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The dreams started only after coming back from Egypt. Only when they mean nothing and can inspire nothing. Only whne they can make him mad, one way or the other.

In them, his skin is a different shade, and he walks with a different gait, wrapped in clothes that don’t fit right. He speaks with the same voice in a language he doesn’t know but that his mind - no, his heart - understands.

Sometimes, he dreams about a young girl with hair as white as an old woman. She looks at him with gratitude in her eyes and a familiarity he feels he’s never had with anyone. Something echoing around him, making the world seem to have lights too bright, shadows too dark, tells him that isn’t true. Not anymore. But the feeling persists.

He recalls the tender feeling of her sometimes-chapped lips on his as he holds the weight of her lifeless body before a tablet with a familiar image engraved upon it. He knows the dragon’s power, but he wants its life and power poured back into her, where it won’t be able to fight anything so powerful but where it will light up her eyes and let her whole heart shine through them.

He has never known anything but her lips, and among every thought of wanting her back to set her free, to live her own life until she is old enough to match her hair, there is another thought clawing at him. How he wants to hold her closer, to touch her, to be alone with her. And he is alone with her. He holds her, but her body is cold, dead, and heavier than its own weight.

Unfulfilled desire is part of a bitter, hot ember that grows hotter and hotter inside his chest, fueling new heat through his veins that seem to weigh down and then invigorate his limbs in turn. He needs more, he wants more, and he wants to destroy everything that took her from him.

Seto wakes up warm enough that he pushes the covers down past his hips and draws his legs out from beneath them. Bare feet exposed to cool air, knees drawn up to his chest, he starts to breathe more easily, but then he feels almost sick at the strange, familiar, hot weight he feels at the center of his curled-up body. He makes a soft, disgusted sound at himself, wondering how a nightmare that makes him feel like anyone but who he has known himself to be can make him feel like this.

He still isn’t used to someone else lying in bed beside him. He hears soft snoring, and it irritates him in a way it hasn’t yet, though. He picks up a throw pillow that has made its way to the foot of the bed and half-heartedly tosses it against Jounouchi’s cheek, leaving it resting over his face so he’ll have to stir to move it. His hand falls to his side, and he feels for any cool spot on the sheet.

The first sounds Jounouchi makes aren’t really intelligible, but Seto thinks to himself that a lot of what Jounouchi has said to him isn’t intelligible. In general, his thoughts have - quite obviously - softened about the subject, but at the moment everything tingles and burns and there is something sickening in the pit of his stomach, and he doesn’t feel like being charitable.

“No fair,” is the first thing he hears Jounouchi mumble that makes some sense.

“Wake up,” Kaiba orders without much force, in case his intent hadn’t been clear.

Jounouchi snatches hold of the edge of the cushion. Kaiba glances over and sees how Jounouchi’s hand is thicker than his, the flesh and muscle more noticeable between the movement of bones and tendons. The cushion impacts his side softly, but he doesn’t move to deflect it. It just rests there, against his hip.

He fixes his eyes forward, across the room past the foot of the bed, as Jounouchi leans himself up on his elbow.

Silence passes between them and Seto closes his eyes, drawing in a deep breath and letting it out in a huff.

“Okay, I’m awake,” Jounouchi tells him.

“You’re too close,” Seto informs him, whether or not it’s a real explanation. His bed is large enough that Jounouchi can easily scoot back, give him some space, but it’s the lowest-powered salvo he can think of, more than a real suggestion.

“Uh...” Jounouchi mumbles in response. He can feet him pushing himself the rest of the way up, sliding back, but he goes almost all the way to the edge of the bed, as if he’s thinking about getting up. “Are you about to get all too-good-for-this again, ‘cause I can definitely go crash on the couch. Or find my way out of here at... whatever stupid time it is,” he says once he gathers his thoughts.

No,” Seto says emphatically. “No,” he repeats, trying to revise his own tone. He sets his chin against his knee and shakes his head. “I got too warm while I was sleeping,” he explains, disgruntled that he needs to but knowing he does. He tells himself it’s plenty of an explanation, for them both.

“Oh,” Jounouchi replies. He comes back by a couple of shifts across the bed toward its center.

Several more seconds pass, and Seto feels himself cooling down. He keeps his eyes closed. He can feel Jounouchi watching him, but while it’s irritating, it’s grounding, too. He knows that Jounouchi is something he has only ever known once. Has only ever known as Kaiba and not some ancient priest in a foreign land, in a life lost beneath sand and time.

He still breathes audibly as if he’s been burned when he feels Jounouchi rock forward and set his hand against his back, over his shoulder blade. The warm weight of the hand doesn’t shift, squeeze, or hit, and he doesn’t know if it’s supposed to feel like that. No one has ever touched him like this, and he still doesn’t know how he’s supposed to respond if he doesn’t want to shrug or push him away. The confusion goes nowhere and only deepens as Jounouchi’s hand moves up and down, putting goosebumps on his skin that remind him of the other problem he had awakened with besides the heat.

“You have a bad dream or something?” Jounouchi asks. He thinks he hears him gulp somewhere through asking the question, like Seto might try to bite back somehow.

Seto considers before he answers but finally sighs, his shoulders sagging before he straightens his spine, stretching his shoulders back with Jounouchi’s hand there as a useful brace. It has touched more vulnerable places than his back, but the feeling still makes Seto’s senses wired in a way that hadn’t. Cautious.

Jounouchi sighs a deep sigh.

“Well, I’m not gonna ask you if you wanna talk about it, because you’ll just tell me I’m too dumb to get it or something,” he says. He moves closer so his back is no longer resting against the headboard. This moves his hand down toward Seto’s ribs, and Seto concentrates on a spot on the duvet to keep himself from reacting to the ticklish arc that runs right to his spine and makes him softly grit his teeth.

“I don’t think it was a dream,” he hears himself saying.

Jounouchi just makes a quizzical noise rather than asking anything in response.

“I think they’re memories. Memories I neither want nor need,” he says, scoffing a bit at himself.

Jounouchi’s hand slides up to Seto’s opposite shoulder in a gesture that feels more familiar, squeezing, until he keeps massaging his thumb into and beneath the tendon that runs up into his neck. Seto makes a sound, involuntary and from his throat. He clears it and turns his head to glare at Jounouchi.

“You still look like you to me,” Jounouchi says, not shrinking away from the look in his eyes at all. The room is almost dark except for a cool light that filters in through a window. It looks like moonlight, but it’s almost certainly electric. He can still see the warm color of Jounouchi’s eyes, though. It twinges in the pit of his stomach, and his heartbeat pushes the feeling down between his legs. His breath shakes a little when he draws it in, but the glare only holds a little longer. He does roll his shoulder, half-heartedly trying to get Jounouchi to let go.

Jounouchi’s hand slides down the back of his shirt, and he can tell that the fabric has cooled a little. Not enough to make the ill-gotten feeling go away.

Seto considers getting up to take a shower, but that would only beg more questions, and he doesn’t want the sound to wake Mokuba.

“Do you wanna go back to sleep?” Jounouchi offers. His hand slides all the way down, across his spine to touch just over the waistband of the soft pants Seto wore to sleep.

The touch so low on his back sends a feeling down to the base of his spine and into his hips that makes them want to move. He swallows and feels a little queasy. He shakes his head and resists hiding his face against his knees again. He draws a deep breath instead.

“No,” he says, less curtly than he could have but resistant all the same.

Jounouchi pinches the hem of Seto’s shirt and tugs a couple times.

“Come on. You can’t just sit there and pout.”

“I’m not ‘pouting,’” Seto says. He doesn’t explain himself.

“Then what are you doing?”

“I’m... waiting.” Seto says. He thinks that’s concession enough.

“Uh... waiting for what?” Jounouchi presses.

Seto wants to tell him to shut up and go back to sleep, but he’s backed himself into a corner by waking him up in the first place.

“To calm down,” he says, almost swallowing his reply.

Jounouchi seems to think about it for a few moments. It’s strange that Seto knows when Jounouchi is actually thinking now. He used to think he didn’t think much at all.

“Hang on. Did...”

Jounouchi sits on his knees, facing Seto, and he looks him up and down. He peers down as if he’s trying to get a look at the very thin gap between Seto’s thighs and his abdomen. Then he tries another angle before Seto moves his knee a bit threateningly, telling him without a word not to think about it.

Jounouchi straightens up and looks him in the eyes then.

“Did you get a hard-on from a nightmare?” Jounouchi asks. One eyebrow looks more skeptical than the other.

“Now you’ve worked out the problem,” Seto replies in a condescending tone. He glances at the ceiling but doesn’t bother fully rolling his eyes. He just looks away. It doesn’t matter for long, though, because Jounouchi moves again and seats himself cross-legged behind him, a little off to the right. He feels one of Jounouchi’s shins flush against the higher part of his buttock.

He turns his head to demand an explanation or to be left alone, fully expecting Jounouchi - or anyone in their right mind - to mock him or to be disgusted, if they knew how his mind worked right now. He stops a little short to avoid a collision with Jounouchi’s head, though. He feels the warmth and faint dampness of breath through the soft fabric of his shirt. Jounouchi kisses him, gentle but with a little breath, over his shoulder.

Jounouchi pauses, letting his forehead rest higher on his shoulder for a moment. Seto can’t think of anything to say at the response. Not one he’d been expecting.

A moment later, Jounouchi picks his head up and moves again. This time he’s getting up on his knees behind Seto before settling back down. Before Seto can make up his mind about whether to ask about what Jounouchi intends to do next, there’s another kiss atop the fabric of his shirt, only a little further up onto his shoulder than the last. Jounouchi works his way up with slow, distinct, evenly spaced kisses until his lips meet Seto’s skin.

Seto’s eyes have fallen closed already, but he gasps when Jounouchi’s lips - a little chapped - brush against his skin. The chapped roughness quickly fades from his mind as the slick feeling of saliva smooths it out as Jounouchi’s brutish tongue touches him.

What are you doing?” he demands, trying to lend some authority or judgment to the much-too-late question.

He feels Jounouchi’s smirk as he moves so he is breathing and speaking right against the back of his neck, making every hair at his hairline stand on end.

“If I’d just stopped with your shoulder, you would’ve gotten all moody about how you’re not sentimental and how I should stop embarrassing myself,” Jounouchi says. Whether it’s true or not, the characterization sounds like it could be true, and Jounouchi kisses the back of his neck again, and it’s almost enough to make him not care anymore.

“Jounouchi.” He doesn’t say his name often. Even now, it’s always with purpose. “In my dream--”

“Sshhh,” Jounouchi replies, and he feels that, too. “Dream you isn’t real you.” And Jounouchi kisses his real neck again and starts to suck on some skin down the side, tongue coming up to soothe it only to suck and nip again. Seto feels his heartbeat throbbing in his dick and he grips, frustrated, at the sheet. He slowly starts to relax his thighs, to straighten out his legs.

“You...” he starts to accuse, but he can’t think of anything coherent to say.

“Give you a reason to wear that stupid Steve Jobs turtle neck,” Jounouchi taunts him. Playfully. That burns through him in a way that makes him make another sound, this one deeper, lower.

Frustrated, in more ways than one, Seto lifts his hand and reaches back to grasp for Jounouchi, to find any part of him to touch, to retaliate or level the playing field. He can’t reach him without one of them moving, though.

Jounouchi gives in and his lips leave Seto’s skin with a pop. His hands ghost down his sides and make Seto breathe in to make his body smaller about his ribcage. Jounouchi’s fingers are faintly calloused in a way that Seto’s aren’t. He feels them against his skin as Jounouchi takes hold of both sides of his shirt at the hem and starts to pull up.

It’s a strange, unfamiliar feeling, at least from this side. He remembers helping Mokuba get changed when they were younger. It’s like that, in reverse, and entirely different to feel Jounouchi taking his shirt off. It isn’t done with the kind of rough urgency that he’s sometimes felt it with before.

Jounouchi sets his shirt aside and moves out from behind him.

“You can lie down,” he tells him.

Seto holds his gaze for a moment. There’s power in not simply obeying someone’s orders. He looks for some kind of play in Jounouchi’s eyes, but he looks entirely unbeguiling.

Seto lets himself back onto his elbows, and before he’s any lower than that, Jounouchi touches him beneath the navel and starts to let his palm slide down over the waistband and the soft cloth of his pants.

Part of him still wants to protest for the sake of it, but a greater part of him doesn’t see the point in going through that particular ritual anymore. Not right now, at least.

Jounouchi’s hand is warm as he palms over the bulge in Seto’s pajama pants.

Seto controls his breathing as it comes in deep.

“You really are hard,” Jounouchi comments, smiling to himself and looking skeptical at once. It’s the latter part that makes Seto want to get up and lock himself in the bathroom, but he doesn’t do it. It’s too nice to have someone’s hand on him, even if that someone is one of the most infuriating people he’s ever met.

“I thought we’d established that,” he snarks at him instead.

Jounouchi looks up at him and snorts.

“I think that’s the part where you’re supposed to get your ego stroked, too.”

He holds eye contact as he moves to grip Seto’s waistband the same way he’d gripped his shirt. Seto quickly decides to let him but lifts his hips only enough to let them slide down. Jounouchi stops them about his knees.

“Wouldn’t want you gettin’ your designer jammies all sticky,” Jounouchi teases. Jounouchi wears a worn-out t-shirt where the design has almost washed and cracked away and sweatpants. He fills out both of them in a way that Seto’s testosterone-addled eyes rake over with a thirst for them. He hasn’t fully figured out how to drink want he wants from them. Not yet.

This has happened often enough that there’s not much hesitation or fanfare as Jounouchi runs his palm over Seto’s shaft with nothing between them. Seto sets his jaw a little, making only a small sound, like clearing his throat, as Jounouchi gives him a couple of tugs. He watches with interest.

He draws a deeper breath, unclenching his jaw when Jounouchi reaches for the bedside table like it’s his. He opens the drawer and rifles around what little is needed to find the tube he’s looking for. He squeezes a little lube onto his palm and tosses it back carelessly without closing the drawer.

Seto almost compulsively reaches over to fix it, but Jounouchi’s hand is back on him, rubbing the lube up and down to spread the lube on him.

“There. That’s easier,” Jounouchi comments. He nods toward the headboard as Kaiba stays up on his elbows.

“You just relax now,” he tells him in a soothing voice. It’s strange that Jounouchi has a soothing tone, but as his eyelids flutter and grow heavy for a moment, Seto knows exactly where it comes from. He’s a big brother, too. He really doesn’t want to think about their siblings now, though. It just doesn’t help that the stray thought makes his chest ache and feel as queasy as his stomach had before.

He lifts his chin up, tilts his head back, and tries to listen. He straightens and lowers himself down to the pillow from his elbows slowly.

Jounouchi’s hand keeps a steady rhythm, not too fast or too slow. He doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to make him come, and he isn’t tormenting him either. The added lube helps Seto feel like the sensation is making him float a few millimeters above the bed as he does nothing at all.

Jounouchi moves, and his shadow and silhouette moving catch Seto’s rapt attention even as the interruption of the rhythm makes him complain softly. Just another noise in his throat.

Jounouchi leans down, over and beside him. He gets a kiss to his collarbone and down onto his chest.

Jounouchi’s hand jostles, making small strokes about the middle of the shaft, not going all the way up or down. It continues the stimulation but isn’t as satisfying as what came before.

That isn’t the biggest of his concerns as Jounouchi kisses downward.

“Jounouchi,” he warns, but his voice has gone a bit weaker and hoarse.

Jounouchi doesn’t head the warning, and in a moment he has found the most sensitive spot on the fairly flat plane of Seto’s pectoral. Seto makes a sound that can only be described as a grunt, muffled as best he can with determination, as Jounouchi starts to suck, soft and insistent.

“Fu--” Seto starts to swear but stops himself, even as Jounouchi’s hand starts moving again, all the way up and rounding the head. Back down to the base of the shaft and up again, finding a good, steady rhythm once more. Seto draws quick, staccato breaths after realizing he’d been holding his breath until it strained in his chest.

Jounouchi speaks against his hard, swollen nipple when he lets up - only to talk.

“You don’t have to think about anything,” he encourages Seto.

Seto can’t tell him that he doesn’t know how not to think, but he’s only thinking about how Jounouchi is making him feel for several more moments. He hears the wet, popping sounds of Jounouchi’s mouth as he sometimes lets off his tender nipple only to go back to it. The familiar not-quite-impact of his hand turns down the volume of the rest of his thoughts.

Orgasm sneaks up on him, but when it starts and his hips move, thrusting upward in a rhythm instinctively, Jounouchi is strong enough not to let him buck all the way out of the rhythm of his hand. He uses his forearm to manage the thrusts without stopping them and keeps his hand going until he is sure Seto is finished.

“Stop, stop, stop,” Seto pleads the moment it starts to become too much, though, and even though part of him still doubts it - can think of reasons he wouldn’t - Jounouchi listens and stops the movement of his hand.

Another grab for his nightstand, and he comes away with a wet wipe that he uses on his hand and then Seto’s stomach, folding it in between. The feeling makes Seto’s eyes bat heavily. He has never known anyone to clean him up, for any reason. He’s sure it happened. When he was too young to remember it.

“You want your pants back up?” Jounouchi asks him as casually as if he’d asked him if he wanted sugar or cream in coffee.

Seto feels all the fight drained out of him and nods. He tenses his abdomen, softer and flatter and weaker than Jounouchi’s, especially right now. He still manages to lift his hips a second later as Jounouchi helps him with his pants, without trembling.

Jounouchi doesn’t offer to do the same with his shirt before he flops down on his elbow again, lying at Seto’s side, looking him over. Seto recognizes something in the look. It makes his face a little hotter than it already was, even as the rest of him as started to rapidly cool.

“Think you can sleep?” Jounouchi asks.

Seto looks over and watches as Jounouchi effectively kicks the covers into place just over Seto’s feet. He doesn’t pull them any higher. It seems considerate.

“You mean you’re not gonna whine that it’s your turn?”

Jounouchi scoffs but then smirks at him as he looks back at his eyes. He leans in and bumps his forehead against Seto’s, letting himself be repelled.

“It’s way hotter to know Kaiba owes me one,” he says, his smirk warming into a more innocent smile.