Jounouchi opened his eyes.
...Then started to panic.
WHERE THE HELL AM I?
Throwing the covers off of himself, he pushed himself up to a sit and whipped his head from side to side, looking around the room. It took a moment or two, but his hand eventually came to his face as he let out a chuckle.
RIGHT. You’re at Kaiba’s, you dumb ass.
He reached over to the nightstand and grabbed his phone; it read 12:12 p.m.
Better get up and poke around. He’s going to think I’m taking advantage of him.
Kaiba’s house was two things: huge and sterile.
It kind of felt as though you were doing something forbidden, just by walking through it. Sure, Jounouchi was barefoot, still in his nightclothes, and holding yesterday’s laundry under his arm...and obviously, he and Kaiba weren’t exactly butt-buddies...but he couldn’t shake the feeling that, had this been a normal house, he’d feel a bit more comfortable doing so.
He peeked into the dining room, as he had the night before, but this time, there was no Kaiba. A breath of both relief and anxiety fell from his nose; he wasn’t sure if he wanted to find him or not.
Where is he? I wonder if I should text him, or something?
There was the thunder of footsteps coming from an area off of the dining room -- one he hadn’t yet explored -- and they drew closer...and closer...and--
”Jounouchi!” Mokuba had kicked the door open. He only had time to smile before Mokuba flung himself at him, wrapping his arms around his middle in a tight hug.
”Hey! There he is!” Jounouchi snickered, giving the younger one a scrub on the head. “Why're you home? Don't you have school?”
He relinquished his hold on Jounouchi. “Big Brother had me stay home from school today.” Mokuba gave him one of those huge smiles that just makes one’s heart melt. “I wanted to go get you up, but he wouldn’t let me; he said you needed the sleep.”
Grabbing the back of his neck, Jounouchi let out a strained laugh. “It was kind of a rough night; I got caught in the rain, and your brother let me crash here. Sorry for sleeping for so long.”
Mokuba shook his head, grinning even wider. “I was just excited to see you!”
“I’m excited to see you, too, kid.” He laughed. “So, why did Kaiba let you stay home from school? That doesn’t seem very...like him.”
The dark haired boy rolled his eyes. “He’s just being overprotective.”
”I am not just being overprotective.” Seto’s voice entered the room before the rest of him did, using the same door that Mokuba had used. He was dressed casually, as opposed to the way he usually dressed for work.
”Yes, you are.” Mokuba crossed his arms.
Seto narrowed his eyes at his brother, obviously perturbed. “You’re free to formulate any opinion you want about it, but the fact remains that you are not to leave my side unless we’re in the house until further notice.”
”Not on the lawn...not in the garage...but inside the house.”
”And it’s not up for discussion.” Finally, Seto looked at Jounouchi, ignoring his little brother, who threw his head back and made an exasperated sigh. “You’ve finally awoken from your slumber, oh fabled one.”
Jounouchi bared his teeth. “Sorry.” His gaze left Seto in favor of watching Mokuba harumph himself into a chair. “I guess I was a bit more tired than usual.”
Seto gestured at the clothes under his arm. “Laundry, I presume?”
He nodded. “Is that cool?”
Blowing a puff out his nose, Seto raised an eyebrow. “Like I care. I’ll call the maid--”
”Actually, I think that I can handle it; do you think you could just show me where the washing machine is?”
After he let out a bitchy sigh, Seto waved a hand at him, then turned around. “Stop pouting, Mokuba. Go get a snack while I show this one where the machines are.”
Making an adorably petulant pout, Mokuba wordlessly pushed himself off of the chair, then went to a door toward the right to leave the room.
Seto stared at the door his little brother had gone through for a moment, shook his head, then opened the left door. “Come on.”
Blink, blink. “OK.” Jounouchi followed along behind him. They walked in silence for a while, until he decided to break it. “So, you taking the day off today?”
”Working from home.”
“Mokuba seems a bit pissed off, huh?”
”I would’ve never guessed. You’re a regular Sherlock.” Seto’s voice was flat.
Tightening a corner of his mouth, Jounouchi gave Seto’s back an annoyed look.
”He can be pissed off at me all he wants. All I care about is that he’s safe.”
”Is this about the teenagers disappearing thing?”
”Katsuya Jounouchi correct about two out of three inferences? Is the sky falling?”
He rolled his eyes. “Would you stop being a dick to me, Kaiba?”
”Would you stop trying to make small talk with me, Jounouchi?”
Jounouchi scowled. “I’m not making ‘small talk;’ I’m worried about Mokuba, you ass!”
”Is that so?”
”Yes. You may be a dick, but you’re not stupid. If you’re pulling him out of school and willing to let him get that angry with you, there must be something seriously wrong.”
How far away is this laundry room? It feels like we’ve been walking forever.
Seto went quiet for a bit, then let out a sigh. “A thirteen year old went missing last night. He was taken from his bedroom window.”
Jounouchi’s eyes went wide. “You’re serious?”
”Would you allow Mokuba out of your sight after hearing that?”
The blond shook his head. “No way.”
”The cops are idiots in this town, apparently. And there’s no way I’m going to rely on idiots to keep my brother safe.”
”So, you’re just keeping Mokuba on lock-down?”
”I wouldn’t say ‘just.’” They came to a stop, and Seto pressed a button on the wall; it took Jounouchi a moment to realize that it was for an elevator. “I’ve hired six private detectives to investigate for me, but what they’ll find remains to be determined. They could all brick, for all I know.”
Even though what Seto was saying was serious, he couldn’t help but indulge in the covert grin at him using Duel Monsters slang.
The elevator doors opened, and they both stepped on; Seto pressed the button for the basement.
”Well, what happens if they do find something?” Jounouchi shifted his weight.
”We go to the police.” Seto didn’t look at him.
Cocking his head from side to side, Jounouchi pushed his bottom lip up. “Sounds reasonable.” He laughed. “You know what’s kind of funny?”
”Enlighten me.” The elevator doors opened, and they both stepped out, Seto leading him to the right.
”I was thinking--”
Jounouchi rolled his eyes. “I was thinking about this a bit last night; I remembered you mentioning the disappearances in the car, and...well, the first person who came to mind was Yugi.”
”Yeah. With how tiny he is, he really should watch his back.”
”N-no...I mean, yeah, but no, I meant...this mystery -- well, any mystery, really -- is sort of like a puzzle, right? Don’t know anybody better at a puzzle than Yugi.”
Seto slowed to a stop, and Jounouchi almost ran into him; thankfully he caught himself just in time.
”Whoa, there. You OK?”
Seto turned around, the look on his face indicative of the gears turning in his mind. “I think I’m a bit shocked, actually.”
Jounouchi cocked his head. “By...?”
”By the fact that a halfway intelligent concept just glorped its way out of your mouth.” Seto tapped his cheek.
Jounouchi turned his gaze up and to the right at the insult. “...Yeah, THANKS.”
”You’re welcome. Huh.” Seto’s eyes were unfocused. “Yugi Mutou...Yugi fucking Mutou.” Seto looked at him. “Call him for me.”
”No, dip shit; when we get back upstairs. Tell him I want to meet with him, preferably tonight.”
”Uh, sure. OK.”
”Fantastic.” Seto turned back around and started walking once more. “Laundry room’s up here and to the right.”
”It’s been a bit of a trek, hasn’t it?”
Seto pushed a door open on the right hand side, and they both went into the laundry room. “I said you could just call the maid.”
”Nah, it’s fine.” He smiled at the brunette. “I actually like to do laundry.” The blond scanned the room: there were three economy-sized washers, three economy-sized dryers, a shelf with detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, and bleach, and a slop sink.
Once he crossed his arms, Seto leaned back against the wall and gave him a snide grin. “Heh, you--” but that was all he said after an abrupt stop.
Jounouchi opened one of the washing machines, then reached for the detergent. “I what?”
Looking away, Seto shook his head. “Nothing.” He paused to cleared his throat. “So, you really know how to work these things?”
”Yeah.” He measured out some detergent, then poured it into the machine. “If I didn’t, I’d’ve had to go to school wearing dirty clothes. It’s not like my old man did it for me, you know?”
”I figured.” Seto’s tone had softened a bit.
Jounouchi closed the washing machine door, then turned to him. “Want me to show you?”
Those blue eyes went stony for a moment but, to Jounouchi’s surprise, Seto nodded. “Why not?”
Once Seto walked over, keeping his arms crossed, Jounouchi looked up at him. “Ready?”
Seto just nodded.
”So, you put the clothes in...then the detergent--”
”I’m not stupid.”
”Didn’t say you were,” the blond laughed, “but some people have different methods.”
”Well, if this were an upright, you could let it fill with some water first, then add the detergent. And this model? It’s a front loader.”
”This model also has a detergent department--”
”Why not just use that, then?”
”Well, one reason is because some have a defect where the detergent will leak onto the door, and not get on the clothing.”
Seto narrowed his eyes. “You calling my machines lemons, Jounouchi?”
”No.” Jounouchi shook his head. “I was going with the other reason, which is, I just figure for such a small load and such a huge washer--”
”Mine’s bigger than most?”
The blond nodded. “WAY bigger. I’m assuming it’s for big ass blankets or something.”
”Who knows. I ordered what the maid suggested.”
”Well, either way, I guess it just...felt right. To put it directly in, that is. So, then, you close the door, and...you see these nobs?”
”So, since my clothes are dark, I want to put them on...well, what temperature would you suggest?”
Peering at the options, Seto looked highly focused at his guess. “Hot. To kill the bacteria.”
Wobbling his head, Jounouchi averted his gaze, but smiled. “Hot is great for killing bacteria, but it’ll fade the colors on darker clothes. White clothing gets the hot water. So, you want--”
”Cold.” The way Seto said the word was almost desperate, like he needed to be correct at least once during this lesson. “So...that would mean you need to separate your clothes by color?”
”Right! Otherwise, the colors may run, and that’s how you wind up with pink underwear.” He giggled, then set the temperature. “Since we only have darks, we don’t need to separate them. So, then, you just want it on the ‘normal’ cycle,” he set it as such, “then...?”
Seto stepped forward, looking over the buttons, then boldly reached out and pressed the start button.
”You did it!” Jounouchi gave him a little clap. “See? Not too hard.”
A small smile came to Seto’s lips, but once he gave a small head shake, the smile dropped out of his mouth, and he looked at Jounouchi. “Don’t patronize me.”
”Ugh!” Jounouchi rolled his eyes. “I was just telling you that you did great for learning so quickly; don’t bite my head off.”
”Let’s go.” Seto turned toward the door. “I need to eat something, and so do you.”