgot about them as soon as he saw this guy and looked so excited to see. Only the last time he saw him, it had been the opposite, and Kise had seemed beyond upset to see him.

Who was he to make Kise feel such opposite emotions?

No matter what Satsuki and any of his friends thought about him, Aomine wasn’t completely an idiot, even if sometimes he did need a hint or push in the right direction.

But when it came to Kise, Aomine had always known.

He had always known that he felt drawn to the blonde, no matter how inexplicable it had seemed at the time.

Hitting him with the basketball in middle school, hadn’t been such an accident as he had made it out to be.

He had always wanted an interaction with the blonde, had seen him play in sports during their first year of middle school, and had found himself amazed at his plays and skills. He had wanted to see how he would fare in basketball, and even if it had been curiosity that started it all, it certainly didn’t end there. So when he found himself with a basketball in his hand, and Kise within reach, his body had acted on its own before his mind could even fathom a reason.

And after getting his wish, and Kise joined basketball, he had never quite been able to keep his hands off him. Whether it was just swinging an arm around him as they walked, pushing him, or hitting him on the head with whatever he could find, he always felt the need to be connected to Kise in some way. More so than anyone else on the team.

So when Satsuki started dropping hints their second year of high school that Kise might like someone, he hadn’t been all that surprised to be upset by the knowledge.

He had lingered on the thought for a long time, to the point that it would sometimes distract him during a game when he caught sight of blonde hair at the corner of his eye and he would instinctively turn toward it, costing him more than a few points. Not that it really made a difference so long as he were playing against a school that didn’t have the Generation of Miracles.

Still.

It finally occurred to him that maybe, the feeling he had always held for the blonde was of the not so innocent kind. That the reason that he felt some kind of way for the blonde that was so obviously different from anyone else, that if he thought too hard about it, was the reason he had never been able to actually ask a girl to date him despite the girls who obviously found him attractive and even confessed.

He liked Kise Ryota.

The realization had turned his world upside down and shaken it to its very core.

But suddenly, all those feelings suddenly made sense. That place in his heart that only Kise had ever been able to reach without even knowing, the reason it was so easy to be around him, and the connection he felt to him made more sense than it ever had before.

Only to find out that Kise liked someone?

He didn’t want to give up Kise to anyone.

So, he found himself trying to spend as much time with Kise as possible, always finding an excuse to draw him in for a basketball game or reeling him in to a shopping trip for shoes or just to eat when he knew the blonde didn’t have practice or a photoshoot to go to.

Kise had never turned him down, and always seemed more than happy to spend time with him, which made Aomine happy in turn. If Kise was with him, he couldn’t be around whoever it was that he liked, and they couldn’t take him from him.

That had been enough for Aomine.

So when it was Kise who confessed to him, that day on the basketball court… it was Aomine who had been too shocked to react.

“Aominecchi… I like you.”

Those words changed his life.

Turned his world sideways and then right side up.

For the first time, Aomine didn’t need someone to spell it out for him, he just knew. Knew from the way his heart all but stopped, and the way the world suddenly seemed like a brighter place.

But more than anything, he knew Kise.

Knew Kise in such an intimate way to recognize that this… this wasn’t the kind of empty words that he would tell Kuroko when he was complimenting him.

Knew that this tone that Kise was using, was not one he had ever heard him using with anyone.

This was something just for him.

Aomine Daiki of all people.

Probably the least deserving person in the world.

He had no work ethic to speak of outside of basketball, no feeling of responsibility when it came to anything or anyone. He had no ambition, and no desire to contribute to mankind in any shape or form.

But suddenly, by just hearing those words from his lips, on a basketball court of all places, after just another game that nevertheless felt more important than most games in his life when he thought about just who he was playing with, Aomine felt as if the fate of the world was in his hands.

Felt that if he chose to acknowledge those words, there would be no turning back.

Could he head down that route?

That route of so many unknowns?

He’d felt his mouth move almost as if by its own accord, and surprised himself with the calm of his voice as he asked.

“For how long?”

Did it even matter?

But of course, it did. Everything mattered when it came to Kise.

“I think since the day I met you.”

How many years had it been then?

If Aomine has suffered so much in the few weeks since he had come to the realization that he liked Kise as more than a friend, how had Kise done it for years?

How had he smiled so freely, and tolerated his obsession with everything idols and boobs that he flashed through his magazines at every turn?

How could he so easily confess to him after a game?

How could he be so strong? So brave?

And how could he, Aomine Daiki, possibly be enough to make up for years of being an idiot? For being oblivious? For putting him through that?

How could he be trusted to handle his heart?

He didn’t want to look at him.

Not yet.

He knew if he did, it would be his undoing, and not trusting himself to say or do the right thing, Aomine kept his gaze on the sky above him.

The question was… could he live with himself by turning his back on this new world?

This new world that despite all its unknowns, all its dangers… it had Kise in it?

Kise with his stupid cheery laugh and smile, with his stupidly adorable crying face, and his indominable spirit and will, who could be as much of an asshole as him if he didn’t like someone enough?

Kise with his insistent texting a million things a day, that nevertheless made Aomine feel as if he was important in someone’s life.

Kise who never gave up on him or himself, and who never stopped trying to give it his all against him.

And that’s when Aomine realized.

He didn’t want a world without Kise.

So even if there were so many things he didn’t know he could live up to, so many dangers and uncertainties about the choice that was laid out in front of him, a choice he never thought he would have to make, Aomine knew.

“Alright… let’s give it a try.”

And the tears that had run down Kise’s face had cemented it.

Because no matter how scared he was, Aomine wanted nothing more than to see every side of Kise. Wanted to do better and be just a little worthier of him.

“Aominecchi?”

Aomine was brought back to the present at the sound of Kise’s concerned voice.

Ah, that’s right.

He had done yet another impulsive move, and brought the blonde out here with the pretext of wanting to take him out for his birthday.

But was that really the reason? Or had Aomine only done so for his own selfish reason?

Because again, he was faced with the fear that Kise would be taken from him.

And this time, it wasn’t himself that Aomine had to fear from as it had been the last time.

This time, it was an actual person that Aomine had to fear.

Someone capable of making Kise feel a myriad of emotions, something he knew that not just anyone could do.

And what right did Aomine have to try and keep him from this new person?

Aomine had lost any right to the blonde in front of him months ago, when he told Kise they shouldn’t be together anymore.

Back then, his reasons had been so clear, had made so much sense in his mind.

But now… as he looked at the blonde in front of him, and when he remembered how he had looked at the mysterious brunette, Aomine couldn’t even begin to remember his reasoning.

“Just who was that guy? Is he still bothering you?” Aomine finally asked, finding it harder to voice his question than he had thought.

Afraid of what Kise's answer would be.

Yet despite that fear, Aomine never once took his gaze off Kise's face, watching closely as a range of emotions flashed across his face. There was unease, nervousness, and the hesitation wasn’t lost to Aomine, nor the tensing of Kise's body and twitching of his fingers around his chopsticks.

But what unnerved Aomine the most, was the way that Kise's body suddenly relaxed, as if Kise had thought of something that caused the tension to seep from his body, and instead, a soft smile formed on his lips and a warmth filled his eyes.

“Ah about that…” Kise began, his gaze on his bowl of food as he gingerly moved some rice around.

Aomine frowned.

“It’s kind of complicated…” Kise trailed off, and Aomine could visibly see the struggle within as Kise tried to form the right words to explain himself.

“You see… ah… well remember how I said I wanted to challenge the CEO of the company I wanted to audition for, since he was one of the best when it came to duel monsters?”

Aomine nodded, recalling the chat where Kise had first made his intention known and the preparation that he had put into his so-called deck and strategies with Momoi.

“Yeah?” Aomine voiced, an inkling of where Kise might be going with that information in in his mind.

“Well, that guy is actually him… Seto Kaiba. I got to meet him not too long ago, we dueled and we kind of became friends… and well, since I know you won’t tell anyone, I guess he’s kind of my boss too now, I managed to get a spot in his company’s campaign after the auditions a few weeks ago.”

Aomine blinked in both confusion and amazement. Confusion because he didn't know that so much had happened in Kise’s life in such a short amount of time, and amazement that he had accomplished everything he had wanted during that time, milestones that Kise had once shared with him as soon as they happened, which Aomine was only now learning.

It made him feel distant from Kise, something Aomine hadn’t thought would happen after the decision that he had made, although… perhaps he should have.

“Oh…”

Aomine was at a loss for words, but despite what Kise had just shared with him, there was still something that didn’t sit well with him.

“Well, why did you seem so upset to see him that day?” he asked.

“Ah, you see… we kind of had a disagreement over something. He said something that made me mad… but we talked about it and everything is fine! It’s nothing to worry about Aominecchi, really! He’s not a dangerous guy or anything, I promise I didn’t get involved with a gang or something…”

Aomine found it almost ironic, that while Kise was trying to reassure him that this Kaiba guy wasn’t a danger to his safety, it was a different kind of danger that Aomine was really worried about. And while Kise hadn’t said anything that told him he was interested in this new guy as more than friends, a large part of him wasn’t convinced. After all, he had sought out Kise personally to talk about an issue, who did that for just a friend?

Not to mention, anyone could see how good-looking that guy had been, and Aomine hadn’t expected the so-called CEO of a company to be so young. It was obvious Kise looked up to and admired him, praising his skills and looking excited just by talking about him. They were sentiments that once Aomine had seen mostly directed at himself when it came to basketball. Seeing that there was someone else that Kise admired so openly didn’t exactly sit well with him.

“I see… well… I guess that’s good…”

Aomine didn’t know what else he could really say on the matter. And while having his question answered brought to mind more questions, they were questions that Aomine didn’t feel were his place to ask, not without feeling selfish on the matter.

His sentiments were further cemented when Kise steered the conversation away towards a different topic, asking about his family and upcoming matches, and Aomine liked to think he knew Kise well enough to know when he didn’t want to talk about a certain subject, and that in itself spoke volume to the blue-haired man.

It made his appetite all but disappear and taste like lead in his mouth.


“You really don’t have to walk me home, Aominecchi,” Kise said as they exited the restaurant, pausing just outside its doors to give Aomine the chance to head in the direction of the train station that would take him home.

Aomine for his part, only shrugged.

“It’s fine, I don’t mind, it’s not like you’re far from here anyway, and what would it make me if I didn’t make sure you got home okay just before your birthday?”

At his response, Kise laughed.

“Well okay, I’m glad I’ll have you to protect me from the dangers of the night, so I can live to see my eighteenth birthday,” Kise replied in a teasing tone, to which Aomine answered to by nudging him with his shoulder and a grunt.

“Well, hurry up. The dangers are waiting,” he said, smirking in turn as he led the familiar way towards Kise’s apartment.

Kise followed with a smile, falling into step beside his longtime rival and now ex-lover.

The temperature had dropped, and there was a chill in the air that caused Kise to resist the urge to rub his arms for warmth. He had never been good with the cold, and Kise hated the sudden urge to step closer to Aomine, knowing that the he always ran hot and had often been his source of warmth when the weather grew cold.

While he was glad that the two had been able to talk with relative ease throughout dinner, the bittersweet feelings that had yet to leave Kise remained. It was so hard, trying not to think of all the times they had shared as a couple when it was just the two of them, that for his last birthday, it had been Aomine that Kise had been most excited to share his birthday with.

And yet… despite having broken up with him, here Aomine was, asking to take him out for an early birthday dinner.

It was all sorts of confusing, and Kise struggled not to think much of it.

This was probably just Aomine’s way of showing him that he still mattered to him, even just as friends.

“Neh Aominecchi… thanks again for dinner tonight,” Kise voiced.

Aomine spared him a glance, an unreadable expression on his face that Kise didn’t know how to decode.

“Yeah… I figured this would be the best time to catch you…” he mumbled, and once more it caused Kise to smile.

“I guess I should be flattered that you remembered, huh?” Kise teased and was surprised when Aomine stopped in his tracks.

Kise also stopped, and turned to look at him, confusion clear on his face, and his eyes widened when he took in the look on Aomine’s face. His eyes had darkened, and there was a fire in his eyes that caused Kise’s heart to speed up, a defiance that both unnerved and excited him.

“Kise…” Aomine said, his tone one that meant to reprimand, and caused him to gulp.

“I would never forget your birthday.”

Aomine said it with such certainty that Kise suddenly felt guilty.

He had meant the phrase playfully, teasingly… but he could see that in doing so he had offended Aomine. And it wasn’t hard to figure out why. He had implied that Kise wasn’t important enough for Aomine to remember, despite their recent history. Implied that Aomine had already forgotten about their time together, the special bond that they had formed and moments they shared.

“Yeah… no… I didn’t mean…” Kise struggled to form words, unsure of what to say.

He was once against surprised when Aomine reached for him, hands on both of his arms so that they were facing each other and Kise was forced to look at Aomine’s face that was now directly in front of him.

“You are one of the most important people in my life, you know that right? That hasn’t changed…”

Kise felt his heart skip a beat, and he suddenly found it hard to swallow the lump in his throat at Aomine’s words.

He couldn’t look away from Aomine’s dark blue orbs. They were stern, determined, desperate… guilty? They were pleading with him, Kise knew. Pleading that Kise believe him, even if Kise wished that it wasn’t true. Because believing him made other things so much harder to understand.

“I believe you,” Kise said.

It came out in a whisper, but he could see the relief in Aomine’s eyes as his grip loosened on his arms and he let go of him, turning away and resuming the walk to Kise’s apartment.

Kise felt his heart constrict with pain, and the lump in his throat only seemed to grow, and this time, Kise had to blink to fight back the moisture he could feel building in his eyes.

Why Aominecchi… just when I’m starting to think I can let you go… you go and do something like this…

Kise forced his legs to move forward, forced himself to suppress the feelings that Aomine had made surface with his sincere words.

The rest of their walk was silent, with Aomine walking just a little ahead of Kise, and Kise keeping his gaze mostly on the ground ahead of him, cold forgotten as he became lost in his thoughts.

And when they finally reached his apartment complex, Kise had to force himself to look back at Aomine.

As Aomine fidgeted in front of him, Kise could see that he was guarded, and Kise was just about to thank him for walking him home and bid him goodnight when Aomine spoke first.

“Um… I got you something… for your birthday…” Aomine said, and Kise watched as he took out his hand from his pocket, only to see a small square box in said hand, which he outstretched towards him.

Kise couldn’t help by smile softly as he reached for the box and took it from the offering hand… leave it to Aomine to not even bother wrapping it.

Kise stared at the small black box for a brief moment, before looking back up at Aomine who looked at him expectantly and looked back to the box just as he opened it, taking off the cardboard lid.

His smile widened when he saw the silver studs that were inside. The earrings were nothing extravagant, silver with a small diamond inside.

“I remember you said you wanted to try something other than your hoop earring. I thought a stud would be a safe choice…” Aomine mumbled, and Kise was surprised that Aomine remembered that conversation more than six months prior.

He had always meant to buy a new set of earrings, but never quite got around to it.

“I love it Aominecchi… thank you,” Kise told him, nothing but sincerity in his voice.

“I’m glad you like it…”

The two shared a meaningful glance, a feeling of understanding hanging between them, before Aomine shifted in place and rubbed the back of his head.

“Well… I guess I’ll see you around. Goodnight Kise… happy birthday.”

Kise nodded.

“Goodnight Aominecchi…”

With a small smile, Aomine turned around, and began to walk in the direction of the train station, leaving the blonde to watch his retreating back before he too turned to walk into his beckoning apartment, a million emotions coursing through him.

 

 

Chapter Text

Kise Ryota was officially an adult.

Even after the constant teasing by his friends and teammates, especially considering he was the oldest out of many of his classmates, he didn’t feel particularly different, something he had honestly expected.

He thought being the magical age of eighteen would clear some of his doubts about his future, but in reality, all he really felt was added pressure. More than ever, people asked him what his plans for the future were now that he was an adult, and Kise didn’t know any more than he did a year ago or even a month ago. It was almost as if he had reached his deadline, and the fact that he still didn’t have any answers to those questions felt heavier than ever.

His birthday itself had been pleasant though. With his teammates taking him out for food and karaoke, they even had a get together at one of their houses where alcohol had been served and he made a drunken call to a certain brown-haired CEO… who wouldn’t tell him what he said and which he didn’t particularly remember. Still, it couldn’t have been that bad if Kaiba wasn’t teasing him about it, right?

His visit to his family was also pleasant, and they got him some really nice gifts. They had long ago learned that giving clothing and accessories to him as gifts wasn’t ideal since he got plenty of that through his agency and sponsors. Over the years his parents and sisters had often teasingly complained about how hard it was to pick the perfect gifts for him, to which Kise playfully rebuked that as the baby he deserved nothing but the best.

This year they really surprised him.

They got him a state-of-the-art laptop that Kise knew for a fact was not cheap, and told him that it should come in handy for college assignments and his sisters got him a pretty complex program for compiling videos and editing software to increase the quality of his photos or any such artistic future endeavors.

They were very considerate gifts and Kise appreciated the sentiment and support when it came to the thought behind it.

While he had planned to talk to his sisters about his newfound interest in Kaiba, another part of him had held him back.

Part of him knew that it was due to the confusing feelings that Aomine had given him when he took him out to dinner and gave him his gift, the gift that had since replaced his usual hoop earring.

But it felt all the more confusing since Aomine hadn’t reached out to him since, and Kise hadn’t found it in himself to reach out either. More than once Kise thought he had just overthought what was probably a simple birthday gift, with nothing else to it.

And if Kise was honest with himself, the only good thing that he could think of about finally being eighteen was that nobody could say he was off-limits to the one and only Seto Kaiba. He was of legal age now, and although he had told himself that he would put his friendship with Kaiba first, he couldn’t help but wonder if the next time they were alone they would feel the same chemistry that had been between them the last few times.

His trip to Domino City to sign and go over the contract with KaibaCorp and what would be required of him would be in two days’ time, and Kise was looking forward to his big break and what this new campaign had in store for him.

And even more, Kise just wanted a chance to see Kaiba.

They practically texted every day, and everyday Kise found himself wanting to see him and talk to him in person more and more. To hear his voice and see the slightest of changes in his expression and demeanor, to feel how his presence could fill a room.

With a deep longing in his chest, Kise took out his phone and opened the messages between him and Kaiba, typing out a new message.

12:02

Can I see you on Saturday after the company business? Maybe we can meet for dinner if you’re not too busy?

Kise had already told Kaiba the time scheduled for Saturday to go over the contract and what his part would be. Anami had told him the whole process would only take about two hours at most, and she had already reviewed the contract itself as far as compensation and legal matter and terms and conditions of the sort.

Kise had just finished his lunch when Kaiba’s reply came through.

Kaibacchi 12:15

Sure. I’ll have a car and reservations ready for when you’re done.

Kise smiled widely as he read the message and excitement filled his chest. That had certainly been easier than he expected. He hadn’t even had to pull the birthday card. With that settled, all he had to do was to tell Anami that he would find his own way back since he had plans in the city, and hope that she left it at that and left him to his own devices. While Anami tended not to be overbearing, the fact that Kise would once again be leaving her after business was done, she was sure to get suspicious about the fact and ask questions.

Not that Kise cared too much, Anami would just have to deal with his secrecy.

After all, nothing would stop him from seeing Kaiba.


 

You should get Kise something for his birthday, I’m sure he would really appreciate it.

Those had been Mokuba’s words during their last call when the blonde had undoubtedly come up in their conversation, and while Kise’s birthday had been knowledge to him since he first researched the blonde and the matter of the blonde himself bringing it up, it had come as a surprise that Mokuba also knew of the occasion, and wasn’t sure how to feel about the suggestion.

While it was considered conventional to get a birthday gift for friends, it wasn’t something Kaiba had ever done for anyone other than Mokuba. Not even Yugi could ever claim to have ever received a gift from him.

So why should he get one for Kise?

He had done his part to make amends after the unfair assumption of his motives, and Kise had seemed to forgive him and moved past his anger on the matter. There hadn’t been a shred of resentment that Kaiba could detect, and he really wasn’t under any obligation to do so.

Still…

He had often caught himself thinking back to Mokuba’s words and thought of the things that Kise had mentioned in passing to see if he had hinted particularly to anything he might like or want.

It wasn’t as if Kaiba could claim to have bothered to really ask any questions himself. Their conversations tended to revolve around Kise asking questions and himself answering them. He had thought about asking his own questions, but it always felt so unnatural that he could never quite bring himself to ask them. It was unlike him to not be straightforward, and while he certainly should just ask, the mechanics of friendship was so out of his comfort zone that he ended up berating himself for overthinking it all.

He had been about to put the whole idea of it behind him when Kise did something unexpected that incidentally gave him the answer to the question he hadn’t found it in him to ask.  

It had happened the night of Kise’s birthday itself. He had mentioned to him earlier that day that his teammates planned on taking him out for dinner and later going to a friend’s house where they planned to have a get-together.

Apparently, said get-together included alcohol, because before long into the night, Kaiba was receiving a fair share of inebriated text messages, obvious only due to the incomprehensible errors that made it hard to understand what the boy was trying to tell him with all the incorrect kanji he was using.

Kaiba had of course made some sarcastic remarks on his butchering of the Japanese language when in retaliation the blonde has thought it prudent to call him instead.

Kaiba remembered looking at his phone screen display the blonde’s name, debating whether he should answer and indulge the boy at what was then past midnight, or ignore the call and see whether he would leave an amusing voice mail.

In the end, he had found himself answering the call despite reason telling him otherwise.

“Do you intend to speak clearer than you can write?” he answered.

He could hear background sounds, people laughing loudly and music playing, and what sounded like voices trying to sing along to the words of whatever song was playing.

“Kaibacchiiii,” Kise answered, voice high-pitched and followed by what could only be described as a giggle, “I think I’m drunk…”

“Obviously…” Kaiba indulged, leaning back against the chair he had been reclining and staring out the window of his office.

“My friends made me play a drinking game and I lost…” Kise replied, “what are you up to? And you better not say work!”

“What else would I be doing besides work?” Kaiba asked.

“Mm… probably plotting how to take over the world. Or make real dragons… probably taking notes from Jurassic Land and doing some fancy DNA science… s-stuff…”

Kaiba had to raise an eyebrow at his imagination.

“Well, those certainly do sound appealing…”

There was a laugh from the blonde boy, and Kaiba wasn’t sure what to think about the feeling of accomplishment he felt at the sound.

“That’s funny, you’re funny Kaibacchi! But hey, hey! Guess what!”

“What?”

“I’m officially eighteen! I’m an adult! Can we flirt now?” the excitement behind his voice was evident, and Kaiba stiffened at the innocence behind it despite the slurring of his words from the alcohol he had drank.

Still, those drunken words stirred something that Kaiba had been trying to ignore since the day he asked Kise to forgive him, something that Kaiba still couldn’t quite believe he had gone out of his way to do.

Obviously Kise was different… different in the way that Kaiba wasn’t his usual self when it came to him. His attraction to him was obvious, he had already known he found the blonde unnaturally good-looking, and the only thing that had held him back from accepting Kise’s advances had been his more cautious side when it came to someone so young and his fear of jeopardizing all he had worked for and his reputation.

But now… Kise was right. He was eighteen. Legally an adult in the eyes of the world. But would it be any less scandalous? He was seven years his senior, and while that might not seem like much to some people, it certainly did to others.

Not to mention… the innocence behind Kise’s words reminded him just how young and inexperienced Kise truly was. Sure, Kise was far from immature... but was he not still a kid in his youth?

“Why do you want that so badly?” Kaiba asked, genuinely curious.

There was a shuffling static over their connection, as if Kise was rearranging the phone.

“Umm… because you’re crazy hot? Like… one of the hottest guys I’ve ever seen?”

Kaiba raised an eyebrow at Kise’s honest response, yet a part of him was slightly disappointed. 

“Well… glad to know I’m just a pretty face,” Kaiba remarked.

“Nuh huh!” Kise replied indignantly, “You’re way more than a pretty face!”

Kaiba once more tensed, his body rigid as his eyes narrowed at the blonde’s words, but before he could say anything, Kise spoke again.

“You’re good looking, no doubt. But you’re also funny when you want to be, without even trying really! Not to mention a genius, and even though you want to seem as if you don’t care about much, I think that what you do care about, you’re very passionate about! Especially when it comes to your company, and duel monsters, and Mokuba. I really admire that. You worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to where you are now, and accomplished your goals when most people don’t even know what they want. I also like how straightforward and honest you are, even if it’s off putting to most people. I think more people should be honest like you. And I know that there’s so much more to you than you let on, and it made me really happy to have met you and have the chance to get to know you! Because well… I want to get to know all of you, the good and the bad! If you’ll let me…”

Ba dump.

For the second time, Kise Ryota once more managed to do the impossible, and Kaiba was reminded of that moment not so long ago, with Kise sitting across the table from him, a warmth in his eyes and a promise reflecting in those golden orbs as he told him he wanted to play Duel Monsters with him again.

He couldn’t see that warmth through the phone, but this time, he could hear it in the softness of his voice, in the sincerity behind it.

“You’re ridiculous…”

Why did he suddenly feel as if it was harder to breathe, and why did he feel as if his heart constricted in his chest at the sound of Kise’s resounding laugh at his words?

“It’s okay if you don’t want to let me in right away Kaibacchi… I’ll be patient if that’s what you need. But don’t think for one second that you’ll be able to get rid of me easily! I still have to beat you at duel monsters!”

The proclamation managed to shake Kaiba from the unfamiliar warmth that pooled in his chest at Kise’s previous words, grounding him in familiar territory at the challenge.

“That might take you a while then,” Kaiba replied.

“Hmph! I could have beat you if you had let me use the deck I made at the audition! I’m still mad at you for that! How dare you make me create the perfect deck only to not let me use it…”

Kaiba could practically feel the pout on Kise’s lips as he huffed through the phone, and Kaiba could picture the indignant look that must have been on his face just then.

Kise was right to boast, however. Kaiba would agree that the deck that Kise created had been the best by far among those created that day. It had truly been a shame not to see it in action.

“But no worries… I’ll just make that deck for real!” Kise said, voice full of conviction.

“Is that so?” Kaiba challenged, a grin on his face.

“Is s-so! Just you wait!”

Before Kaiba could reply, there was a commotion on the other end, what sounded like some loud voices calling Kise’s name, only for Kaiba to remember that Kise hadn’t been alone that night. Yet the unfamiliar voices and music had been lost to him, and Kaiba wondered if Kise had gone somewhere quieter without Kaiba realizing it. Had he been so lost in the conversation?

Kaiba could hear someone ask Kise who he was talking to and teasing from his friends about Kise leaving his own party to talk to him, although it seemed they were under the impression that Kise was speaking to a girl.

Not wanting to give anything away, Kaiba thought it best to end their conversation.

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” Kaiba said into the phone, not quite sure that the blonde would even be able to hear him while trying to appease his friends’ curiosity as he ended the call on his cell phone.

After all, he had no doubt in his mind that Kise would text him in the morning as he always did.

He had been right of course.

Like clockwork, Kise had texted him the next day, although much later than usual.

Kaiba found himself wondering if Kise had ever been drunk before, or if that would be his first time nursing a hangover, and even if he would remember the drunk call he made to him, yet he asked none of his questions.

It seemed Kise wasn’t completely oblivious, since he had checked his phone to see if he had done anything embarrassing, and saw that indeed he had called Kaiba and had an eight-minute conversation with him. When Kise said he didn’t remember much and asked what they talked about, Kaiba told him it was nothing important worth recalling, just Kise saying idiotic things.

Kise had pushed of course, adamant on knowing what kind of things, but Kaiba hadn’t budged. Partly because how could he replay Kise’s words to him that left him uneasy for reasons he didn’t want to admit? And partly because it was just amusing to see Kise flustered and frustrated from his lack of knowledge.

Not to mention that after that conversation, Kaiba had found the answer to the question that had gnawed at him.

His phone alerted him of a new message, and Kaiba opened it and read its content with a pleased smile.

Kise Ryota 12:02

Can I see you on Saturday after the company business? Maybe we can meet for dinner if you’re not too busy?

And Kise just made it easier for him.


Saturday couldn’t have come sooner, and after another restless night, Kise was on his way to Domino City in their agency car.

“I sincerely hope you don’t change your mind yet again, Kise, not that I think the agency would allow it this time…” Anami said from alongside him as she took a sip from the caffeinated drink in her hand.

Kise smiled as he looked out the window of the car. The sun was still rising to its apex, and it wouldn’t be long before they arrived at the city that had so much Kise wanted to explore, and the man that continued to intrigue him.

“Don’t worry Anami, I have no such intentions, promise,” Kise replied, meeting the woman’s curious gaze and only looking away when she seemed convinced.

Anami for her part, was still perplexed on the matter and Kise’s abrupt and unexpected change of heart when it came to this particular job. He had been adamant on trying for an audition, and excited to have gotten it. She had been able to see that Kise had wanted this more than any other modeling job, only for Kise to call her the next day after getting accepted and telling her not to accept the contract and he had no intention of working with KaibaCorp.

She had been shocked, but no matter how hard she pressed, Kise refused to tell her why he chose to decline the contract he had seemed so eager to get for months. All she could gather from their phone call was that Kise had been angry, angry in a way Anami had never heard from him before.

Only for a week later to Kise once again reach out and tell her he wanted the contract after all, and leaving her reach out to the company and see if it was possible for Kise to still be accepted into the campaign. It had been a surprisingly easy conversation to have, and the representative had given them no hassle when it came to reextending the contract. In fact, it had been easier than Anami would have thought for having already declined the offer.

Anami wanted to press the young man, but having children herself, and working with so many models and idols throughout the years, she knew when they were intent on keeping a secret. And she knew that it was best to let them come to you than press forcefully. Hopefully before it was too late. Or at the very least, before too much damage was done.

“Kise,” she started, and waited for him to once more give her his attention as he turned to look at her.

“You know you can trust me, right?” She asked soothingly.

She watched him intently and didn’t miss the look of surprise on his face, but his hesitation to answer and the way he too searched her face only confirmed her suspicions.

“O-of course I do, why do you ask that?” He asked cautiously, as if he thought she knew something she shouldn’t.

She smiled sincerely.

“No reason. I just want to remind you that I’m on your side. If you ever need advice or help, you can come to me. Don’t forget that.”

She didn’t look away while he blinked in confusion that shifted to one of relief as he visibly relaxed, and his golden eyes brightened as he smiled back at her.

“Thanks… I appreciate that,” Kise replied, and Anami knew that he meant it.

Whatever he was hiding, she just hoped that it wasn’t something he would regret.

Thirty minutes later, they were in the outskirts of Domino City, and even if he had been here before, the sight of it still left him in awe as he looked at the skyline and surrounding buildings and people walking in the sidewalks. Kise would love nothing more than walk among them and have a closer look at the sights, but alas, business came first.

And since KaibaCorp was in the heart of the city, it took another fifteen minutes before they reached their destination. Kise once more felt excitement at the sight, simply from knowing that he had made it to this point where he was working with KaibaCorp.

He followed Anami out of the car and into the building, where she walked to the reception area and asked for the location of the room they were told they would be meeting in.

Rather than simply be directed to the floor and room number, the man in the reception desk called down a guide, who arrived only a moment later, a young woman dressed in a professional attire bearing the KaibaCorp logo on a white and blue knee-length short-sleeved dress.

With a polite smile, the young woman led the way to the elevator and to the eleventh floor, making amiable chat with Anami about their commute there until they reached the room where their would be conducted and bidding them goodbye after she shared a few words to let the people inside know that they were there.

Kise and Anami walked in to see a man and a woman sitting on table with laptops in front of them and a m

“Welcome! Glad you could make it,” said the man as he stood from his seat and greeted them with a polite smile, the woman doing the same.

“We’re glad to be here.”

“Thank you for having us.”

“Please, have a seat, I hope you’re as excited as we are to finalize the contract and get to the good stuff,” said the woman.

“My name is Shuji, and this is Maki,” the man introduced themselves as Anami and Kise sat down.

“Anami, and I’m sure you know Kise Ryota,” Anami replied.

“I’m very excited to be working with KaibaCorp,” Kise said with a bright smile.

“We’re happy to have you, your duel was amazing, we think you’ll do great in what we have planned.”

At Maki’s words, Kise’s eyes brightened. He had been wondering what exactly KaibaCorp had planned that required a duel and making a deck as part of the audition, and he was just about to find out.

“But before we can say anything more, we do need to go over everything legal and get everything signed, starting with our non-disclosure agreement…”


Kise didn’t know if he could possibly be more excited.

KaibaCorp really was something else, no doubt about it, and he was glad that his part would be more than just a pretty face to the company.

After an hour and a half of going over what his part in the upcoming campaign, Kise couldn’t be happier. It would take place near the end of summer, which left them about two months’ time to prepare. They had taken measurements for what Kise would wear and had given him a script of phrases required of him to say along with a schedule for the fittings and rehearsals that he would have to go to.

It would certainly be a challenge, since he also needed to keep up his practices and training for the inter-high right around the corner, and he tried not to feel guilty about being more excited for his new opportunity over high last year of basketball.

“So, do you want to get some food and explore the city before heading back? It’d be a shame to leave so soon after coming out here on such a beautiful day,” Anami suggested as they exited the elevator that led them to the ground floor.

Kise smiled sheepishly at her, remembering that he still had to tell her his plans for the rest of the day.

“Actually Anami… I made plans with a friend in town so I was just going to take the train back home later…” he said as he looked at her apologetically.

Anami frowned as she placed a hand on her hip.

“Kise Ryota… you tell me this now?” she reprimanded.

“Well you know, I didn’t think it’d be a big deal,” he mumbled, although in reality he hadn’t really wanted to say anything before then in fear of an interrogation.

Anami sighed and shook her head.

“Honestly Kise, you’ll be the death of me, but well, it’s not the first or last time you do this,” she grumbled, “Suit yourself, but text me when you’re home so I know you made it back safe. The last thing I need is to lose you right before this big campaign.”

Kise grinned.

“Okay, mom,” he teased, to which Anami only rolled her eyes.

“Do you need a ride anywhere?” she asked as they stepped outside into the warm air.

Kise shook his head.

“No, it’s okay, they’ll pick me up.”

It seemed as if Anami wanted to ask more, but maybe after reminding herself that she was just his agent and not really his mother, she stopped herself.

“Okay, well behave yourself,” she said instead, “bye!”

Kise waved as Anami walked towards the waiting company car.

“Bye! Take care!” he called out with a smile.

He watched as she stepped into the car, offered one last wave, and drove off.

He was glad that Anami hadn’t asked any more questions and felt more at ease knowing he was free to follow through with what he had planned next.

With that in mind, Kise pulled out his phone, and sent a quick text to Kaiba, asking him where he should meet the car he had said he would send for him now that he was done with business.

Kaibacchi 13:08

I’ll pick you up in ten minutes.

Kise smiled at the quick response, and texted back a quick affirmative before sitting down on the steps that led down to the sidewalk level at the valet style entrance of KaibaCorp.

He already felt giddy just knowing that Kaiba would be on his way soon, and he tried his best to distract himself with phone and thinking over what the future had in store for him.


Kaiba had stayed at his penthouse in the city the night before. He had been up all-night working on a new modification to the interdimensional ship for Yugi’s upcoming use of it to visit Atem, and it had been easier to go to his penthouse in his sleep deprived state than all the way to the mansion since he didn’t want to call his driver at such ungodly hours in the morning.

To his surprise, he had slept well into the afternoon, so that when Kise texted him that he was finished with KaibaCorp business, he had just gotten out of the shower and in the middle of putting on his clothes for the day.

Thankfully KaibaCorp was only a few minutes away from his penthouse, and it wasn’t long before he was ready to pick up the younger boy.

He had chosen a different outfit for the day.

He had put on a pair of dark gray slacks and maroon button up shirt and decided against a tie, choosing to leave the top few buttons undone instead, revealing the black undershirt beneath.

Hair still wet, Kaiba was in his car in a few minutes in the attached car garage and on his way to KaibaCorp, wondering not for the first time how his life led him to driving to pick up a blonde basketball prodigy who now worked under his company and who he was taking to a birthday dinner in a few hours.

Friendship huh… it would take a while to get used to.  

He wanted to feel foolish, he wanted to be upset with himself for indulging in trivial matters, of indulging a barely adult boy in the name of a friendship he never should have accepted. But he didn’t feel any of those things. Instead, he simply felt… at ease. Something he only ever felt with Mokuba and sometimes Yugi.

He tried not to think much of it as he approached the familiar tall building that was his company and blonde hair caught his eye as he slowed in front of the stairs where Kise was seated.

Hearing the car slow and come to a stop in front of him, Kise looked up from his phone and caught sight of the familiar car.

Kaiba tried not to think about how the brightening of Kise’s face and the excited smile on his lips made him feel.

Kaiba unlocked the car doors as Kise got up and approached the car, offering a small wave as he reached him, opening the car door and giving Kaiba an even larger smile.

“Yo!” He greeted as he sat down on the passenger seat and closed the door behind him.

“Thanks for picking me up, Kaibacchi, I’m so excited to spend some time with you,” Kise said as he settled into the seat.

“Well, the reservation isn’t for another three hours, what do you want to do until then?” Kaiba said.

It was then that Kise took in Kaiba’s appearance.

It was odd to see him out of his usual outfit with the white long coat, but as always, Kaiba seemed to look good in anything. The maroon shirt hugged Kaiba’s figure nicely, showing off his lean frame, making him look casual but reminded Kise that Kaiba could very well be his own model if he truly wanted to. He also noticed his still wet hair, and before he realized what he was doing, Kise had reached out and grabbed a wet tendril with his fingers.

Kaiba felt the featherlike touch of Kise’s fingers on the side of his hair and felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end and a shiver run down his back. He had to resist the urge to lean into the touch, choosing to glance Kise’s way instead.

Kise didn’t flinch or snatch his hand away like Kaiba thought he would, instead, the blonde stared innocently back at him and flicked his hair instead, so that a few droplets from the wet tendrils splattered onto Kaiba’s face, causing the man to glare while Kise laughed and took his hand back.

“Hm, I wouldn’t mind a tour of this great city, what are the sights?” Kise asked after his laughter subsided.

Kaiba knew what was considered Domino’s attractions, but when he thought about it, he had never thought to go to any of them outside of business reasons.

“Well, there’s Domino Plaza, one of the biggest malls in the country. Domino Central Park, the center of Domino city. Domino City Museum. I would suggest Kaiba Land, but you’d need more than three hours to see it all.”

Kise thought on Kaiba’s suggestions. The only one he knew of was Kaiba Land, since it was also something he had wanted to visit as a child. And although he would love to take a trip to another of Kaiba’s accomplishments, Kise knew that Kaiba was right, and only two hours would not be enough to truly take everything in.

“Unless you want me to spend all my birthday money at the mall, I think we should stick to something free like the park. Some fresh air after a week of indoor activities sounds perfect.”

It wasn’t exactly true. Kise just figured if he wanted to make the most of his time with Kaiba in the little time they had, something with the least distractions like a park might be the way to go. Not to mention, a mall full of teenagers would mean likelier chances that someone would recognize him, something Kise rather not deal with if he wanted to make his time count.

“Are you sure?” Kaiba asked, glancing briefly at Kise as he navigated the Domino traffic.

Kise grinned back at him, suddenly feeling playful.

“Unless you’re offering to buy me everything I want.”

Kaiba shrugged, and Kise blinked, suddenly speechless.

“W-wait, you’re serious? You would do that?” Kise asked, leaning in his seat slightly to get a better look of Kaiba’s face.

“So long as it’s not completely idiotic,” he answered, as if what he said was nothing more than an everyday occurrence to him.

Kise blinked, before bursting out laughing. Just how endless was Kaiba’s supply of money?

“You’re crazy! Maybe I’ll take you up on that one day, but not today. I’d need a full day for that!”

Kise was even more surprised by the small smirk on Kaiba’s face that formed.

“Are you so sure I’ll offer again?” he asked, and Kise laughed again.

“I guess we’ll have to see for my next birthday, huh?” Kise replied.

As requested, Kaiba took them to Domino Central Park, and like the rest of Domino, it left Kise awestruck. It was enormous, and that was just from what Kise could see. Kise would have thought it a forest if it wasn’t for the pedestrian sidewalks and bike paths throughout the park. It was busier than Kise had expected too, with people walking, biking, skateboarding, roller blading, and walking their pets.

As they followed the walking path deeper into the park, Kise saw that the pathways were adorned by fountains, statues, work-out areas, playgrounds for kids, and so much more. There was so much that signs were everyone to point the directions of main attractions in the park.

“Wow, this park is huge!” Kise admired, certainly glad he wore comfortable shoes.

“This park is considered on par with Central Park in New York,” Kaiba mentioned, watching the delight on Kise’s face as he took in his surroundings.

“Really? That’s amazing! How often do you come here? There’s so much to do,” Kise said, tearing his gaze away from the park to look at Kaiba, who didn’t meet Kise’s gaze as he answered.

“Never… this is the first time I’ve been here.”

At his response, Kise halted, and once more gaped at Kaiba.

“What?! You mean you’ve lived here most of your life and never been here?” he asked incredulously.

Kaiba sighed as he paused in his walk, throwing Kise an defiant glare.

“I’ve had no reason to come or business to attend to here.”

Kise shook his head and began walking again.

“That’s silly Kaibacchi. You know that saying… how does it go… all work and no play, something or other?” Kise recalled with slight difficulty, making Kaiba scoff in indignation and Kise laugh.

“I get that work is important to you, but you should make time for other stuff too. Tell you what, I’m going visit you whenever I have free time on the weekends, and we’re going to visit every must-see place this city has to offer!”

Kaiba glanced at Kise, meeting his golden determined gaze.

“Really now?” Kaiba challenged, as if Kise was bluffing.

“Yep! It’s a promise!” Kise replied with a grin.

Kaiba wished he could say that Kise’s persistence irritated him, but he felt nothing of the sort at Kise’s insistence. Instead, he felt vaguely comforted by the thought that Kise wanted to come out for the sole purpose of doing something for him, even if Kaiba thought it unnecessary to see everything Kise thought was important. He cared little for sights and pointless ventures most people seemed to enjoy. There were more important things that could be done with that time.

But he also knew that he didn’t mind being out in Central Park with the blonde. The breeze felt nice against his skin, and the smell of recently cut grass, sounds of running water, and chirping birds in the distance weren’t the most unpleasant things in the world.

He had never had the urge to visit Central Park, and even Mokuba had come out here on dates and with friends in his teenage years. He was sure everyone in Domino had come here at least once in their lives, all except for him. Had he really shut himself out from the world for the sake of his work?

He didn’t deny that he had in a way, but he also didn’t regret any of it. The work he did was important, and he could never regret any of it, even if it meant missing out on things that others considered just as important.

Still… perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad, to indulge the blonde.

“If you say so,” Kaiba replied, closing his eyes and as he also continued walking, hand in his pocket and the very picture of indifference.

Kaiba’s acquiescence made a wave warmth bubble up in Kise’s chest.

“Neh, Kaibacchi…” Kise said, leaning slightly closer to the brunette.

“Hn?”

“What was your childhood like, if you don’t mind me asking…”

The last time the two had really talked was when they went to dinner, and it had been Kise that had mostly talked about himself. And over texts, there was only so much Kise could ask knowing that Kaiba only sent short and to the point responses. If he really wanted to know Kaiba, Kise needed Kaiba to speak, here and in person.

Kise didn’t have high hopes that Kaiba would open up, but it was better to try and fail than never try at all. After all, what were the chances he would be there and then alongside his childhood idol if he never bothered to try and risk failure when he asked Mokuba if he was willing to set up a duel against his brother?

Which was why, when only a small amount of silence stretched, Kise was surprised when Kaiba spoke.

“I don’t remember much from before my parents died. I’m not sure why, since I wasn’t that young when it happened. I mostly remember the anger and resentment I felt, partly to them for dying, and the rest at the family that used their deaths to steal what should have been Mokuba’s and mine. We were in the orphanage for some time, with no one wanting to adopt both of us together, and neither willing to be adopted without the other. When we were adopted by Gozaburo, my every waking moment was spent studying. I had to learn everything there was to learn to be a successful heir.

There was no time for games, no rest, and hardly enough sleep, not if I wanted to excel. I pushed myself to exhaustion, exceeded all the tests Gozaburo set out for me, and took over KaibaCorp when Gozaburo threatened to use my virtual reality technology for warfare. Once KaibaCorp was under my control, I was in charge of my own life again, and enrolled in High School to get my diploma, converted KaibaCorp to a gaming company, and set out to do everything I have until now.”

Kise blinked, for a moment speechless as he absorbed what Kaiba had told  him, more than he expected to hear from the normally private and evasive man.

The story Kaiba told him wasn’t one of a child, but of a lost childhood. Kise could see that Kaiba was never able to simply be naïve, to play superhero and with toy cars, and if he had, those times were forgotten. Hidden away because it was too painful to remember for him.

Kise found his steps faltering, and a sadness seep into his heart as he heard Kaiba’s tale. It took all his will power not to reach out and cling onto Kaiba. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch the man, wanted to feel closer to him in some way, shape, or form, to show him that he truly wasn’t alone in the world.

Kaiba paused when he felt Kise stop behind him and turned to see why he stopped.

He wasn’t prepared for what he saw.

There he stood, a hand clutched to his chest, and a look on his face that Kaiba wasn’t sure how to describe. There was a softness on his face, something that invoked the word lost in his mind, and a deep sorrow in his golden eyes that sent a pang of pain to Kaiba’s own chest, and as a tear escaped the corner of Kise’s eye and traveled down his cheek, Kaiba felt his own breath hitch.

Why?

Why was this boy crying?

Kaiba felt a flurry of emotions.

The first was confusion, but it was soon replaced with anger and resentment, the emotions he knew best.

“If crying is your idea of showing me pity, you can stop it now. I don’t need it, nor do I want it,” Kaiba practically hissed, regretting telling Kise what he knew he should have kept to himself. There was a reason he never spoke of his past, this was as good as any.

“Don’t be an idiot!”

Kaiba was surprised by Kise’s angry and reprimanding outburst, even more so by the way more tears ran down his face, and how Kise made no move to stop them or wipe them away.

“I’m crying for you…” he continued, his voice softer and shakier, “because… because... despite everything… I can’t imagine that you ever cried for yourself…and because… it is sad… that you had to go through so much, not having the childhood that everyone should…”

Because yes, the tale that Kaiba spoke of was one that anyone would see as traumatic, but it was the way that Kaiba spoke of it that felt heaviest of all, flat and uncaring as if he was speaking about the process of building a computer, except even that telling Kise was sure he would say with more emotion than how Kaiba spoke of his childhood.

Kise understood the need to be strong, to put up walls when weakness and insecurities surfaced against your will. He had been doing that ever since he met the Generation of Miracles, and even more so within the past year in his last year of High School and through his breakup with Aomine.

But none of that…none of it…was to the level of what Kaiba had gone through. To lose his parents young, to be robbed by his family, and been pushed to the lengths he had been by a horrible man that was his step father…

Only to speak of it all as if it didn’t affect him.

Kaiba felt his chest constrict, unsure of how to reply, and remained silent as he watched Kise finally reach for his face and slowly wipe away the tears.

“But I won’t pity you… I won’t pity you because despite what you’ve just told me… you’re here, one of Japan’s richest and most successful businessman, with the world at your fingertips, and with the power to do more with a snap of your fingers than most people can ever hope to accomplish in their lifetime. No Kaibacchi… pity is the last thing I could ever have for you…”

Kaiba felt as if there was a knot in his throat, making it painful and hard to swallow as he took in Kise’s words.

“Because you never gave up… when others would have given up and accepted their fate… you chose to fight for your own. If anything, it makes me admire you even more…”

Kaiba clenched his fists, and willed himself to turn around, away from Kise’s disarming words.

“You’re a fool…” he mumbled, and Kise smiled at the lack of conviction behind those words and took the steps needed so that he was next to the brunette again.

“I can live with that…” Kise answered softly, “But this fool has more questions.”

And so Kise asked. He asked all the questions he wanted to know as they made their way through the large park, over bridges, past streams, and walked through a garden of some of the most beautiful plants and flowers Kise had ever seen.

And surprisingly, Kaiba answered them.

He told him about the how Kaiba had always dreamed of building Kaiba Land, and of how Gozaburo had thought it silly and taken away all his games, how Mokuba had snuck him a picture of his drawing of Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and how Kaiba had vowed that one day he would have the real thing.

He told him of the tests that Gozaburo set out for him, of giving him two percent of the company and asking that he return two hundred times that amount, of how he had done it in a day. He told him how he couldn’t stand the thought of his invention being used in war to take lives and destroy lands, and how he plotted the take over with the Big Five and won.

And after only a small moment of hesitation, Kaiba told Kise how Gozaburo couldn’t handle his defeat and killed himself, and of how it was kept away from the public and only reported as an accidental death to save face for the man.

By the time they left the park to make their dinner reservations, Kise could hardly recall the park itself. All he could think of was Kaiba’s voice, the way that if he listened closely enough, Kise could hear a slight strain in his voice, a hint of pride, and fondness when it came to his brother, because Kaiba’s calm and aloof demeanor betrayed none of that.

“Thanks for confiding in me Kaibacchi…your past is safe with me.”

Kaiba had never cared for the past.

It was an unchangeable variable, something to learn from and nothing more.

But somehow, speaking to Kise about it made him feel lighter, as if a weight had been taken off his shoulders, a burden he hadn’t known he had carried around with him all this time.

Yes, the future was all that mattered.

And now, the presence of Kise Ryota was a variable that Seto Kaiba had no idea how to handle.

Chapter Text

It was a different restaurant than the one they visited last time, but Kise could tell immediately is was just as high-class. White tablecloths and everything. They were seated soon after their arrival and given bread and butter to start until they were ready to order.

Kise was happy to note that they had a waiter this time, which would hopefully save them from any googly-eyes and flirting for the duration of their dinner.

Kise wanted to keep dinner a lighthearted manner after Kaiba’s retelling of his past at the park. And Kaiba happily let Kise take over the conversation as Kise filled the silence with his retelling of recent happenings at school, his modeling career, and what his parents and sisters got him for his birthday.

Kaiba for his part, didn’t mind Kise’s endless chatter as he listened on, and all the encouragement Kise needed to keep talking was the subtle showings of amusement in Kaiba’s blue eyes.

Indeed, Kaiba wondered how Kise Ryota could be so bewitching, since he found that the excitement and glow behind Kise’s golden eyes was more than enough to keep his attention trained on the blonde as he talked.

They ordered their food just as Kise finished telling him about a practical joke some girls played on the boy’s swim team that colored their bodies blue.

“So Kaibacchi, will you tell me about that time that duel monsters showed up all over the world? How did you manage that? I asked Mokubacchi, but I don’t think his answer was the truth…” Kise said.

It only took a moment for Kaiba to remember what Kise was talking about, the incident with Dartz and the Leviathan.

“What did Mokuba say?” Kaiba asked, genuinely curious.

“Well, he said something about you and some people having to collect legendary dragons to defeat an evil sorcerer that summoned the duel monsters from another dimension to revive some kind of monster that would steal our souls? I told him he should make that into a movie,” Kise replied.

Kaiba had to give to it Kise, for Mokuba to tell him the full truth. He knew that no one would ever believe the truth, but it was an unspoken understanding between everyone that their adventures involving ancient Egyptian magic was better left between them.

“Mokuba told you the truth.”

Kise’s eye widened.

Coming from Kaiba, the story that Mokuba told him suddenly took on a whole new meaning. It was one thing for someone like Mokuba to tell such an elaborate story, and another for Seto Kaiba to confirm it. Was it possible that Kaiba could lie for the sake of joking? Perhaps to back up his brother… but still…

“No way! You’re not lying? This isn’t a joke? Because if you say it’s true… I’ll believe you,” Kise said, his tone disbelieving, but his eyes more serious than they had been before.

Kaiba wondered if it was true, if Kise would believe something that took him years to come to terms with at his word alone.

“It’s true.”

Kaiba’s face was stern as he spoke, and Kise couldn’t see a tell sign that said this was a hoax, not that Kise was confident in his ability to catch Kaiba in a lie. He had no doubt that he had a lifetime of perfecting his poker-face that was almost a must have in the business world.

Yet despite it all, Kaiba couldn’t deny that a large part of him believed Kaiba’s words, simply because Kaiba said it was so.

“Well…” Kise trailed, drinking a long gulp of his water as if the water would help him better process the words that Kaiba told him.

“Any other supernatural things happen in your life?”

Kaiba considered his answer to Kise. Would telling him the truth of his past be too much? How could someone who hadn’t experienced what he had actually believe him on his word alone? He knew Kise couldn’t possibly be convinced. No one in their right mind would believe a story like that.

If nothing else, it seemed amusing to see what Kise’s reaction would be to his Egyptian past.

“Well,” Kaiba started, crossing his fingers in front of him as he looked at Kise.

“I’m the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian priest from five thousand years ago, who later became pharaoh when the original pharaoh sacrificed himself to save the world from an evil monster. And turns out that my bond to Blue-Eyes goes back to those times when only I could summon it.”

Kise was silent for a moment, food forgotten as he regarded Kaiba seriously, but again saw nothing that gave away whether Kaiba was telling the truth or not. While Kise couldn’t say he was convinced in his heart of hearts, he also felt doubt in his doubts.

Kise had always been open-minded when it came to things beyond his understanding. While he wasn’t a religious person, he did believe that there was more to the world than people could imagine, he just wasn’t the kind to delve too deeply into things he couldn’t fathom.

But Kaiba… he was a man of science, creating technology that revolutionized the game world, and whose understanding was much grander than Kise’s. When he thought about it that way, it was much easier for Kise to wrap his head around the information he was being given. Maybe Kaiba was just messing with him, but Kise chose to believe him anyway. He trusted him to come clean if it was a joke.

“Well Kaibacchi… you really are an overachiever then. One lifetime as a ruler wasn’t enough? You had to rule over your own company in this lifetime too?” Kise jokingly chastised with a smile that told Kaiba he was teasing.

Kaiba for his part, raised an eyebrow at Kise’s seemingly easy acceptance of what he told him, but Kaiba also knew that Kise might just be going along with it and humoring him.

“I gotta say though,” Kise continued, this time a warm look in his eye that caught Kaiba’s attention, “I think it’s wonderful that you loved your Blue-Eyes so much in a past life that it carried on into your current life. I’d be worried if it was a girl.”

Kise laughed, and Kaiba felt himself tensing slightly at the unintentional accuracy of Kise’s words.

“Well…” Kaiba found himself hesitating, confused why he felt the need to clarify to Kise the story behind Blue-Eyes from the visions he had seen so long ago.

Kise saw Kaiba’s hesitation clear as day, and felt his eyes widened.

“Wait… it was a girl?” Kise asked, his shock evident in the slight raising of his voice.

“In a way…” Kaiba sighed.

He had never had to explain to anyone besides Mokuba what he had seen from his glimpses from the past, and Mokuba at least knew that he wasn’t lying and had some understanding of the magic of their world.

“The spirit of Blue-Eyes was contained within the soul of a woman named Kisara. The Seto from that time saved her from bandits that were after her. In return, she gave her life to protect him from his father and the Blue-Eyes became a physical manifestation of her soul that remained by his side.”

Kise didn’t like how his heart constricted at Kaiba’s words. Suddenly what Kaiba spoke of seemed more real, because he couldn’t imagine Kaiba making up a story like that as a joke. Not something so… romantic. Not to mention… now that he thought back on it… hadn’t Kaiba named his AI after the woman? He remembered both Kaiba and Mokuba refer to the AI that Kaiba used in his Duel Monsters system with. Didn’t that mean he considered her important enough to give her a tribute in some way?

“Wow… that’s… tragic…”

Kaiba took notice of Kise’s downcast eyes, and how they looked duller than before, his own eyes narrowing at the observation.  

“Well, that Seto might have looked like me, but he was someone else. I can’t speak for what he felt for the girl. I only know what I saw.”

Kise looked back up, intrigued at what Kaiba was implying. He had to admit, his chest felt better at the admission that Kaiba didn’t seem to personally feel anything for the girl himself… and Kise wondered if he should be worried that he was already feeling jealous of a girl that seemed to have lived five-thousand years prior to a different Kaiba.

If his tale was as real as Kaiba said.

“How did you find this all out Kaibacchi?” Kise asked, genuinely curious and feeling himself being pulled deeper into the tale that Kaiba was weaving.

“Visions. Brought on by the magic inside ancient relics used in the past to summon duel monsters. It took me a long time to believe them myself. I was convinced it was all a trick being played on me,” Kaiba admitted, recalling all his denials as he focused on his task to save Mokuba or defeating his rival.

“What changed your mind?” Kise asked.

What had changed his mind? Kaiba knew that a part of him always doubted his own denial, it was simply easier to believe it to be a trick than accept the alternative, that magic was real, and souls were in danger. He always prided himself in his superior intellect after all, and magic was what those who didn’t understand the laws of time and physics used to explain a phenomenon they were too ignorant to understand.

But how could he deny the existence of the Pharaoh? The one constant that beat him again and again? And the blatant difference between him and Yugi? Not to mention…

“Some things were too real to ignore. Like when Mokuba’s soul was stolen and sent to the shadow realm, and my own…” Kaiba admitted, remembering the vacant look in Mokuba’s eyes as he held his body with no soul, and the chill that he had felt when his own soul was trapped in the empty void.

Magic… souls… shadow realm…

All these words that Kaiba pulled together made Kise want to know more. It felt as if there was a much deeper story to be told, especially if the entirety of Mokuba’s story was only part of it all.

Just as Kise was going to ask more, the ringing of Kaiba’s phone broke the silence as Kaiba dug into his pocket and pulled out the sleek device.

“I have to take this,” Kaiba said as he placed the phone against his ear.

“Kaiba speaking.”

Kise tried not to listen in as he returned his attention to the food that had gone slightly cold from his lack of attention while he had listened to Kaiba, but it was hard not to tune in on Kaiba’s voice when he spoke.

“Tonight?”

There was a pause as Kaiba listened to the person speaking.

“No, that’s fine. We can do it tonight. However… I’ll be bringing someone along.”

At this, Kise’s head perked up as he looked at Kaiba’s face, who stared back at him, and Kise pointed to himself as if questioning whether it was him Kaiba was talking about. Kaiba gave a single nod, and turned his attention back to the phone call.

“No, it’s not Mokuba. Don’t worry, he can be trusted.”


Kaiba was surprised to see Yugi calling him, but luckily, he was quick to clear up the confusion.

The two and his fiancé were supposed to go through with their plan to travel to Atem’s dimension to personally give him the news of their engagement in a week’s time, but according to Yugi’s slightly frantic call, something came up with a job for Tea that would take her away to America for a few months, and she would be leaving in three days’ time with that night being the best chance before the wedding to go through with their plans.

Kaiba didn’t mind the last-minute change, since the machine was ready.

The only factor that Kaiba had to worry about was Kise’s presence, and he was surprised to find himself wanting Kise to come along.

He knew that Kise must still have doubts on what he had told him, but he wanted Kise to believe him. He wanted him to see that Kaiba was being honest with him, something he never cared to do with anyone but his little brother. Maybe it was to make up for the lack of trust that Kaiba had shown in Kise himself.

And he wasn’t lying when he told Yugi that Kise could be trusted. Something that must have come as a shock to Yugi as it had to himself.

“You don’t mind sticking around a bit longer do you? You’re welcome to go home if you’d like.”

Kise blinked at Kaiba’s words, and for his part, was confused as to where Kaiba planned to take him, but curious and giddy that Kaiba wanted him to come, not to mention, his words that he could be trusted.

“Where are we going?” Kise asked, trying to maintain a level head and make educated decisions rather than emotional ones.

“To my space station, I have a promise to fulfill with the King of Games.”

Kise’s eyes widened.

“Space station? The K-king of Games? Yugi Mutou?” Kise asked, embarrassed that his eagerness was showing so easily.

Kaiba smirked.

“The very one. What do you say? Interested in an adventure?”

Kise blinked again. An adventure? What kind of adventure required a space station of Seto Kaiba’s? Along with the King of Games himself?

“Sounds fun!” Kise said with a challenging smirk of his own.

After all, what was life without taking a few risks? When Seto Kaiba himself invites you on an adventure, one does not turn it down.

With that in mind, and a few more texts between Kaiba and Yugi Mutou, it was decided that they would meet at KaibaCorp Space Station launchpad within the hour.

The two finished their food and made their way back to the car, where Kise easily slipped into the passenger seat as Kaiba took the wheel.

“Anything I should know before we embark on this adventure?” Kise asked as Kaiba began to drive.

If he was going into something blind, Kise wanted whatever information he could get.

There was a moment of silence that Kise hoped was Kaiba sorting through important information to share with him, until finally he spoke.

“We’re going to pay my rival a visit, in another dimension.”

For what was the millionth time that day alone, Kise’s eyes widened.

“W-what?”

“Just like I’m the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian priest, Yugi is the reincarnation of the Pharaoh, Atem. When Yugi solved a magical item, the Millennium puzzle, he released the dormant soul of the pharaoh that was keeping an evil sealed alongside him. When he was awoken, that evil was also released, and after we won against it, the Pharaoh’s soul returned to the afterlife to finally rest. That’s where we’re going.”

Kise absorbed the information, trying to fill in the puzzle of what he knew, and where it could fit with all the information he had learned that day.

“So, the Pharaoh… he’s your rival? And we’re going to the afterlife?” Kise asked, trying to quell the nervousness that was now rising inside him.

“Correct.”

“And how exactly can we travel through dimensions?”

“I created a machine that lets me transverse dimensions with the help of a device called the Quantum Cube. Recently I modified it so that multiple people can go through. This technology is highly classified, and I trust that you will share it with no one. If you do, there will be repercussions.”

Kise could tell from Kaiba’s cold tone that he was serious, and considering what Kaiba spoke about, Kise could understand why. That kind of technology was something Kise wouldn’t think would happen except in science fiction… and to know that Kaiba had accomplished something of the sort? It was amazing and scary all the same.

“You really are incredible Kaibacchi…” Kise told him, sending a sincere smile his way.

Kaiba didn’t respond, but glanced Kise’s way to see the sincerity reflected on his face.

It wasn’t long before they reached their destination, and it seemed the King of Games was just as eager because by the time they arrived, two figures were waiting in front of the building, one of which Kise recognized even from afar as they approached.

Seeing them approach, the two figures turned their attention to them, and Kise smiled as they stopped short of each other.

“Hey Seto! Thanks for doing this so last minute,” Yugi said, and Kise was surprised by the deep voice that came from the lean and shorter man dressed in black pants and a gray long-sleeved shirt. The brown-haired young woman dressed in a simple white dress next to him was unfamiliar to Kise, but she was pretty and looked at them with an intrigued look on her face.

For some reason, he hadn’t expected it. Despite the deep tone, his eyes were kind and his smile sincere as he looked back at them, and his gaze soon turned to Kise.

“Hello, my name Yugi Mutou, and this is my fiancé Tea Gardner,” the King of Games introduced himself and the woman next to him as they both bowed politely.

“Ah! Hello! My name is Kise Ryota, it’s an honor to meet the King of Games and his lovely fiancé,” Kise replied, also bowing respectfully with a large smile on his face and his eyes shining brightly.

Yugi and Tea shared a look and smiled at each other as they took in Kise’s bright and exuberant personality, and both had to admit they didn’t expect someone of the sort to be in the presence of someone as stoic as Kaiba.

“It’s nice to meet you too Kise, you’re a friend of Kaiba’s?” Tea asked, eyeing Kaiba skeptically to which Kaiba glared in defiance.

“I’d like to think so! Kaibacchi hasn’t exactly been the easiest friend to have, but I think he’s getting better!” Kise said with a teasing smile towards Kaiba, and both Yugi and Tea laughed.

“Oh you don’t have to tell us, we went to high school together and I’m surprised Kaiba is able to have friends with the way he can be,” Tea added on, and Kise’s eyes brightened at the knowledge that Kaiba had gone to high school with the King of Games.

Kaiba scoffed.

“If we’re done with introductions, can we move on to what we’re here for?” he said, and the others only smiled at each other, not waiting for a response as he led the way into his building.

Yugi quickly followed suite and caught up to the taller figure, but Tea lingered with Kise as they also followed just slightly behind.

“How long have you known Kaiba for, Kise?” Tea asked, and Kise suddenly felt nervous.

He knew when he was being prodded for information, and he wondered if Tea wanted to know if he was really Kaiba’s friend for Kaiba’s sake or if she was apprehensive about him coming with them. Either way, Kise wasn’t sure how to properly answer in a way that Kaiba would approve of. Then again, if it was true that Kaiba didn’t have friends outside of the King of Games, it made sense that they would question Kise’s sudden appearance, especially when Kaiba was willing to bring him to a different dimension that Kise knew nothing about.

“Only a few months actually. We met through his brother, Mokubacchi. I used to duel, so I asked Mokubacchi if he could set up a duel between us since I’ve always wanted to duel Kaibacchi. I came close to beating him but… Kaibacchi is a tough opponent. The closest I came to a win ended up in a tie.”

Kise tried to keep their meeting vague since he still wanted to keep a low profile when it came to Kaiba and himself. Momoi’s words constantly came to mind, and since he didn’t know anything about Tea and even Yugi Mutou himself, he thought it best to keep it safe for both his sake and Kaiba’s.

Tea for her part, had been surprised to hear that Kaiba would be coming with someone that wasn’t his brother. She had been apprehensive of course, since the thought of just anyone learning about the inter-dimensional machine that Kaiba created to the afterlife didn’t sit well with her. They had all been through too much and owed Atem too much to put his dimension at risk to the wrong people. But Yugi had assured her that Kaiba wouldn’t bring just anyone along, and that he protected his machine more fiercely than anyone.

And seeing the person, Kise Ryota, in the flesh surprised her even more. While more attractive and personable than the average person, Tea had to admit that he seemed pretty normal. A business associate would have made more sense to be accompanying Kaiba, but someone he considered a friend? Someone he vouched for? Tea knew she should be as happy as Yugi was for Kaiba to have made such a stride, but it was also so left-field. Sure, Kaiba had grown and matured throughout the years, but his stoic and aloof personality remained off-putting in her opinion. Who would want to be friends with someone like that? Kise seemed like a nice guy, but what if he wasn’t? Either way, it wasn’t Tea’s place to question Kaiba’s decision considering it was his machine and he was doing them a favor no one else could ever possibly do, but she was determined to keep an eye on Kise for any funny business.

“Well it’s impressive that you got so close to winning! Kaiba is definitely a tough opponent and I think Yugi is the only one that’s managed to beat him fair and square without cheating of any kind,” Tea replied, before a more serious expression replaced her smile.

“But in all seriousness Kise, what did Kaiba tell you about what we’re going to do tonight?” Tea asked, not wanting to tip-toe around what was going to happen soon.

Kise also became more serious, wanting to show Tea that he was taking the matter seriously.

“He told me we’re visiting his rival…” Kise paused, but seeing that Tea was waiting for more, and searching her face, Kise chose to risk it and be honest.

“… in another dimension…” Kise added, pausing again to see if Tea would look at him as if he was crazy.

When instead, her eyes narrowed and grew more serious, Kise knew that Kaiba had been telling him the truth.

“What else did he tell you?” Tea asked.

“Not a lot... Only that he and Yugicchi are reincarnations of an ancient Egyptian priest and Pharaoh, and that the Pharaoh has moved on to the afterlife after defeating an ancient evil that had to do with magic and duel monsters. I don’t know the actual story though, but I hope that Kaibacchi will share it with me soon.”

Tea was surprised that Kaiba had shared so much with Kise, especially when Tea always wondered just how much of what they went through Kaiba believed himself considering his denial of it all. But the way Kise described it was exactly as Tea would have put it.

She smiled, a sincere smile this time, and it shocked Kise.

“I see… It looks like Kaiba really does trust you. You must be very special Kise,” she said, and Kise felt himself blush.


“Your friend seems nice,” Yugi said as he reached Kaiba’s side, and Kaiba only glanced his way to let him know he heard, and Yugi’s smile widened when Kaiba didn’t deny it.

“I’m glad you took my advice on making more friends,” the shorter man added, and this time Kaiba scoffed.

“It wasn’t planned, I assure you.”

“Which makes it even better. You know what they say, the best things in life are unexpected…”

Unexpected… well that was for certain. Kise’s entire presence was unexpected. Kaiba felt as if he was blind when it came to the boy, unsure of what role he played in his life. All he knew was that he was tolerable, and Kaiba might even call his presence enjoyable and refreshing. Neither of which he would admit to Yugi.

“That’s debatable.”

“Did you tell him? About the Pharaoh and us?” Yugi asked.

“Yeah… I did.”

Kaiba still couldn’t believe that he had shared that with Kise, much less that Kise seemed to have accepted it so easily. And now here they all were, about to remind themselves of a time when their whole lives seemed to have turned upside down with truths that had to be experienced to be believed.

“Well… I’m happy to know you have someone to confide in. Don’t mess it up.”

Kaiba glanced at Yugi, who wore a content smile on his face. Only Yugi would so easily accept his sharing of their past with someone that hadn’t undergone the experience and seem happy about it. Kaiba had come in prepared to defend his decision to bring Kise along, but instead Yugi seemed encouraging of the situation.

Either way, both Kise and Kaiba were relieved when they reached the elevator that would take them to the space station, and their attention was diverted to the mechanical voice of Kaiba’s computer letting them know what to expect from the long ride up and gravitational changes that would occur for a brief moment.

It was only then that it really hit Kise that they were really going into outer space, even if it was just outside earth’s surface, and he began to get nervous. He spared the others a glance, and while Kaiba remained calm and composed, he saw that Yugi and Tea also looked nervous, which meant this must have also been their first time heading to their destination, but Kise didn’t want to ask in the off-chance that he actually had something to worry about. It was too late to turn back now.

While it was a longer ride than a typical elevator trip, it was still relatively fast considering they were going to a space station, and Kise had to laugh when they momentarily floated in zero-gravity until the elevator reached the station and gravity was regulated. Only Kaiba was able to land on his feet and the rest of them weren’t able to quite catch themselves as they fell to the ground.

“Jeez Kaibacchi… a warning or tip on the landing would have been nice,” Kise pouted as he fell on one knee, a better feat than Yugi and Tea could say for themselves as they fell on each other.

“Yeah… I gotta agree with Kise on that one…” Tea added with a groan of annoyance but smiled when Yugi helped her up.

Kaiba didn’t answer, and simply led the way once the doors opened to reveal the inside of the station Kaiba could claim as his own.

It was what most of them expected of a space facility, metallic and with machines everywhere. The lights had turned on as soon as Kaiba stepped inside, but what caught their attention the most was the large windows that let them see the sight that was their planet with its green lands, blue seas, and white clouds with the sun and star-littered space just behind it.

“Wow…”

Was what they were all thinking and Yugi voiced as they took in the sight with wide eyes.

Kaiba, to his credit, let them take in the sight for a few moments, but felt particularly drawn to Kise’s reaction just beside him. His face looked every bit as awed as when he first saw his dueling technology, and his golden orbs glittered with child-like wonder.

Kaiba had to force himself to look away and walk towards his destination, and it was only a moment after that everyone realized their host was moving again and followed suit.

Kaiba led them to another door, which required a code, his hand print, voice recognition, and iris scanner.

Seeing all the security measures to unlocking the door, everyone could tell that what was behind it was important to Kaiba, and more and more Kise believed what Kaiba had told him, and the feeling of intruding on a private matter also increased.

After all, these were all people that saved the world from darkness given what Kaiba had shared with him, and the Pharaoh they were going to see was important to them, Kaiba included. Still, he was already there, and Kise wasn’t one to back down.

The door in front of Kaiba opened with a soft hiss, and Kise could have sworn he heard a collective sharp intake of breath from Yugi and Tea.

As Kaiba crossed the threshold to the room, the rest hesitated for only a moment before following after him.

Kise wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but he was surprised to find that the room was mostly empty, aside from a large array of more consoles around one wall. There was no grand machine that looked like an inter-dimensional transporter that he could only picture from sci-fi shows and movie.

Then again, this was reality.

Kaiba then walked over to a computer, and proceeded to type on the touch-sensitive console while the rest of the group shared confused glances as they waited for the next step, and Kise took in the way Tea reached to grab Yugi’s hand with a small smile.

Kaiba paused in his typing just as a wall opened up along one of the walls, which revealed what looked similar to Kaiba’s duel discs hanging on several hooks.

“I won’t bore you with the specifics, not that you would understand it anyway, but there are a few things to remember before we travel through dimensions,” Kaiba finally spoke, and everyone stood straighter at attention, knowing it was important to remember what Kaiba was about to tell them.

“Firstly, this machine was originally designed for one person only and successfully transported me various times, but only recently did I modify it to transport multiple people. What I mean by that, is that this isn’t tested, and you choose to travel at your own risk. Is that understood?”

Kaiba crossed his arms as he met everyone’s gaze, taking in the look of fear and nervousness in each set of eyes, pausing to give them time to consider his words and change their minds if they wanted to.

He didn’t expect Yugi to change his mind, but perhaps his fiancé and Kise might take the out.

Yugi turned to Tea, grabbing her by the shoulders and looking her in the eyes with a serious expression.

“You don’t have to go. It could be dangerous… and I can deliver the message myself…” Yugi tried to urge, and Kaiba knew it was because he was worried for her safety.

Tea however, was quick to rebuke him.

“No way! And let you go by yourself! Fat chance!” she cried out with a glare as she grabbed onto his arms.

“Whatever happens to you, happens to me… that’s why we’re getting married isn’t it? To go through life together?” her voice became softer at the latter part, and both their eyes softened as they smiled at each other.

“Besides… Atem is my friend too. I want to see him as much as you do…” she confided in him, and Yugi nodded with a determined look on his face.

“Right!”

 Kaiba turned his gaze to Kise.

“What about you? This is your chance to back out. You can wait for us here.”

Kise felt his heart beat faster.

He would be lying if he said Kaiba’s warning didn’t scare him… something untested… when it came to breaking the laws of physics as Kise understood them? It was as if every cell in his body was screaming at him that this was a terrible idea, and he should not go and stay safe in his own dimension.

But as he looked back at Kaiba’s blue eyes, it was as if his heart did a summersault for a completely different reason. Because here was Kaiba… trusting him with something so significant and beyond what he could comprehend.

How could he not take a leap of faith too?

So Kise smiled and shook his head.

“If anyone can build a machine to take multiple people to a different dimension… it’s you. I want to see it.”

Kise held Kaiba’s gaze, not backing down and showing the older man that Kise was serious, until finally Kaiba nodded.

“Very well.”

He then walked over to the wall holding the duel disc looking machinery and began to put them on as a regular duel disc would with the added attachments.

“You’ll each have to wear these. These modified duel discs will be what will ground your soul to my machine and make it possible for us to return to our dimension. Do not remove them for any reason,” Kaiba spoke the last part fiercely, narrowing his eyes just as the lights on the duel disc turned on to signify its activation.

Everyone nodded and Kaiba reached for another of the duel disc, handing it to Yugi who began to help Tea put it on.

Kise stepped forward to grab his own, and within moments they were all geared up, with Kaiba having checked that they were all properly up and running.

“Lastly, there is a time limit to how long we can remain in the other dimension. Since we’re not meant to be there, the longer we’re there the greater the chance that our souls will break down and disappear forever. So, let’s make it a short and sweet visit if you want to see your wedding day.”

Once more Tea and Yugi shared a concerned glance, before they nodded in understanding.

“Good. Then let’s go.”

Kaiba then approached what looked like another sealed door, and pressed his palm to a pad next to it, which caused it to open and reveal a hatch on the other side.

It took Kise a moment to realize there was a sort of shuttle inside.

“This will be our mode of transport,” Kaiba said, approaching the shuttle and pressing something on his duel disc that caused the shuttle to open a door that let down some stairs.

Again, Kaiba led the way, and the other followed up the shuttle stairs to the inside where the shuttle had just enough space for what looked like six chairs, and as soon as they were inside Kaiba closed the doors behind them.

“Choose a seat and strap in.”

Kaiba sat at the front seat, where a large panel was in front of him, and once more began to type away, until lights and a whirring of sounds came alive.

While he brought the systems online, everyone else strapped in, which was thankfully straight forward and uncomplicated except there were two different buckles.

By this point, it truly felt as the point of no return, and none seemed eager to speak as Kaiba continued to type away.

“All systems online. Destination set.”

This time, it was the computerized voice that spoke, and Kise felt a chill travel down his spine as a timer appeared in front of them and began to count down.

“Take off sequence initiated… time of deployment in three minutes…”

Kise’s heart once more began to raise, and only beat harder once a hissing noise began and everyone felt the shuttle shake and begin to rotate so that it faced a different direction from which it had been, and now faced another set of larger doors from which they had all entered.

As some sirens began to sound and flash, the doors opened to reveal a set of tracks that led down a dark tunnel that slowly became illuminated with lights and the countdown continued.

“Anything else you want to warn us about Kaiba?” Yugi asked, his hand holding onto Tea’s from beside him.

There was a moment of silence, and Kise watched intently as Kaiba’s deft fingers continued to move across the panel in front of him.

“Yeah… try not to throw up.”

There were only thirty seconds on the clock when Kaiba’s fingers finally stopped and his arms settled on armrests on either side of him, and when he turned to glance in Kise’s direction, Kise felt himself relax as he smiled and met his gaze, nodding to let him know he was fine, and hoping his face didn’t give anything away.

Kaiba however, could see the fear on all their faces from how pale they looked, how noticeably tense they sat in their chairs, but the look in their eyes shone with resolve.

Yugi and Tea, he could understand. Their bond with the Pharaoh had always been strong, and those fools had always been quick to put their lives in danger for each other.

But Kise… there was nothing in this for him. He had no reason to want to travel to another dimension where nothing he knew awaited him, one which Kaiba had warned him of the danger of what they were about to do, one that he knew nothing about until an hour ago.

Yet there he was… smiling at Kaiba as if he was the one to be reassured.

And before Kaiba could begin to try to decipher what that thought made him feel, the mechanized voice of his station computer once more spoke up.

“Takeoff imminent in 10… 9… 8…”

Kaiba faced forward as the final countdown begun, confident that all calculations had been correct, and while he had traveled to the Egyptian afterlife on multiple occasions, and knew what to expect, he wondered if anything would be different now that multiple people would be taking the trip.

He wondered if the Pharaoh knew that they were coming, since although he had never told Kaiba that he had expected him, he had never seemed surprised, and Kaiba had never cared to ask if the Pharaoh was aware of what went on in their world.

“6… 5…”

Kise, Yugi, and Tea braced themselves, and Kise gripped the armrests tightly while Yugi and Tea’s grip on each other’s hand tightened.

“3…2…1…”

And they were off.

Tea and Yugi cried out as the shuttle took off faster than they expected, and all felt the pressure of the craft accelerating at a speed only a spacecraft could be capable of. After all, Kaiba knew the speed they needed to reach in order to break through the barrier that kept dimensions apart was a large one, and only possible thanks to the cube that harnessed the required energy.

They continued to accelerate to the point that even if they had wanted to, they couldn’t make out the space and stars around them, until their bodies felt weightless and a blinding light engulfed them.

It felt as if hours had passed in seconds in a kind of suspended state of time and space, where thoughts were impossible to formulate and understand as more than abstract feelings…

But then it hit them.

It was as if they had been spun and wrung, and shaken, and true to what Kaiba had warned, they all felt sick to their stomachs and had to resist the urge to empty its content as everything around them seemed to spin on its axis.

Only when the nausea settled were they able to tell that they were no longer flying through space, and instead, the shuttle was still, and not even any noise could be heard from inside it.

All except for Kaiba groaned as they tried to grasp their bearings and once more got used to the feeling of their limbs on their bodies.

“Are we… alive?” Tea was the first to speak as she grasped her head, looking over to where Yugi was supposed to be and exhaling with relief to see that he was indeed there.

“It seems like it…” Yugi replied, also looking over and smiling at her.

Kaiba looked over where Kise had been sitting, surprised to also feel relief that he had survived the trip although the grimace on his face showed that it had been as unpleasant for him as each trip had ever been.

“Kaibacchi… you really have to work on the landing of this thing… I wanna puke…” Kise commented with a groan as a hand traveled to cover his mouth.

“I’ll get right on that… now let’s get out of here before you really do throw up,” Kaiba replied, already unbuckling his belt and getting up from his seat.

He rolled his eyes when he saw that Kise was struggling with his own and walked over and undid the straps in a few fluid motions before helping up the nauseous boy.

Yugi and Tea might have looked at Kaiba’s actions with surprise were they not too busy trying to undo their own belts and fighting down the nausea, and with another press of buttons on his duel disc the door to the shuttle opened to reveal what was beyond.

Light and heat streamed in, and through the now receding nausea they were able to take in the sight beyond as they quickly exited the shuttle, eager for fresh air.

Sky. Sun. Sand.

They were in a desert.

And just beyond the horizon… walls that seemed to form an ancient city.

It was the city of the Pharaoh.

It was the home of Atem.

Chapter Text

It was all true.

They were in another dimension…

Kise stared ahead wide-eyed at the expanse of sand, as his gaze traveled to the walls of a city just beyond and reflected in the sky above.

There could truly be no other explanation for how they had gone from space to a desert.

And yet… it didn’t exactly feel real.

As Kise leaned down to touch the sand, he couldn’t quite feel it as he scooped it with his hand and let the grains fall through his fingers… it felt more like water than what sand was supposed to be like.

As he looked up to the sun, the heat that he should have felt wasn’t scorching as the sun would be in a desert, but more like a barely there caress of warmth.

“So, this is… the afterlife…” Yugi’s voice was tinged with awe as he looked ahead towards the city.

“It is… now let’s get moving. There’s no time to waste.”

Kaiba once more took the lead, hand in his pocket as he walked forward, and Kise was quick to reach his side.

“This is incredible Kaibacchi…” Kise said as he glanced at Kaiba.

“Hn.”

“How many times have you come here?” Kise asked, a million questions coursing through his head now that there was no doubt in his mind the truth of Kaiba’s story.

“A few.”

Kise smiled at Kaiba’s vagueness. It was back to that it seemed. Good thing Kise had held onto almost everything Kaiba had told him and remembered what Kaiba had said to him back at the restaurant when they had played his game of Truth or Pass, when Kaiba had told him about his rival.

Back then, Kise had no idea who his rival had been, but could tell that he was important to Kaiba.

Now he knew, and he could put together a few more puzzle pieces.

“You came here to try and defeat him, didn’t you?” Kise asked, confident in his assertion.

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed, but he refused to answer, and it was enough to tell Kise how right he was.

Kaiba created a machine to travel dimensions… so he could defeat his rival… but had yet to do so.

It was a hard truth to swallow, a truth that Kise knew all too well, and the reason he didn’t push Kaiba for an answer or remind him that he was just short of his goal.

This Pharaoh must truly be great… Then again… he was a Pharaoh after all, a King. And someone who saved the world. Yet it was the fact that he had pushed Kaiba to these lengths that impressed Kise the most. Saving the world seemed like a much easier feat.

Yugi and Tea were surprisingly silent considering they were going to see their friend… and previous life in Yugi’s book, and Kise wondered if they were nervous. After all, from how they had spoken of the Pharaoh, it was clear that he was important to them both, and Kise would have thought them more excited to see an old friend.

Kise wished he could lighten the mood, but he didn’t know Yugi and Tea enough, and still felt like too much of an intruder to speak up, and chose to leave them to their own devices instead.

He was only an observer here, and although he was still confused as to why Kaiba had chosen to bring him along, it was something to ask after everything was done and they were back in their own dimension.

The city had seemed far off into the distance, but it wasn’t long before it was looming just before them, grand and larger than Kise had thought it would be as they approached its gates.

As they got closer however, Kise began to feel a slight pressure in the back of his head, almost like a headache getting worse as they approached.

Kise wondered if that was normal when it came to ancient cities in the afterlife… but since it wasn’t too bothersome, chose to not ask aloud as they walked towards the city.

The gates to enter were just ahead, a break in the surrounding walls with tall stone columns on each side, and in front of the gates, the figures of two guards came into view.

Seeing the way they were dressed and holding spears, there was no question that this was ancient Egypt, with the males wearing white wrap around cloths around their waist and white shawls covering their heads with a large golden necklace around their necks.

The walls around them seemed bright gold and unblemished by time, covered in Egyptian hieroglyphics that Kise didn’t even bother to try and comprehend.

The guards watched their approaching figures with wary eyes, but relaxed when they came into focus, as their gazes instead reflected admiration and respect with a hint of surprise as they knelt on one knee and looked at the ground when they stopped short of them.

“Welcome honored guests, the Pharaoh awaits you.”

Kaiba walked past the guards without acknowledging them, while Yugi looked apologetic and thanked the guards as he also walked past them and into the city.

To their delight, the city was teeming with people and activity.

Markets lined the streets, with people trading wares and food, and kids running around laughing and playing, and to their surprise, when they caught sight of them, they too bowed in reverence, as if they recognized that Yugi was the reincarnation of their Pharaoh and deserved the same respect.

It seemed that Kaiba was truly familiar with the area, since he seemed to know exactly where they were going and never once faltered from his path, bypassing everything around them.

Kise tried to take in as much as he could, knowing that they were seeing something that archaeologists could only dream of, seeing Egypt in its prime, and watching the everyday life of the people within this beautiful city that exuded an air of peace as they went on with their daily tasks in an eternal world apart from their own.

He wished he could go to the booths and stands manned by the people, to see the kind of wares and clothing that they had.

But that wasn’t what they were here for, sightseeing a past life, and the afterlife that housed the souls of those who had passed millennia prior.

They were here to see the Pharaoh.

And it was hard to miss the large temple that loomed ahead, and although it wasn’t shaped like the palaces Kise was used to seeing in pictures and TV, it was obvious that the large and elegant building ahead was a temple that could house none other than royalty, with grand statues and columns adorning its length, and a wide large gate as its entrance.

It shone brighter than anything else, and the sheer number of guards standing at attention outside spoke of the importance of what or who lay inside.

As they approached, all eyes were on them, but no guard made a move to stop them, and instead bowed their heads as they passed.

Kise felt increasingly nervous, and the pressure in the back of his head also increased the closer they got to the gates that now stood before them, but he tried to ignore it as they finally walked through the looming gates.

They paused when they first crossed the gates, each taking in the long pathway lined with guards that led to the shadowed end, where they could all make out what could only be called a throne, and sitting on that throne, was the clothed figure of a man with the same outline as that of Yugi, whose face was obscured by the shadow of a column.

This time, Kaiba wasn’t the first to step forward and close the distance between them and the Pharaoh that sat at the throne. Kise stood back with him, watching as Yugi clenched his fists at his sides as he stared ahead, and Kise wondered what kind of expression he wore on his face.

It was Tea that nudged Yugi forwards, smiling reassuringly and whispering something that Kise couldn’t hear, but with a shuddering breath, Yugi finally took the first step forward… and another after that… and began to close the distance between him and the Pharaoh, Tea following closely behind.

When Kaiba didn’t move to follow them, Kise wondered if he was going to stay back, and give Yugi the chance to talk to the Pharaoh on his own, but only a moment longer, Kaiba also stepped forward, but despite his longer strides, Kise could see that Kaiba made sure to walk slower than usual and leave a considerable distance between them.

With a small smile, Kise followed behind Kaiba.


It had been eight years since the last time Yugi Mutou had gotten a glance of the real Atem, when he saved the world for the last time and took away the millennium puzzle that would ensure he was never again summoned into their world and he could rest.

Since then, he had seen him only in his mind’s eye, and many more times than he could count in his dreams.

It was impossible to forget someone who had shared a space with his very soul for so long, and whose friendship Yugi would treasure beyond his lifetime.

He didn’t even know why he was so nervous, why his legs suddenly felt like lead as he looked ahead to the throne where Atem was sitting on.

Shouldn’t he have been happy?

To finally be in the same room as the man he had missed all this time?

Shouldn’t he be filled with joy that this was even possible? To see the one person he never thought he would again?

And yet… for eight years… despite knowing that Kaiba had achieved the impossible… Yugi had never asked to visit Atem until then.

He felt guilty, for waiting so long to take the leap that would let him see Atem again.

Because wasn’t that what their final duel had been about? To prove that Yugi was ready to stand on his own?

And despite that… Yugi still never felt good enough… not when he thought back to all that Atem was, all that he had sacrificed and all that he had helped Yugi grow.

“It’s okay Yugi…” Tea whispered to him, placing a gentle hand behind his back, “Atem could never be anything but happy to see you…”

And wasn’t that why he had always known Tea was the girl he wanted to spend the rest of his life with? Because she knew him inside and out, and loved all of him, there to soothe every insecurity and burden that he ever bore?

So Yugi took in a deep breath… and stepped forward.

At the very least, Atem deserved nothing less than his courage, and Yugi would make sure he got it.

As he walked forward, every step felt easier than the last, and as he got closer, the heaviness that he had felt in his chest got lighter, until a smile formed on Yugi’s lips, and the joy that he had thought was missing suddenly filled him in a sudden burst of warmth that quickly spread throughout the rest of his body.

And as if sensing his happiness, Atem stood from his throne, and took a step forward, so that the shadow of the stone column no longer covered his face, and in its absence, there adorned a soft smile on his sun-lit face.

It was Yugi’s own face, and yet it wasn’t. Because Atem’s face bore a heaviness that Yugi’s never would, a heaviness that could only come with the weight of the world on his young shoulders, and a life that he was denied while he was alive.  Because his life had been nothing but toil and sacrifice, something that no matter what accomplishments Yugi attained in his life, would pale in comparison.

And perhaps that was okay.

Because even though they looked the same, they lived in different times, and led different lives.

And as Tea had told him many times over, it wasn’t fair to compare their lives and accomplishments.

Because Yugi was lucky to have known peace, and the absence of war and the loss of loved ones, something Atem could not say the same for himself.

All that was certain… was that the time they spent together was real, and that perhaps Atem had gained just as much from Yugi as Yugi had from him. Their bond was sacred, and Yugi wouldn’t change a thing about it.

And this… this moment… was nothing short of a gift.

Before he knew it, Yugi was running, quickly closing the remainder of the distance between them, and did what he had wanted to do that day eight years ago but couldn’t, and circled his arms around Atem, embracing him in the way he had always wanted to but had never had the guts to do so.

Until then.

And it felt as warm and fulfilling as Yugi hoped, even more so when Atem’s own arms wrapped around him and pulled him closer.

“I’ve missed you so much…” Yugi whispered, head resting atop Atem’s shoulder.

“I’ve missed you as well… old friend…” Atem replied, his hold tightening around Yugi.


Kise watched the interaction between the two men with a smile on his face.

Even after learning that Yugi was the reincarnation of the Pharaoh, he hadn’t expected them to look like the same person, but even so Kise could feel that their presence was different, and he could see how much they cared about each other.

It was an odd sight, but heartwarming, nonetheless.

The two men separated and Yugi beamed a smile full of happiness, and the Pharaoh smiled back softly before turning his attention to the rest of the group.

“Welcome friends…” he said, gaze passing over each of them, before it paused on the unfamiliar figure of the blonde next to Kaiba with interest.

He then approached Tea, who seemed to be tearing up at the sight of him.

“Atem!” she cried softly, and similarly to Yugi, also moved to hug him, causing the Pharaoh to smile gently as he returned the hug.

“Tea…” he said, “It’s nice to see you again.”

After a short moment, the two separated, and Atem’s gaze turned to Kaiba who stood tall with his arms crossed in front of him and a guarded look on his face.

“Kaiba…” Atem addressed with a playful smile on his face, “It’s been a while.”

That smile told Kise that despite Kaiba’s confusing attitude towards the Pharaoh, Atem seemed to like Kaiba all the same, since the warmth in his eyes mirrored the same warmth that he had looked at Yugi and Tea with.

“So it has,” Kaiba replied simply.

Then Atem’s gaze settled on Kise’s figure next to Kaiba, and Kise suddenly felt nervous.

He was usually good with people, but to be in the presence of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, who had saved the world… that was a new kind of pressure. Not to mention that he was the outsider here.

“And who might you be, young man?” the Pharaoh asked gently, an encouraging smile on his face.

Kise felt his breath hitch, unsure of how to greet the Pharaoh.

Mind blanking, Kise found himself reaching out a hand, and resisted the urge to wince when he realized what he was doing.

A handshake for a Pharaoh?!

The smile on Atem’s face only widened at the gesture however, as he also reached out for Kise’s hand and grasped it with his own.

“My name is Kise Ryota,” Kise said, trying to smile through his embarrassment.

“Kise Ryota… it’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Atem, Pharaoh of this time,” the Pharaoh introduced himself, and Kise found himself admiring the riveting tone of his voice.

“Are you a friend of Yugi’s?” he added as they let go of each other’s hands.

Kise hesitated, glancing in Kaiba’s direction.

“Ah… I actually just met Yugicchi… I’m a friend of Kaibacchi’s actually…” Kise replied, and watched as Atem raised an eyebrow and glanced at Kaiba, who only seemed to narrow his eyes at the attention.

“Is that so? I didn’t think Kaiba had friends,” Atem teased with a smirk, and Kaiba huffed in indignation but didn’t defend against the statement. After all, even Kise knew it to be the truth.

“Well, I’m happy Kaiba has someone to look after him,” Atem added, a softer smile on his face as he looked at Kise, who couldn’t help but blush under his gaze, unsure why but nodded and smiled nonetheless.

“Someone has to do it, and I’m more than happy to!” Kise replied, glancing over at Kaiba warmly who caught his gaze for a moment that felt longer than it was, before looking away to the opposite side of the room.

For some reason, the action warmed Kise and made him smile wider, perhaps because he had expected Kaiba to refute him by telling him he didn’t need anyone to watch over him, but he didn’t.

“As happy as I am to see you… I’m sure there’s a reason why you’ve come all this way. Let’s adjourn to a sitting room, where you can make yourselves comfortable. I know you can't stay long,” Atem said motioning to everyone.

“Please, follow me,” Atem said, and with a swish of his cape, he turned and walked away, with the other in tow.

Kise was just about to follow, when Kaiba stopped him by grabbing on to his arm.

“You all go ahead, we won’t be far,” Kaiba spoke, and the others turned to look at him with a confused look on their face.

“Are you sure?” Yugi asked.

“Yes, I’ll skip the sappy reunion, thank you,” Kaiba replied, and Kise blinked up at him as the brunette pulled him away in the opposite direction of where the others were going, trying not to think about how that simple action made his heart beat just a bit faster.

Kise hoped Kaiba wouldn’t let go, but just a moment later Kaiba let his arm go and Kise resisted the urge to pout as disappointment coursed through his system.

“You don’t want to catch up with them?” Kise asked curiously as he glanced at Kaiba from beside him.

Kaiba closed his eyes as he put his hands in his pockets.

“No… we’re only here so Yugi can tell him the news of his engagement, and whatever other mushy friendship things Yugi plans on saying,” Kaiba replied.

His answer caused Kise to snicker, a hand moving to his mouth to cover the unexpected action.

“You’re so cold Kaibacchi, but it’s still cute how you still did this for Yugicchi. I’m sure he really appreciates it… he looked so happy to see the Pharaoh! They seriously look like mirror images of each other too,” Kise said as he looked around the large temple structure in appreciation.

This was much better than any museum he had ever been to, not that there had been many that consisted of Egyptian exhibits.

“They are completely different, trust me.”

Kise didn’t reply, and as he followed Kaiba down the hallway, they came to the back of the building, and Kise whistled when he saw the plants and what looked like a large pool filled with clear water and trees around it. It was the very picture of an oasis in a desert.

“Now this is how to live in a desert,” Kise admired as he took in the sight.

There was a stone balcony that separated them from the actual oasis, and Kise leaned against it as he took in the sight.

As his gaze raked over the water and plants, the pressure in the back of his head that he had momentarily been distracted from suddenly increased, and this time, Kise flinched from the pain and grasped at his head with a groan.

The pain was sharp, and as Kise closed his eyes, he saw a bright light, until that light turned into an image, of the same oasis he was looking at, but this time, he was there too, only dressed in something different, red harem pants, a cropped blue vest, and an odd white head shawl that looked almost Arabian in nature.

The man was currently standing where Kise was, also taking in the view, until a figure coming next to him caught his attention, and Kise realized he recognized that figure too.

It was Kaiba, but also wearing something different, a blue and white robe that reached to his ankles with gold shoulder pads, belt and forearm bands, necklace, and a blue tall headdress with golden accents that looked Egyptian on all accounts.

Kise could see their lips moving as they talked, but he couldn’t hear what they were saying.

“Hey… are you okay?”

The image faded as a familiar voice broke through, and Kise felt someone’s hands on his arms, and Kise opened his eyes to see Kaiba looking at him with narrowed eyes, relief flashing across the blue irises when Kise looked back at him.

“What happened?” Kaiba asked.

Kise tried to get ahold of his bearings again, and while his head still throbbed, Kise was more confused than anything.

“I… I don’t know, my head just suddenly started hurting… and…I…” Kise stopped himself, not sure how to convey the image he had just seen.

It had been Kaiba and him… but not… wearing ancient clothing. Had that been Kaiba’s past self that he had told him about?

But… why had he been there? Dressed in clothing Kise had never even seen before? Was it just this dimension playing tricks on him? Was it a side effect to their traveling here?

Kise knew he should tell Kaiba, the most experienced of them when it came to both traveling to another dimension and knowing about visions.

Just as he was about tell him however, a now familiar figure caught his eye at the corner of his eye, and Kise’s eyes widened when he saw the very image he had just seen right in front of him, the man that looked just like Seto Kaiba but in Egyptian wear.

The man seemed to just be walking by, but stopped when he caught sight of them.

Kise watched in rapt attention as the man’s previously frowning gaze turned to surprise, eyes widening as he also took them in.

“Impossible…” 

Although he was too far away to hear, Kise could see from the way his lips moved that it was what he said to himself, and before he knew it, the man that looked just like Kaiba was walking towards them at a brisk pace.

Kaiba had also turned to see what Kise had been looking at, and frowned at the sight of his past self. Kise had thought that he would approach Kaiba, but instead, the Egyptian Kaiba completely ignored Kaiba’s presence, and if Kise had been shocked before, he was even more surprised when the man that looked just like Kaiba stopped short of Kise and wrapped his arms around him in a crushing hug.

Kise gasped in a breath and tensed as one of the man’s hands settled at the nape of his neck and whose fingers pressed gently against the back of his head, pulling him even closer against him.

“I thought I would never see you again…” Kise blinked at the words said in what sounded very much like Kaiba’s voice but came from the other man.

At a loss for words, and his heart racing in his chest, Kise didn’t know what to say or do as he turned his gaze to look at his Kaiba for help, but who looked on with narrowed eyes.

“I… I’m sorry…” Kise managed, pulling away slightly to try and look at the other Kaiba, “How do you know me?”

Thankfully, this Kaiba seemed to get the hint and let go of Kise, looking back at him with an expression that Kise couldn’t quite place…

“You… do not recognize me?” he asked, a tinge of disappointment in his voice that Kise couldn’t quite believe when the man in front of him sounded exactly like Kaiba.

“I…” again, Kise wasn’t quite sure how to answer, since he only knew the man in front of him as the exact copy of Kaiba, and nothing more besides the man he had just seen in what he could only call a vision.

“This man is from my time, not yours.”

This time, it was the Kaiba that Kise recognized that answered, his voice cold as the other Kaiba turned to glance at his doppleganger, and the two shared a tense stare for a moment before the other Kaiba turned back to Kise, who tensed under the intense scrutiny as his eyes looked him over.

“I see… so you managed to pass on after all…good…” his voice was low, as if he was talking to himself more than them, and Kise watched as a sad and resigned smile formed on his lips.

He then reached out a hand, as if offering it to Kise, and although confused, Kise reached out his own almost on instinct, and felt a shiver when the other Kaiba’s hand instantly grabbed ahold of his fingers. His hold was gentle as he brought the back of his hand to his lips, causing Kise to immediately flush red.

“Forgive my rudeness, I am High Priest Seto of this time, I should not have assumed you were someone I knew but… you happen to look just like him…” he said, his deep blue eyes meeting his own in a way that made Kise’s heart skip a beat.

The throbbing in Kise’s head increased at the sight.

“My name is Kise Ryota…” he replied, just the slightest bit breathless from the shock of it all as he watched Priest Seto’s hold linger on his hand.

“Ryota…” Kise once more felt his breath hitch at hearing Kaiba’s voice say his name so familiarly, but he had to remember that this was a different Kaiba, and not the one he knew from his own dimension who for so long didn’t even acknowledge him by his surname.

“Who did you think I was?” Kise asked, genuinely curious about what this Priest Seto’s answer would be.

Perhaps there was more to his vision than Kise had thought…

“He was… someone very important to me… a long time ago. I thought he would come here, when it was his time… but perhaps I was wrong…”

The sadness returned to Priest Seto’s eyes, and Kise felt his heart clench at the sight.

Kise wanted to say something, to try and soothe him somehow, but he was at a loss for words.

“Although you are not him… I am happy to see that he moved on,” Priest Seto then turned his gaze back to Kaiba.

“Perhaps you will protect him better than I did,” he said, causing Kaiba to narrow his eyes.

“If you will excuse me.”

Kaiba and Kise watched as Priest Seto walked away from them, and Kise felt a moment of trepidation at the sight.

There were still so many questions he had, so much he didn’t understand but felt this version of Kaiba had the answers too.

Kise took a step forward towards Priest Seto, ready to call out for the man to wait so he could ask his questions, but just as his foot touched the ground, a sharp pain coursed through his entire body, causing Kise to gasp and grasp his head again with a groan as he closed his eyes.

Why did his head feel like it was going to split open?

“Are you alright?”

Through the pain, Kise felt Kaiba’s hand grip his arm and turn him towards him, and with some effort, Kise tried to breathe steadily through the pressure in is head, until he was able to open his eyes and take in the Kaiba in front of him.

His usual frown adorned his features, and his blue eyes looked like stormy skies as he looked back at him, and yet the sight was comforting to Kise, and soon the pain slowly vanished as Kise focused on the man in front of him.

“I’m fine…” Kise replied, not sure if he even believed himself but needing to reassure both of them.

Kaiba nodded and glanced in the direction his past self had gone. He knew that he wielded some magic and wondered if he had done something to Kise after all those theatrics. He hadn’t seen him wield the Millennium Rod however, and what if this was a side-effect of their coming to this dimension?

Regardless, Kaiba wasn’t sure what to think of what had just happened, or why it seemed that his past self mistook Kise for someone else. And since Kaiba wasn’t an idiot, it raised all kinds of flags in his mind.

“We shouldn’t stay much longer if this is a result of your traveling here. Let’s find Yugi and go back.”

Kise’s eyes widened at Kaiba’s suggesting.

“What, no!” he replied, “We just got here… and I’m sure Yugicchi still has a lot to talk to the Pharaoh about… I’m fine… really…”

Kise didn’t want to be the reason they cut their trip short. He was sure Yugi had a good reason for wanting to come here, even if no one had told him the specifics. He could tell from the way Yugi had greeted the Pharaoh that it had been a long time since they had seen each other, and Kise didn’t want to interrupt their reunion.

Whatever was happening, he knew he could deal it with.

Kaiba for his part, didn’t look convinced as he set his hard gaze on Kise.

“I saw something…” Kise blurted out, knowing he had to distract Kaiba and tell him what had just happened after the vision he had.

“It felt like… a memory… but it wasn’t something I had ever seen before.”

Kaiba frowned at Kise’s words.

“Before he came along… I saw him… Priest Seto… wearing the same thing…” Kise paused, trying to think of how to say the next part.

“He was here… with someone that looked just like me…but wearing clothes I’ve never seen before, something just as ancient…”

Kise frowned, a sudden thought taking root in his mind.

“Do you think I had a past life here too?”

Kaiba frowned.

Kise having a past life?

While Kaiba knew that anything was possible, the thought still sounded ridiculous in his mind.

What were the chances that the boy he had only recently met also had a past life at the same time as his past self sounded far too coincidental, not to mention, he had never seen anyone that looked like Kise in any of the memories he had seen before.

Then again, he knew that what he had seen had been only a short specific time, it could be that another version of Kise truly had existed at a different point in his past self’s life.

“Kaibacchi… we have to find Priest Seto, we have to ask him more…”

Kaiba frowned at Kise’s suggestion, not liking the thought of it.

He was still trying to ignore why the interaction with Kise and his past self hadn’t sat well with him, and why he had felt a sense of protectiveness when the so called priest had so brazenly hugged and touched Kise as if the two were so familiar… going as far as calling him by his given name, something that Kaiba had yet even thought to do.

He also hadn’t liked the way Kise had reacted to him, flustered in a way that had made Kaiba want to come between the two but that his pride would not allow.

It had felt so intrusive, as if someone had touched what was his, and Kaiba had never been good at sharing.

Which was ridiculous, because although he had accepted Kise as someone to call a friend, he should not feel protective over him.

Kise could do as he liked, he wasn’t an object to be possessed, and yet the feelings felt the same.

It didn’t sit well with Kaiba at all.

“Why do you care to know?” Kaiba asked, once again pushing the unfamiliar thoughts to the back of his head as he regarded Kise with questioning eyes.

Kise frowned.

“Didn’t you want to learn about your past life when you found out about it?” Kise replied, confusion laced in his voice.

Kaiba huffed.

“Of course not. The past doesn’t matter. The only reason I know what I do is because I was forced to see it and participate in all those games.”

And it was true. Kaiba could care less about his past self, it didn’t change anything about his present, and his own goals and ambitions. So what if he had been some kind of magic priest? It wasn’t as if he could use any of that in his current endeavors. Technology was his own magic.

Kise sighed.

How typical of Kaiba.

“Well, I happen to think the past does matter. And its not everyday you get to find out who you were in a past life and what you did… maybe it’s nothing… but…” Kise paused, wondering if he should voice the thoughts going through his head, and decided that given how open and truthful Kaiba had been with him lately, he should do the same.

“I’ve been struggling so much with my own life decisions lately, wondering what to do with my life, what path to take and whether that’s the best decision for me. I feel as if I’m going to fall short of my goal to defeat the Generation of Miracles and win first place for my school. It probably sounds stupid to someone that achieved more in their life at my age… but this was what has been the most important thing to me in High School. And my chances of fulfilling my goal feel so small, with so little time left, that I don’t know… maybe if I did have a past life, it would be nice to know if I was a failure or not…”

Kise averted his gaze, rubbing his arm uncomfortably as he spoke his insecurities aloud, not sure whether he would like the look that Kaiba might be giving him then and there at his words.

But after a moment of silence, and a sigh that could only be from Kaiba, Kise looked towards the brunette man, surprised to see his face softer than usual, but his eyes closed so that Kise couldn’t read the emotions in them.

“You’re an idiot if you think you’re a failure. Believe me… I would tell you if you were. But if talking to that wannabe priest will make you happy… I won’t stop you.”

Kise felt his heart skip a beat at Kaiba’s words. Was he trying to comfort him in his own way?

When Kaiba finally met his gaze however, his eyes were unreadable, and Kise simply smiled, hoping his silent thanks was understood by Kaiba.

“Let’s go!” Kise said excitedly, and didn’t wait for Kaiba’s confirmation as he quickly walked in the direction in which Priest Seto had gone.

Kaiba for his part, watched the blonde practically sprint away, and considered leaving him to the task alone.

But he looked so happy, and perhaps he was a bit curious himself.

Not to mention the thought of that Priest alone with Kise didn’t sit well with him, considering their earlier interaction.

So he followed.


In the end, they had to ask a guard to lead them to Priest Seto, who seemed to be kneeling in a ceremonial room with Egyptian God statues standing tall all around, with the man kneeling in front of what looked like an altar and praying.

Kise hesitated at the entrance, but was glad that the guard that led them there was the one to quietly approach the kneeling man, kneeling next to him and whispering unintelligible words that Kise was sure was him telling him of their arrival.

A short moment later the guard stood and turned away, bowing his head respectfully to the other two men as he walked past them and back to his duties.

Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait long before he stood and turned to face them, his eyes a cool calculative look as he sized them up again as he approached them.

“You wish to speak with me?” he asked cooly, making Kise stand taller as he nodded.

“Yes… I have some questions…”

Perhaps it was the look in Kise’s eyes, the fierce determination behind his golden orbs that caused Priest Seto to look on for just a moment longer, before closing his eyes and turning away from them.

“Very well, follow me.”

He spoke calmly, but with a hint of resignation, and led the way towards a different door within the room from which they had found him in, where it seemed a sitting room awaited them, with a table surrounded by decorated chairs and an arrangement of fruits atop the table.

“Have a seat,” he said as he motioned to the chairs, and while Kise and Priest Seto took a seat, Kaiba remained standing, and Kise only spared him a confused glance while his doppelganger narrowed his eyes at the gesture but didn’t comment.

“What questions do you have for me, Ryota?”

Once again, the familiar way that Priest Seto addressed him made Kise blush, making him hesitate for a moment on asking his question.

“I... want to know about the man I remind you of... is it possible he’s a past life of mine? Like you are to Kaibacchi?”

Priest Seto rested his face against his closed knuckles, regarding Kise with another calculative look.

“What makes you think that?” he asked, and Kise knew from the tone of his voice that he was baiting him, and perhaps he was more intuitive than Kise had initially thought when he considered the little piece of information that he had that indeed made him consider it a possibility.

“Well... because I had a vision... before you approached us. I saw him... he looked like me but wearing different clothes... red pants and a white headdress that I’ve never seen before, with a kind of cropped blue shirt, and he was standing next to you... right where we were at the oasis...”

At his words, Priest Seto’s eyes had narrowed even further, a guarded look now in his face.

“But his eyes were different... they were red...” Kise added, and this time, he watched with fascination as Priest Seto’s eyes widened slightly.

At this added bit of information, Priest Seto stood straighter again, and now looked at Kise with a piercing gaze.

“I see... if that is what you saw, then it very well had to be a vision. You are describing him exactly as he was when we were alive. You must indeed be his reincarnation... as to why you have managed to receive a vision... I wonder...”

His gaze turned downwards, as if thinking of something only he could know of.

“Then... who was he? I’d like to know about him...”

Once more Priest Seto looked at the blonde with a calculative look, before sighing a moment later.

“Very well, I will tell you.”

Kise couldn’t help but smile at his answer, his heart speeding up with both excitement and nervousness.

“His name... was Gilgamesh... King of Uruk.”

 

Chapter Text

Wait... what?

Kise’s mind was reeling and he was sure he looked like a fish out of water as he gaped at Priest Seto.

Gilgamesh?

The Gilgamesh?

As in the one he only knew of because it was mandatory reading in their literature class? The one from the Epic of Gilgamesh?

The legendary Babylonian King? Who Kise had to write a report on and hated every minute of?

“The... King of Kings? Who fought the Bull of Heaven?” Kise found himself asking, almost breathless, remembering what many had called the man of myth and one of his feats in what he had thought was just a work of fiction.

At this, Priest Seto raised an inquisitive eyebrow as he looked at Kise with renewed interest.

“You know of him?” he asked, and Kise nodded numbly.

“Yeah... we read a poem about him in school...” Kise replied, head still swimming with the knowledge that indeed they were thinking of the same man.

At his answer, Priest Seto’s lips quirked up in amusement.

“Is that so... well depending on how accurate this poem you speak of is, then you should know that as King of Uruk, Gilgamesh was rather spoiled and egocentric, but not without reason considering his strength and power. It was only when Enkidu was sent to defeat him by the Gods and failed, but none the less proved his power, that he was grounded once more. Or as he put it, no longer bored.”

At this added bit of information, Kise tensed. Because didn’t that sound just like him? Hadn’t that always been his problem? That just about everything became boring? Until someone he respected came around and brought purpose back into his life?

“Nevertheless, the two became friends, and went on a journey that ended in his companion’s death. It was after Enkidu’s death that Gilgamesh became aware of his own mortality and sought the key to immortality, and after hearing of the power of our millennium magic, thought that we might have found what he sought. He came here under the guise of a traveling dancer, and mingled with our people, who welcomed and accepted him easily enough after being charmed by his talent and foreign looks. One day he managed to earn an invitation to the palace temple during a festival as part of the entertainment...”

At this point, Kise was lost in the tale, but was brought back to the moment when Priest Seto paused to cross his arms and sigh at the memory he was recalling.

“He was like a clever child and trickster rolled into one. He seemed to enjoy playing the role of a common dancer despite being a King, and made it his goal to drive me mad with his antics. He chose not to confront me about the millennium magic for some time, and somehow got into my good graces enough to be a regular guest at the palace.  When he finally confronted me about the magic he had heard about, I told him it was long gone and by far a means for immortality.  Despite this, he chose to stay as my chosen Vizier, my right-hand advisor.”

Again, Priest Seto paused, and this time, Kise could feel his hesitation, as if he didn’t want to say more, and Kise took this opportunity to ask some of his questions and hopefully ease him into saying more.

“Was he really part God?” Kise asked, recalling what little he could remember from the readings in high school, and blinked when the brunette across from him scoffed.

“Of course not, he was as mortal as you and I, only much more talented and capable. The reason he was considered a great King was because he could master anything and no one could defeat him. If anything, it was that book of his that gave him his inhuman advantage through his magic, although very few knew of that.”

Kise blinked.

“He knew magic?” he reiterated, as if saying it aloud would make it sound more probable.

Priest Seto nodded.

“One of his whims was turning his eyes red with it.”

At that Kise couldn’t help the small laugh that left his lips, surprising the man in front of him, whose eyes suddenly became unfocused at the sound of it.

“Sounds like something I would do if I could use magic,” he explained, and Kise wondered why the way Priest Seto’s eyes warmed made his stomach clench.

“Hm.”

The moment passed, and feeling the resistance once more, Kise figured it was best to push if he wanted answers.

“You seemed surprised to see me... does that mean you and Gilgamesh went your separate ways eventually?”

For some reason, Kise didn’t like the thought of that. Although he understood that Gilgamesh and Priest Seto were not himself and Kaiba, he liked the thought that in another life they were such close friends, and if the way Priest Seto had greeted him said anything at all... perhaps more.

Priest Seto’s hesitance was again palpable as a stormy look came over his eyes and Kise didn’t miss the way he clenched his fists that rested atop the table.

“Yes... for a long time he seemed happy to stay, and it wasn’t until one of his subjects came to look for him that I found out he was the King of Uruk. His subject said that trouble had befallen his old kingdom... that Enkidu had taken over and demanded the return of the King of Kings...”

“But... Enkidu died, didn't he?” Kise asked, eyebrows scrunched as he tried to grasp the situation.

“Yes... he was supposed to be dead. But according to his subject, he had returned... but something was off about him. He no longer cared for the people or animals, and demanded Gilgamesh’s return or he would kill everyone and destroy Uruk. Unable to ignore the threat and the friend he thought dead, Gilgamesh agreed to return. I offered my army, but Gilgamesh did not want Egypt involved, claiming it was his challenge to face alone. I wanted to come with him, but he refused to let me, going as far as casting a spell that wouldn’t allow me to go after him...”

Priest Seto paused and frowned, and this time, Kise didn’t have the heart to push him.

After a short moment however, the brunette sighed and unclenched his fists.

“After almost an entire solar cycle and waiting for his return with nothing and no news, I finally sent my own envoy to Uruk to find out what happened. And while they found the city unharmed, they found that both Gilgamesh and Enkidu had disappeared. No one knew what had happened to them, only that they had left long prior to the west. Of course, I had my envoys and others search for him, but found nothing. I never saw him again...”

Kise’s own eyes were downcast at Priest Seto’s last words, his heart constricting at the hint of sadness he could hear in it. And it was sad... to never be able to see your friend, expecting him to come back, only to never see him again, and with no answers.

“I see...” Kise said, unsure of where to go from there.

It seemed insensitive to ask anything else after that, and Kise looked up to see Priest Seto’s face, whose expression was now unreadable.

Still, from the way he had spoken of Gilgamesh, Kise could tell that he respected the man a great deal, and Kise would go as far as to say that he missed him. It was enough for Kise to know that in fact his past self was a great man, which both pleased Kise and gave him a sense of inadequacy, because how could he, a mere basketball high schooler, ever compare to a legendary King?

Kise had wanted to hear that he was indeed the reincarnation of at least a decent person, but in turn, he had gotten much more than he had hoped for. Rather than feel better about the fact, he felt even more of a failure for not living up to the legacy of his previous self.

“Thank you, for answering my questions Priest Seto,” he replied, and even to him, his voice sounded more subdued than usual.

“It was of little effort,” he replied.

It was only then that Kise noticed the shift in movement from the man still standing in his peripheral vision.

“If we’re done here, we should go find the Pharaoh and the others. We shouldn’t stay longer than we have to, and we’ve stayed long enough.”

Kise looked over to Kaiba, who stood with his arms crossed across his chest and sparing him a glance with unreadable eyes, making Kise nod.

It didn’t seem like they had sat there for very long, but perhaps they had if Kaiba had spoken up. At least he didn’t sound angry or displeased in any way, and that made Kise feel a little better about his request to talk to the ancient Priest.

“Yeah... okay...” Kise replied in agreement.

Kaiba was already walking away by the time Kise began to get up, and Kise wondered if this is where they would part ways as the Priest remained seated, his gaze trained absent mindedly on the bowl of fruit.

The thought gave Kise pause, knowing there was one more question he wanted to ask, and unsure of how to go about it.

He knew if he didn’t ask now, he wouldn’t have another chance. He didn’t expect to ever come back to this dimension, and the fact that he was even there was a chance of fate, that Kise would be with Kaiba when he received the call from Yugi about the change of plans.

But would his question mean anything about his own life?

He wasn’t the King of Kings, and what this Seto thought about his past life wouldn’t reflect the Kaiba that he knew in his own time.

And yet... Kise still wanted to know.

“Did you... love him?”

The words were out of his mouth before Kise could fully register the choice his mind had made, and it was with difficulty that Kise forced his gaze to meet Priest Seto’s who met it with hardened eyes.

His cold gaze warmed however, and it was only then that Kise realized he had been holding his breath as he finally breathed in a sigh.

“I never stopped.”

And Kise knew, from the warmth in his eyes, that he hadn’t answered about a love between friends, but a love of two lovers.

It made Kise smile sadly despite the circumstances, and with a nod began to follow in the direction that Kaiba had left.

“Wait.”

Kise paused, turning to the priest once more just as he was getting up from the chair.

In silence, Priest Seto closed the distance between them, and when he was standing in front of him, Kise could only watch with curiosity as the brunette reached for something around his neck, only to reveal a necklace that had been hidden by his clothes, and as he removed the hidden accessory, Kise could see that it was little more than a thin piece of rope with what looked like a golden ring hanging from it.

“This was his... the only thing he left behind.”

The way that he held it out towards told Kise that he wanted him to take it, and Kise frowned at the unexpected action.

“You want me to take it? No way! Didn’t he leave it for you?” Kise protested.

“Something tells me you should have it,” Priest Seto replied with narrowed eyes.

“But...” Kise tried to argue, but the priest was quick to grab his hand and place the necklace in it, wrapping the string around his wrist.

“Perhaps if you ever return here... I shall consider taking it back.”

Kise felt his cheeks grow warm at the cheeky grin on the man’s face, and the blonde wondered if this really was a way to encourage him to come back again, or if he was just joking.

“Consider it a gift then. Even if you are not him, I am glad to be able to see his face again, and hear his voice... even if it is for the last time.”

At his sincere words, Kise felt as if his heart dropped, and he had to gulp before nodding. This gift was too heartfelt to be turned down, and Kise knew that it could not be easy to part with. If this man that had lived thousands of years prior was choosing to give it to him, then how could he turn it down?

“Okay... thank you then. I’ll take good care of it.”

Priest Seto gave a single nod in acceptance, and Kise shifted on his feet.

“I guess I’ll get going then... it was nice meeting you,” Kise told him.

After all, what else was there to say? Have a good afterlife? This wasn’t exactly a scenario anyone was ever really prepared for.

“Do not give up on him. If he resembles me in any way, he is stubborn to a fault.”

Kise blinked as he turned to look back at the priest, his heart fluttering in his chest, but was only met with his retreating form as he walked in the opposite direction to a different door.

Kise didn’t have to think hard on who Priest Seto had been referring to, since there was only one person that he could be speaking about when it came to the two of them.

Seto Kaiba.

It caused Kise to smile slightly, and as he placed the necklace he was given in his pocket, Kise hurried in the direction that Kaiba had gone, his mood once again raised after his last exchange with the ancient priest.


After Kise caught up with Kaiba, it didn’t take long to find Yugi and the others, and this time they didn’t even need to find a guard to lead them to the room they occupied. They were able to hear their laughter echo down the hall they were walking down, and only had to follow the sound to seem them sitting on pillows.

They looked like teenagers having a sleepover, with the Pharaoh sitting cross-legged and posture straight, while Tea lay on her stomach and Yugi on his back, and the two of them holding hands. But the sight of equally happy and large smiles on their faces made Kise smile warmly as he took the scene in.

Their approach was immediately noticed by the Pharaoh, who turned to them with a welcoming smile.

“Ah, Kaiba and Kise, would you like to join us?” he greeted, and Yugi and Tea also looked to them, sending encouraging smiles and nods their way.

Kise was flattered that the Pharaoh remembered his name and looked to Kaiba for guidance. The two hadn’t really talked while making their way down the halls of the palace, but Kise could see that Kaiba looked more tense than usual, and figured he was eager to go back to their own dimension. Since he was his guest, Kise would do whatever Kaiba wanted.

“Thanks, but no thanks Atem, I just came to tell Yugi that we should be leaving. It’s dangerous to stay much longer, and I have to run diagnostics to make sure there were no long-term damages from this visit.”

At his words, Yugi and Tea’s faces visibly drooped with disappointment and sadness.

“I see, then we should say our goodbye’s,” Atem replied, getting up from his seated position, but disappointment also tinged his voice, “I’ll walk with you to your ship and see you off.”

The offer to spend a little more time with them at least prompted his friends to get up and nod, knowing that it was best to follow Kaiba’s advice when it came to these matters.

Atem led the way back the way they had come, and the three continued to talk and laugh amongst themselves as Kaiba and Kise trailed quietly behind them.

When they reached the gates from where they had entered, the Pharaoh notified his guards that he would be walking them further, and although Kise doubted there were many kinds of danger one had to face in the afterlife, he was surprised to see that several of the guards followed beside and behind them.

As they entered the city and walked through the streets, the people stilled around them and bowed as they passed, more deeply now that it was the true Pharaoh that walked among them. In turn, Atem smiled to the children that were too young to fully understand what the others were doing and looked on at him with awe instead.

It was an interesting sight, and Kise could see that indeed Atem was a kind and loved King.

As they walked, Kise stole several glances at Kaiba, but the brunette seemed adamant on avoiding his gaze as he kept his eyes straight ahead in the direction they were walking towards, and Kise sighed as he looked up at the shimmering sky.

His headache had at least subsided, but now his head felt overwhelmed by the plethora of new information that he was still struggling to process. Not only had he found out that Kaiba was the reincarnation of an ancient priest and helped save the world several times from dark magic, but also that he had the technology to travel to the Egyptian afterlife of said previous life, and that he himself was the reincarnation of the ancient King Gilgamesh.

If he was honest with himself, a large part of him was expecting to wake up and it all be a dream, it surely felt surreal enough to be a dream.

All too soon they reached the ship that had brought them here, and Kise felt both relieved and disappointed that their trip was so short-lived. There was still so much he wanted to know, so much he would have loved to explore.

But there was no time, and everyone reluctantly understood that, especially Yugi and Tea considering the forlorn look they were casting Atem.

The Pharaoh turned to Kaiba and Kise first, eyes warm as he regarded them.

“Thank you for bringing my friends here Kaiba. I truly appreciate it,” he said to the brunette, who in turn crossed his arms across his chest.

“Don’t mention it, Yugi is doing me a favor in return, so it’s even,” Kaiba replied, and Kise wondered what exactly Yugi had promised to do in return.

“Regardless, I’m glad to see you again as well, will you be visiting again in the future?” Atem asked, and at the question, Kaiba frowned.

“Who knows,” Kaiba finally replied, avoiding the Pharaoh’s gaze.

Despite the cold and aloof answer, Atem smiled, as if he already knew the answer, before his gaze turned to Kise.

“It was a pleasure to meet you, Kise Ryota,” he said to him, and Kise stiffened for only a moment before returning the Pharaoh’s smile.

“Likewise, Pharaoh, thank you for the hospitality.  I’m happy to have met Kaibacchi’s rival,” Kise replied.

He honestly wished he could have talked more to the Pharaoh, there was plenty he would have loved to ask about their journey and how much of what he had seen from the King of Games had been Yugi, and what had been the Pharaoh. There were so many holes in the newly acquired knowledge he had gained, and he wasn’t quite sure if Kaiba would be willing to tell it all to him.

“Take good care of him, Kaiba might be tough, but it’s what gets him into trouble sometimes,” the Pharaoh added with a teasing smile, causing Kaiba to glare and huff at him.

This time, Kise turned to look at Kaiba beside him, and feeling particularly bold, bumped his side against his, surprising the brunette who finally turned his gaze towards him with an indignant glare.

“No worries, he’s stuck with me now,” Kise replied, his gaze still on Kaiba as he smiled warmly at him.

This time, Kaiba regarded him for a moment longer before turning his gaze away, but didn’t move away from the blonde.

Finally, the Pharaoh turned to Yugi and Tea, who were both tearing up with the knowledge that this was goodbye.

“I am glad to have seen you both again, and honored that you wished to share the news of your upcoming union with me in person. I am happy to know that you have found happiness with each other, and will spend the rest of your lives together. Know that the time I spent with you and our friends are seared into my heart, and will never be forgotten, despite the distance between us.”

At his profound words, Tea could no longer hold back her tears, and they cascaded down her cheeks freely, while Yugi sniffed and rubbed at his eyes.

“I’m glad to be able to see you too Atem. I wish it was possible for you to share our special day with us...” Yugi replied.

“I shall be there in spirit,” the irony of that statement caused Yugi and Tea to grin through their tears.

“Thank you for everything Atem... it never gets easy saying goodbye to an amazing friend,” Tea said, her tears having calmed slightly.

“Indeed... but we belong in different times, and it was a gift enough to have shared the time we did.”

Tea and Yugi nodded, and Kaiba sighed as he let his arms fall to his sides again.

“Let’s go before these goodbye’s last another lifetime,” Kaiba said as he walked towards the now open door of the ship.

Kise followed after the brunette, giving the Pharaoh one last smile as he passed him on his way to the ship, and watched from the corner of his eye as the three friends embraced.

By then Kaiba was already sitting at his chair, readying the ship that came alive with a soft whir, and Kise took the seat next to him, strapping himself in and proceeded to watch Kaiba work silently.

He wondered what he was thinking... and what his thoughts were on Kise’s previous life and the fact that his own past self had had a connection with him.

Still, he figured those questions would have to wait until they were alone again, and hopefully when Kaiba was more receptive to talking.

Chapter Text

The trip back home was much like it was getting there, a disorienting and nauseas affair, but before long they were back at the station and rode the elevator back down in relative silence, all just taking in the experience of being back in their own dimension.

Thankfully the scan that Kaiba had done after they arrived showed no noticeable damage to them from their travel to a different dimension, and it was with a somber goodbye but a cheery promise of visiting the shop of the King of Games that they went their separate ways.

Kise walked alongside Kaiba as they made their way back to the garage where they had left the car, and it was only then that Kise remembered to check his phone to look at the time.

He was surprised to find that only about three hours had passed since he last checked his phone before they left, and it felt both longer and shorter than it had been, but late enough that Kise felt guilty about asking for a ride home from Kaiba considering he already knew the schedule for trains and it was once again too late for the second one.

Just as he was about to ask Kaiba if he was available to drop him off, the brunette spoke first.

“I have something for you at my place.”

Kise blinked, surprised at the statement.

“You do? What is it?” Kise asked, trying to think of anything he might have forgotten during his last stay in Domino City.

“It’s... a surprise...” the way that Kaiba mumbled the last part as if embarrassed caused Kise to grin and his heart to do a funny flutter in his chest.

If Kise was surprised before, he was downright dumbfounded now. But the thought that Kaiba had a surprise for him made him warm in a just as unexpected way.

“Okay Kaibacchi,” Kise replied, “I like surprises.”

They got into the car, and Kise figured they would head to the Kaiba mansion, and was instead surprised when only fifteen minutes later, Kaiba turned onto what looked like the parking garage of one of the city’s buildings, quickly traveling up towards the upper floors.

“Is this the place you keep in the city?” Kise asked, remembering Mokuba had told him that Kaiba had a penthouse within the city for times that he didn’t want to go back to their mansion after work.

“Yes.”

They parked in what Kise could see was the top floor of the attached parking garage, where spaces were reserved, and followed after him after he got out of the car and walked towards the attached elevator of the building. It seemed that this elevator required a key card that Kaiba flashed across a receptor that flashed green before the door opened.

Kise leaned against the elevator door as Kaiba pressed the button labeled “P” after once again flashing his keycard.

Kaiba was surprised that Kise had been fairly quiet during their ride over, and wondered how he was processing the surprise trip they had undergone. If he was honest with himself, he thought Kise was handling it well all things considered, if his silence was the only tell that he had been affected at all. It at least told him his brain was working to process it all if he wasn't yet asking him a million questions a minute. 

What he hadn’t expected, was the knowledge that Kise also had a past life, and that his own past self had recognized him.

Who would have known that Kise was the reincarnation of the King Gilgamesh?

Then again, was there anything that didn’t surprise him anymore? Especially when it came to the blonde man beside him? Just when he thought there was nothing that could surprise him, he did something else that sent him in a loop, and this time, it wasn’t even intentional.

In moments they reached the penthouse level, and the door opened directly onto the open space that was the closest thing he could call his fortress of solitude. The place only he and Mokuba had ever been allowed in besides those who maintained it.

Until now.

As Kise stepped into Kaiba’s penthouse that lit up from what must have been motion-sensors, he wasn’t surprised by the level of luxury it immediately exuded. With a sleek and modern look and black appliances in the kitchen, white living room couch set, high ceiling with white walls with some accented gray walls, floor to ceilings windows that showcased the night-lit city beyond, and a staircase that led to an upper level, it was every bit of high end that Kise had learned to expect from the billion-dollar CEO. And still, it took his breath away at the elegance of it.

The entire floor was dimly lit with a warm glow, and the two took off their shoes at the entrance a few steps away from the elevator door. Kaiba then stepped into the kitchen, and grabbed a small control from the island and adjusted the lighting to be just a bit brighter.

“Do you want anything to drink?” Kaiba asked.

Now that he thought about, Kise was parched if the dryness in his throat was any indication.

“Sure, what do you have?” Kise asked, leaning against the island and looking at Kaiba with an eager spark in his eye.

“Whatever’s in the fridge, wine, and some liquor. Help yourself.”

Kise grinned as he met Kaiba’s gaze.

“Neh Kaibacchi, you’d give me alcohol before I'm legally allowed?” Kise teased, to which Kaiba just shrugged as he walked towards one of his cabinets and pulled out two short glasses.

“It’s not like you haven’t had it before, besides...” Kaiba paused as he filled each glass with ice from the dispenser, recalling the drunken phone call from Kise on his birthday.

“Everything considered, I wouldn’t blame you if you need it.”

Kaiba had a point there. Kise's head was still swirling with what they had done today, and his body felt heavy with the knowledge of it. Perhaps some liquid courage would make it easier for him to absorb it all.

“Well, I am a whiskey kind of guy...” Kise replied, “What about you Kaibacchi? What do you like to drink?”

Kise appreciated that Kaiba still took out a bottle of water from the fridge for him as he slid open a door that showcased his impressive collection of alcoholic drinks, as he eagerly uncapped the water bottle and took a few gulps.

“I’m partial to bourbon,” Kaiba replied as he motioned for Kise to take a look.

Kise approached the cabinet with an appreciative whistle as he took in all the expensive labels, but noticed that most of them looked unopened or barely touched. It seemed fitting that Kaiba wouldn’t be much of a drinker but still had a full liquor cabinet.

As his gaze roved over the whiskey brands he recognized, his eyes widened when he read a particular label.

“No way! You have this? I’ve only ever heard about it,” Kise said as he reached for the tawny-colored bottle that was still unopened.

“Help yourself,” Kaiba said as he took in the excited look on Kise’s face, the way his eyes lit up.

Kise grinned as he took the bottle to island where the glasses sat, opening it happily. If it wasn’t Kaiba that Kise was with, he would have felt bad for opening what he knew to be an expensive bottle, but he knew Kaiba was in no shortage of money.

As he poured himself a good amount of whiskey, he watched as Kaiba retrieved his own beverage, bourbon of course, and walked over to pour himself his own drink.

Kise grinned as he held up his glass to Kaiba expectantly, who looked unimpressed but still indulged him as he reluctantly clanked his own glass against his with a resounding clink.

“To surviving the afterlife!” Kise declared while Kaiba resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

Wanting to savor the drink, Kise drank a good amount, letting it sit on his tongue for a moment before swallowing it, and made a satisfied sound as it went down smoothly, the savory taste of it lingering on his tongue.

“Wow, that’s good, I didn’t think cinnamon and pineapple would go so well,” Kise admired as he swirled the drink around the cup.

“I didn’t think you’d know your whiskey...” Kaiba observed as he watched Kise take another savoring sip of the drink.

Kise turned his gaze to him, leaning against the island.

“Well, my dad is kind of a whiskey connoisseur. He would always let me have a drink with him during holidays and birthdays since I was fourteen and tell me all about what made them special and different,” he replied.

Ah, that made sense. From what Kise had talked of his family, they were all fairly close.

“It’s actually one of the few things me and my dad can really bond over. He doesn’t really approve of my modeling career, thinking that it’s for girls and not a real man’s job,” Kise added with a shrug.

“He would love nothing more than to see me fail at it and say ‘I told you so’, and one of the reasons I wanted to pierce my ears was in spite. Although It was painful so I was only able to do one,” Kise laughed as he touched his ear, which for the first time Kaiba noticed that in place of his usual hoop earring, there adorned a simple stud.

“Then prove him wrong,” Kaiba said, and Kise smiled at him.

“I plan on it," Kise replied, not waiting for a response before walking over in the direction of the living room.

"You know… you’re the first one I’ve told that to…” he said as Kaiba walked behind him, missing the flash of surprise in his eyes.

As Kise made his way over to the windows, he took in the dark gray matte tiled floor, the large abstract paintings that blended well with the whites and grays of the rest of the penthouse, and built in overhead lighting that gave the area a comforting glow. He passed a small sitting area with a table in the center, several decorative plants along the wall, and some bookcases, before finally rounding the corner that housed what looked like a smaller, more private living room area with a TV built into the wall and cream-colored sectional couches along the windows where Kise could see Kaiba reclining and maybe even watching a movie.

But since it was the view that interested Kise, he walked over to the windows and stopped just short of the glass. He wasn’t used to heights, so looking beyond gave him a sense of vertigo for a second before he could fully appreciate the view presented to him.

The city beyond was a brightly lit and dotted landscape that Kise had only seen on TV with other cities. It looked like an ocean of lights where the smaller buildings were clustered together. The moon shone off to the side, but hard to appreciate with all the man-made lights illuminating the sky.

“This is an amazing view Kaibacchi...” Kise said aloud, and was glad to hear Kaiba’s approach just beside him.

“But I gotta say... it’s not as amazing as the sight of Earth from your space station,” Kise added, still not quite believing that he had even seen such a sight with his own eyes.

“Hn.”

Kise was happy to just take in the sight of the city, with Kaiba next to him, a silent but solid figure, both of them sipping the drinks in their hands. The alcohol had done its job, and Kise felt the warmth pool in his stomach. Thankfully he had eaten well earlier, and with his high metabolism, he knew it would take much more for him to feel anything more than warmth from the drink.

Once Kise finished his drink, he turned to look at Kaiba again.

“So Kaibacchi... what’s my surprise?” Kise asked.

Part of him hadn’t wanted to ask, because although he was dying to know what Kaiba had for him, it also meant one step closer to their time together ending.

“Come with me.”

Kaiba motioned for Kise’s glass, which Kise gave to him, and then followed after him with a slowly growing sense of excitement. They passed the sitting area where Kaiba set down the glasses on the table, before they proceeded to the stairs that led to the second level.

From there, Kise was able to take in the view of the area below, before he followed Kaiba down a hallway until they stopped in front of a closed double door.

As Kaiba opened the door, he revealed the most elegant room Kise had ever seen with an even greater breathtaking view that he had seen from the living room area. The bedroom itself was sparsely decorated, with the bed in the center to the wall next to the entrance, facing what Kise could only describe as an open view that if he didn’t know any better might believe there was absolutely no wall across from it. It was a single window, floor to ceiling with the blinds withdrawn so that Kise could see an uninterrupted view of the city beyond.

Had Kise not been so awestruck, he would have noticed Kaiba walk to his dresser where a small rectangular box lay atop of it.

“This is insane Kaibacchi...” Kise openly admired, resisting the urge to once again make his way to the window in fear that he would simply walk off and fall to his death.

“It’s the best view money can buy.”

At the sound of Kaiba’s voice, Kise finally turned his gaze to the brunette just in time to see him approaching him with the black box in his hand, causing Kise to blink in surprise as he took in the sight of the white bow atop of it as Kaiba stopped short of him and extended the box towards him.

Instinctively, Kise reached out and took it from him.

“What’s this for?” Kise asked, genuinely confused at what could only be a gift.

He looked to Kaiba’s face to see him glance away.

“It’s... a birthday gift...” he slowly admitted, “It is customary for friends to give birthday gifts, is it not?”

At his response, Kise couldn’t help but smile widely. He could tell that Kaiba wasn’t used to giving people gifts, aside from Mokuba of course, and it touched him deeply that he had gone out of his way to get him something.

“Kaibacchi... you do care!” Kise felt warmth unrelated to the alcohol he consumed travel to his cheeks, and he had to resist the urge to throw his arms around the man across from him.

Kaiba huffed.

“Just open it.”

Not needing to be told twice, Kise slowly took of the ribbon that held the bow to the box, and looked at Kaiba briefly once more before reaching towards the lid.

He didn’t know what to expect... a bracelet? A watch? It certainly looked like a jewelry box.

What he didn’t expect however... was what lay inside.

As Kise removed the lid, his eyes widened as he took in the sight of what could only be the recognizable back of a duel monster’s card, and Kise saw that indeed it was a duel monster’s deck.

At a loss for words, Kise gently removed the deck from the container, and gave the box to Kaiba to hold so he could look through it.

“I know you were upset about not being able to use the deck you built at the audition... so I went ahead and gathered the cards I could from what you chose.”

Kise blinked as he sifted through the deck, seeing that indeed it was the cards he had chosen to build his deck during the audition back at KaibaCorp... his dream deck.

“Kaibacchi... I... I don’t know what to say...” Kise said, almost breathlessly as he looked up to look at Kaiba.

It was one of the most thoughtful gifts Kaiba, or anyone, could have gotten for him, despite what had happened only a few weeks ago that almost ruined their friendship.

“You don’t have to say anything.”

Despite his words, Kise felt as if he understood what Kaiba meant by this action.

‘I’m sorry for rigging the game against you.’

And Kise knew that this was just another way of Kaiba apologizing without saying the words, and it made Kise incredibly happy.

“You know Kaibacchi...” Kise said, “You just made it a lot easier for me to beat you.”

At the challenge, Kaiba smirked.

“Hmph. We’ll see about that.”

So much had happened that day. Things Kise didn’t think were even possible... that he hadn't fully wrapped his mind around.

And yet...

In that moment, all of it was forgotten.

All that Kise could focus on was the sight of Kaiba in front of him, his handsome and sharp features, his blue eyes, and the way the sight of him made him feel. The warmth in his stomach spread throughout his body just as he felt his heart beat faster. There was a giddiness in the pit of his stomach that made him feel bold... bold enough to step closer to Kaiba, and reach towards the box that he still held so that his fingers gently brushed along the hand that held it, and Kise watched as Kaiba’s stiffened at the intentional touch, his gaze darkening as he looked back at Kise.

Slowly, almost torturously, Kise pulled the box from Kaiba’s fingers, and put the deck back inside, looking up at Kaiba through his lashes as he closed the lid over it once more.

Kaiba for his part, resisted the urge to shiver at Kise’s touch, and swallowed at the molten look reflecting in his gold eyes.

It was the same look that Kise had given him back at his office, the unmistakable look of want that begged Kaiba to give into his own growing desire and push Kise up against the nearest wall and finally taste him.

He remembered the feel of them pressed closely together, the way Kise had touched his torso in a way that made him feel hotter with a single touch than anyone had ever managed with much more.

Back then, he had stopped himself before he could cross that line, simply because he hadn’t trusted Kise.

But that had changed now, hadn’t it?

Kise was no longer under-age, and hadn’t he admitted to both him and himself that he trusted him?

Trusted him enough to tell him of his past, something he had done with no one before. Trusted him with even the knowledge of his ability to travel to another dimension, and certainly enough to bring him on what should have been a private affair?

“Kaibacchi...” Kise whispered, stepping even closer, and the last thing Kaiba wanted was to step away.

“I want to kiss you...”

Kise was now the only person besides Mokuba to know what he did about him. He had let him past his almost every defense... and now here he stood... asking him to let down yet another. Because Kaiba knew... without a doubt... if he tasted this boy... he might not want to stop.

Kise raised his free hand to touch Kaiba’s cheek, his thumb gently caressing against his skin and causing him to shiver.

“Can I?”

Kise’s face was now even closer, so that Kaiba was able to feel their breaths mingling, and he couldn’t help but look away from Kise’s pleading gaze to his lips, slightly parted in anticipation.

Kaiba thought of the way his past self had kissed Kise’s hand, and how bothered he had felt to see someone touch Kise that way, and at the same time... angry at himself, because it was something he had wanted to do for a while and denied himself.

But it wasn’t Kise’s hand that Kaiba wanted to kiss... it was the lips that stood just in front of him, begging to be tasted by this boy that had snuck his way into his life and planted himself there. The boy who declared his intent to challenge him to a game he had lost his passion for and revived it, the boy who had accepted the closest thing to an apology that Kaiba was able to give with nothing but warmth and forgiveness, and the boy who chose to cry for his childhood but did not pity him...

And just like that, something snapped inside of him.

It was as if the gates he had struggled to keep closed finally opened, and the desire that Kaiba had kept under grips took over, so that before he knew it, his own body acted before his mind could catch up.

Kise’s breath hitched when one of Kaiba’s hands reached towards him and settled at the nape of his neck, a shiver running down his spine as his fingers buried themselves into his hair.

His eyes were a storm of emotion that Kise couldn’t read but got lost within just the same as Kaiba leaned in towards him.

Was he...?

“Kaibacch-”

But he didn’t get to finish his sentence as Kaiba tilted his head and closed the distance between them, and Kise’s heart skipped a beat as the lips he had yearned for finally touched his.

It was a firm kiss, his lips slightly rough against his softer ones.

But it didn’t matter.

Because the moment their lips touched, Kise felt as if he was struck by a bolt of lightning that traveled down his spine all the way down to his toes that caused him to groan as he immediately reached for Kaiba, the hand that had been against his cheek wrapping around the back of his neck to bring him closer while the hand that still held the black box rested against Kaiba's chest.

As their lips moved against each other open mouthed, Kaiba's other arm wrapped against Kise's waist, pulling him even closer before he sharply turned them around and walked Kise backwards until his back hit the wall, causing Kise to gasp and Kaiba to deepen the kiss and press up harder against him, one of his legs between Kise's.

Wanting to feel more, Kise set down the box on the dresser next to them, so that both hands were free to touch Kaiba, hands roaming up his back eagerly.

Kaiba swept his tongue into Kise's mouth, he could taste the whiskey lingering on his tongue as it darted out to meet his own, noting the hint of pineapple that Kise had talked about and causing Kaiba to groan as a shot of pleasure shot down his spine and to his groin.

Fuck.

Kaiba had known that Kise was dangerous, but only now did he know just how dangerous he was, because he was impossibly the best thing Kaiba had ever tasted. Not to mention the breathless moan that Kise let out when Kaiba slipped his hands under his shirt and stroked up his sides, finally feeling the soft skin beneath, and the way his muscles tensed under his fingers was enough to make him quiver with another wave of lust.

But it wasn’t enough. Kaiba wanted more, wanted to taste more of the blonde in front of him.

He reluctantly broke away from his lips, smirking when Kise let out a mewl of disappointment and pulled at his shirt impatiently, only to move his lips to the side of Kise's neck, placing an open-mouthed kiss on the spot where his neck and shoulder met and licking roughly at the area.

Pleased when Kise gasped and arched against him, Kaiba kissed and licked across Kise's neck, wanting to know all his sensitive spots but conscious not to leave any visible marks until Kise was panting and grinding against him.

Kaiba could feel Kise's hardened member against his leg, and as Kise ground into him, he felt the delicious friction of his own erection against Kise’s leg travel up his spine in pleasurable waves.

“Kaibacchi…” Kise gasped as Kaiba brought their lips back together, tongues immediately seeking each other out as they kissed, and Kise decided he needed to feel more of Kaiba.

He untucked Kaiba's shirt and began to eagerly unbutton it with deft fingers, so that in no time he was urging Kaiba to slip the material off his body without breaking their wet kiss.

Kaiba's body was warm under Kise's touch, and he had to resist the urge to shiver where Kise's hands trailed up his torso and around his back, before trailing back down to his lower back until his hands settled on his hips. With a playful yank by his belt loops, Kise brought Kaiba forward for a particularly rough grind of their hips, causing them both to moan and shudder against each other.

Wanting more friction, Kaiba pulled away from Kise slightly, and before Kise could protest, he grabbed him from behind, both hands grasping firmly onto Kise's ass, earning him another delicious groan from the blonde before he swiftly brought his hands behind Kise's thighs and hiked him up against the wall so that Kaiba was pressed up against him between his parted legs, their erections pressing against each other making Kise gasp and wrap his arms around Kaiba’s neck, his hips grinding against him in desperate need of the new kind of friction between them, before Kaiba pressed harshly against him to still his movements.

Kise groaned in protest as he bit his own lip in frustration.

Kaibacchi,” Kise whined as he tried to grind his pelvis against the other man despite the weight working against him.

“A little eager, aren’t we?” Kaiba teased, a smirk on his face as he took in the sight of the frustrated and breathless blonde trying to writhe against him.

“How can I not be?” Kise gasped, trying to gain his bearings as he brought Kaiba’s face closer to him by tightening his grip around his neck.

“I’ve wanted this for so long...” Kise admitted unashamed, smirking when Kaiba’s gaze darkened with lust, “And two can play at this game...”

To prove his point, Kise brought his lips to Kaiba’s neck, kissing and sucking at the sensitive flesh in much the same way Kaiba had done to him, pleased by the low groan that Kaiba let out and grinning when it was Kaiba who ground his pelvis against him this time.

Kise’s victory was cut short when Kaiba took ahold of both of Kise’s arms and brought them above his head, using his body to keep the rest of his body pinned between him and the wall, and kissed him deeply again. Kise closed his eyes and made a contented noise as Kaiba stuck his tongue deep into his mouth and rolled his hips against him.

Bringing Kise’s wrists together and holding it with one hand, Kaiba used his free hand to once again sneak his hand under Kise’s shirt to stroke up his torso, feeling each individual ab muscle that he had secretly admired when he had caught Kise changing in his room what felt like so long ago, and enjoying the feel of them tremble under his touch. He trailed his hand upward until it was splayed flat against his chest, using his thumb to deftly stroke at his nipple and causing Kise to arch up against him.

“Sensitive?” Kaiba asked as he rolled the nipple between his fingers until it was hard, pleased when Kise gasped and ground his hips against him more desperately.

Instead of answering, Kise opened his eyes and met Kaiba’s gaze, his eyes hooded with pleasure and lust at Kaiba’s touch.

His skin felt as if it was on fire and every part that Kaiba touched left a trail of goosebumps in its wake. Kise felt so impossibly turned on and he wanted Kaiba to touch all of him. He suddenly felt aware of just how much clothes still separated them and Kise wanted it off. He wanted to feel Kaiba’s chest against his chest, his hips against his.

He tried to move his hands, wanting to desperately take off his shirt so he could feel more of Kaiba, forgetting that they were being held firm by his hand and groaning in frustration.

“Bed?” Kise gasped out hopefully, nipping at Kaiba's bottom lip between his teeth and pulling just a little bit roughly.

Kaiba groaned at the request, his gaze flickering in the direction of the bed before rolling his hips against Kise’s once more and obliging the younger man by letting go of his wrists and easing his weight off him.

Kise grinned as Kaiba let him down so his feet were on the floor again, taking advantage of his freed hands to swiftly pull his shirt over his head and enjoying the way Kaiba’s heated gaze raked up his figure before he once again reached for the brunette, too eager to keep feeling and tasting him as he once again closed the distance between them. He wrapped his arms around his neck and pulled him in to kiss him and bring them closer, groaning as their bare chests finally touched, and walked in the direction of the bed.

Kise could hardly believe that this was happening, that Kaiba was letting him kiss and touch him this way...

He had known that he wasn’t going to give up on trying, but it still felt surreal that it was happening.

Just as they reached the bed, Kise trailed his hand down Kaiba’s slim torso, admiring the smooth skin and lean muscle of his pale skin. Kise wondered if Kaiba worked out, since although lean and not as defined as his own, Kise could still make out a six-pack on him.

Too impatient to linger on the thought, Kise continued to his destination, where his hands grasped onto the belt of Kaiba’s pants, quickly undoing it with ease and moving on to the button beneath it, one hand undoing it while his other hand pulled down the zipper.

Kaiba could only tense as Kise’s hand quickly reached in to cup his bulge over his boxers, his cock twitching with the jolt of pleasure that shot through his body at the touch as he resisted the urge to curse out loud.

Kise’s hand stroked up and down his hardened length, before his fingers grabbed ahold of the head and stroked it gently with his thumb against the tip, and this time, Kaiba couldn’t bite back the groan.

With a smirk, Kise knelt so that his face was level with Kaiba’s hardened cock, and looked up to meet Kaiba’s piercing gaze, and didn’t look away as his hand freed his length from his boxers and gave a feather-like stroke that caused it to twitch. Kise didn’t even look away as he brought his mouth close enough to stick out his tongue and languidly lick from the base to the tip before taking the head into his mouth.

Kise moaned as his tongue swirled around the head, feeling hot at the thought that he was actually sucking off the Seto Kaiba, even more so when Kaiba dug his fingers into his hair and pushed Kise’s head harder against his cock so that Kise’s eyes widened at the unexpected push.

Lucky for him, Kise had no gag reflex, so when Kaiba’s cock hit the back of his throat, instead of gagging, Kise just moaned louder and took Kaiba in deeper while sucking in his cheeks.

“Fuck…” Kaiba groaned at the feeling of Kise’s hot and wet mouth around him, surprised at how easily and how deep the blonde was able to take him in. Kaiba wasn’t exactly the smallest guy around, proving to him once again that this boy had more than one hidden talent.

Kaiba was entranced by the sight of a flushed Kise sucking him off, the way he bobbed his head up and down Kaiba’s cock eagerly and sloppily, saliva coating his length as Kise sucked and slurped with his mouth and tongue while his hand worked the base in a way that sent him into a haze of pleasure he hadn’t had in a while.

It had been far too long since he had been with another person, and it was taking more concentration than it normally would to keep from coming then and there as Kise did something interesting with his tongue that made him groan again as his hips twitched and thrust into Kise’s mouth eagerly.

The mischievous glint in Kise’s eyes made Kaiba frown as he grabbed Kise’s hair and stopped the movement of his head while pulling his hips away, causing Kise’s mouth to come free of his length with a pop and a gasp as saliva trailed down the corner of his lips.

Kaiba ignored the look of confusion on Kise’s face as he tugged him upwards, pleased when Kise took the hint as he rose from his kneeling position, only for Kaiba to push him backwards so that he fell onto the bed.

Not willing to let Kise get the upper hand, Kaiba reached towards Kise’s pants, undoing them easily.

Kise arched into Kaiba’s touch as he placed his hand on his abdomen, his hand slowly trailing down towards his undone pants, so that Kise tensed with anticipation as he prayed that Kaiba would stop teasing him and finally touch him where he was aching to be touched.

Kaiba  took the time to admire the image of Kise’s tussled state as he lay on his back on his bed, lips parted as he panted lightly with need, his eyes half closed and full of lust, his obvious erection straining against his red boxers, the tip of his cock just slightly peeking out of the waistband of the material.

A light sheen of sweat reflected off his bare skin, and once more Kaiba had to admire the well-built athletic and defined body that belonged to the blonde. Most men Kaiba had been with were on the softer side, and he had to admit that Kise’s body appealed to him very much. He wasn’t overly muscular but defined enough that he exuded a strong air of masculinity that worked well against his pretty boy face.

Kaiba’s hand paused at the waistband of Kise’s boxers, and he caught Kise’s gaze as he grabbed ahold of both his pants and boxers and slowly pulled them down, letting his cock spring free and enjoying the way that Kise’s eyes darkened further and the way he bit his lip as he eagerly arched his hips up to make it easier for Kaiba to slip the clothing off.

Once the clothes were fully off, Kaiba also took off Kise’s socks, letting them fall to the floor carelessly as his hand grabbed a hold of one of Kise’s ankle, stroking at the skin there before continuing up Kise’s leg, letting his hands linger on both thighs as he once more settled between them.

He loved the feeling of Kise quivering underneath his fingers as he caressed his inner thighs, before lowering himself so he could place a kiss on the inside of them, looking up when he heard Kise’s breath hitch and his body arch up against him as he slowly laid out a trail of kisses up his thigh until he reached just next to his pelvic bone, purposely skirting around his erection.

“Kaibacchi!” he cried out wantonly, impatience clearly in his voice as one of his hands tried to dig itself into Kaiba’s hair.

Kaiba smirked against the skin of his thigh before pulling away and standing back up so that he could work on taking off his own pants and boxers completely, keeping his gaze on Kise as he lowered his pants and let them fall down his legs so that he was finally fully nude in front of him, but before Kise could do anything, Kaiba was already grabbing him by the hips, pulling him forward so that their hips were aligned once more with Kise’s legs on either side of him.

Kise gasped as Kaiba pulled him towards him, feeling another wave of anticipation tense his muscles at the proximity and lack of clothing between them. He could still taste Kaiba’s pre-cum on his tongue, and the thought of finally having Kaiba’s cock inside him made his own twitch.

Kise cried out when Kaiba’s hand finally closed around his aching cock, his back arching off the bed at the pleasure that shot up his spine.

Fuck!” Kise moaned as he squirmed underneath Kaiba, who found himself enjoying this vocal side of Kise. The blonde was always vocal, but he found himself enjoying this kind a lot more.

Kaiba gave Kise’s cock a few light strokes, rubbing his thumb over the head to spread the drops of pre-cum already seeping from it, enjoying the way the blonde gasped and thrust up against his hand eagerly, and Kaiba knew he wouldn’t be able to hold himself back for much longer, and given Kise’s reaction to a light touch, meant he felt much the same.

He’d just have to take his time for the next round.

Not letting go of Kise’s length, Kaiba reached for the nightstand next to the bed and opened the drawer to pull out the small tube of lube in it. Kaiba never brought partners to his penthouse, but one could never be too prepared.

After all, here was a pretty blonde laid out flushed and gasping on his bed.

He saw Kise’s golden eyes stray to the bottle of lube and bit his lip as he tried to hold back another mewl of anticipation. Before even opening the bottle, Kaiba let go of Kise’s cock to teasingly stroke down the curve of his ass, causing the blonde to tense and shiver underneath him. Wanting to tease him just a bit more, Kaiba pressed his thumb against the pucker of his hole, pleased when another desperate cry left the pretty blonde.

“Do you want me to touch you here?” Kaiba asked as he pressed a little harder, and Kise arched against him.

Yes, please Kaibacchi!” Kise practically hissed, and Kaiba smirked, before grabbing Kise’s hand and guiding it to his cock.

“Touch yourself, show me how you like it.”

Kise bit his lip at the throaty command, but slowly wrapped his hand around his still aching member to stroke himself at a comfortable pace. He didn’t want to come yet… but show him how he liked it? He wanted anything about now, but nothing as badly as Kaiba inside him. Hell, even his fingers inside him would do right about then.

As he closed his eyes and stroked himself and rode the pleasure and relief of it, he gasped at the feeling of the cold liquid lube being poured down his ass and moaned again when Kaiba spread it against his hole.

“Kaibacchi…” Kise gasped out loud as Kaiba added even more pressure against his hole, and tensed when he felt the tip of his finger begin to push into him, causing him to pause in his own stroking.

Kaiba frowned.

“Keep going or I’ll stop.”

Kise groaned but did as he was told, and continued to stroke himself, moaning when Kaiba continued to push in with his finger. The lube made it easier to accommodate and Kise gasped at the delicious feeling of being stretched as Kaiba began to slowly thrust the finger in and out, his mind going foggy with the haze of pleasure that assaulted him.

God, he hoped Kaiba wasn’t planning on making him come like this. He wanted to come with Kaiba’s cock inside him.

Kise was pleased when Kaiba didn’t wait long to add a second and third finger, and moaned even louder when he went deeper and curved his fingers inside his ass, causing his eyes to widen and his back to arch up as he cried out when he stroked his prostrate. Kise had to fight down his orgasm as he bit his lip and paused in his stroking.

“Kaibachi… please… I want you in me now…” Kise begged with a gasp.

Kaiba raised an eyebrow.

“You’re hardly prepped,” Kaiba said.

“It’s okay… I can handle it… just… please!”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes at Kise’s plea, but his own cock twitched in response to his eagerness. If the blonde said he could handle it… Kaiba was curious to see if it was true.

“Very well.”

Kaiba took out his fingers and once more reached for the nightstand, quickly pulling out a condom from the drawer and taking it out of its packaging and swiftly rolling it on. He grabbed the bottle of lube to pour some more over his hardened member, giving it a few strokes to spread the liquid over its length, before looking at Kise’s figure before him.

The blonde was still flushed as he looked at him with lust in his golden eyes and bit his lip when his eyes strayed to his now slicked member. The sight of Kise was irresistable, the way his chest moved with his haggard breathing and the way the moonlight streaming in through the window illuminated his body. Tortuously, Kaiba spread Kise’s legs farther apart and positioned himself so that his cock was lined up with the slick and twitching hole.

Kaiba pressed his swollen head against his hole, and began pushing in, resisting the urge to close his eyes at the feeling of Kise clenching around his sensitive head as he grit his teeth and grunted, slowly pushing his way deeper into the blonde as he gasped and grasped the sheets underneath him.

Kaiba looked at Kise’s face and despite his brave words, didn’t miss the look of discomfort on his face as Kise’s hand moved to his mouth and he bit his knuckle. It gave Kaiba pause, not wanting to cause him pain, but Kise looked to him and met his gaze.

“It’s f-fine. Don’t stop Kaibacchi…”

Kaiba didn’t immediately move, choosing to run his hands up Kise’s abdomen and down again, enjoying the goosebumps that rose along his pale skin, until one of his hands moved to grasp Kise’s cock to stroke it, making him to gasp at the sensation. This time, as Kaiba continued to push in, he pumped Kise’s cock, watching the discomfort on his face turn to pleasure as he flushed and panted, and before long, Kaiba was fully sheathed inside the blonde.

Both men groaned as Kise’s head flew back and Kaiba gripped Kise’s hips tightly with both hands, pulling him as close as he possibly could.

After only a moment, and not able to hold himself back, Kaiba drew back only to push back in, and began a steadily increasing rhythm of his hips as he slid in and out of the blonde. Kise’s encouraging panting and moaning as he met his thrusts were one of the most erotic sounds Kaiba had ever heard and he couldn’t look away from the flushed and look of pleasure on his pretty face. If he had thought this boy was good-looking before… he was breathtaking now.

“Kaibacchi… so good…” Kise’s voice sounded in his ears and Kaiba couldn’t resist bending over to trail his hands up the blonde’s body, flicking his thumb over his nipples and enjoying the way the blonde closed his eyes and gripped the sheets tighter underneath him.

His tightness around him felt incredible and Kaiba already knew he wanted to have him in as many positions as he could tonight.

Wanting to hear more of his intoxicating sounds, Kaiba wrapped his hand around one of Kise’s knees and pulled him closer while he leaned his head down to lick and suck up the side of the blonde’s neck, pleased when Kise gasped and his arms moved to wrap themselves around Kaiba’s back and pulled him closer, his blunt nails digging into this skin.

Kaiba’s hips kept their rhythm and he could now feel Kise’s erection rubbing against his stomach as he thrusted in an out of him, making Kaiba groan at the feeling as he sucked harder on Kise’s skin and increased his pace and thrust harder into the younger man as Kise’s nails dug in deeper into his back.

“Kaibacchi… harder…”

“You’re insatiable…” Kaiba groaned against Kise’s neck.

“You feel so good,” Kise gasped back.

Kaiba felt a warmth rise in his chest at the words coming from the blonde, something he had never felt before with partners he slept with, and that warmth only increased when Kise turned his flushed face and nudged his face to turn to his, and he felt himself gravitate towards his lips as he kissed the blonde eagerly, their tongues once more finding each other with ease as they swirled against each other. Kaiba rarely kissed his partners during sex. He thought it unnecessary and it tended to turn him off instead of turn him on like Kise’s lips seemed to do to him.

Kaiba rolled his hips as he thrust into Kise, and Kise cried out and gasped when the new angle pressed perfectly against his prostate and sent a powerful wave of pleasure up his spine and straight to his cock.

Fuck! Right there, again!” Kise moaned loudly against Kaiba’s lips that quirked up in amusement.

“A little demanding, aren’t you?” Kaiba teased, but nevertheless rolled his hips the same way to hit the spot again, causing Kise to arch and cry out against him.

“I know… what… I like…” Kise said between gasps.

Kaiba felt his pleasure building and reached to once more wrap his hand around Kise’s cock and squeezed it gently, before giving it a firm pump and watched in satisfaction as Kise’s eyes widened.

“N-no… Kaibacchi… I can’t… ahh!”

The blonde was cut off by a loud cry when Kaiba pumped his cock again, and he felt his ass tighten around him.

Kaiba began to thrust faster and harder against him, feeling himself get closer to his own orgasm as he pumped Kise’s cock and the blond shut his eyes tight as he arched his hips to meet Kaiba’s thrusts.

“Ngh… mmm… agh!”

Kaiba’s breathing came out as pants as he watched Kise lose himself to the overstimulation and lost his rhythm as he desperately thrusted into the blonde without abandon, their groans getting louder and mingling together.

“Kaibacchi…I’m gonna… I’m gonna…”

The feeling of Kaiba thrusting into him felt so incredibly good, he stretched him deliciously in a way he hadn’t been in a while and the way his cock rubbed against his prostate made him see stars with each of his thrusts. He could feel his orgasm building and he didn’t want to hold it back anymore. He ached for release at the hands of the man thrusting into him.

“Go ahead… cum for me… Ryota.”

Kise’s eyes widened at the last word he had expected from the brunette. The unexpected sound of his name from Kaiba’s lips was like a bolt of lightening from his chest to his cock that made him tense as Kaiba pumped him again and pressed against his prostate, and this time, Kise cried out in ecstasy as his mind went blank as his orgasm hit him like a ton of bricks, his balls tightening and the pleasure making his eyes lose focus as he felt his warm and wet cum land on his chest and stomach.

Kaiba watched the satisfying sight of Kise coming undone underneath him, the way he came in thick squirts and the way pleasure colored his face, the sound of his moan pushing him to the edge so that all it took was a few more thrusts to reach his own orgasm as he grabbed Kise’s hips and pulled him against him as he buried himself as deeply as he could into Kise, his muscles tightening as he came with a long and satisfied grunt of pleasure.

Both men panted for breath as they basked in the high of their orgasm, Kise going slack as he tried to catch his breath while Kaiba used his hands atop the mattress to hold himself up and slowly pull out of the blond, taking a moment to refocus his gaze before taking off the condom and tying it and throwing it away in the wastebasket next to the bed.

Mindful of Kise’s state, Kaiba reached for the second drawer on his nightstand, where he pulled out a small towel that he used to clean off Kise’s chest and stomach, and Kise smiled at the gesture as he lazily looked at Kaiba.

Once he was cleaned, Kaiba put the towel atop the nightstand, and watched as Kise sat up on the bed only to reposition himself so that he was laying on his side on the bed with his head on the pillow, before patting the empty side beside him as he smiled encouragingly.

Taking the hint, and with only a moment of hesitation, Kaiba relented as he laid down on his back on the empty spot beside Kise, one of his hands cradling the back of his head as he closed his eyes. He didn’t plan on sleeping, but he didn’t want to look at Kise just then.

He felt satisfied and sated, there was no doubt about that, but there was also some unease mixed into the post-coital high.

He tensed when he felt Kise scoot closer, his heat seeping into his skin as the blonde pressed himself up against Kaiba’s side before resting his hand atop his chest, his fingers lightly caressing the skin so that Kaiba had to resist the urge to shiver and said nothing.

Kaiba made it a point to never cuddle after sex, even the word made his skin crawl. Even if he planned on several rounds, he usually occupied the time between by drinking or occupying himself some other way until he felt ready to go again. Yet he had found it too easy to lay down next to the blonde and wrap his free arm around him to draw him even closer.

What are you doing to me… Kise Ryota?

But he kept that thought to himself, even as he opened his eyes and turned his head to look at the blonde nestled against him. His golden orbs stared back at him, a warmth radiating from them that made Kaiba’s chest feel warmer, and the happy smile on his lips gave him an unexpected feeling of accomplishment.

Kaiba wasn’t a selfish lover, he always made sure his partner was left satisfied, but seeing Kise sated made him feel something else.

So, when the blonde leaned up to kiss him, a soft pressing of his lips against his, Kaiba felt his eyes flutter close as he relished the simple touch that managed to somehow ignite something fierce within him.

He suddenly felt protective of this man, protective in the way that he had felt the urge to say his name in the throes of passion to overwrite the way that so called priest had so easily spoken his name back in the afterlife. He wanted to replace that memory in Kise’s mind with his voice, with his name coming from him.

“Thanks, Kaibacchi…that was… amazing…”

Kaiba stared into Kise’s eyes, before smirking as he slowly leaned over him so that their faces were only a breath apart.

“If you think we’re done for the night… you’re sadly mistaken.”

Kise blinked, but the blonde once more surprised him when he laughed lightly and wrapped his arms around his neck as he smirked up at him.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less… but next… I want to ride you…”

Chapter Text

Kaiba was awake when the sun started peeking over the horizon and through the gaps between the building of his city. He had managed only a few hours of sleep the previous night, and once again, the blonde had surprised him by managing another three rounds of sex before they were both too spent to continue.

He had left the blonde soundly asleep in his bed and had gone down to the living room area to welcome the morning light and gather his thoughts.

And of course, they revolved around Kise, about having given into his attraction to the younger man and not knowing where to go from there.

He had accepted Kise as someone he would trust, someone to even call a friend, despite his every instinct against it.

Did adding a physical component change the dynamics of their friendship?

Those he chose to sleep with he did so with the intention of never seeing them again, but he couldn’t do that to Kise, right?

He was by far the least knowledgeable at what made a friendship, but he did know that he had only gotten a taste of Kise, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to leave it a one-time thing.

As he closed his eyes from where he sat on his living room sofa where he had spent the night, he could still picture Kise’s disheveled state and could remember the way he had tasted against his lips, the feel of their tongues as they sought each other out. 

He was being an idiot, overthinking the whole thing.

Kise wanted him as much as he wanted him, that much was obvious, and he would be an idiot to turn down a sure thing.

Satisfied with his decision, Kaiba got up from the couch, and walked to retrieve his laptop to get some work done. He imagined it would be a while before Kise woke up, and he knew there was no more sleeping to be done on his part.

He might as well be productive until his friend woke up.


Six hours later, Kaiba had already showered, changed into a fresh set of clothes, and eaten breakfast.

It was almost noon, and Kise was still asleep.

Kaiba had half a mind to wake up the blonde himself. It was getting late and while Kaiba didn’t particularly have anything he had to do, he wasn’t sure if Kise did.

He had left his phone on the kitchen island, and it had been ringing almost nonstop for the past hour.

Kaiba had done his best to ignore it, but after the insistent ringing, Kaiba decided he had enough of the loud vibration and obviously whoever was trying to reach Kise was not giving up anytime soon.

Putting down his water with more annoyance than he meant, he turned towards the sound of the latest series of vibrations against his marble counter and looked at the screen for the first time.

The name of the caller read ‘Aominecchi’ and Kaiba knew it was none other than the blue-haired basketball player he had met on several occasions now, not to mention, he could still remember the last look of distrust he had given him at their last encounter.

He probably shouldn’t answer, considering Kise’s friend would probably take it the wrong way if his immediate dislike for him said anything, but another part of him wanted to upset the blue-haired man. Something about his closeness to Kise didn’t sit well with Kaiba, and a large part of him wanted to push his buttons, just because he could.

With a smirk playing on his lips, Kaiba slid the green button to answer the call.

He didn’t say anything, and there was a moment of silence before the man on the other line realized the call wasn’t going to voicemail.

“Hello? Kise? What the hell! Where are you? We’ve been waiting for over an hour! Why haven’t you answered us?” the angry voice on the other end was memorable, and exactly who Kaiba had thought it would be.

“Kise’s asleep right now. I’ll let him know you called when he wakes up,” Kaiba replied leisurely.

“What the hell—” Kaiba heard in reply, and his smirk only widened at what he imagined must have been a dumbfounded look on the other man’s face.

“Who's this? Why are you answering Kise’s phone?” his questions were practically a growl against Kaiba’s ears, but since it was the desired response, it only pleased Kaiba.

“He’s currently unable to answer, and considering you’ve been calling nonstop for the past hour, I decided to answer for him so you wouldn’t worry.”

“Wait… aren’t you… that one guy who came looking for him at the court?”

Well, look at that, perhaps the blue haired man was smarter than he looked.

“Perhaps, but does it matter? I assure you Kise is safe and sound.”

A silence stretched for a moment, and Kaiba wondered if the other man had hung up, but before long he spoke once more.

“Just have him call me back when he wakes up.”

Kaiba could tell the man wasn’t happy, his voice a low growl, and he didn’t wait for a confirmation before hanging up abruptly.

The fact that he had been more upset to hear from him rather than relieved that Kise was safe or simply confused spoke volumes.

Just what kind of relationship did this man have with Kise? Remembering how he had gone to watch his game to make sure that the other player wouldn’t try anything against Kise, and remembering their interactions during the game they played together, Kaiba wondered if it was too farfetched to think there was something more than friendship between the two.


Kise felt as if he was coming out of a dense fog, his mind groggy after a dreamless sleep, and his eyelids felt like lead as he tried to open them as he eased out of his deep sleep. Once his mind was awake, Kise found that his body felt heavy, like it often did the day after a particularly hard training session.

His fingers twitched slightly, but Kise felt no urge to move any more than he had to.

“Are you finally awake?”

The familiar voice that broke through the fog and made his heart skip a beat was a reminder that felt like an avalanche of the happenings of the previous day and just where he was. Flashes of memories from the park, to the afterlife, to the lips that had kissed him and finally some of the best sex Kise had ever had, coursed through his mind and if it weren’t for the heaviness of his body caused him to sit up abruptly.

His eyes took in the sight of Kaiba sitting on the edge of the bed beside him. The sight of the brunette man made his heart beat faster and warmth flood his body as his fingers unconsciously twitched.

“What time is it?”

It wasn’t until he said that sentence out loud that Kise felt as if he had truly come back to reality, and even then, so much still felt surreal. It felt easier to believe that the memories of the previous day had been a dream instead of reality, but the ache of his bottom was all he needed to know that it had been real.

“Its past noon.”

Kise’s eyes widened.

“What?! You’re kidding! I never sleep past noon!”

Kise couldn’t remember the last time he slept in so late. Even on late nights he had never woken up so late.

Kaiba didn’t reply, and instead Kise was surprised to see him toss his phone onto his lap gently.

“Your phone’s been ringing for a while. You should call them back.”

Kise looked at his phone with surprise as Kaiba got up and walked out of the room before reaching for it.

Shit.

Most of them were from Aomine, Kagami, and Kuroko. He had forgotten they had set up another game that weekend.

He also had some from Anami and Kise grimaced, remembering she had been expecting a message telling her he had made it home okay.

He sent a quick text to Anami first, telling her he stayed the night and an apology for not texting her about it.

He didn’t really want to call his friends, so he just sent a quick group text explaining he forgot about the game and wouldn’t be able to make it. He didn’t particularly want to give them the details that he was in a different city altogether with the man that didn’t make a good first impression with them. It wasn’t exactly the first time he had cancelled a game anyway.

He was surprised when only a moment later his phone began to ring and Aomine’s name flashed on the screen, and with a blink and the familiar patter of his chest when Aomine called, Kise picked up.

“Hey Aominecchi, did you get my text?” Kise answered softly, hoping that Kaiba wouldn’t walk in during their conversation. He wasn’t sure why he felt the need to talk softly, but then again it was sure to do with the fact he was speaking to his ex-boyfriend while in the penthouse of the guy he was currently crushing on had just had sex with the night before. The thought made him flush as he peeked over to the still open door to make sure Kaiba wasn’t nearby.

“Yeah… I just wanted to make sure you’re okay,” Kise felt his heart skip a beat and a familiar warmth in his chest at Aomine’s voice, his tone was gentler than usual, with what he recognized as his embarrassed to be concerned voice which had always touched Kise deeply in the past.

“Oh, well that’s nice of you. But yeah I’m okay, just slept in and it’s too late to go now so…” Kise trailed off, hoping that he wouldn’t have to say more since he hadn’t thought up a good enough explanation to hide the truth.

There was a pause from Aomine’s end, and Kise was about to ask who had won the game when the other man cut in.

“Can I come over later?”

Kise’s eyes widened and his grip on the phone in his hand tightened.

“Oh… you want to come over t-today?” he couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice at the unexpected question.

“Yeah… I have nothing else going on and… it’d be nice to see you.”

Kise felt his throat go dry as he let Aomine’s words sink in, a myriad of emotions coursing through his system. Aside from the shock of his statement and what felt like a swarm of butterflies in his stomach, Kise felt a moment of panic at the question as his mind raced through an answer.

“Oh… well, um, actually I don’t think today is a good day. I have a lot of homework to catch up on…”

Kise winced at his excuse, aware that Aomine of all people knew that Kise could care less about doing homework as long as he was passing a class. The two of them had never been exactly good at keeping up with homework and just barely got through. He expected him to call him out on his lie, and another moment of silence passed by.

The truth was, Kise wasn’t exactly sure when he would get home by, and unless he left immediately, it would be past a reasonable hour to have someone over. Not to mention… Aomine’s more recent actions had certainly confused him. And he had too much to think about when he went back home to add yet another thing to that long list.

“Ah… I see. Well maybe next time you’re free?” Aomine sounded disappointed, and Kise immediately felt guilty but still oddly pleased that Aomine was seeking him out.

“Yeah… I’ll let you know when I’m free this week,” despite himself, Kise felt a smile form on his lips.

“I’ll text you later then…and let you get to your homework.”

Once more Kise felt guilt clinch his stomach.

“Yeah okay… I’ll talk to you later Aominecchi.”


Thirty minutes later, Kise was freshly showered and dressed in yet another set of Kaiba’s clothes. Kise had smiled when he had seen the pair of pants and plain black shirt laid out on the bed when he had come in after the shower, even though Kaiba was nowhere in sight.

While he still felt fatigued and sluggish, nothing like a refreshing shower to make Kise feel ready to take on the real world again. As soon as he had exited the shower the smell of food wafted up to him, the delicious aroma making his stomach growl and reminded him that he hadn’t had breakfast.

As he climbed down the stairs, he took the time to admire the view of the city in the daytime from Kaiba’s penthouse large windows, the sky was clear and blue where it peaked in from between the buildings, and the sun shone brightly as it reflected off the windows. It was a view Kise couldn’t say he had ever seen before, and although nothing would come close to the view of Earth from outer space, it was amazing it its own way.

What a sight to walk out into. It never seized to amaze him the lifestyle that Kaiba had. It was something Kise could get used to… maybe something to work towards. After all… he had the potential to be a king, didn’t he?

With a grin, Kise finally made his way down the stairs and towards the kitchen, where he could already make out Kaiba’s figure sitting on a stool at the island where food was laid out along the countertop. The smell of the food got stronger as he approached, and his mouth watered at the sight once he reached the kitchen and spread.

There was a chair pulled up to the island where the food was laid out, and Kise sat down across Kaiba who was already eating from the plate in front of him, the ache he felt as he sat only a pleasant reminder of the night before.  It looked like his own plate had already been put together, but something told Kise it must have been done by whoever brought the food rather than Kaiba.

Like every time Kise had eaten with Kaiba, the food was impressive. Salad, meat, potatoes, sushi… Kaiba truly never did anything simple. Still, Kise wasn’t going to let a good meal pass by.

“This looks great Kaibacchi! Itadakimasu!” Kise said aloud as he dug into the food as fast he could.

Kaiba watched with mild amusement as Kise ate earnestly as he practically shoveled food into his mouth.

“You know… my manager would kill me if she knew what you fed me…” Kise said after slowing down take a drink of his water, remembering all the meals that Kaiba had gotten for him.

At this, Kaiba couldn’t help the smirk at the blonde’s choice of words as he raised an eyebrow.

“You say that as if you’re a stray puppy to be taken care of,” Kaiba replied, enjoying the way that Kise colored slightly.

He was surprised however, when Kise grinned at him with a glint in his eyes.

“Well… I guess I wouldn’t mind as long as you took good care of me…”

This boy really would be the end of him…but Kaiba wasn’t one to be outdone.

“Oh? Should I start calling you Goldie?” Kaiba replied, remembering it wasn’t the first time that he thought Kise looked like a golden retriever, especially when he was excited.

“Only if you get me a custom collar,” Kise answered with a wink.

“Hn. That’s something you’ll have to earn.”

Kise grinned as he kept his gaze on Kaiba’s face, a warm feeling rising in his chest.

“You’re really something else Kaibacchi… you know that?”

Kise felt Kaiba’s gaze fix on him skeptically, before closing his eyes.

“Of course I am. I’m the CEO of the top gaming company in the country.”

Kise’s grin widened at the confidence by Kaiba. While he was used to confident people like the himself and the rest of the Generation of Miracles, it was a quality he admired unlike a lot of people.

“Well, you’re a lot more than that, Kaibacchi. Everything you told me about yesterday… and everything you made possible… it really is amazing. I’ve known some amazing people, but I don’t think anyone comes close to what you’ve gone through and everything you’ve done.”

There he went again… speaking earnestly in a way no one besides his little brother had ever done. Kaiba looked into Kise’s golden eyes that were filled with admiration and warmth and tried to ignore the twinge in the pit of his stomach at the sight.

“If you’re trying to make me blush… it’s not going to work,” Kaiba replied gruffly, but Kise only smiled wider.

“You know… while I was in the shower… I was going over everything that you showed me yesterday… going to the afterlife… meeting the Pharaoh… meeting your past self… and finding out about my past life…”

Kaiba watched as Kise became somber, the warmth in his eyes dulling as they became unfocused as if he was now lost in thought, his gaze now looking up at an empty spot in the ceiling as he leaned back in the chair and let the utensils fall onto the now forgotten plate.

“It’s honestly a lot to take in… even though I’ve never been one to really care about religion and beliefs… what’s truth or finding a deeper meaning to life or any of that philosophical stuff. But surprisingly enough… finding out that magic exists and reincarnation is real isn’t so hard to accept when experiencing it first-hand…thanks to your technology.  And as awesome as that is… it doesn’t really change how I approach life… I’m not ambitious enough to seek out magic, not really. Maybe it would be different in a world where more people could wield magic… and it was a matter of skill over possession. But this isn’t a world of magic, and having it would just feel like cheating. And as you know… I would never sink so low.”

Kaiba remained silent, simply watching as Kise spoke aloud, curious as to where his train of thought was going.

“Maybe someone more righteous would see it as a way to make a difference in the world… but I’m a far simpler guy than that… I do what makes me happy and fulfills me on a whim most of the time. I’ve never cared to think of how I can help society or make a positive impact on the world. All I’ve ever cared for is to find excitement in life and be happy. I guess that makes me kind of selfish, huh?”

Kaiba didn’t answer, knowing that Kise wasn’t really asking him. What surprised him however, was when Kise suddenly laughed. It was the kind of laugh one did when hearing a joke.

“But to find out there is a version of myself that existed and was one of the of most famous Kings? So unbeatable that he made the Gods feel the need to create another being to defeat him? And still he won? I find that the most unbelievable…when here I am, unable to beat a few really good high school basketball players and win a simple championship. It truly is pathetic…”

Kaiba was about to speak and berate the blonde on the idiotic words that were coming out of his mouth, but stopped when he saw Kise’s eyes change once more, this time brightening with a look of fierce determination that confused him.

“And I refuse to be the failure in whatever versions of me there have been and will ever be…if anything… I feel more fired up than ever before. I will not lose again. And that includes to you, Kaibacchi.”

Seeing his honest resolve, Kaiba smirked.

This kid really was something else… His reaction was not at all what he expected from someone given the information and firsthand experience that he had… anyone else would be left in shock or in denial(much like he had been), but this kid had accepted it as easily as someone accepting unusual weather in the forecast. His honest assessment of himself as a selfish person and being unashamed of it was also refreshing, considering he was often criticized for his own methods by mightier-than-thou people like Yugi and his friends. His morality was always questioned, as if he owed anything to the world simply because he was at the right(or wrong) place at the time.

But Kise had never once judged him on those standards, and he could now understand why. Kise judged someone simply by what they had to offer him as far as a challenge and entertainment in his life. He found that to be more honest and interesting than most people’s motives.

“Hn. Is that so?” Kaiba challenged, folding his fingers in front of him as he met Kise’s determined gaze, “Tell you what, we’ll have our rematch. But only if you can win your basketball championship first. Prove your words on the court, and only then will I give you the rematch you want so badly. After all… you have to do your part in my Duel Monsters Campaign first, and you’ll have plenty of practice during that time.”

Kise’s grin widened as Kaiba brought up his part in his upcoming campaign.

“You know… I’m actually really excited for that. I’m looking forward to dressing up as a Duel Monster and going up against duelists. Props to whoever got that idea…”

“Indeed, this campaign combines the nostalgia of past tournaments with modern flair. In this case, collecting the required amount of Gems by defeating other duelists will allow a duelist to participate in the grand tournament, while for added flair, the models with a talent for dueling such as yourself, will bring some of the favorite duel monsters to life and provide special rewards.”

Kise grinned, remembering how excited he had been when first hearing of the plans when meeting with Kaiba’s employees on the matter. He had once dreamed of participating in a grand Duel Monsters tournament, and now he had the chance to be much more. But still…

“Any way I can do my job and still collect Gems to participate in the main event?” Kise asked.

After all… what was the point of being in a tournament if he couldn’t duel for the chance to be at the top? If he couldn’t duel against the people he had only dreamed of going up against?

Kaiba smirked.

“Of course… so long as you defeat duelists worth the amount of the needed gems, all models will be able to participate in the tournament for the grand prize.”

Kise only felt his excitement grow at the desired answer.

“Perfect. When do you think they’ll let me know what monster card I’ll be representing?”

Kaiba raised an eyebrow at all of Kise’s questions, had his team told him nothing? Then again, those details were still a little way from being finalized.

“That’s up to the costume and design team. I believe they will be gathering data and polls to see which monster cards are the favorite among fans, and will assign them as they deem best. Considering that we will be going public with the news this week, the team will have less than a month to finalize the plans and another month to execute them. If they know what’s good for them, they’ll have everything done ahead of time.”

Kise grimaced at the truth of how close the campaign truly was.

“It feels like its going to happen all so fast after its announcement… don’t you want to build it up like other campaigns?”

Kaiba frowned.

“KaibaCorp doesn’t do things ‘like others’, and I’m not one to drag things out. I strike fast and hard where it counts. Overnight, everyone that matters will know of our campaign, and they will come when I say to come. Focus on your part and let me do what I do best as CEO of my company. I promise, you won’t be short of worthy opponents.”

Kise grinned at the confidence in Kaiba’s voice.

“Well… I guess I can’t argue against that, can I?”

“I’d advise against it.”

Kise laughed and looked back to his food, his appetite almost forgotten.

“So… how about you tell me more about you and the Pharaoh’s adventures before I have to go back home?”

Kaiba sighed.

“Aren’t you tired of ancient history?”

“When it comes to you? Never.”

And even as Kaiba set his scrutinizing gaze in Kise’s direction, Kise never felt the urge to look away.


Kise had left hours ago, on one of the last trains that would get him home at a reasonable hour. Kaiba was surprised that he had told him as much as he had when it came to his duel monster adventures with the Pharaoh. He got through the entire story of his first duel with Yugi and the events that led to Duelist Kingdom and part of the events of Battle City when he was first told of his connection to his ancient past.

Kise had listened intently and asked plenty of questions to keep his tale going, but never once had Kaiba felt annoyed with the blonde.

He still found it odd how easy talking about his past came when it was to him. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that he had already told him so much of his personal history that he had told no one before, so what was telling him about his duel monsters past compared to his messed-up childhood?

Not to mention…

Kise had already gathered his things and his driver was waiting in the parking lot to take Kise to the train station, and Kaiba had walked him to the elevator door that would take him down.

 “Thanks again for everything Kaibacchi… I hope we can hang out again soon so you can finish telling me about Battle City, and I hope you know you have an open invitation to visit me anytime if you’re ever feeling lonely.”

At this, Kaiba scoffed, and Kise laughed.

“And not to mention…”

Kaiba felt himself tense at the change in tone of Kise’s voice, the now familiar way that it became softer and seductive as he watched his eyes darken to that enticing molten gold.

“Don’t think I’ll forget about what we started last night…”

Kaiba knew what Kise was going to do next, but he did nothing to stop it as Kise closed the distance between them by wrapping his arms around his neck to bring his face closer and pressed his lips against his.

The blonde tasted just as Kaiba remembered from the previous night, and he found himself easily returning the kiss, grasping Kise’s hips and pushing him up against the closed elevator door behind him, deepening the kiss and quickly taking control and urging his tongue against Kise’s waiting mouth, where his warm and moist tongue eagerly met his once it opened to let him in and a heady moan sounded in Kaiba’s ears from the younger man.

Kaiba pulled away before the kiss became too intense to break away from and basked in the flushed look of the blonde against him and the lust in his eyes. He swiped his thumb slowly against Kise’s bottom lip, pleased with the shiver he felt from the blonde at the contact.

“I’d be offended if you did…”

Kaiba never slept with the same person twice, and for the first time, he was already craving someone he had just had the previous night.

Were it not for the fact that he had to prepare for a big announcement to make for the upcoming week, he was sure he would be willing to take up the blonde on his offer to visit him.

But as always, work was his priority, and pretty blondes would have to wait just a little longer.

Chapter Text

Kise was lost in thought as he stared out the window of his apartment.

It had been exactly a week since his adventure to Domino, space, and the afterlife, and coming back to reality to his life as a high school student and basketball player seemed truly dull in comparison. Basketball had been going well, the Inter-High was fast approaching, and his team was practicing hard to prepare for it, and Kise wasn’t an exception. He had stayed true to his claim and had been practicing harder than ever, and his teammates had noticed, and been motivated to work just as hard. They had two games against schools in their district and had practically crushed them, which was what they needed to do if they hoped to stand a chance against the other powerhouses.

He had hoped he could see Kaiba this weekend, but the CEO was fully immersed in preparation of going live with the announcement of his new tournament. He had tried to get more details out of the brunette, but Kaiba just told Kise he had to wait like everyone else.

Kise smiled as he thought back to what had happened between them after everything else. He had actually slept with the Seto Kaiba... something he would have never imagined possible. And it was everything he could have possibly hoped for and more. Kaiba was just as skilled in that department as he was with anything else, and Kise had not been disappointed in the slightest.

Now, he had a free weekend, and for the first time in a while, Kise didn’t have anything planned. He had already gone out on his morning run, a longer one than usual followed by another workout at a nearby park. He had showered, changed, and had breakfast.

Kise was the kind of person that liked to stay occupied, and days when he had nothing planned made him feel restless when others welcomed a lazy day.

Should he call up someone to hang out? Go shopping? Practice basketball with some teammates?

Come to think of it, he had told Aomine he would call him when he had time to hang out, and wasn’t that exactly what he had time for today?

A part of him felt uneasy at the thought, considering how confusing Aomine had been lately, but he was still someone Kise treasured and considered a friend.

Then, the solution was to invite Momoi along too, right?

With that in mind, Kise sent a group text to the duo and waited.


As it turned out, both Aomine and Momoi were free to hang out, and the three agreed on a much-needed shopping trip, and since Tokyo had the best shopping districts, Kise didn’t mind making the trip.

Which was how Kise found himself amidst the usual crowd of weekend shoppers and tourists in the Ginza district, dressed in a comfortable and stylish attire with a hat and sunglasses to hide his face. It was usually easier to go unrecognized in the busier districts but at this point, it was a habit more than anything.

The three met up at the usual meet-up point in a small coffee place, and it was hard to miss Momoi’s pink hair and Aomine’s tall figure even from the window outside.

When he entered, Momoi saw him first, and smiled and waived in his direction.

“Yo!” Kise greeted as he stopped short of them.

“Kichan! Glad you made it. Do you want anything to drink before we head out?”

Kise looked at the cold drink in her hand and debated, but decided against it.

“Nah, I’m okay for now. How about you Aominecchi?”

Aomine just shook his head as he stood with his hands in his pockets, and Kise wondered if he was upset since he looked more somber than usual.

“Alright let’s go! How have you guys been?” Kise asked as he led the way out and down the familiar street that would take them to their favorite stores. They had already talked about what they were looking to get, and the three had taken enough trips to know which stores would have just what they needed.

“Oh you know, same old same old. School, college preparations, basketball...” Momoi replied with her usual cheery self.

“Yeah, come to think of it, did you finally decide what college you wanted to go to Momocchi?”

Kise remembered Momoi mentioning that she was interested in a business career, since she was so good with data and predictions, there was no doubt she would be a valuable asset to any prominent company.

“Well to be honest... I’m still torn. I know Keio University is the best business school in Japan... but I kind of want to go somewhere farther from home for a change of scenery.”

“Neh, you want to leave us that bad Momocchi?!” Kise whined as he gave her a pointed look she couldn’t even see due to his sunglasses, to which the pink-haired girl just waved a hand in dismissal.

“Kichan, you know it's not like that! Besides, everyone’s going to go their separate ways for college, and it feels like such a big step that I should go all or nothing,” she said with a look of determination.

Kise had to smile, even though the reminder of college and the big decisions looming over them was still a disconcerting thought.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right... everyone has big decisions to make about the future... it’s kind of scary, isn’t it?”

There was a moment of quiet contemplation that settled over them despite the bustling of the city around them, and Kise felt guilty for dampening the mood.

“Sorry! Didn’t mean to ruin the mood!” Kise amended.

Momoi giggled and Aomine sighed audibly.

“It’s fine dork...” Aomine finally spoke up, nudging Kise with his elbow, “It is a little scary.”

This time, Kise blinked in shock at the darker man.

“Eh?! Even you’re scared Aominecchi? But why? You have the best opportunity to be drafted into the NBA! You’ve already had scouts and everything!”

“Yeah sure, you make it sound simple. But it’s... just different...” Aomine grumbled.

“I think what Daichan is trying to say is that he’s nervous he might not measure up to the skill of NBA players...right Daichan?” Momoi said gently, and Kise blinked as he watched Aomine frown and flush in embarrassment, which always meant Momoi had nailed it.

“Tch... I guess... I mean. High school is one thing, you know? It’s just school kids in Japan. But the NBA is on a different level... with players from all around the world, and seasoned and talented players. And if I do get in... then I have to go to somewhere in the Americas... and you know I’m terrible with foreign languages!”

Kise watched Aomine in wonderment, surprised his longtime rival, ex-lover, and the man he had always admired to be so transparent about his feelings. Aomine had always seemed like a rock at handling the future, the kind of guy that would face it head on no matter what. There were very few times when Kise had seen his more vulnerable side, but each time he did... it was reassuring. To know that someone so strong could still be afraid. It reminded him that his own fears weren’t unfounded or something to be embarrassed by.

Feeling particularly affectionate, Kise smiled and leaned against Aomine reassuringly.

“If anyone has what it takes, it's you Aominecchi, you’ll figure it out,” Kise said.

Aomine flushed deeper, and looked away, but Kise felt himself smile when he noticed the other man also pressed up against him.

“Look who's talking. Aren’t you the one with the most prospects here? You have just as many scouts as me, and you have your modeling career.”

Kise smiled at the reminder of his situation.

“Yeah... you’d think so huh? But I already know I don’t want to pursue basketball professionally, and I’m not sure how stable modeling will be in the long term. I want to still go to college for an education to fall back onto if something happens. But I have no idea what that should be. Everything stable sounds so boring, I don’t want an office job, and I’m not sure I have the brains for high-tech stuff. And with college deadlines right around the corner, I feel I should have it figured out already, but I don’t. Should I just go to school on a basketball scholarship? Should I take some time off to find out what I really want to do with my life? Would either of them be a waste of time? I guess that’s what scares me. What if I choose something and it turns out to be the wrong choice?”

Kise didn’t tell them about his personal goals of finally defeating the other schools to claim a championship for Kaijo, about the feelings of inadequacy that he had held in for so long, but was finally ready to overcome. That was too heavy, even for their current conversation.

“Well... I can’t look at the future to tell you what to do. But I can tell you that basketball wouldn’t be the same without you. Even if it was just at the college level... I wouldn’t mind a few more years of playing against you.”

Aomine’s reply was sincere, and Kise felt heat pool in his cheeks as he looked down at the ground.

“T-thanks Aominecchi. Believe it or not... that helps,” this time, Kise smiled and met Aomine’s blue gaze.

Momoi smiled as she watched their interaction silently, happy to see the two have a genuine moment.

“Yeah, whatever. Isn’t this the store you want to look for dresses in Satsuki?” Aomine said as he stopped in front of a frilly and brightly pink decorated store.

The squeal of excitement from the young woman was all the two boys needed to know that indeed it was.


Three hours later, they all had what they had set out to buy. Aomine a new pair of limited-edition shoes and some new idol magazines, Kise also a new pair of shoes for basketball and another pair of dress-shoes. Not to mention, now that he was going to be working for KaibaCorp, also bought himself a new cologne as a treat. Yet both boys were carrying extra bags as Momoi paid for her latest purchase.

“Satsuki, this better be the last store, I’m done carrying your crap!”

“It’s not crap Daichan!” Momoi replied angrily as she led the way out of the store.

“How can you even afford all this shit?” Aomine said gruffly, “Did you suddenly get a part time job?”

Kise laughed as he watched Momoi huff in indignation and glare at her longtime best friend.

“For your information, I don’t spend my money carelessly like some people, and I still have birthday money! I need new outfits for a certain event coming up, and I want to look my best!” the pink-haired woman replied and Aomine grumbled inaudibly.

“Why don’t we go get some food and drinks guys?” Kise suggested, knowing that this was the usual behavior between the two.

“Yeah, I’m starving after watching Satsuki try on a million outfits,” Aomine replied, and this time Momoi just huffed.

“Well Momocchi, I had fun helping you choose your outfits,” Kise said, both to appease her and because it was the truth. Kise prided himself in his sense of fashion, and he liked helping others with their choices, and it was rare when he helped girls that weren’t his sisters.

Momoi smiled brightly at him.

“And I appreciate you Kichan! A guy whose fashion taste I can trust!”

This time, it was Aomine that huffed.

“Well maybe you should go shopping with girls instead of always asking me.”

“Arg! Daichan! Why do you have to make everything about you?!”

“What are you fucking talking about? This is about you and your shopping habits!”

Kise sighed as the two began another banter, knowing better than to get involved this time, and simply led the way to the food district of Ginza. Knowing them, they would keep it up till they ordered their food.

Just as they rounded the corner however, the sound of screams and horns of cars piercing the air broke through the sounds of the crowds and traffic and made them all freeze as their gaze traveled in the direction of where the commotion was coming from.

Their eyes widened as they took in the sight of dragons flying in the sky and monsters on the ground.

“What the hell is that!”

“Are those dragons?”

“Monsters!”

“Where’s the police!”

“Should we run?!”

“Mommy look! A real dragon!”

“Is this for real?!”

The sound of both shocked and scared voices filled the air as people stood frozen in shock, fear, and wonder. Traffic came to a stop, and the vehicles stopped honking as everyone stopped to take in the sight before them.

Kise might have been scared too if he didn’t immediately recognize the dragons and monsters, but the shock of what he was seeing remained. They looked even more real than when they were contained in a room, flying in the real world and trotting through the streets. Some people had their phones pointed at the monsters in what Kise knew was to catch them on video.

Ancient Dragon, Curse of Dragon, Speed Bird, Berfomet, among other Duel Monsters roared as they flew through the sky and stood atop of building and on the streets.

Before panic could break out however, the monsters began to glow a bright silver light, before they broke into particles that floated up higher into the sky, and formed together to create a monster Kise had seen only once, just a few months ago, the monster that caused his defeat at the hands of the one and only Seto Kaiba.

Deep-Eyes White Dragon.

And as the larger than life monster let out a mighty roar, the crowds beneath it gasped in awe as it completely enraptured them.

So that when the creature dipped its head as if bowing in greeting, all eyes were on it when the halo-like structure on its back began to glow, and within it, a familiar figure appeared wearing his trademark white coat that flared behind him. The man looked as real as the monster his figure stood atop of, and Kise wondered if Kaiba had found a way to transport himself there, or if he was just another hologram.

On top of that, large screens appeared around them that showed a close up of Kaiba’s face, so that his facial expressions could be easily seen as he spoke.

“Greetings, people of the world, my name is Seto Kaiba, CEO of KaibaCorp.”

Kaiba’s voice was loudly broadcasted from all around, making it hard to figure out just exactly where the sound was coming from, but loud and clear as day. People were now murmuring, and more phones were taken out at the appearance of the brunette, people now sure that the monsters before them had not been real.

“What you have just witnessed is the power of KaibaCorp’s holographic technology, the reason my company is the number one gaming company in this country. Those of you who remember the origins of my company would remember how it began almost ten years ago… with the game known as Duel Monsters. Many of you knew the game as a simple card game, and with great effort collected your cards and played them on simple mats. It wasn’t until KaibaCorp came along that it became more than a simple card game… through our technology… your favorite cards could be rendered into the world!”

At this point of his speech, a few more monsters appeared, classic monsters like Dark Magician Girl and Dark Magician, Kuribo, Celtic Guardian, Harpy Lady, Summoned Skull, Mystic Elf. They floated over the crowd and smiled and waved, and many of the younger spectators wowed and waved back while those that recognized the creatures called out their names.

“I’m here to announce to you that KaibaCorp will be hosting a tournament of the likes never seen before, to not only revive Duel Monsters to its former glory, but to elevate it to a new level! Because the stage of this tournament will not be an island, nor my city, nor the Kaiba Land Parks, not even a stadium. The stage of this tournament… is the world!”

The murmurs of the crowd increased at Kaiba’s grand claim, and Kise blinked as he tried to figure out what Kaiba meant by that. He knew his part in the campaign, but just what did Kaiba mean by the world being the stage?

“You heard correctly… the world! Duelists from all over the world will be able to participate and duel against each other… without leaving the comfort of your city…or even your own home. Remember its name! Duel Links! Through Duel Links…participants will be able to use KaibaCorp technology to project themselves onto the grand stage… and experience the future of gaming! In two months’ time, those who participate will be known as pioneers in what is to come, in what will revolutionize gaming as we know it. Consider this my invitation to you all… will you accept it?”

With a final smirk, Kaiba’s figure turned his back on the crowd, his coat flaring behind him as the halo structure on Deep-Eyes once more glowed and Kaiba disappeared into it, giving the illusion that Kaiba had stepped into a portal that took him back where he came from, and despite himself, Kise was tempted to believe it.

Once Kaiba was gone, Deep-Eyes let out another mighty roar that shook through the city, before flying upwards into the sky. The monsters that remained above the crowd gave a final wave and goodbye’s, before they followed after the giant dragon, and before their very eyes, the monsters became a myriad of colors that turned to streaks of light as they soared into the sky, before bursting into fireworks that colored the sky above them.

The crowds wowed and clapped at the display, the murmurs reaching a crescendo as the fireworks disappeared, and an excited hum filled the air even after the display was over.

And through it all, Kise’s heart pounded with excitement.


“Amazing! Duel Links and KaibaCorp are already trending number one in all major social media sites! It looks like KaibaCorp made their announcement in major cities around the world and videos from all over have already been posted on social media too. Getting those permits and making that display couldn’t have been easy or cheap… but talk about shock factor and free press! Seto Kaiba is seriously a genius! There’s already been so many hits on the Duel Links website that the servers crashed.”

The trio had finally gotten their food and sat down at a table within the restaurant, although Momoi hadn’t even touched her food as she was glued to her phone following the development of what they had seen less than an hour ago. Kise smiled happily as he watched the excitement and admiration on her face and the twinkle of her pink eyes.

“Yeah, Kaibacchi is definitely amazing, he surprises me every time!”

“Tell me about it! I was expecting a grand announcement, but nothing of this magnitude! This seriously exceeded all my expectations!”

Kise blinked at the pink-haired woman, a thought suddenly occurring to him.

“Wait a second… Momocchi! You mean to tell me the shopping we were doing was for Kaibacchi’s tournament? You’re planning to participate?” Kise could hardly hold down his excitement as he practically stood from his seat as he looked at Momoi full of excitement.

Momoi smiled sheepishly as she looked back at Kise, and the look on her face was all the answer Kise needed.

“That’s so awesome Momocchi! I can’t wait to duel you! You’re going to be so great!”

“Well, I owe it to you for introducing me to the game Kichan! Now that I’ve put together some decks, it’s my turn to shine!”

“Well Momocchi, I can tell you that even though you’re my friend and someone I respect, I won’t go easy on you!”

Momoi smirked back.

“I’m counting on that! I’m so excited! I hope that Akashi and Midorin also participate since they played Duel Monsters in the past. It would be fun to finally be able to play against you guys in something that isn’t basketball and see how well I’d do.”

“I’m excited too! Specially if other amazing duelists from previous tournaments show up! Can you imagine if the King of Games himself participates? And other past top-ranking duelists?”

Aomine frowned as he poked at his food, his appetite forgotten as he watched his friends continue to talk about the man and game which he had decided he didn’t like for reasons revolving around a certain blonde and his continued interest and involvement with both.

His annoyance only increased when he saw Kise’s phone begin to vibrate on the table, and his keen eyes caught the name of the person who had just sent him a text. His eyes narrowed at the look of excitement on Kise’s face when he too read the name as he paused to text back.

He was still upset that Kise had taken so long to reach out to him, even though he knew it was silly since the blonde was always busy, and a part of him had hoped that it would be just the two of them.

But he also knew he could never exclude Momoi for such selfish reasons, and he couldn’t ask her for help because of his pride and her own feelings on the matter.

Still, it was a slap in the face to see this Seto Kaiba’s over the top display that made Aomine feel small in comparison. Sure, he was confident in his ability in basketball, but what was that compared to a billionaire CEO who had the ability to create technology that made monsters look so real? And with both Kise and Momoi spewing what a genius and how amazing he was, it was really grating on his nerves.

But what could he do about it? He couldn’t make Kise stop playing the game, especially since he could see he genuinely loved it. And was he ready to face Kise on the reason he broke up with him? Doing so would go against that reason to begin with. He needed Kise to realize it from the bottom of his heart… and how could he if Aomine gave him the answer?

“Oy, Kise… what do you say to a one-on-one?” Aomine asked, eager to change the subject to something he felt much more comfortable in.

Kise turned to look at him, his smile widening and eyes shining bright at Aomine’s suggestion.

“I thought you’d never ask, Aominecchi!”

“Hmph, you could ask me yourself too you know.”

Kise smiled sheepishly.

“Yeah, but it’s nice when you’re the one to ask for a change. After being the one to constantly beg you in middle school… It makes me feel worthy of being your opponent.”

Aomine narrowed his eyes, and his heart did that funny thing it often did when Kise said stupid embarrassing things, making him bring his hand close to the blonde’s face so he could playfully flick his forehead.

“Idiot… you’ve always been a worthy opponent.”

“Really? Even though Kagamicchi was the first one to beat you?”

Both Aomine and Momoi blinked at the blonde’s question.

But Kise was more surprised than anyone by his question… it was a question that had always burned in the pit of his stomach, but that he had been too afraid to voice aloud, too afraid to hear the answer. He had always thought he would be the one to finally defeat Aomine… and it had left a bitter taste in his mouth to see that it had been Kagami to claim that honor.

It was Kagami that brought that smile back to Aomine’s face… while all Kise had managed was his contempt at his failed attempt. He had told Aomine back then that he simply wasn’t good enough yet… and with only two years of basketball experience… it was easy to believe that his full potential was ahead of him. But here he was… two more years later… and he had yet to defeat the man in front of him.

“Well yeah… I mean… Kagami might have been the first to beat me… but… it was different with you…”

Kise felt his breath hitch as he watched Aomine blunder for words.

“How?”

He wanted to know.

No.

Needed to know.

“Because… fuck… I don’t know. I guess because Kagami was new and unpredictable. I wasn’t familiar with his playing style or his potential… and he had Tetsu… it wasn’t a one-on-one. The circumstances were different. Everything was different…”

Aomine paused, his eyes closed as if to either concentrate on forming the thoughts he wanted to convey or to avoid looking at the blonde in front of him.

“And… with me…?”

Eyes still closed, Aomine breathed a deep sigh and Kise felt as if he couldn’t breathe.

“I always thought you were amazing… even before you joined the basketball team. I’d heard the rumors about you, and after you joined… you proved again that you were amazing by learning as fast as you did. But because you learned along side me… it was always familiar, like a practiced dance, and I could see every step you were taking, and knew what you would do next, so that nothing could surprise me. But when I played against you… my reason for not wanting to lose was different…”

Kise blinked in astonishment, and even Momoi looked intrigued and shocked by what Aomine was openly admitting. Aomine looked increasingly uncomfortable, now scratching at the back of his head as he flushed and grumbled.

“I guess… in a way… I didn’t want to disappoint you…I wanted to live up to your expectations as the reason you wanted to play in the first place… even when I had given up on finding someone stronger… you were the last person I wanted to lose to.”

He had said too much… what was he thinking saying stupid embarrassing things like that? That was Kise’s and Kuroko’s and maybe even Kagami’s place. He certainly didn’t bother to explain himself; he didn’t owe anyone his motives. Why did Kise always seem to be one of his exceptions?

There was a prolonged silence, and this time, Aomine couldn’t resist the urge to open his eyes and look at the blonde sitting in front of him.

His eyes widened at the sight waiting for him.

Because Kise’s golden eyes were full of a fire that threatened to scorch everything in his path. It made Aomine tense and he had to resist the urge to flinch as that molten gaze settled on him, and if Aomine had been anyone else, he would be feeling his body go into fight-or-flight at the sight of Kise’s gaze on him.

“Ki—”

“Stop! Don’t say another word…”

This time, both Momoi and Aomine recoiled at the sound of Kise’s heated command, and they both tensed when the blonde abruptly stood, his figure tense and his fists clenched at his sides.

“Out of all the things you could have said Aominecchi… you managed to say something that really pisses me off.”

Aomine blinked in confusion, completely taken aback by Kise’s reaction.

“You mean to tell me… that this whole time… I wasn’t even an option in your book? You thought of me so little that you felt the need to protect my feelings? Who the fuck do you think you are!?”

Aomine recoiled once more at Kise’s unprecedented wrath, and now his body really did go into fight-or-flight mode as his heart rate sped up and his palms began to sweat.

“You might have been the reason I wanted to play basketball in the first place… but you aren’t the reason I grew to love it! Back then… I was willing to let go of my admiration of you… so that I could copy you and finally have a chance to beat you… only for you to tell me that you didn’t want me to win because you wanted me to keep looking up to you? Do you have any idea how disrespectful that is to me! Are you seriously telling me I’m nothing but some sick form of entertainment to you? A way to stroke your ego? Did you just enjoy the sight of me begging for another game?”

“Kichan—”

Momoi stopped abruptly, her eyes widening as Kise’s eyes flashed once more.

“Well… you can forget about all that! Aomine Daiki… the next time we meet on the court… it will be in the battle for the Inter-High. This time I’ll make you see me as someone you should fear and respect… and not someone whose feelings you need to protect, or someone you can use as an ego boost.”

There was a pause, and Aomine took that moment to straighten and harden his gaze as he met the full force of Kise’s wrath.

“Fine.”

Kise’s eyes flashed again, and this time, he clicked his tongue before abruptly turning and leaving the table in a flurry.

It took another moment for the two remaining figures to regain their bearings, and Momoi was the first to move as she looked down at the darker hand that had gripped her own when she had tried to speak up.

“Daichan… Why didn’t you let me say anything? Why did you let him believe that?”

There she went again… looking all concerned. Why did she always look at him like that when he least needed it?

Aomine sighed, finally letting go of her hand as he looked in the direction that Kise had gone.

“Because… it’s probably better this way…”

Momoi looked to her childhood friend, and felt her eyes water at the look on his face, because reflected in his usually cool and cold blue eyes… was pain.

“Are you seriously crying?” Aomine grunted as he fleetingly looked at his pink-haired friend.

“Daichan… you’re such an idiot…”

Aomine sighed again, his body slumping after the adrenaline started to fade from his system.

“Maybe… I guess we’ll see at the Inter-High.”

And as he clenched his fist so tight he could feel the nails dig into his palm, he could taste blood in his mouth from the bite of his teeth on his tongue.


Kise’s rage followed him all the way back to his apartment.

It was only after he got off at his train stop and the chill of the night air hit him that he finally began to cool his head, but his anger continued to simmer just beneath the surface. He had purposely ignored his phone the entire way home so he didn’t succumb to the urge to send Aomine a few more of his thoughts on the matter.

He wanted to hold on to this anger.

Because it was the very first time he could say he was honestly angry at the blue-haired man. Even after his losses against him… after their break-up… even after seeing him flirt with girls… Kise had never been truly angry at him. He had been saddened, resigned, jealous, hurt… but never angry. He had only ever been angry at himself. For not winning… for not being good enough.

Until now.

How dare Aomine think so little of him? He had thought Aomine had at least respected him… enough to give it his all against him in games and the reason why Kise hadn’t been able to beat him. Only to find out that his reason was so selfish and shallow? That he simply wanted Kise to continue to be an idiot by continuing to praise the ground he walked on? The equivalent to a fanboy?

It was one thing to admire Aomine for his skill… Kise had never once denied that of him. But it was another for Aomine to tell him he didn’t see him as a true opponent.

Well… Kise would certainly prove him wrong.

He had declared his challenge, and he would follow through on it like his life depended on it.

“You look like you’re contemplating murder.”

Kise’s eyes widened as he looked up at the sound of the familiar voice, noticing for the first time that he had made it to his apartment and the unexpected figure that was leaning against his door with his arms crossed in front of him.

“Kaibacchi… w-what are you doing here? How long have you been here?” Kise asked, his anger forgotten and replaced by surprise.

Kaiba only raised an eyebrow.

“Not long. Weren’t you the one to extend an open invitation to visit you whenever I wanted?” the brunette countered and Kise blinked.

“Ah… yeah but… I thought you would at least give me a heads up to make sure I was home.”

This time, Kaiba’s eyes narrowed.

“I did. Didn’t you see my message?”

Kise blinked again and scrambled to take out his phone from the inside pocket of his thin jacket, and quickly unlocked it to see if he had any messages. And as Kaiba said… he indeed had a message from the brunette telling him to make sure he was home in two hours.

“Neh Kaibacchi… what would you have done if I hadn’t seen your message and taken hours to get home?”

Kaiba grunted.

“I guess track you down and scold you for not looking at your messages.”

Despite himself, Kise laughed.

“You really aren’t used to having friends… are you?” Kise teased as he took a step closer to the brunette man.

Kaiba’s eyes narrowed.

“Are you making fun of me?” he asked.

Kise’s smile widened as he took yet another step towards him.

“Yeah… kind of,” he admitted, this time taking out the keys from his pocket and reaching for the door with Kaiba still standing in front of it, their bodies close and their gaze locked onto each other as Kise turned his key to unlock the door.

Kaiba waited patiently for the blonde to open the door, and as soon as it was open the brunette pushed Kise inside, closing the door behind them before grabbing the blonde by his wrists and pinning them over his head as he pressed him up against the nearest wall.

Kise gasped at the sudden feeling of Kaiba’s body against his, his body immediately reacting to the warmth and hardness of him as his heart rate sped up and his pupils dilated as their gazes met.

“I don’t appreciate being made fun of…” Kaiba replied as he buried his nose in the crook of Kise’s neck, enjoying the way the blond shivered and breathed deeply at the feeling of his nose trailing up his neck.

“Kaibacchi…”

The sound of his name in that intoxicating breathless plea of his was the reason Kaiba hadn’t been able to shake his thoughts free of the blonde underneath him. Even as he tried his best to give his undivided attention to the plans and launch of his Duel Links campaign, thoughts and flashes of Kise from their last night together had invaded his waking thoughts… and some of his provocative texts certainly hadn’t made things easier.

Which was why… as soon as his part in the KaibaCorp announcement was done and all that was left was to see the fruits of their labor flood in… Kaiba had wanted nothing more than to celebrate his successful announcement by finally being able to taste and touch the man he had been craving all week.

“Kise…”

Kise moaned and craned his neck to give Kaiba more access as the brunette began to nip and lick lightly at the skin. As always, the sound of his name in Kaiba’s voice sent a sharp trill of desire down his spine and to his groin and Kise instinctually pressed up against him to create friction between them.

He wanted to touch him, but Kaiba’s grip on his wrists kept him from reaching out.

“Hng… what made you want to see me today, shouldn’t you be holding a press conference or something?” Kise asked through the mewls and gasps that Kaiba was eliciting from him as he ravaged his neck, even more so when one of his hands began to explore beneath his shirt and trail up his torso.

“The press conference will be held on Monday, and my staff can handle any issues that might come up until then. That’s what I pay them for. Right now… all I want to do is touch you and see you cum with me inside you.”

Kise let out a particularly loud moan at Kaiba’s words and this time struggled against his restraint.

“Kaibacchi no fair… let me touch you too… please.”

Kaiba hummed against Kise's skin, so that Kise trembled at the low rumble. To Kise’s relief, Kaiba obliged his request and let go of his wrists, and Kise wasted no time in reaching for Kaiba and tugging at his jacket to take it off.

Kaiba let Kise slide off his jacket and continue to tug his shirt off, letting the clothing fall to the ground as Kaiba now stood shirtless before him, before he quickly did the same to Kise.

The lights were still turned off, and it was late enough that the apartment was dark and the only light was from the moonlight and the outside lights that streamed in through the window.

But even though they couldn’t fully see each other, they were able to acutely feel their hands on each other as they stroked the newly exposed skin. For the first time, Kise truly noticed the necklace around Kaiba’s neck, the card shaped rectangle that he always seemed to wear no matter the outfit he wore.

Curious, but not willing to ask just then, Kise leaned down and placed open mouthed kisses on Kaiba’s collar bones and made his way up his neck, his hands stroking down Kaiba’s sides only to head straight to his pants where one of his hands snuck into the waistband of his boxers to cup the hardening member beneath. It was warm and firm and it made Kise burn with desire at the feeling of it in his hands.  Kaiba sighed as he placed one hand against the wall behind Kise while the other settled on Kise’s neck and in a fluid motion cupped his chin and brought his lips to his in a bruising kiss.

Kise kissed back, their mouths licking and sucking as their lips moved against each other eagerly, and Kise began to undo Kaiba’s pants as the man flicked his tongue against his lips and Kise welcomed him in. Their kiss became wet and heavy as Kise finally undid Kaiba’s pants and pulled down his boxers to free his now fully hardened cock, causing Kaiba to groan when Kise’s hand encircled around it.

Kise paused their kissing to break away and look at Kaiba with a heady gaze, licking his lips as his free hand worked to undo his own pants while Kaiba glanced down when the movement caught his gaze. Kise was just as hard as him as he freed himself from his own boxers, and Kaiba looked back to meet his gaze, recognizing the look of playful mischief on Kise’s face.

But as Kise lightly stroked Kaiba’s cock in his hand, his thoughts came to a halt as he enjoyed the feeling of Kise’s hand on him, and didn’t miss Kise’s grin when he shuddered at the sudden feeling of Kise’s cock pressing up against his, Kise’s hands wrapping around both as he held them against each other.

Kaiba groaned deep in his throat when Kise gave an experimental thrust of his hips, creating a delicious friction between them that made Kaiba press up closer against the blond. Kise did a few more thrusts, his breaths a little quicker as he tightened his grip around their touching members.

“Kaibacchi… I have lube in my room…” Kise whispered suggestively, looking up to meet Kaiba’s gaze. While the last thing Kise wanted to do was stop, he also knew that it would feel much better with the liquid between them.

“No need, I have some with me.”

Kise paused and blinked at Kaiba with surprise, before smiling.

“You came prepared,” Kise said teasingly, a part of him secretly pleased that these were Kaiba’s intentions for coming to see him.

“Don’t look so surprised, I’m always prepared.”

Kise grinned wider as Kaiba reached into his back pocket, and feeling extra playful, leaned closer to his face, and nudged his nose against his cheek as his lips hovered over his with only a breath between them.

“So, you’re always prepared to surprise pretty boys at their apartment?”

Kaiba didn’t answer right away, choosing to take his time opening the small bottle of lube in his hand as he nudged Kise gently back so he could see what he was doing, and Kise bit his lip as he watched Kaiba pour the liquid into his hand, put the lube back into his pocket, and then rub the lube between his hands. He shuddered as Kaiba reached down to their still pressed members and nudged his hands between Kise’s that were still holding them together, and with his hands on top, Kise noticed that their hands were practically the same size, with Kaiba’s fingers slightly more slender than his own. The feeling of the cold and wet liquid against his sensitive skin sent a shiver up Kise’s spine followed by waves of pleasure as Kaiba rubbed and spread the lube around both members.

This time, it was Kaiba that held them together and thrust his hips to create the pleasurable friction between them, causing Kise to gasp as the pleasure traveled from his cock and up his body.

“Not particularly,” Kaiba finally answered as he caught Kise’s golden gaze, his voice as even and cool as ever despite their situation, “You seem to be a special case.”

At the response, Kise’s eyes widened and he felt himself blush as warmth bloomed in his chest, but before he could properly process the meaning behind the CEO’s words, Kaiba thrust his hips again, sending another wave of pleasure through Kise, the lube making it easier and more comfortable for them to slide against each other, and Kise rested more of his weight against the wall behind him.

Kaiba watched the blonde under him become lost to the pleasure as he created a rhythm between them, adding pressure with his hands as he saw fit. He loved the look of lust and pleasure on Kise’s face, the way his eyes were half lidded and his breaths came out in short gasps and pants, the way he thrust his hips to match Kaiba’s and increase the friction between them.

Kaiba wanted to prolong their release as he watched Kise closely and his breathing became even shallower, and purposely slowed down his pace to tease him, causing the blonde to groan in frustration and arch his own hips to compensate.

All week it had been Kise’s face that played at the forefront of his thoughts at night, and more than once he found himself seeking release by his own hands and wishing it had been the blonde in his place.

Never had Kaiba craved someone as much as he had Kise Ryota, and while a part of him felt uneasy with this change in character, another part of him wanted to satisfy his desire even more. After all, was it so unusual to lust after such an attractive and talented person? One that he had even grown to respect and appreciate? Who was he to deny what he wanted?

And one thing was for certain… he wanted Kise Ryota.

“Kaibacchi…” Kise’s mewl broke through his thoughts, and Kaiba could see that Kise was on the edge of his release.

This time, Kaiba wanted to see him come completely undone, tightening his grip around their members and increasing his pace, so that his own breathing came out as pants.

“Hng… I’m so close…” Kise warned, and Kaiba could see from the faltering of his hips that it was true.

“Not yet…” Kaiba commanded, and Kise groaned in frustration, but Kaiba could see on his face that he was fighting down his release.

Kaiba increased his pace even more, and he could see Kise’s discomfort as he tried to keep his orgasm at bay before he visibly shuddered again.

“I… I can’t!”

Kaiba watched as Kise’s brows scrunched, his hands letting go of his as they moved to dig into the walls behind him and bis breathing became ragged.

“Nngh!”

With a loud groan, Kise’s hips spasmed against his, but Kaiba only increased his pace as he watched Kise close his eyes tightly and lean against the wall behind, his mouth going slack as he tensed beneath him, his orgasm overwhelming him as he came in thick squirts between his hands and onto his stomach, his face flushed and relaxed from his release.

Kaiba paused in his own movements, holding his own release back despite the erotic picture that Kise presented him with as he gave him a moment to bask in the high of it.

His breathing slowed down, and his golden eyes opened slightly to look back at him.

“S-sorry Kaibacchi…” he whispered.

“No need. You’re about to make it up to me.”

Kise blinked at him in confusion, and Kaiba smirked as he stroked Kise’s cheek with one finger that made the younger man shiver.

“Turn around.”

Kise flushed at Kaiba’s command and knew what was coming next.  If he hadn’t just orgasmed, he would be hardening already. With a single nod and another shiver of anticipation, Kise slowly turned around, so that his hands and forearms supported him against the wall now in front of him.

For a moment Kaiba did nothing but run his hands across his shoulder and down his sides and back, making goosebumps rise in their wake. Then, his hands travelled lower, so that Kise gasped when Kaiba’s hands skirted around his backside, and down his inner thighs before travelling back up and, with the back of his hands, lightly caressed his lower cheeks.

Kise could feel his heart beat faster again as his blood once more began to pump and gasped under his breath when he felt Kaiba’s hands on his hips, only for him to tug them backwards sharply so that Kaiba’s hard cock rubbed against his ass.

“Hng…”

Kise gasped louder when he felt Kaiba begin to rub his cock between the cheeks of his ass, the slicked member spreading the lube along it with each movement of his cock.

Kaiba did this for a moment, keenly aware of Kise’s breathing and giving him time to recover despite his own desire to sheathe himself into the alluring blonde, and deciding it was enough time, pulled away slightly, just enough to take out a condom from his back pocket and slide in on, and once again take out the bottle of lube in his back pocket to pour some over his fingers and cock before moving onto Kise’s hole, enjoying the gasp from the blonde.

He didn’t give Kise warning as he began to push his thumb against the puckered hole while his hand rested on his backside, and he felt Kise tense and shudder at the suddenness of Kaiba’s intruding digit as the blonde grunted.

Kaiba moved his finger in and out slowly, and Kise’s breathed heady breaths as he began to arch against the motion, before Kaiba pulled it out only to push in with his longer finger.

Kise moaned at the feeling of the longer digit, his cock beginning to harden at the feeling of being filled, and moaned louder when Kaiba drew it out only to enter again with another digit, scissoring them inside him to spread him more.

Kise felt so hot, and leaned his forehead against wall, welcoming the coolness of it as Kaiba’s fingers continued to stretch him out, and mewled even louder when a third digit stretched him wider and Kaiba thrust all three digits in and out.

Kise was rock hard now, his cock ached and Kise’s mind went blank once more when Kaiba hooked his fingers inside him so that they stroked his sweet spot, making another loud moan escape him as he arched against him and pressed his cheek against the wall.

Not willing to wait any longer, Kaiba pulled out his fingers and took a second to admire his work as the unfilled hole twitched, before aligning and pressing the engorged head of his cock against the hole, and as Kise tensed at the feeling of it, Kaiba grabbed onto his hips before slowly pressing in, giving Kise only a moment to adjust himself before completely sheathing the rest of himself inside.

Kaiba shuddered as he felt Kise clench around him.

Kise moaned low in his throat at the feeling of Kaiba finally entering him, the familiar burn of being stretched and filled to the brim with Kaiba’s hardened cock a welcomed feeling as he dug his nails dig into the walls once more.  

Kaiba didn’t hesitate to start moving, his cock thrusting in and out, their position letting him reach deeper inside the blonde as it pressed up against his prostate easily with each thrust.

Kise was on fire as Kaiba fucked him without abandon, his pace rough and fast as he sheathed himself balls deep each time, the slap of their skin against each other resounding throughout the apartment that only served to turn him on even more.

Kaiba was breathing faster now, sweat trailing down his body as he became lost in the tightness and heat of the younger man bent over in front of him and the erotic sight of his slick cock sliding in and out of him as the blonde moaned with each thrust. Kise mewled and moaned even louder when Kaiba adjusted the angle of his hips to hit the spot he had learned the blonde enjoyed quite a bit from the last time they had done this.

He could feel his orgasm approaching again and had every intention to make the blonde cum with him.

With that in mind, he bent over Kise so that it was easier to reach around and grasp his cock, causing Kise to gasp and tense at the unexpected touch, his moans growing louder when Kaiba began to pump his hand while his hips continued to thrust.

“Kaibacchi! Mmph, yes!”

Kaiba would be lying if he said that nickname hadn’t grown on him. After all, who else had ever called him that in the throes of passion? Kise’s breathy moans of encouragement only made it harder for him to hold back, and he needed Kise to catch up fast, so he leaned as close as he could towards his ear.

“I want you to cum with me Kise…”

Kise made a choked sound in the back of his throat, and turned his head to look back at Kaiba, meeting his gaze as he bit his lip.

Kaiba had slowed the rhythm of his hips, choosing to give more attention to Kise’s cock as he continued to pump it steadily.

When Kise nodded his head slowly, Kaiba grinned before leaning closer to Kise’s face, and this time, Kise arched to meet him, so their lips met in a sloppy and wet kiss as Kaiba continued to pump him, and this time, resumed his own thrusts.

Kaiba braced himself against the wall, and their kissing stopped when both began to pant from the exertion of their bodies as they lost themselves in the pleasure of each other, and as their breath became more ragged and as Kaiba’s thrusting became erratic, it was clear they couldn’t hold back anymore.

“K-Kaibacchi… I’m… I’m…”

Kise didn’t need to finish his sentence as he groaned instead, the way that he tensed and clenched around Kaiba was all Kaiba needed to know he was where he wanted him, and Kaiba’s own hips shuddered as he felt and heard Kise’s orgasm wash over him, his moan of pleasure causing Kaiba’s own release as he grunted and sheathed himself one final time into the blonde as he came.

For a moment all Kaiba could see was stars as his mind went blank, the pleasure of his orgasm making him lean his weight against his hands that braced him against the wall and all he could focus on was the way that Kise still gripped him. Only with this blonde had his orgasms ever hit him so hard…

After a moment of catching his breath, Kaiba slowly pulled out of the blonde and once he was out, Kise straightened, before slowly turning around and resting against the wall behind him, his breathing still slightly labored as he looked at Kaiba with half-lidded eyes.

Kaiba placed his arms on either side of Kise as he looked back at him.

“Should we move to your room? Or would you rather stay out here?”

Instead of answering, Kise drew Kaiba in for a kiss.

Chapter Text

They managed to christen his couch and kitchen counter before they made it to Kise’s room, and by that point they were sated enough that they merely collapsed on the bed to make out some more before taking a breather.

Kise wasn’t sure he could go another round himself, but he was considering sucking Kaiba off if the brunette didn’t oppose it…

Kise was on his side as he looked at Kaiba, a thin gray sheet draped haphazardly over them.

“You’re spending the night, right?” Kise asked softly, tracing his finger along Kaiba’s bicep as he watched his expression carefully.

Kaiba for his part, kept his expression blank as his icy blue eyes turned to look at Kise.

“Is it necessary?” he countered, and Kise pouted.

“Well it’s getting late… I wouldn’t want you to drive so far this late at night.”

“What makes you think I drove?”

Kise frowned in confusion.

“You took the train?”

Kaiba huffed in indignation as he closed his eyes.

“Please, you think I would resort to such a common form of transportation?”

Now Kise was downright lost.

“Then how did you get here?” he asked.

“I flew, of course.”

Kise looked at Kaiba in silence, waiting for him to tell him ‘just kidding’. Then again… this was Kaiba. The man who enjoyed flaunting his status and intelligence, the man who had managed to build a ship that could take him to another dimension.

“You’re being serious, aren’t you…”

Kaiba opened his eyes to meet Kise’s curious gaze once more.

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

At his response, Kise couldn’t help but laugh.

“You’re insane Kaibacchi…” he said.

Kaiba didn’t answer, and Kise only moved closer to the brunette, leaning down to place a soft kiss on the same bicep he had been caressing just a moment before.

“Well, either way… I’d like you to stay. I’ll even wake you up with some of the best head of your life…” Kise teased, but his eyes reflected molten orbs that told Kaiba he was serious, and remembering the first time Kise had sucked him off, Kaiba knew the blonde could follow through on his promise.

“Hm… tempting.”

Kise smiled, knowing that this would be the most he would get from Kaiba, and regardless of what he chose to do, Kise wanted to make the most of his visit.

“I really liked your announcement… I was in Ginza when it happened. Talk about being at the right place at the right time! I gotta say, you really know how to go big. But a lot of people were scared! A warning would have been nice.”

Kaiba hummed, and Kise was pleasantly surprised when his arm moved behind him so that his hand could caress his back, causing Kise to shiver.

“I’ve found that shock factor is the best way to incite a following. I made sure all precautions were taken and police and emergency services were on standby.”

Kise blinked and frowned, laying down so that his head was on the crook of Kaiba’s neck, all the while Kaiba’s hand continued his feather-like caress across the back of Kise’s shoulders that made goosebumps rise along his skin as Kise resisted the urge to hum contentedly.

“Well, you certainly crashed the internet,” Kise mumbled, feeling utterly relaxed and sated that he had absolutely no urge to move.

There was a moment of silence, and Kise would have dosed off if Kaiba hadn’t spoken again.

“You looked upset when you got home, why is that?”

Kise was surprised by Kaiba’s question and remembered what had happened that made him return to his apartment instead of going to a nearby court to play a basketball game with Aomine. Remembering it made something unpleasant stir in the pit of his stomach, but Kaiba’s presence was enough to sooth the feeling into something tolerable.

“Oh that… well, I was hanging out with my friends Aomine and Momocchi. Aomine said something that pissed me off, so I left and came back home.”

Kaiba didn’t miss the fact that Kise had dropped the nickname on the so called Aomine, which spoke volumes of how angry Kise must be with the man.

“What did he say to make you so angry? I know it takes a lot to bring out that side of you…”

Kise couldn’t help but smile, touched that Kaiba was initiating a conversation, something he knew by now that the man hardly ever did. It overwrote the unpleasant feeling that remembering the moment with Aomine made him feel. Kaiba’s interest made it easy for Kise to open up about the feelings that led to Kise’s anger and resentment.

“He asked me to play basketball after we were done eating, and he ended up telling me I was the last person he wanted to lose to in basketball because he didn’t want me to stop looking up to him… and that pissed me off.”

Kaiba laughed, and Kise frowned as he recoiled away from Kaiba to look at his expression.

“What? That’s it? Why does that piss you off?”

Kise glared at Kaiba as he flushed in indignation.

“It’s not that simple! That’s the most disrespectful thing he could ever say to me!”

Kaiba looked unconvinced.

“How so?”

Kise pouted.

“I doubt you’d understand… it’s a kind of a complicated long story…”

Kaiba sighed and pulled Kise back to his previous position with his head against the crook of his neck, drawing him closer than he had been before.

“Try me… I have time.”

Kise felt his entire body warm up as his heart skipped a beat, his eyes wide at Kaiba’s gesture, and he suddenly felt like putty as he leaned against Kaiba and basked in the warmth of his body.

How could he not oblige after that?

“Well… Aomine was the person that inspired me to play basketball. When I saw his plays, I thought they were amazing and I even thought I might never be able to copy his style… but I wanted to try. When I was put into first string and eventually became a starter, I constantly asked Aomine for one on one’s, hoping to beat him but never could. But even though I always lost… I always had fun. It was great to finally have a worthy opponent, someone that pushed me to be better and work harder than I ever had before. I’d never experienced that before basketball and Aomine.

But because Aomine was always stronger than all our opponents to the point they always gave up when they faced him… he could never find that same kind of challenge in others and lost the passion he had for basketball. He learned to believe the only one who could beat him was himself and had no interest in getting better. He stopped coming to practice and only played games, and the basketball team was never the same after that. Everyone kind of did their own thing, and we weren’t so much a team as pieces to win and hold the title. I didn’t think much of it at the time, since my goal was still to get good enough to finally beat Aomine, and as long as we won I thought that was enough as a member of the team.

We all ended up choosing different schools when we moved on to high school, and Akashicchi pointed out that it was because we didn’t like being lumped as the Generation of Miracles, and that we wanted to prove we could hold our own and be the best. It was true of course… but leave it to Akashicchi to be the one to say it out loud. It was a promise we had that we would compete against each other and prove we were the best of the supposed Generation of Miracles during high school.

I stood by that promise of course… but the one I wanted to beat the most was Aomine.”

Kise paused, realizing he was probably saying more than he needed… but it felt easy to speak with Kaiba, and since he hadn’t said anything to cut him off, he figured he was fine listening to his tale.

“The first time we faced off was for the inter-high our first year of high school. Back then… I wasn’t able to copy the Generation of Miracles. It wasn’t until I was facing Aomine that I realized that the only way I could beat him was to stop looking up to him… because since I admired him, I never wanted to see him lose, and since I didn’t want to see him lose, I could never truly play my best. So during that game… I gave up on looking up on him, and was finally able to copy his style.

But in the end… I still lost. Aomine knew me better than I knew him… and saw through my strategy. He told me that the only way I would beat him was to rely only on myself, but I still believed that I would beat him someday, even if I hadn’t been able to then.

But then… Kagamicchi was able to beat Aomine during the winter cup. It was unbelievable, and I hated that it had been Kagamicchi that was the first to do it when I had wanted it to be me… even more so because even to this day… Aomine is the only one I’ve faced that I’ve never been able to beat at least once, and the reason Kaijo hasn’t taken any of the championships… he’s the one obstacle I haven’t been able to overcome…”

Kise sighed.

“So when Aomine told me that he didn’t want to lose to me because he didn’t want me to stop looking up to him… it was like he was telling me that he didn’t see me as his equal on the court. It wasn’t his skill that he wanted to prove… it was my feelings he wanted to protect, and even worse… his own ego. It felt like a slap in the face… I thought he at least respected me… but to not value my skill? It just pissed me off… what has all my hard work been for if he doesn’t even acknowledge me as a true basketball opponent? That he wants me to continue to be some kind of groupie! It’s like he doesn’t understand that I already gave up on looking up to him back then! What was all that for if he still sees me the way I was in middle school?”

Kise groaned.

“Maybe I’m being silly and overreacting… maybe I really am overthinking it… but that’s what it felt like. It was like one of the worst insults I’d ever been told… I mean… your accusation of me was still by far the worst but Aomine’s is probably up there with yours!”

The last part was said teasingly, and Kaiba huffed.

“Your feelings are valid, whether that’s what he meant by it or not. You’re allowed to feel angry.”

Kise blinked and turned his head to look at Kaiba. Was he comforting him?

“Why do you think you haven’t beaten him?”

Kaiba’s question once more threw Kise off.

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what it sounds like. Why do you think you haven’t beat Aomine in basketball? Do you think it’s a lack of skill? Do you think even though you say you stopped looking up to him, a part of you still does?”

Kise frowned.

“I…”

Kise paused, realizing for the first time that he wasn’t sure what his answer was anymore.

“I can tell you why you haven’t won.”

Kise looked at Kaiba with apprehension in his eyes.

“You can?”

Kaiba moved onto his side, and Kise mirrored his move as also turned onto his side to look at Kaiba.

“Like I told you before… it’s not a lack of skill that you have. You have as much skill as Aomine, and more in your arsenal. The reason you haven’t won isn’t even that you still look up to him. You’re obviously past that now.”

Kise felt something unpleasant stir in the pit of his stomach, and he found it hard to meet Kaiba’s gaze as he looked to the space in the bed between them instead as Kaiba continued. He knew Kaiba was about to say something that he wasn’t prepared to hear.

“The reason you haven’t won… is because it’s easier to tell yourself that you tried your best and your injury is the reason you can’t win. You’re using your injury as a handicap… instead of admitting to yourself that you’ve convinced yourself you’re not good enough.  It’s not Aomine that thinks less of you… it’s you who thinks less of you.”

Kise felt as if lightning shot through his body, and his eyes widened as his fists clenched.

“It’s why when I saw your match against him… I was able to see the moment you gave up. Back then, I thought with certainty you would win from your plays alone. But for some reason, you gave up. I didn’t understand why you did it back then… but I can see it now.”

Could that be true?

Had he truly given up?

He remembered that match.

He remembered feeling good about his plays and for once feeling as if he might win.

But then… his foot starting aching… like it always did.

He knew then that Aomine was going to get ahead of him… and he wouldn’t be able to keep up.

At least… he thought he knew…

But… hadn’t he been proven correct when Aomine overtook him again? And won the match?

Or had it been because he had given up?

Kise sighed and turned to lay on his back as he looked at the ceiling.

“Maybe you’re right Kaibacchi… as much as I hate to admit it… going up against Aomine has always felt like an impossible task… maybe it really was easier to give up and blame my injury than accept I didn’t believe in myself...”

Kaiba watched a flurry of emotions dance across Kise’s golden eyes, but could see that despite his young age, Kise handled his emotions well. He had expected him to deny his claim, to tell him he was wrong. But instead, he was accepting that this was indeed a possibility.

“What will you do about it?”

Kise closed his eyes at Kaiba’s question, and a moment of contemplative silence passed.

“Well… I already declared war on Aomine. I told him next time we faced off in the court I would show him I was someone to be feared and respected. My only option after a declaration like that is to prove it. Otherwise I wouldn’t be a man of my word…”

Another moment of silence, but the next time Kise opened his eyes he turned his head to look at Kaiba, and their gaze met.

“Do you think I can do it?” he asked softly.

Kaiba could still hear a hint of uncertainty in his voice, and while his golden eyes were mostly guarded, he could see a glimpse of vulnerability in them.

Kaiba was surprised to feel a twinge of protectiveness at the way that Kise looked to him, as if he needed his validation to believe he could do it.

What a fool…

And yet… Kaiba couldn’t bring himself to see Kise as weak, despite knowing that were it anyone else, that’s exactly what he would see them as.

“You asked me that night if you had made me a fan…”

Kise blinked as he turned onto his side to look at Kaiba, his heart clenching slightly at what might be coming next. The answer he had been wanting for so long…

“Why do you think I bothered to follow you out if you hadn’t?”

Ba dump.

Kise felt his heart skip and his eyes widen as he looked back at Kaiba.

Kaiba for his part, was surprised that Kise wasn’t being loud and obnoxious about his roundabout answer, but answer nonetheless. He had expected the blonde to jump for joy or give a victory yell… instead… he was just looking at him, with that warmth in his eyes that made Kaiba feel as if he was water in a desert.

It was unsettling.

Only more so as Kise slowly closed the distance between them, his face devoid of the same emotion that was reflected in his eyes, and as Kise got closer, those eyes that seemed to pierce something deep inside him were only inches away. And as always when it came to Kise, Kaiba had no desire to move, especially when Kise’s hand reached out to rest on his cheek, the warmth and touch making his skin tingle pleasantly.

He thought maybe Kise would say something, but the blonde didn’t. He only kept looking into his eyes, as if he was looking for something in his own. And for once… Kaiba was torn. He was a guarded person, the walls he built were high and thick. He hated the thought of people trying to peer into his thoughts and feelings, more so because they had so often been violated by those associated with magic.

But he knew Kise was looking for something on his face, and against all instinct, Kaiba decided to lower his wall, even just a bit, to let Kise find what he was looking for.

As the moment continued, perhaps Kise found what he was looking for after all, because he smiled softly, a different smile than the splitting grin Kaiba was used to always seeing on his face. This smile was a smile that reflected a similar warmth to the one reflected in his eyes, but not the same smile that had caused his heart to skip a beat in the past. This smile spoke of something like trust, and Kaiba suddenly felt warm.

And when Kise closed the gap once more, and this time it was his lips that closed in on his, the warmth only increased when he felt the soft press of his lips against his, and Kaiba relished the pleasure the simple touch did to him as he returned the kiss.

His own hands moved to touch Kise, one arm going behind Kise’s shoulders to draw him closer while his other hand came to rest on his hip as their kiss heated up gradually.

It wasn’t long before their hands began to explore each other again, and as their kissing became more passionate and their bodies reacted to the newfound desire, Kaiba rolled on top of Kise, eager to begin another round between them.

Perhaps he would stay the night after all.


As promised, Kise woke Kaiba up with some of the best head his talented mouth was capable of, and feeling particularly playful, soon after invited the brunette to shower with him. After the previous night they had, they both could use it.

Surprisingly enough, Kaiba agreed, which was why Kise was eagerly pulling Kaiba towards his bathroom before the brunette had a chance to change his mind.

He was glad that his apartment was clean considering he was barely home to clean, but the agency sent a cleaning agency once a week which was how Kise managed to have clean towels and a clean bathroom as they walked into the room across the hall. The walls were plain white, and the curtain was a neutral gray with some geometric designs on it, with his assortment of shampoos, conditioners, and other body care routines that Kise kept in the shower.

Both men were still nude from the previous night, and since they had already seen each other naked and neither shy by any means, they saw no need to cover up when they would have to undress anyway to take a shower.

With a hum Kise pulled the curtain to the side so he could reach in and turn the knobs to turn on the shower and set the temperature as Kaiba watched with an appreciative gaze as he watched Kise bend over the tub.

The water rushed from the overhead shower, and Kise turned around with a grin as he grabbed some towels from the cabinet above the toilet and hung them on the hooks on the wall next to the shower.

Testing the water with his hand to check it was just the right temperature, Kise looked back to Kaiba and motioned to the shower, before stepping over the side of the tub and into the shower.

As he stepped into the falling water, he could see a look of hesitation in Kaiba’s eyes, but Kise refused to let him change his mind.

So Kise closed his eyes and let the water wash over his head and down his body, and opening his eyes and putting on his best seductive face, Kise turned to look at Kaiba as he slicked his blonde hair away from his face.

“C’mon Kaibacchi… the water feels great.”

The effect was instantaneous, and Kaiba’s gaze hardened as he watched the water trail down Kise’s defined body, and Kise grinned victoriously as Kaiba finally relented and stepped in.

Pleased, Kise smiled and playfully tugged Kaiba under the spray of the showerhead with him, so that their heads were close together but Kaiba received most of the warm spray of water until his hair was completely wet and slicked against his forehead, so that the brown locks almost covered his eyes.

With a chuckle, Kise reached up and slicked his hair back, so that Kaiba’s face was free of the wet hair and Kise felt himself flush at the sight of Kaiba’s piercing blue eyes that looked back at him. The sun that streamed in from the bathroom window reflected off those eyes, so that they looked as bright as what Kise remembered the ocean looked like on a cloudless day.

“What the hell Kaibacchi… how can you look so good with your hair slicked back? Do you style it like that often?”

Kaiba raised an eyebrow at Kise’s clearly flustered words, and the red on his cheeks certainly wasn’t from the water on them.

Now that he thought about it… Kaiba had never cared to wear his hair any other way than he always did, and he was never one to see his reflection in the mirror often, so he wasn’t sure what he looked like in Kise’s eyes.

But he did enjoy his reaction.

“Not ever, no.”

Kise blinked, his head already picturing Kaiba in all kind of scenarios with his hair like that.

“Well, if you ever did and wore a suit… I don’t think I would be able to look away from you.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Kaiba said as he pulled Kise under the showerhead, so that the water poured over his head and the unexpected motion made him splutter as the water ran over his face.

Kise just grinned and stuck his head out of the way of the water so that it trailed on his back instead, his arm reaching over to grab his favorite shampoo that smelled fresh and natural, like the smell of grass after rain.

Squeezing out a gracious dollop onto his palm, Kise put back the bottle and rubbed it between his palms before he reached towards Kaiba, who only watched him warily as Kise ran his shampoo covered hands into Kaiba’s hair, and began to gently massage it into the brown locks.

Kise was surprised that Kaiba was letting him lather on the shampoo with no resistance, going as far as to close his eyes and let Kise continue to rub the shampoo into his scalp until there was ample suds and the hair was completely covered with the substance. Kise was almost tempted to shape the hair into a funny shape, but something told him he should take it easy with Kaiba and not push his luck.

“Ah, I forgot to bring my phone to play music,” Kise said aloud as the thought crossed his mind.

Kaiba opened his eyes and looked at Kise, and Kise was careful to make sure the suds didn’t come close to his eyes.

“Why am I not surprised you sing in the shower.”

Kise grinned at Kaiba’s reply.

“Of course! Singing in the shower is the best time to sing… well besides Karaoke.”

Kaiba made a noise of understanding.

“What kind of music do you listen to?”

Kise grinned at Kaiba’s question. It was cute to see him look embarrassed to ask. He really wasn’t used to initiating conversations. But Kise wasn’t going to let his effort go to waste.

Not wanting Kaiba to get cold, Kise switched them around so that Kaiba was again under the shower, and the brunette was smart enough to close his eyes as the water washed over him, and Kise continued to lather his hair, this time to wash away the shampoo.

“Well, I like all kinds of music. But my favorites would have to be Jpop, Western Pop, and Latin music. There, no more shampoo.”

As the suds were washed away, Kise gave Kaiba room to stick his head out of the spray and run onto his torso instead, and Kise was surprised to see Kaiba reach for the same bottle of shampoo and pour it onto his own hand. Kise blushed as he watched Kaiba repeat what he had done, and begin to lather the shampoo into his own hair this time.

Kise hummed contentedly as he closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of Kaiba’s fingers run through his hair and into his scalp, and if Kise was capable of purring, he was sure that’s what he would be doing just then.

“Latin? That’s unexpected.”

Kise grinned but didn’t open his eyes as Kaiba continued to massage his head.

“Yeah… I love the beats, and I think Latin dancing is some of the best and sexiest.”

“You know how to dance to it?”

Kise grinned with pride.

“Yep! I’ve watched videos and practiced by myself in the past. But not a lot of people in Japan know it or even play it… so I mostly just do it at home alone when I’m in the mood.”

“I see… I have a vacation home in Nicaragua. Mokuba goes there often when he’s on break from school. They have a lot of local clubs, you’d like it there.”

This time, Kise did open his eyes as he looked at Kaiba, who paused and just as he had done before, switched them around so that Kise was under the spray, and Kaiba worked to lather off the suds.

When he was done, Kise cleared his eyes of the water and looked at Kaiba.

“That sounds awesome, do you go there often? Do you speak Spanish then?”

Now, Kise reached for the conditioner, and grinned as Kaiba eyed it more wearily than he had the shampoo.

“C’mon Kaibacchi… don’t tell me you use that two-in-one shampoo crap… you need proper hair products to take care of your hair,” Kise chided, knowing what Kaiba was probably thinking of as he added the creamier product onto his hand.

Kaiba just rolled his eyes and let the blonde do as he pleased.

“Anyway, answer my questions.”

Kaiba frowned at Kise, who seemed unaffected by his look as he continued to put in the product into his hair.

“The first and only time I’ve gone was during Mokuba’s last visit. And yes, Spanish is one of my more fluent languages.”

Kise grinned as he finished spreading the creamy liquid into Kaiba’s hair and pulled his hands away, this time reaching for his loofa and grabbing the body wash from his assortment of products and pouring some onto the purple loofa.

“You gotta let the conditioner settle for a few minutes before washing it off. You would know if you used it properly,” Kise teased as he then began to rub the loofa across Kaiba’s chest.

Kaiba resisted the urge to shiver as Kise gently moved the loofa over his body, as he guided it down his torso, up his sides, and down his arms.

“You should teach me Spanish Kaibacchi. I know a bit from listening to the music, but it’s only a few words here and there. I’m pretty fluent in English though. I’ve always been the best speaker in my classes.”

Kise nudged Kaiba to turn around, so that his back was turned to him, and then began to rub the loofa across his back. The feeling of Kise’s hand guiding the loofa over his skin caused Kaiba to feel warm despite his skin feeling cold from not being under the warm spray of water.

“Hm. I’m not a very good teacher. How would you like to go to Nicaragua instead? The locals would love to teach you the language. That’s how Mokuba got so good at it.”

Kise blinked at Kaiba’s suggestion.

“Well Kaibacchi… unless you’re offering to take me… I don’t think that’s a possibility for me at the moment. Unlike you… I’m not exactly made of money.”

There was a moment of silence, and Kise enjoyed the motion of washing Kaiba’s back and arms, but paused when Kaiba turned around to face him again and grabbed the loofa gently from his grasp, and Kise let him switch them around so that once more Kaiba was the one under the spray of the showerhead.

“I don’t see why not. Are you free next weekend?”

Kise felt his eyes widen as he looked at Kaiba in shock, not quite believing he heard right.

“Wait… really? You want to take me to Nicaragua?”

Kaiba shrugged.

“It’s not a big deal. I have my personal jet ready anytime, and a house already there. And it’s a three-day weekend. You’d be back in time for school.”

Kise blinked at Kaiba in disbelief. Was this real? But how could it not be? Hadn’t this been the same man who took him into outer space and to a different dimension? Why did it seem more shocking for him to offer to take him to a country just across the world? Something much more feasible in comparison?

“Are you serious?”

This time, Kaiba glared indignantly in his direction, and Kise couldn’t help but laugh.

“Sorry, sorry! I know you don’t kid. It’s just… it’s not everyday a someone offers to take you to a country across the world. Then again… you are the one that ended up taking me to a different dimension.”

Kaiba said nothing as he put the loofa back where Kise had grabbed it from, only to wash his hair free of the conditioner Kise had put on him, and Kise watched entranced at the sight of Kaiba under the running water, and felt himself warm up at the enticing sight of the water dripping down his slim but defined body. Kise bit his lip and fought down his arousal before it got out of hand. He wouldn’t mind starting something, but at the same time, he was enjoying the simple action of washing each other. It was easy and carefree, intimate in a different kind of way, especially since he got the impression that Kaiba hadn’t done this with someone before. It made feel Kise feel special to think he was the first person Kaiba had ever showered with. Whether that was true or not… was another thing altogether.

After washing off the conditioner, Kaiba once more turned his attention to Kise, and again, reached for the conditioner and repeated the action on the blonde, making Kise smile happily as he welcomed the touch.

“Well, I don’t have anything going on. If you really don’t mind taking me across the world, I won’t say no,” Kise said happily.

He was lying. He knew he had a basketball practice next weekend, but like hell would he pass up the chance to go to another country with Kaiba. He would make up the practice when he got back. His team and coach would not be happy at all, but Kise’s resolve was stronger than ever, and he would make sure a mini vacation would not interfere with his goal. After all, how often did someone get the chance to travel to another country at the expense of a handsome CEO? It was something people only dreamed about and read in trashy romance novels.

Kaiba made a noise of acknowledgment as he once more grabbed the loofa and body wash, creating suds under the water before beginning to return the favor and washing Kise’s torso and arms.

“It’s settled then. I’ll make the arrangements. Be ready to leave Friday night.”

Kise flushed and nodded.

“O-okay… thanks Kaibacchi.”

Kise’s sudden flustered state caused something to stir in Kaiba, as he began ran the loofa across Kise’s body and down his arms, he didn’t miss the subtle change in his breathing and the way Kise was now avoiding his gaze.

Realizing what was happening, Kaiba resisted the urge to grin, and merely continued what he was doing, but instead of turning Kise around to wash his back, Kaiba’s hand simply traveled lower, causing Kise to gasp and tense when Kaiba ran the loofa between his leg gently.

Kise’s face flushed a deeper red as he looked up at Kaiba, whose blue eyes now looked at him with an intensity that made Kise shiver and as a wave of arousal spread over him.

“Kaibacchi…” Kise moaned when Kaiba’s hand continue to rub against his sensitive flesh, and Kise’s body reacted instantly, his now hardening member becoming erect at Kaiba’s ministrations.

Kaiba turned them so that Kise was pushed up against the adjacent shower wall, and basked in the sound of Kise’s increasingly ragged breathing and sight of his unfocused eyes as he grabbed onto the top of Kaiba’s shoulders.

Satisfied with the amount of soap on Kise’s cock, Kaiba put the loofa behind Kise, and his other handed wrapped completely around Kise’s length, causing Kise to moan and huff at the pleasure the ran up his body at the touch.

The soap along his cock made it easy for Kaiba’s hand to pump up and down his length, and before long Kise was panting and thrusting against his hand, lost to the arousal and pleasure that Kaiba was giving him.

Unable to resist the look on his face, Kaiba leaned down and captured Kise’s lips with his own, pleased when Kise eagerly kissed back, and immediately sought out his tongue with his own. Kaiba didn’t hold back, kissing him as he planned to devour the younger man, his hand never once losing its rhythm as Kise continued to thrust against him.

The feel of the water along his back was second to the feel of Kise’s lips and tongue and the thrusting of his cock against his hand, and Kaiba had no intention to hold back Kise’s orgasm this time, and quickly increased his pace so that Kise was panting hard against him.

“Go ahead and cum when you want to,” Kaiba urged as he breathed against Kise’s lips, and Kise’s golden eyes looked wantonly at him as he nodded slightly.

It wasn’t long before Kise’s thrust against this hand became erratic, and as his grip on his shoulders tightened, and as the look on his face became more unfocused, Kaiba knew Kise was on the edge.

Skillfully, Kaiba’s other hand reached to cup Kise’s balls, and Kise moaned loudly as Kaiba stroked at the sensitive flesh between his balls and his ass with one of his fingers.

Kise bit his lip and arched up against Kaiba, his eyes glazed over with pleasure at Kaiba’s ministrations, and it didn’t take long after the added stimulation for Kise’s orgasm to hit him full force.

With a loud cry that echoed through the bathroom, Kise’s hips spasmed against Kaiba’s hand, and he came into Kaiba’s hand and onto his own torso as he leaned his forehead against Kaiba’s shoulder.

Kaiba watched Kise ride out his orgasm, the blonde relaxing under him as his breathing slowed, his eyes closed and his head tilted back from the pleasure he was feeling.

Kaiba was aroused and hard himself, but he ignored it as he watched Kise come down from his high, and in a moment the blonde opened his eyes to look up at him.

By then, Kaiba was already reaching for the loofa he had put away, and once more ran the object across Kise’s newly soiled skin, and also pushed him under the water to properly wash him.

Kise blushed at the care Kaiba was taking with him, his chest warm with something other than post-coital high.

Noticing Kaiba’s own aroused state, Kise moved to reach for him, his hands pressing against his chest and trailing down slowly, but was surprised when Kaiba stopped him just as he reached his navel.

Kise looked at the brunette with confusion, and Kaiba shook his head.

“If you do that, we’re never going to leave this shower,” Kaiba answered his silent question.

“So? I want to return the favor…” Kise replied with a frown.

“You already thanked me this morning… or did you forget?”

Kise blushed as he remembered the way he had woken Kaiba up, particularly proud that he had been able to fulfill his promise. He had thought Kaiba would wake up before him, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

“Didn’t you say something about making breakfast?”

Kise visibly perked at the mention of food and it seemed that was all he needed to be convinced as he took his hands away from Kaiba.

With that, Kise finished washing off first, and Kaiba told him to go on ahead, and he would be out shortly.

Kise figured Kaiba would take care of himself before getting out, but he let him do as he pleased in favor of starting to make breakfast, but not before teasingly raking his fingers along his still hardened length.

Kaiba glared at Kise who only grinned and winked before stepping out of the shower and grabbing one of the towels to run over his head and wrap around his body.

“Don’t take too long Kaibacchi,” Kise said playfully as he walked out of the room.

Kaiba sighed as Kise closed the door behind him, and tilted his head back as he let the water fall over his face run down his body, his hands running through his hair.

What the hell was he doing?

But as his hand made his way down to grasp at his still hardened cock, the picture of Kise’s mouth around it came to mind as he was reminded of the way the blonde had so pleasantly woken him up, and as he replayed the memories of that moment in his head, it didn’t take long for him to find his release.

Chapter Text

There were only a handful of dishes that Kise was comfortable making, but thanks to his mom and sisters, most of them were breakfast items, which was why he felt comfortable making breakfast for Kaiba and himself that morning.

They had woken up early considering how late they had stayed up the night before, so it was still breakfast by the time Kise changed into some sporty sweatpants and a plain white t-shirt. He was considerate enough to fold Kaiba’s clothing and place it on the bed for when he came back. He wasn’t sure if Kaiba would want to wear his own clothes, but Kise still left some of his own clothes in case Kaiba chose to wear something fresh instead.

Kise decided to make strawberry crepes with a side of scrambled eggs and sausage links, the ingredients he made sure to always have stocked since he considered it his comfort food.

Before long, the ingredients were gathered and he got to work, wearing his favorite yellow apron.

Ten minutes later Kaiba came out from his room and walked into the kitchen, and Kise looked up from his work to greet him with a smile.

He felt his body freeze at the sight of Kaiba wearing the fresh clothes Kise had set out for him, and his stomach did a funny flip. There was something so… attractive about seeing Kaiba in something so relaxed… even more so because it was Kise’s clothes he was wearing. He had never seen Kaiba wear sweats and a t-shirt, and Kise had to admit that it looked good on the CEO.

“You look good in that Kaibacchi,” Kise commented aloud as he continued to stir the scrambled eggs.

Kaiba eyed the figure of Kise cooking at the stove and chose to sit down at the table tucked into the corner of the medium sized kitchen. The fact that Kise knew how to cook was still surprising to him, but he guessed it was something he had to learn living by himself. He looked happy as he tended to the different pans, and he had to admit the aroma coming from the food was appetizing. It certainly didn’t smell burnt.

The truth was, their actions from the previous night had been less than kind on his outfit, and Kaiba hadn’t been able to find it in himself to wear the soiled clothes. Which was why he had chosen to wear the clothing that Kise had left out from his own closet.

“Do you drink coffee Kaibacchi?” Kise asked from over his shoulder.

“I do.”

“Great, I’ll make you a cup. I don’t drink it often myself, only when I’m so tired I feel I can’t do anything.”

Kaiba watched as Kise walked over to a cupboard and took out a kettle, then went over to the sink and filled it with water before placing it over the heat of the stove.

“My mom always told me that pour-over coffee was the best cup of coffee, and I have to agree. Growing up I always wanted to help her make it so I got pretty good and can make a mean cup now. This is the only way I can drink it now.”

Kaiba continued to watch Kise work but said little in return.

Before long, the blonde started on the crepes, and Kaiba watched in fascination as he poured the batter over a round griddle next to the stove and used a T-shaped stick to spread the batter around.

The blonde hummed as he worked, as he flipped the thin material over and once it was done transferred it over to a plate. The process continued until the batter was used up. Afterwards, the blonde moved to the refrigerator where he pulled out some more ingredients, and Kaiba watched as Kise pulled out some more plates and began to put together the newly made crepes, strawberries, and some kind of white cream, before rolling them up and putting three on a plate.

Kaiba had had crepes before of course, but he had never seen the process of making them. From how effortlessly and quickly Kise had made them, it told him he must make them often, and before long, Kise was approaching him with a full plate of the crepes, scrambled eggs, and sausage, and placed it in front of him, as well as a fork and knife.

“How do you like your coffee Kaibacchi?” Kise asked.

“Black will do,” Kaiba replied, and Kise nodded.

Rather than touch his food, Kaiba continued to watch Kise as he walked back to the kettle and transferred the hot water over to a different steel container with a thin spout. Then he pulled out two cups and something like looked like two funnels as well as what he recognized as a paper filter and ground coffee.

The blonde was humming again as he scooped the grounds onto the filter and funnels, which he then placed over the cups and began to slowly pour the hot water over the grounds, moving his hands over the cup in what looked like calculative circles and changing the speed of the stream of water. He did it for both cups, and when he was done, he placed the water container down and left the funnel over the cups while he fixed his own plate.

When that was finished, he cleaned up the coffee ingredients and grabbed the cups of coffee to bring over to the table, placing one next to Kaiba’s plate and the other across where he would be sitting.

“Let me know how you like it,” Kise said with a smile before heading back to get his plate.

As he did, Kaiba decided to go ahead and try the coffee, not sure what to expect as he grabbed the cup and brought it to his lips, careful not to burn himself with the hot liquid as he took a sip.

His eyes widened as the liquid touched his tongue, the liquid hot but not enough to the point he couldn’t taste the flavor. Kaiba consumed plenty of caffeine to know the difference between a good cup and a bad cup… and this… this was something else.

As Kise sat down across from him with his own plate, Kaiba set the cup down gently.

“It’s… good. Really good.”

Kise smiled brightly, but didn’t seem surprised at the compliment, even coming from Kaiba himself.

“Told you I could make a mean cup.”

Kaiba was honestly surprised by how good the coffee was. He had certainly had good cups before, but those were usually at the higher end establishments.

“I can see that now.”

“The grounds are pretty fresh, which helps. I ground some the other day after I pulled an all nighter to study for a math test. Ugh. That was awful.”

“You really hate math, don’t you?”

Kise eyed him sardonically.

“Have I not made it obvious enough? I just don’t get it! I go over it a million times and it just never seems to make sense. I usually just get lucky during the tests when the practice problems end up on the test. I swear that’s the only reason I can just barely pass.”

“Have you thought about getting a tutor?” Kaiba asked, and Kise raised an eyebrow at the suggestion.

“A tutor? Kaibacchi, do you think I have the time and money for a tutor? I usually don’t get home till late after practice or modeling and there’s not a lot of tutors that want to make late house calls. Besides, I don’t think even a tutor would help me understand the monstrosity that is math.”

Kaiba took a bite of the food Kise made, pleased and surprised that it was also edible and tasty.

“I doubt you’re that hopeless.”

Kise grinned, a thought popping into his head.

“Well Kaibacchi… you do a lot of math for your job right?”

Kaiba eyed the blonde wearily but nodded.

“Quite a bit, yes.”

“Do you want to tutor me? I’m sure you can think of some... motivating techniques.”

Kise kept his suggestive gaze on Kaiba as he looked back at the blonde, his blue eyes calculative and guarded, before the brunette turned his attention back to his plate and coffee.

“Perhaps.”

Kise grinned triumphantly and continued eating his own food. Things truly were looking up


Kaiba didn’t stay long after eating, and as much as Kise would have liked him to stay longer, he knew that it was dangerous to ask Kaiba for any more than he was willing to do.

Since it took him years to act on his last crush, and since he wasn’t one for casual sleeping around, what he had started with Kaiba was unexplored territory.

He knew he liked Kaiba, and the more time he spent with him the more Kise found himself liking him. And while Kaiba seemed receptive to him and had accepted his friendship… and now they were even sleeping together… Kise didn’t want to push his luck or even get his hopes up.

Despite Kaiba’s recent actions towards him… Kise knew that Kaiba could change his mind at any moment. It was best to let things go at Kaiba’s pace and see where things went. They had a good thing so far, Kaiba had even invited to take him to Nicaragua! What more could Kise ask of him?

Still… as Kise went through his laundry, he couldn’t help but already miss Kaiba’s presence, especially as he placed his clothing in the piles he was making. He had told the brunette that he would wash his clothing and give them back to him the next time he saw him. Which was how he found himself separating his clothing to wash. It was about time he did laundry for the coming week anyway, even more so if they would be taking a trip that Kise would have to prepare for.

The idea of that still felt surreal, that he was going on an impromptu trip across the world with the brunette… but the excitement he felt at the thought was real all the same.

As Kise grabbed a pair of his pants and checked his pockets as he always did, he felt something small in one of them. As he took out the small object, Kise was surprised to find a gold ring with a string around it.

“This is the ring Priest Seto gave me...” Kise frowned as he looked at the ring in his palm.

He had completely forgotten that Priest Seto had entrusted him with this ring before he left the afterlife, but given what had happened between him and Kaiba that night, he hadn’t thought twice on the piece of jewelry.

He felt bad that he might have even thrown it into the laundry if he hadn’t checked, since this was something that Priest Seto obviously cherished.

As he looked at the ring, his curiosity got the better of him, and removing the ring, Kise slipped the ring into his ring finger on his right hand.

It was a perfect fit.

Kise admired the golden shiny metal on his hand, surprised that this five-thousand-year-old relic looked untouched by time.

Deciding he probably shouldn’t be wearing such a relic so carelessly, Kise moved to take it off, but frowned when it wouldn’t budge from his finger.

“What the...”

A moment of panic tugged at him as he continued to pull at the ring with no success, and after a while, went to the bathroom where he tried his luck using soap and water, only to be met with the same futile result.

“You gotta be kidding me...” Kise mumbled under his breath as he gave up on the soap and water and moved to his room, ready to try lotion next.

After ten minutes of trying with no success, Kise finally gave up before he did something stupid like take a knife to his finger, and decided it wasn’t worth it.

Maybe his fingers were swollen for some reason or other, and he’d just ask someone to help him take it off it he wasn’t able to. It wasn’t uncomfortable or cutting off his circulation so it wasn’t a big deal.

Finally returning to his task, Kise looked at his phone for any missed calls or messages, seeing that he indeed had a message from Momoi.

She texted him to tell him that he left his bags with them from the day before, and that she could drop them off whenever he had time.

Remembering the events of the day before, Kise felt bad for putting Momoi in the middle of his outburst at Aomine, and figured he owed her an apology. He didn’t have anything else planned for the day so it wouldn’t hurt to have her come over if she could.


Three hours later found Momoi knocking on Kise’s door, bags in her hand as she waited for the blonde to open the door.

She didn’t have to wait much, and before long Kise was opening the door, his face more subdued than usual as he greeted her with a small smile that lacked his usual energy.

It made Momoi’s shoulder slump slightly, but she forced herself to smile as she looked back at Kise.

“Hello Momocchi, come in,” Kise said as he stepped aside to give her room to step through.

Momoi smiled as she stepped in and took off her shoes.

“Thanks for having me, Kichan,” she politely replied, and let Kise take the bags from her as she stepped out of her shoes.

“No, thank you for bringing my bags,” Kise said as he set the said bags on a nearby table.

“It’s was no problem… listen Ki—”

“I’m really sorry about—”

Both paused before they could finish, trying not to speak over the other, before they burst out laughing at the awkwardness of it.

“Sorry… Momocchi, I just want to apologize about how I stormed out yesterday… and for putting you in the middle of it. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m still angry at Aominecchi… but you shouldn’t have had to bring this over to me because of it…”

Momoi smiled softly at Kise, shaking her head.

“It’s really not a problem Kichan… and it’s okay about what happened… I understand where you’re coming from. So, you’re still angry?”

Kise sighed and rubbed the back of his head.

“To be honest… not so much anymore… I think I might have overreacted a bit… but it doesn’t change that what he said still rubbed me the wrong way. Anyway, do you want to sit and have something to drink? You came all the way here so it’s the least I can do to repay you.”

Momoi smiled and nodded.

“Sure, what do you have to drink?”

Kise led the way over to his kitchen and motioned for Momoi to sit while he went over to the refrigerator to see what he had in stock.

“I have apple juice, energy drinks, water, orange soda, I can also make tea.”

“I’ll take an orange soda, I don’t have those often.”

Kise smiled as he took out the can of soda and took it over to his pink haired friend as he sat across from her and slid it over.

“Do you want to talk about why what Daichan said bothered you?” Momoi asked as she opened her drink and took a sip, eyeing Kise carefully as he suddenly looked flustered.

“Um, I don’t think I really need to. I already talked it over with someone and came to terms with what to do about it…”

Kise’s evasive attitude rose flags in Momoi, but an idea was already formulating in her head.

“Oh I see… who did you talk to about it?”

Kise actually flushed, and that was all Momoi needed to see to know who it was he had spoken to.

“Ah, Kaibacchi, actually.”

Yep, just as she thought.

“I see… how are things going with him? You must be closer to him if you feel comfortable talking to him about your feelings,” Momoi pointed out.

Kise flushed even deeper, and Momoi couldn’t help but grin.

“Oooh, juicy stuff huh?” she teased.

“Ah… well… a lot has happened actually,” Kise said as he looked back at her, not sure where to even begin.

The last time he had talked to Momoi about Kaiba was shortly after they dueled and before… well everything. Before Kaiba’s accusation of using him to get ahead in his career and his apology and his finding out about Kaiba’s past, let alone the magical aspect of it all.

How could he even begin to talk about all that? Momoi would never believe half of it. So he figured it was best to just tell her what he could.

“Okay so… you know how I had that audition with his company not too long ago?”

Momoi nodded, and Kise sighed.

“Well I went and it turned out that the audition involved dueling, and it was this big elaborate way of winning a duel to get the part as a model, and I managed to get it. Then when I went to talk to Kaibacchi after it… it turns out he actually tried to sabotage my duel so I would lose.”

“Wait… what?!” Momoi exclaimed as she looked at Kise with wide eyes.

“Hold on… hear me out…” he said as he held up his hands as if to appease the shocked girl.

“I guess Kaibacchi thought that since I hadn’t told him I was auditioning for a part in his company… he thought I was using him and his brother Mokubacchi to get the part… so he thought the best way to find out my true intentions was to purposely have me lose…”

Momoi was frowning as she struggled to understand what Kise was telling him, but she was obviously not happy about it.

“Yeah, I was beyond pissed off. When he told me that I told him to forget about being friends and working for his company. I told him that I had really liked him as a person and everything I did was to be friends… but obviously I couldn’t forgive something like that… so I stormed out… heh… guess I’ve been doing that a lot lately…”

Momoi still said nothing as she continued to listen.

“Well a week later he ended up looking for me… and actually apologized for what he did and said. I guess it turns out he’s used to people trying to use him and ruin him… so he really didn’t think someone would want to be his friend… pretty sad huh?”

Momoi pursed her lips, and Kise could see she still wasn’t happy about his actions.

“I know how it sounds Momocchi… but Kaibacchi has actually been through a lot. It makes sense why he’s so aloof and doesn’t welcome even friendships… after everything he shared with me… I understand why he thought what he did. But to be honest… it actually made us closer.”

Finally, Momoi sighed, her posture relaxing.

“I see… well you know the situation more than I do Kichan. And since I personally haven’t interacted with him, all I can do is take your word for it until I meet him myself. Does this mean you decided to pursue things with him after all?”

Kise flushed again, and nodded sheepishly.

“Yeah actually… it looked like my age did matter to him. So, after I turned eighteen, we kind of… hooked up.”

Momoi’s eyes widened again, and she looked at Kise with her mouth wide open.

“No way! You’re serious?”

Kise nodded again.

“He came over last night, which is how we ended up talking about what happened with Aominecchi. He helped me see some things I hadn’t before about myself… and…”

Kise groaned as he laid his head down on the table.

“Momocchi I really really like him!” Kise moaned out, “but it’s Kaibacchi! He has more walls than the Great Wall of China!”

Momoi decided not to point out that said wall was really just one long wall as she saw the struggle in Kise’s eyes.

“I mean… all signs point to him liking me… it seems he’s done more for me than he’s done for most people… but… it’s Kaibacchi! What if he decides he wants nothing more with me, or if he doesn’t want anything more than something casual…”

Kise sighed, his eyes becoming unfocused as he looked blankly at the table.

“I guess I’m okay with something casual for now but… I can already tell I’m falling for him… and what if I get in too deep and Kaibacchi decides he doesn’t want anything to do with me after all…”

Momoi smiled sadly at her blonde friend, once again torn on her own feelings on the matter.

Daichan… you really are an idiot…

She sighed, choosing to put her own feelings on hold as she looked at Kise.

“Well Kichan… all relationships take a leap of faith when they start out. Not everyone is as aware of their feelings like you are… especially if what you say about Kaiba is true… he of all people seem pretty emotionally constipated…”

Kise chuckled dryly, not looking up from the table as he listened to Momoi’s words.

“But… like you said… if he’s done more for you than he has for others… then there’s a good chance that your feelings are reciprocated… maybe you just have to nudge him in the right direction. If he has no experience on the subject… then he’s definitely going to need some help figuring out his feelings. It just means that you’ll have to be the one to initiate everything. Maybe ask him on a date… don’t pressure him or anything. But at least that way you’re forward about your feelings, and if you really don’t want to risk getting hurt by becoming more attached then you already are… you’ll know to back off. Just test the waters, see how much he’s willing to do with you.”

Kise finally turned his attention to the pink-haired girl and eyed her warily.

“Momocchi… you’re so good at giving advice…”

Momoi blinked as she looked back at Kise, confused at why he was looking at her like he was.

“So why haven’t you followed your own advice with Kurokocchi?”

At his words, Momoi froze and flushed as she thought of her blue-haired crush of many years now.

“Um… well… it’s just…” the way she fidgeted in her seat caused Kise to laugh lightly.

“You’ve liked him since middle school and have taken even longer than I did with Aominecchi to ever say anything! What’s up with that? I know you’ve tried dating other guys, but you never seemed into them like you did with Kurokocchi.”

Momoi shrugged as she thought back to the few boys she had never been able to date for longer than a month. They had been nice and cute enough… but Kise was right, she had never liked them like she had Kuroko.

“I wish I could say Kichan. It’s just… hard when we don’t go to the same school anymore and the only time we really see each other is during basketball games or if he hangs out with me and Daichan. Tetsu has never shown any kind of interest in me… so I just figured it would be an unrequited kind of love. I’ve come to terms with that… and figured that my crush would just go away sooner or later. Unfortunately… that day hasn’t come yet.”

Kise frowned when Momoi sighed dejectedly.

“Well Momocchi… you’ve been my cheerleader through everything with Aominecchi… and now with Kaibacchi… so I’ll be your cheerleader with Kurokocchi! I don’t think you should give up on someone you’ve liked for so long… you were the one who helped me see that! I think you should be more forward with Kurokocchi, and make him see you as the woman you are! Kurokocchi is smart is some ways… but I think he’s pretty dense when it comes to women.”

“But I asked him on a date once! And it didn’t change anything…” Momoi mumbled.

“Yeah, that’s what you said! But when I asked him about it, he said you guys just hung out as friends!”

Momoi blinked.

“Wait… really?!”

Kise sighed, resisting the urge to laugh at Momoi’s defeated face.

“Tetsu really is dense…”

“See! That just means you have to try harder! Make him see you as more than just a friend!”

“So what do I do… it’s not like I haven’t been super obvious!”

Kise chuckled.

“Well maybe that’s the problem… maybe Kurokocchi thinks you’ve been joking this whole time. Knowing Kurokocchi… the best way to his heart is through little things and gestures… maybe just hang out with him more, just the two of you. Really get to know each other, and find things outside of basketball that you can connect over. And with time… maybe he’ll start to see you differently.”

Momoi didn’t look completely convinced, and Kise rolled his eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that Momocchi. How about this… let’s make a promise! We’ll both confess to the person we like before we graduate. Until then… we’ll do what we can to have them return our feelings. After all… all’s fair in love and war, right?”

 “Easy for you to say Kichan… you’re already hooking up with your crush!”

Kise grinned at the reminder.

“All the more reason for you to try harder!”

Momoi sighed again, but Kise was happy to see her steel her resolve as she squared her shoulders and sat up straighter.

“Fine… you’re right. Let’s do our best!”

Chapter Text


 

It was the promised Friday of their trip to Nicaragua, and Kaiba was finishing up what work he could before he went away for the extended holiday. He would be leaving early in light of his plans and was going over his priority emails.

It was how he came about an invitation that was forwarded to him from the Domino Museum, and his eyes narrowed as he read over the contents of the email.

Domino Museum Limited Time Special Exhibit

Saturday, XX-XX-XXXX

18:30-22:30, Domino City

You are cordially invited to our exclusive event!

Domino Museum is proud to host a very special and exclusive exhibit. We welcome you to behold the oldest artifacts from the very first human civilization on Earth, Mesopotamia!

Be the first to lay eyes on what this exhibit has to offer before the general public. This exclusive black-tie event will allow guests to enjoy an elegant cocktail area fit for a king!

Enjoy a decadent dinner surrounded by priceless treasures while a special speaker takes you back more than 5000 years into the past.

The emails went on to list some more details, and Kaiba was weary of the coincidence of this event… after all… Mesopotamia was the civilization of the once King Gilgamesh. Was it mere coincidence that this event was happening just as he found out that Kise was the reincarnation of said King?

Kaiba sighed as he reclined in his chair.

His past had made him overly paranoid when it came to that Museum and anything related with the past, and it was foolish. Surely this exhibit had been planned for a long time, and it really was coincidence that it came to his attention after the events of going to the afterlife.

If anything, it was a good opportunity for Kise to learn more about the past he seemed so interested in, and he was sure the blonde would be happy to go to the event.

Not to mention, he knew the only reason he received invitations of this kind was in hopes that they could rope him into being a donor, and nothing more.

Usually invitations like these didn’t interest him, but lucky for them, it interested him for other reasons.

With that in mind, Kaiba went ahead and RSVP’d to the invitation, along with a plus one.

Honestly, this kid was beginning to be more irritating than he expected, making him do things he normally wouldn’t do.


Kise hummed happily as he finished checking his bag to make sure he had everything he needed. He had researched the climate they would be having while in Nicaragua and picked his clothes accordingly.

He was expecting Kaiba to pick him up in ten minutes, and from his apartment Kaiba had told him they would be flying out of Tokyo since it was the nearest airport.

Kise had never traveled out of the country before, and he was both nervous and excited about it. He had debated all week if he should tell his family about it, but because of his… relationship… with Kaiba, it still felt safer to keep their activities together as secret as possible, so the only one he told of his plans to had been Momoi, since she was the only one who knew the truth. She had told him to be careful and to check in with her often, and Kise agreed.

He had also decided not to say anything to his coach and would just tell him he was sick and couldn’t make practice rather than come up with a more elaborate lie. It wouldn’t be so farfetched, considered how foggy he had felt all week. He really was beginning to think he was catching a spring cold from how he had felt under-the weather for the past few days. He had made sure to drink plenty of Vitamin C and stay hydrated, and hopefully that would be enough to hold off his cold, if at least for the weekend.

The inter-high was in two weeks, and he needed to be at one hundred percent by then.

As a glint from his hand caught his gaze, Kise frowned when he looked at the ring still on his hand. He still hadn’t been able to take it off, but because of everything going on, finding a way to take off the ring was at the bottom of his list of priorities.

Making sure all major appliances were turned off, Kise graved his medium sized bag and made his way downstairs to wait for Kaiba’s car.

It wasn’t long before the familiar sight of Kaiba’s car rolled up, and Kise smiled widely as the driver stepped out to greet Kise and take his bag to put in the trunk.

“Thanks Tanaka,” Kise said as the older man smiled gently at him and nodded, and Kise opened the back door of the car to sit next to Kaiba.

“Good evening, Kaibacchi,” Kise greeted the stoic man, who met his gaze and only made a sound of acknowledgement at his arrival.

As Tanaka returned to the driver’s seat and pulled away towards their destination, Kise could feel his excitement building.

“Ah, I’m so excited for this trip Kaibacchi! I’ve never been out of the country and I’ve never flown either… well… if you don’t consider spaceships flying,” Kise amended, thinking back to their trip to Kaiba’s space station and the afterlife.

“I promise this flight won’t be as nausea inducing.”

“I’ll hold you to that!”

The trip to the airport was spent with Kaiba telling Kise the process of flying in a private jet and the difference between flying a commercial plane, and before Kise knew it, they had arrived and were making their way through the private terminal.

Their bags were taken for them, and as Kise followed Kaiba to the tarmac where the jet awaited them, Kise couldn’t help but take in the sight of the jet before them. If someone had told him that he would be flying a private jet with one of his childhood idols… Kise would have laughed.

Entering the jet, Kise couldn’t help but be impressed with the luxury accommodations of it. To be expected of Kaiba of course, but it still made Kise whistle as they stepped inside. The cabin was lined with elegant seating along the walls, wooden floors and accent walls. Not to mention, the back of the jet contained what looked like a full bar. If Kise hadn’t known any better, he would have never thought he was in a plane.

As Kaiba and Kise made their way towards the bar while they waited for take-off instructions, Kise continued to admire his surroundings as Kaiba prepared them a drink.

“Any particular drink requests?” Kaiba asked, and Kise brought his attention back to the brunette.

“Actually… yeah. How about pineapple juice and coconut rum? Since we’re going to a tropical location… it seems only right to start the trip with a fruity drink.”

Kaiba nodded and Kise couldn’t help but be surprised that Kaiba was making the drinks himself. He had honestly expected Kaiba to have a personal bartender, but Kaiba had said he preferred to fly with minimal staff, and the pilots always stayed in their cabin.

As they sipped their drinks, it wasn’t long before the pilots began their takeoff instructions, and Kaiba and Kise strapped in while the jet took off.

Kise looked out the window like an excited child as he felt the jet begin its trek down the runway and watched through the windows as it began its ascent. He felt the pressure in his ears for only a moment as he took in the sight of Tokyo as the jet rose in altitude. The sun hadn’t yet set, but the lights of the city were already on, and it was still a magnificent sight to behold, as were the clouds in the sky once the plane reached the target height and leveled out.

The pilot let them know it was safe to move about, and Kise grinned excitedly at Kaiba as he unbuckled his seat belt. He knew they would have plenty of time to kill, but Kise had already told Kaiba it would be spent watching his favorite movies, and of course… other fun activities. To which Kaiba hadn’t seemed opposed to. Thankfully, his jet was fully equipped with a private bedroom, and Kise planned to use it to the fullest.

“So Kaibacchi, you ready to watch Top Gun?”

Kaiba looked unimpressed as he looked at the blonde.

“What’s this movie about again?”

Kise rolled his eyes.

“You really do live under a rock. Top Gun is an American Classic! It has Tom Cruise who plays a fighter jet pilot. Actually, this movie made me want to be a pilot when I watched it! Although... I’m not sure about a fighter pilot...”

“Sure, whatever, here,” Kaiba tossed Kise the remote and motioned to the TV mounted on one of the walls across the seating in the bar area, and Kise quickly familiarized himself with the controls and pulled up a site that would play the movie.

As the movie began to play, Kise made an appreciative noise at Tom Cruise’s appearance.

“I gotta say, Tom Cruise sure aged like fine wine.”

Kaiba watched the screen as the events of the story unfolded, and although it was an older movie, he knew who Tom Cruise was, and indeed he was much younger in this movie.

“Have you been with women before?” Kaiba asked curiously.

Kise blinked at the question, but grinned.

“No actually. I think women are beautiful, and being a model means keeping the appearance of being attainable to them, so I have to be polite and receptive to their attention... but as far as being with one... no thank you. I’m only attracted to men, and I’ve only ever had one boyfriend.”

“Who was that?”

Kaiba watched with interest as Kise fidgeted in his seat, suddenly looking sheepish.

Kise for his part, was surprised by Kaiba’s unexpected questions. And although it was a topic he rather not have, he didn’t want to lie to Kaiba either.

“Um... Aominecchi actually...” Kise confided softly.

Kaiba knew he shouldn’t have been surprised, he had gotten the feeling from the way the two behaved that they were particularly close, and now he knew why.

“I liked him since middle school, and we started dating our second year of high school... but he broke up with me a few months ago.”

So, it was a recent relationship... and something unpleasant stirred inside Kaiba at the thought.

“Why did you guys break up?”

Again, Kise fidgeted, and this time he looked almost sad, and now Kaiba was even more uneasy.

“I... I don’t know actually. Aominecchi just told me he didn’t think we should be together anymore, and I didn’t want to ask why...”

Kaiba narrowed his eyes as a thought came to mind.

“Do you still have feelings for him?”

Again, Kise looked conflicted, but after only a moment of hesitation, he answered.

“Its hard to say... I’m still sad about us not working out, since I liked him for so long. I would like to say that I’m completely over him, but I don’t think that would be the truth.”

Kise was clearly uncomfortable, he didn’t exactly plan on telling Kaiba about his past relationship with Aomine. He didn’t want Kaiba to think he was using him to get over Aomine either, but he also didn’t want to lie to Kaiba. After all, he had given him his trust, and Kise had no intention of breaking it, even if it meant coming clean about his lingering feelings for Aomine. 

“How about you Kaibacchi? Do you like women? And have you dated anyone?”

Kaiba took a sip of the dark drink in his hand, his gaze going back to the movie that had been forgotten while they talked.

“I have no preference, and I’m not exactly the dating type.”

Kise felt his heart sink, but he tried not to show his disappointment as he took a sip of his own drink, but he didn’t want to let the conversation die there so he forced himself to ask the next question.

“Do you think you would ever date someone?”

Kaiba seemed to contemplate the question, and Kise waited with a racing heart as he tried to keep his cool.

“It’s hard to see myself in a committed relationship. I doubt I’d be a very good boyfriend or husband honestly. But I do have to think about an heir to the company. I’d prefer to keep the company within the family rather than let some corporate stooge take over. Of course, I know I don’t have to have my own kid. If Mokuba has a capable kid that would be interested in taking over, I’d accept it. And I could always adopt someone capable too.”

Kise blinked at Kaiba’s answer, honestly not expecting the lengthy response.

“Ah, you’ve really thought about it, huh?”

Kaiba shrugged.

“The company has always been my priority, and most of my plans involve its future and expansion.”

Kise smiled, how typical of Kaiba.

“Well, whoever takes over, they’ll have some large shoes to fill.”

They lapsed into silence after that, their attention turned towards the movie again, and Kise excitedly pointed out some fun facts he knew about the production of the movie and his favorite scenes. After the movie ended, Kise pressed Kaiba for his own favorite movie, but it seemed Kaiba really didn’t watch movies often, and had Kise pick out the next one.

Kise ended up choosing Pan’s Labyrinth, and kept it in the original Spanish, telling Kaiba that he might as well get a head start on trying to understand what he could of the language if the main goal of their trip was to try and practice what little he knew of it.

When the pale man showed up, Kise used the excuse of being afraid to sit next to Kaiba and grab onto his arm for comfort, to which Kaiba had just rolled his eyes but didn’t push him away. Kise spent the rest of the movie snuggled against Kaiba’s side, who ended up putting an arm around him, and by the end of the movie, Kise was practically bawling as tears ran down his face.

“Idiot... it’s just a movie,” Kaiba chastised as the blonde held tighter onto his shirt and sniffled.

“B-but Kaibacchi... that’s so sad!”

Kaiba sighed as he grabbed a tissue from the stand next to him and handed it over to the blonde, who dabbed at his eyes but didn’t move from his place on Kaiba’s side. Thankfully his tears didn’t last long, and Kise breathed deeply to compose himself.

“I didn’t think that movie would be so good...” the blonde said as the credits came to an end.

Even Kaiba had to admit that it was indeed an interesting movie and concept. It had held his attention all throughout, which didn’t happen often with movies. But perhaps part of the reason was due to having a certain blonde next to him that made it hard to move away to do anything else.

They were now halfway to their destination, and Kaiba asked Kise if he was hungry.

“Are you offering to cook Kaibacchi?” Kise asked with an excited glint in his eyes.

“No. I don’t cook. But there's stuff you can heat up in the fridge.”

Kise made a noise of contemplation.

“Do you have whipped cream?” he asked with a coy look in his eye that made Kaiba raise an eyebrow.

“Whipped cream?”

Kise nodded.

“Mhmm. I have a certain snack in mind that absolutely requires it.”

Still confused, Kaiba shrugged and told Kise to check the fridge.

Reluctantly, Kise pulled away from Kaiba and made his way over to the tucked in kitchenette past the bar, and was pleasantly surprised to find that indeed, whoever stocked the fridge had thought to include whipped cream, and with a grin, made his way back to Kaiba who seemed to be checking his phone.

Feeling particularly daring, Kise climbed onto Kaiba’s lap and straddled him, causing the brunette to look up at him with a questioning look in his eye.

“Found the whipped cream,” Kise said as he shook the can in his hand, and Kaiba knew what the blonde had in mind.

“And what snack requires whipped cream?” Kaiba edged on, his hands travelling up Kise’s thighs only to rest on his backside.

Kise grinned wickedly as he uncapped the can and shook the can some more, before pressing the nozzle and letting some whipped cream fall onto his fingers.

“That depends on you Kaibacchi. Do you want to be the snack, or do you want me to be the snack?”

Kaiba smirked up at the blonde, enjoying this mischievous side of him, and tugged him closer to create the friction between them that sent a jolt of pleasure through their bodies.

“Hm. That’s a difficult choice to make.”

Kise watched with heated eyes as one of Kaiba's hands moved to grab the hand with whipped cream on his fingers, only to bring his fingers towards him and take them into his mouth. Kise made a chocked noise at the feel of Kaiba’s lips circling the whipped cream covered digits and felt his blood pump straight to his groin at the erotic sight. Kaiba’s wet tongue swirled around his fingers, and Kise felt his mind go blank at the sensation.

Kaiba watched as Kise’s eye grew heavy with lust, and the red that tinted his cheeks as his mouth went slack made Kaiba suck harder on his fingers, the sweet taste of the whipped cream only adding to the desire he felt.

Kaiba slowly took out Kise’s fingers from his mouth and licked his lips as they came free.

Kise moaned in the back of his throat.

“I changed my mind, I want you to be the snack.”

With more force than Kaiba expected, Kise pushed him back against the seat behind him, and tugged off the black shirt over his head, and as soon as he was shirtless Kaiba let Kise run his hand along the exposed skin of his torso.

Kaiba’s hands once more rested on Kise’s backside, and it didn’t take Kise long to shake the can once more, and this time turn it upside down over Kaiba’s torso to press down on the nozzle, and created a trail of whipped cream from Kaiba’s navel up to his chest.

With a grin, Kise got off Kaiba’s lap and moved to kneel between his legs instead, his new position making it easier to lean over and begin to lick the trail of white cream from his navel, his tongue slowly and tentatively lapping at the trail while his hands moved up Kaiba’s thighs tenderly, and when his hands moved to Kaiba’s crotch, he was pleased when his hand came across a hardened bulge, and he took in the sight of Kaiba’s stormy and heated gaze as his own hands came to rest on top of Kise’s head and his fingers dug into his hair.

As Kise made his way up higher with his wet and eager tongue, his hands rubbed against Kaiba’s covered length, and as Kaiba’s breathing began to grow ragged and his hands grasped his hair tighter, Kise began to undo the button and zipper of his pants, so his hands could pull out his cock from his boxers and stroke it while his tongue continued to lap up his torso.

Kaiba groaned as Kise’s hands wrapped around his cock, and his hand fisted into his hair at the sharp jolt of pleasure that traveled through his body.

“You taste delicious Kaibacchi…” Kise said as he finished lapping up the trail he created on his torso, his hand pumping steadily as Kaiba looked at Kise with a heady gaze, before the brunette used the leverage from his grasp on Kise’s hair to bring the blonde forward, crashing his lips into his own in a heated kiss, his tongue immediately seeking entrance to taste the sweetness of his mouth, and Kise groaned.

Their tongues swirled around each other, their saliva mixed together wetly, and their lust reflected in each other’s eyes as they gasped against each other, and Kaiba’s hand made its way under Kise’s shirt where his fingers quickly found and flicked one of his nipples, causing Kise to moan and deepen their kiss as Kaiba began to pinch and twist the flesh between his fingers.

“Kaibacchi...”

As Kise panted under his touch, Kaiba maneuvered them so that Kise was underneath him and laying down across the long seat, and quickly tugged at the blonde’s shirt to remove it and expose the skin beneath, raking in the sight of the blonde flushed and breathing deeply beneath him.

Taking the can of whipped cream that had fallen on the floor, Kaiba stroked Kise’s torso with one hand while the other shook the can, and Kise watched expectantly as Kaiba took the can and squeezed the nozzle over his chest, a shiver running down his spine as the cool whipped cream poured over one nipple and then the other.

When Kaiba leaned over and licked his right nipple, Kise arched into his hot mouth as a loud moan escaped his mouth, only for Kaiba’s hand to move to cover his mouth as his tongue licked and circled around the hardened nub of pink flesh to lap at the sweet cream.

“Quiet… we’re not alone, remember?” Kaiba warned as he moved to the other nipple, and Kise nodded in understanding, and in his lust, chose to grab the hand on his mouth and take two of Kaiba’s fingers into his mouth, sucking and swirling his mouth around them in a way that reminded Kaiba just what his talented mouth could do, and making his cock harden even more.

Not willing to let Kise get the better of him, Kaiba’s other hand moved down Kise’s torso, swiftly undoing Kise’s pants to stroke at his own hardened length beneath his boxers, making the blonde arch his hip towards his touch and suck harder on his fingers.

Fuck… this boy would be the end of him.

Kaiba felt as if he could burst just from the feel of his mouth around his fingers, and the taste of his skin mixed with the whipped cream was better than any dessert he had ever tasted.

As much as Kaiba wanted to simply take the blonde then and there, another part of him wanted to prolong their pleasure, and Kaiba had to fight hard to tame his lust as he reluctantly pulled his fingers away from Kise’s wet and hot mouth, so that both his hands were free to tug down Kise’s pants and boxers, his hardened cock springing free as Kaiba took in the sight of the engorged head with precum spilling for the slit.

As Kise squirmed beneath him like Kaiba had learned the blonde did when he was impatient, his hands finished tugging off his clothing and letting the articles fall to the ground before making his way back to his legs, his hands splaying out against his inner thighs as he separated them gently and Kaiba lowered himself between them.

Kise watched Kaiba with curiosity as the brunette lowered his head between his legs, his heart racing at what it looked like the man was about to do.

Was he really…?

Kise’s eyes widened as he fought back the cry that escaped his lips when he felt Kaiba’s wet tongue flick against his hole, and he had to bite his finger to keep from crying out as Kaiba’s tongue continued to lick at his ass, his cock hardening even more at the feeling of Kaiba eating him out for the first time, even more so when one of Kaiba’s hands wrapped around his cock, causing Kise to arch his hips off the couch beneath them.

“Hngh… Kaibacchi!” Kise gasped, and his eyes closed shut and his head flew back at the overwhelming sensation of Kaiba’s ministration on him, the way his tongue now pressed against his puckered hole sending a jolt of pleasure down his cock and up his spine.

Kise continued to moan and gasp as Kaiba continued to drive him insane, even more so when Kaiba’s tongue traveled up to the base of his cock and lick up its length.

Fuck!”

Kise moaned as Kaiba’s mouth wrapped around his engorged head and began to suck, and looked down to take in the erotic sight of Kaiba’s head bobbing up and down his hardened cock.

Kaiba had never gone down on him during their trysts and Kise didn’t think he would.

“Kaibacchi… you don’t have to do that…” Kise chocked out as his hand moved to cover his mouth as he felt his moans grow louder.

Kaiba continued to work his length, but Kise didn’t miss when he opened his eyes and looked his way, his blue eyes reflected his lust as he languidly let go of his cock just enough to speak.

“Do you think I’d be doing something I didn’t want to do?”

Kise’s eyes widened as Kaiba resumed the sucking of his cock, and he felt he might explode just from Kaiba’s words alone, before he smiled and one of his hands traveled to rest on Kaiba’s hair.

“Kaibacchi… I won’t last after hearing you say that…”

Kaiba’s eyes once more settled on him, and Kise could see the challenge in his gaze, especially when Kaiba began to suck harder, his tongue skillfully swirling around him as his head bobbed up and down his length.

But how could Kise say no to seeing such a larger than life figure actually go down on him?

When Kaiba began to fondle his balls, Kise couldn’t hold back his cry as he arched into his touch, his head resting against the armrest behind him as he felt his pleasure build up.

Kise focused on the feeling of Kaiba’s hot mouth around him, the feel of his hair under his fingertips, and the bliss Kaiba was making him feel. It didn’t take long before his felt his orgasm nearing, his hips now arching into Kaiba’s mouth as he became lost in the building pleasure, his body eager for release.

“Kaibacchi… I’m… going to…” Kise tugged at Kaiba’s hair, giving the brunette enough warning to avoid having Kise spill into his mouth.

Kise was surprised however, when instead of retreating, Kaiba only sucked harder and faster, and seeing that Kaiba had no intention of letting go made Kise’s mind go blank, and his balls tightened as his orgasm hit him like a tidal wave, his head flew back and his body tensed as he felt himself release into Kaiba’s mouth, and Kise had just enough self-control to turn his head so he could watch as Kaiba held his hips down as he finished still fully sheathed in his mouth, and had to bite the back of his hand to keep from crying out.

With hooded eyes, Kise watched as Kaiba finally let go his cock, and watched in fascination as Kaiba swallowed, and felt his heart skip a beat at the sight, heat flooding to his cheeks as he looked at the brunette with disbelief as he began to come down from his high.

Kaiba made his way up Kise’s body, his hands stroking up his torso and sides, causing Kise to shiver as his own hands moved to touch Kaiba as well as pull him closer as he settled over him, and his arms wrapped around Kaiba’s neck to draw his face closer, so that the brunette leaned in close enough for Kise to draw him into a kiss.

Their tongues lazily swirled around each other, and Kise made a pleasured noise at the taste of himself lingering in Kaiba’s mouth.

Kaiba felt Kise’s hands make their way around his back and felt his fingers tenderly stroke down his back, sending shivers up his spine at the sensation.

“Kaibacchi… show me the bed?”

Kaiba looked down at Kise’s still flustered face and wondered how he could find this boy so irresistable.


The last stretch of their trip was spent tangled in each other as they continued to explore and learn every inch of themselves, as well as napping to prepare for the change in time zones.

When they arrived in Nicaragua, it was still noon of that Friday since the Central American country was fifteen hours behind, and despite the naps that Kaiba and Kise had taken in between their trysts, Kise was still exhausted as they made their way to the house, practically snoozing on Kaiba’s shoulder as their driver took them to their destination.

When he saw the house however, Kise’s eyes widened as they walked in.

It was everything Kise would expect of a vacation home, and the climate was much warmer than it had been back home, the sun shiningly brightly on the clear skies as Kaiba and Kise walked into the house that was thankfully cooler in temperature.

As Kise looked around the house excitedly, Kaiba could still tell that the blonde was tired, and unlike him, not used to the jet lag involved with travelling across time zones.

“You should take a nap. I’ll wake you up in a few hours to eat and what we came here for.”

Kise blinked at Kaiba’s suggestion but knew better than to question the experienced man when it came to travel. So, he simply nodded and followed Kaiba to the upper level of the home to what would be his room.

“Thanks Kaibacchi… for everything,” Kise said as he looked back at Kaiba from the door of his temporary room, to which Kaiba only nodded before making his way to what Kise assumed would be his own room.

But Kaiba was right to tell him to sleep. Kise felt exhausted, and the daylight streaming in through the window did not sit well with him. He was feeling the time difference, but hopefully his nap would help him.

As Kise closed the blinds of the window and changed into something more comfortable, he finally laid down on the comfortable bed, falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

It was