"Hey! What the heck are you guys doin' in here?" Joey Wheeler demanded, staring at the intruders to his room aboard the Kaiba Kraft 3—his own friends.
Téa Gardner, Tristan Taylor, and Duke Devlin stared at Joey and his sister, Serenity, with wide, innocent eyes.
"Kaiba's still looking for rooms for all of us, and Yugi's got to concentrate on the upcoming duels. Sooo, we decided to crash here!" Téa explained, and promptly strode over to the mini-refrigerator.
"Wow, Tristan, get a load of this stuff!" Téa's blue eyes were wide as she rifled through the fridge, glancing over pure yogurt cheese, a bunch of fresh, plump green grapes, and…
"Huh? What's this? Looks yummy." Téa pulled a strangely-shaped bottle from the door of the fridge, and its contents vaguely reminded her of a Ramunes drink. The label merely read 'Fruit Spritzer,' and was an elegant gold label picturing perfectly-airbrushed fruits—namely strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries—decorating it.
"Dude, do you know how HARD it is to find this kind of cheese?" Tristan was saying to Duke, as he pulled out a slab of white cheese in shrink wrap, tossing the black-haired boy beside him a box of crackers.
Serenity Wheeler was giggling, while Joey looked like he was about to bust at the seams.
"You know, I've been thinking," Téa murmured, leaning back on the couch in Joey's room. Tristan, plopped on the floor beside her and taking a swill out of his own 'spritzer,' stared up at her with dilated pupils.
Other similar bottles littered the floor, and Duke Devlin was already passed out beside the fridge, the last few millimeters of his spritzer in the bottle locked in his hands. Joey, for his part, had marched to the other end of the room aboard the blimp and promptly slapped a headset on, hoping to drown out the sounds of his friends' constant chattering.
"'Bout what?" Tristan hiccupped. Were it not apparent to anyone else before, the 'fruit spritzer' that Joey's guests had just downed wasn't merely a carbonated fruit soda—rather, it was an alcoholic drink, left in the mini-fridges of the rooms for the guests Kaiba Corp entertained.
And it seemed that, though most duelists were under the legal drinking age of 20, Kaiba Corp had forgotten to remove said drinks from the aforementioned fridges. And now, three of the 11 guests of the Kaiba Kraft 3 were drunk.
"Kaiba," Téa murmured, and blinked slowly, as if trying to clear the thoughts in her head.
"Kaiba? Whaz you thinkin' of him for?"
"He's so stupid!" Téa practically shouted, and then giggled in the middle of a hiccup.
"I mean, all he could think about when stupid Marik was controlling Joey and me was his dumb Egyptian God cards! And I know that this isn't some…card game anymore," Téa continued, her elbow sliding down her leg to her knee, where she propped up her head and stared into space. "But he's so selfish and stubborn, even after all we've been through."
"Well, it's not like he was ever part of our group, anyway," Tristan said, staring up at Téa—upside down.
"True…" Téa said, wrinkling her nose, "But it's not like he shouldn't be! I mean, he's the same age as you, Tristan—heck, he even goes to our school, but between Battle City and running Kaiba Corp, we never see him!"
"I thought he dropped out and got himself a private tutor or something," Tristan said, and then continued, "Or maybe he goes to Crumb School?"
Téa laughed, "You mean Cram School."
"Okay, so fine. Cream school."
"Him and that stupid…whatever it's called. Obdisk. Oba-Wobba—Ohh…"
Téa's tongue was not cooperating with her brain, no matter how hard she tried. She warily eyed the seven bottles of fruity spritzer she'd downed—along with an entire plate of cheese, crackers, and grapes, split between herself, Duke Devlin, and Tristan. Cursing them silently, she flopped backwards into the couch, her gaze now flitting up to the ceiling.
"Obelish?" Tristan murmured, slipping into a drowsy sleep.
"Yeah, or—Obelisk? Yeah…" Téa nodded, and then, right as she was about to fall asleep, a thought occurred to her. The very idea was hilarious. And she could not keep it to herself, despite her momentary attempt to do just that. And as a result, Téa burst into peals of laughter.
Duke Devlin and Tristan were already passed out and snoring loudly, but Joey, who had been looking through his deck in mute silence, ripped off the headphones and stared at Téa.
"What is so funny, Téa? I'm tryin' to concentrate here! I might be duelin' later!"
Téa grinned and slid off the couch, crawling to where Joey was, deftly avoiding Duke and Tristan on her way.
"Listen, I was thinking…Kaiba's always thinking about his precious Obelisk card, right?"
Joey cast a suspicious look at Téa, waiting for her to continue. Then he caught a whiff of her breath and realized what they'd been up to while he'd been studying his deck and formulating strategies.
"TÉA! You're totally drunk!"
"Am not!" Téa pouted, promptly hiccupping and collapsing onto her rear. Joey only rolled his eyes in response.
"Anyway…?" Joey prompted, wondering what had caused Téa to laugh so uproariously when no one else was even awake to tell a joke. Truth be told, Téa had been chattering with Tristan and Duke for the better part of three hours; it was nearing 9:30, and if the latter two boys didn't wake up, they'd miss the late dinner Kaiba was having served, just before the first two duelists were announced.
As for Serenity, she'd gone to take a nap in the adjoining suite to Joey's room, and hadn't come out since.
Suddenly, Téa adopted a very different facial expression, one that startled Joey out of his relaxed position and sent him into a rigid upright position.
She looked downright like Seto Kaiba himself, with the way she'd suddenly forced her mouth into a straight line, with just a hint of a frown gracing the corners of her lips. Her eyes were no longer a bright, determined blue, or even the clouded hue that came with Téa's drunkenness—rather, she looked cold and callous—in other words, exactly like Kaiba.
"This is my powerful Obelisk! Feel my wrath!" Téa boomed in a deeper voice than her normal one.
And Joey burst out laughing.
"Now that was funny, Téa. What made you think of that, anyway?" Joey asked, sliding the headphones off his head.
"Well…" Téa adopted a sly grin now, her cheeks pinking—though whether from the nature of her imitation or from her drunken state, Joey couldn't say.
"You do know what an Obelisk is, right?" She leaned forward, resting her chin in her hands as she stared wickedly up at Joey. The older boy pulled at his T-shirt collar, trying to ward off the sudden heat that had gathered on his neck, and looked away.
"Uhm, well, it's a really powerful card…"
"No! You do realize that every card in Duel Monsters is based off a word that has a meaning outside the game, right?"
Joey's expression remained blank.
"Ugh! You're hopeless! Example: red eyes. If you swim for too long, you have red eyes. Some animals are albino, they have red eyes. You can wear contacts and have red eyes."
"Uh-huh…" Joey nodded slowly, beginning to see where Téa's explanation was going. Part of him wondered what any of this had to do with the Obelisk card or why she'd been laughing so hard earlier, but even a drunken Téa would eventually get to her point.
"Black. It's a color. And a dragon…well, dragons aren't real, but they're creatures that have existed in fairy tales and myths for centuries, and they're like reeeeaally big dinosaurs," Téa demonstrated by widening her arms as far apart as she could, nearly tipping over in the process, "Sometimes with wings and stuff. So you get it?"
Joey shook his head.
"Ugh! Okay, Red Eyes Black Dragon—it's a card you know all too well in Duel Monsters, but wouldn't it be stupid if a card called Red Eyes Black Dragon was really just a fluffy white Kuriboh?"
"Hey! Don't insult the Red Eyes like that!" Joey exclaimed, pressing forward.
"I wasn't, it's just an example! Anyway…" Téa continued, the smirk returning to her face, "Obelisk is like that. In real life though, it's not some big, huge, all-powerful monster…not a god, not any of that."
"Then what izzit?" Joey asked, looking considerably confused.
"A big tower."
"Haven't you ever seen pictures of the Washington Monument? Or any of those Egyptian monuments?"
"Oh. You mean the pyramids?"
"Noo!" Téa wanted to whack Joey upside the head, but refrained when her eyes caught on a notepad and pen on the table, both embossed with the Kaiba Corp logo.
"Look." Téa grabbed the pen and hastily drew an obelisk—two straight lines that connected at the top with a triangular shape.
"That's it? That an obelisk? Where the heck did the all-powerful God card come from? At least I know that a dragon is supposed to be scary and all, makes sense that it got turned into a God Card…" Joey trailed off, thinking of Yugi's newly acquired Slifer the Sky Dragon card.
"Ugh…in real life, they're hundreds, maybe even thousands of feet tall! So of course the God Card is going to be big and towering…But that's not what was funny."
"What was? That impression you did of Kaiba? That was pretty funny, you know." Joey smirked, prompting Téa to repeat her imitation of the eighteen year-old CEO.
"Look at the picture, Joey!" Téa admonished her friend after a moment, shoving the scrawled image into her friend's face. "Doesn't it remind you of anything?" Téa's voice had taken a lecherous tone to it, and she swayed from side to side as she waved the paper in Joey's face.
Téa sighed dramatically and gave up. She leaned forward and whispered something in Joey's ears—promptly turning the 17-year-old blond a brilliant shade of red.
"Man, Téa, you're naughty! Who knew you had it in you?" Joey smirked at his friend, then reddened again. "Aw heck…but now I'm never going to be able to look at Kaiba again without hearin' your imitation of 'im and that Obelisk card of his!"
Téa chuckled and smiled winningly, "I know!"
By 10:00, the call had been made to the 11 visitors aboard the Kaiba Kraft that a late banquet dinner would be served before the duelists for the midnight duel would be announced.
Joey had forced enough water down Téa's throat to induce her into a more sober state of mind, though waking up Duke and Tristan had been a lot more difficult.
Serenity had heard the announcement and exited from the adjoining suite just as everyone was getting up and cleaning the remainders of their fridge-spree up.
"Yikes guys, what happened in here?"
"Trust me," Téa smiled, facing Serenity, "You don't want to know."
Serenity giggled, even as her brother was making a slashing motion across his neck, "But I bet I could guess."
"Hah, I bet you could!" Téa smiled, cleaning up the last of the cheese wrappers.
"Who would ever eat cheese with a laughing cow on it, anyway?" she wondered aloud, tossing the silver and red wrapper into the trash bag she and Joey had assembled.
"You!" Tristan and Devlin both said at the same time, their eyes still rimmed with dark circles from their short nap from their bouts of drunkenness.
It wasn't long before almost everyone was assembled in the dining hall of the Kaiba Kraft.
"This place is bigger than I thought," Téa murmured, walking alongside Yugi.
"Yeah," the short boy responded, his eyes wandering over the elaborate wall moldings and the glimmering chandelier hanging above the mahogany table.
"There's two halls of rooms, plus this dining hall, and…well, Kaiba's got to have an arena here somewhere for the finals, right?"
Before Téa could agree with her friend, Seto Kaiba himself appeared in the room, his younger brother Mokuba walking beside him.
"You'll find out about that soon enough, Yugi," Kaiba informed them crisply.
Joey had chosen that moment to walk up alongside Téa, and the moment they both caught sight of Kaiba, they had to try their hardest to suppress their laughter. Kaiba stared at them, an eyebrow raised at their poor attempts at trying to muffle laughter.
Though she was no longer drunk, Téa was having a hell of a time as she eyed Kaiba up and down—her eyes catching and remaining fixed on the shining Kaiba Corp belt buckle the multimillionaire teen had fixed to his belt.
And right below it…
Téa turned a bright shade of red, and then, realizing she'd caught Seto Kaiba's eye, whipped away and strode next to Tristan, who was trying to figure out how to pull the chair out without tripping over his own two feet.
Joey and Téa shared a secret smirk throughout the remainder of dinner, only occasionally catching the same expression from the elder Kaiba—a mere raised eyebrow.
Shortly after dinner, everyone—save the mysterious eighth competitor, who hadn't even been present at dinner—piled into a room with an odd contraption resembling the machine they used to draw lotto every month or so.
"Each duelist has been assigned a random number. This ultimate bingo machine will produce two numbers from the eight inside, and those two duelists will report to the upper level arena to begin the first duel of the quarterfinals."
The machine began to whir and spin, tiny balls becoming a blur of black and white—until finally, two balls spit out from the contraption.
A screen beside the device revealed Yugi's face as belonging to one of the numbers drawn…and Bakura to the other.
"The duelists have been named. You have one hour to prepare before the official duel begins."
Téa was chuckling to herself as she walked to her room, thinking to change into a warmer shirt before she went and met everyone before Yugi's big duel.
She was a little unnerved about the fact that Bakura had made it to the finals—after all, they'd seen him not all that long ago and he hadn't even been an entrant in the tournament—or so they had thought. What was more, Namu had found him that time, and he'd been injured…
How was it that he was not only able to duel, but he'd dueled enough people to get the locator cards required to enter the quarter-finals?
Something wasn't right.
'I need a drink,' Téa suddenly thought, her head aching from too much thinking. She grinned at the fact that now that Joey's fridge was cleaned out of the fruity drinks, she could raid her own room's fridge if she wanted more. Now that Kaiba had given up on kicking the non-duelists out and assigned them all places to stay within the surprisingly-spacious craft, she had her own room and no doubt her own stocked fridge to go with it.
'Bad Téa!' She chided herself as she rounded the corner to her room; she was about to give herself reason why she shouldn't drink when her eyes caught on a figure leaning against her door—Kaiba.
"Uh…" Téa stopped short of the doorway and stared at Kaiba, but the right words just slipped off her tongue and into oblivion.
Seto Kaiba used his foot to push himself forward from where he had been leaning back against the wall. His navy blue eyes met Téa's sky blue ones, and she suddenly felt very overwhelmed and intimidated—much like she did whenever Yami met her gaze.
'What an weird feeling!' Téa thought, deciding to look anywhere but in Seto Kaiba's eyes—and then her own eyes caught on that stupid belt buckle again, and she started giggling.
"What's so funny? You and that dog Joey were laughing about something earlier," Kaiba stated in his usual voice—deep, almost monotonous. The first part almost didn't sound like a question—more of a demand, really, which didn't surprise Téa. He was probably always used to getting his way, and the only reason why they were all here now was because he couldn't accept that Yugi had beaten him fairly in a duel. 'He's not going to get anything out of me, that's for sure!' Téa resolved. Let Kaiba play games with Yugi and Joey: she wasn't going to be another of his little pawns in his grand plot for pride.
"Why do you care?" Téa puckered her lips in an attempt to frown like Kaiba did, but that only resulted in an odd sort of pout that Kaiba found disturbing, judging by the twitch of his left eye.
Exasperated just being around him, Téa instead fumbled around in her pocket to find the card key that the security guards had given her for the room, but she ended up pulling out a bunch of IDs and assorted Duel Monsters cards instead. As she rifled through them, Kaiba slid his own card key through the slot, and the door to Téa's room slid open. Without even waiting for an invitation, he walked in.
It was a few seconds later, Téa still standing outside her own room, when she looked up and blinked.
"Sure, go ahead, go right into my room," she mumbled to herself. 'Stupid Kaiba!'
Kaiba had already seated himself on the couch in the middle of the room, staring at Téa with an almost expectant expression on his face. Short of making a patting 'sit down, already' gesture with one of his hands, his eyes said that he wasn't leaving until he got an explanation.
"What do you want, Kaiba?" Téa asked, distracting herself by looking around the moderately-sized room. The small purse-like backpack that she'd brought with her had been searched by the security guards and supposedly brought to this room; Téa was looking for it now.
"Exactly what I said a few minutes ago. What was so funny earlier?"
"And I'll say just what I said a few minutes ago—why do you care?" She shot a questioning look at him, suddenly surprised to see something other than a frown crossing his lips.
'Augh! Cannot look in his eyes, should not look at his belt, and must not look at his lips!' Téa immediately went rifling through her found backpack to make sure everything was there.
"It was obvious you two were laughing at me," Kaiba said, frowning as he remembered. "And I don't like being made a fool out of."
"Ugh," Téa groaned, shooting Kaiba a glare. He might have had the highest IQ out of anyone at Domino High, but the boy had no common sense whatsoever.
"Look, Kaiba," Téa began, settling herself on the couch next to him. She paused. She eyed the refrigerator with a small amount of glee, and then smiled at Kaiba, a gesture which made the elder boy fidget suddenly and blink.
"Get me a drink and I'll explain everything."
Kaiba watched Téa take a long swill from the raspberry Fruit Spritzer he'd gotten for her from the fridge—though it had taken him long enough to do it, considering he'd not only given Téa an incredulous stare ('You want me to get a drink for you?!') but when he kneeled to get a drink, the first one he'd picked was a Coke.
Téa had shook her head vehemently and immediately said she wanted a raspberry spritzer. Kaiba had taken a split second to eye the label of the drink, and realized why she was asking for it.
"This was why you, Tristan, and that Devlin guy were so out of it at dinner, wasn't it? You were drunk." Kaiba eyed Téa accusingly, and her eyes widened. She finished drinking and licked the remainder of the juice from her lips with her tongue—slowly.
Kaiba visibly gulped, but kept his gaze steady.
'Hm. Never thought I'd see Seto Kaiba ever look remotely uncomfortable,' Téa mused. 'Or maybe I'm seeing things. Then again…' she thought, glancing about with a devilish smile crossing her lips, 'We are alone. Just me, an innocent, beautiful girl…and him.'
It couldn't be that Kaiba was having Those Kind of Thoughts, was he?
"Not drunk…" Téa giggled, batting her eyelashes at Kaiba to get a reaction—he only backed up further into the arm of the couch. His expression plainly said what words weren't spoken: "Yeah, right."
"Okay, maybe just a little." Téa giggled again, making a "small" gesture with her thumb and forefinger.
Kaiba only rolled his eyes. It was obvious that she was already getting tipsy after one bottle—who knew how many she'd downed with Devlin, Taylor, and that dog Wheeler before coming to dinner?
'It's a disgrace,' Kaiba thought, 'And she's…Well, she seems to be handling it pretty well. And no matter how low Wheeler, Taylor, and Devlin are, I doubt they'd do anything to a girl under the influence.' Still.
"You owe me an explanation," Kaiba pointed out a few moments later, the silence becoming deafening.
"Oh, that. Right. Look, Kaiba…" Téa looked away, trying not to stare at the overly large Kaiba Corp logo gleaming at her from the waistband of Kaiba's pants, "It wasn't even about you."
"Oh, really?" The same eyebrow as earlier raised at Téa, and she wrinkled her mouth. He was being sarcastic, and purposely so.
"YES, REALLY," She shot back with equal venom lacing her words, "It wasn't about you. It was about that God Card of yours."
Now both of his eyebrows raised in unison—this time, not an expression of sarcasm, but of genuine curiosity.
"Obelisk? What's so funny about that?"
'Oh crap. I can't possibly explain it to him! He'd probably have me thrown off the blimp!' So much for explaining everything to him. She'd hoped to somehow talk him out of the explanation, dodge it. But Seto Kaiba was a bit like a vicious dog: once he got hold of something, he never let go, and apparently that included explanations for innocuous giggling sessions spurred by dirty jokes!
She remembered the imitation of Kaiba that she'd done. No doubt that if she even started such an impression, Kaiba would ensure that Téa would feel his real wrath. And that wasn't something she was looking forward to, especially when the first duel hadn't even started yet. She hadn't exactly come on this duel fest just to drink spritzer in whatever Kaiba's equivalent of a jail cell was.
'Think fast, Gardner! Fast!'
"You know what an obelisk really is, right?" Téa finally asked, her eyes a little too wide as she met Kaiba's suspicious gaze. He was leaning back into the corner of the couch, one arm draped over the side, his fingers just barely reaching Téa's shoulder.
She kept eyeing that hand nervously, wondering if he'd move ever so slightly and shake the truth out of her.
"Of course I do." Kaiba's expression was now one that plainly said "Duh."
Téa shook her head. 'So much for stalling him with that. dammit, why couldn't Kaiba be like Joey?' The thought gave her pause. She sweat dropped, thinking Kaiba wouldn't like it very much if people wished he were more like one of his nemeses.
"Well, doesn't it, uh, remind you, of anything?" Téa fumbled, not sure whether she actually wanted Kaiba to understand or not. To distract herself from what was most assuredly becoming a dangerous train of thought, she took another long swig from her fruit spritzer.
Kaiba was silent a moment, in thought, and then shook his head.
Téa wanted to smash his head in with a pillow—but rather, she ended up doing it to herself, disbelieving that the intelligent Seto Kaiba could be so dumb!
'Okay not dumb, just—er, not…wise? Lingo-smart? Dirty-minded!? Joey's right, I am naughty!' Though whether that was a good thing—like Joey had made it out to be—or not, well, that depended.
"Uhm, well, let's see, when you dueled with Obelisk…" Téa fumbled for what to say next. She'd never actually been present at a duel when he'd actually used Obelisk, and Kaiba probably wasn't stupid enough to think she had been. Even in the toughest of dueling situations, he'd always had a mind as sharp as a razor. Or something equally pointy and sharp, which brought her back to the start of this sticky situation…. Téa tried to think for a good excuse without coming across as a bimbo. Kaiba already thought of her as a silly cheerleader and a "brainless friend" of Yugi and Joey's. Damned if she was going to let him think she was some air head! If anything, she was funny, like Joey said. It wasn't as if Kaiba could understand humor, Téa thought darkly. It wasn't in his programming.
Okay, so telling the truth was probably not the best idea, but what else could she do? There was nothing good enough that she could make up on the fly with what she'd already revealed. She could say she watched the duels online, but then, the online duels didn't record what duelists said during the duels—they just recorded a play-by-play of what cards were summoned, set, or otherwise used.
'I have to wing this one! If I can make my imitation sound like Kaiba actually said it at one time or another, then maybe I can just fall back on the excuse that I heard what Kaiba'd said from someone else!'
"You said something like uh, 'This is my Obelisk…feel my wrath!'" Téa's face was scarlet, sure that Kaiba would catch on, but his expression didn't change. When she finally peered up at him, the only clue that he'd even heard what she'd said was the fact that he'd knit his eyebrows together, no doubt in contemplative thought.
"I don't remember saying that," Kaiba finally said, causing Téa to gulp. She swallowed the last of her fruit spritzer, at least able to enjoy the tingle it caused as it coursed through her body. She felt warm now, and after a while, she was sure these insane thoughts of Kaiba and that damn Obelisk card would be gone and forgotten.
"Hey!" Téa suddenly piped up, her voice unusually loud for the room, "You don't hang out much with guys your own age, do you?"
Kaiba looked at Téa oddly, his right eyebrow raised in the same mute wonder—and was that a trace of amusement?—as before.
Instead of demanding to know what that had to do with anything, as Téa would have expected, Kaiba answered, "I don't usually have much time; between looking out for Mokuba, taking care of the company, and dueling…" he trailed off, suddenly looking a bit angry that Téa had been able to turn the conversation to him.
"Hah! That's not an excuse!" Téa crowed, pointing at him.
Kaiba shot her a look that Téa thought was a mix between sarcastic "Well, obviously!" and "Oh shut up." She smirked, turning away for a moment, when another thought struck her. She'd just had an epiphany, and now she practically glowed, the way she was smiling so widely.
"What now?" Kaiba asked, sounding almost tired—or fed up.
"I've figured it out!" Téa exclaimed, poking Kaiba squarely in the chest. He glanced down at her finger and then back up at Téa, who immediately withdrew her hand and grinned again.
"Figured what out?" Kaiba asked plainly.
"Why you hate Joey so much!" This was obviously not what Kaiba had been expecting, and his left eye twitched again (this time for a wholly different reason, though Téa didn't know that), expecting Téa to continue.
"Because," she went on, raising her left forefinger as if stating a scientific fact, "He's the closest thing to a best friend that you'd have if you were even remotely normal!" She leaned back a bit, daring to press her back just a bit more into that arm Kaiba had so casually slung across the back of the couch and just left there. She felt him jolt, just a little, but he didn't move his arm away. Téa smiled a little and continued.
"I mean, the reasons why you hate him so much now—he acts like he's always so carefree, and you consider him a bad duelist…but if you were normal and not so obsessive about everything, then those wouldn't matter to you at all."Téa felt somewhat proud of herself for making such an astute observation, even though it was sure to piss Kaiba off—even a bit.
'But what does that matter? You're right! After all,' Téa thought, unaware that she'd thought about herself in the third person, 'if Kaiba's life hadn't been so rough, then he would just be a normal guy—like Tristan or Joey. And he'd probably get along great with them. Too bad he doesn't even want to try.'
Kaiba looked as if he'd been struck with a hammer. He blinked disbelievingly at Téa, his eyes almost daring her to repeat what she'd just said. But she just sat there obliviously, wavering slightly in her seat as the alcohol claimed her blood.
"Define 'normal,'" Kaiba countered after a moment, "Especially where our group is considered."
Téa let Kaiba's words sink in a moment, and then it hit her—he had said "our group." Kaiba, ever the loner, always having to be self-reliant, had finally admitted that he was part of the group! He probably wouldn't say it in so many words, but that last admission of his was plenty for Téa. She smiled widely, practically beaming now, a happy flush spreading all over her skin.
"'Our group,' huh?" She grinned at him, enjoying watching him get flustered as she threw his words back at him with such ease.
"Well—I mean it's only because I've dueled Yugi and Joey before—more than once. We end up running into each other a lot, the guys and I…" Kaiba trailed off. He didn't like to associate himself with them—especially not Wheeler—but…
Téa's smile was gentler now; it was a comforting thought that underneath his flowing trench coats and expensive dress shirts, there was a real human heart beating under there. It only showed once in a while—mostly when Mokuba was involved, but sure enough, he'd admitted it now—no matter how much he pretended to hate Joey, Yugi, and Tristan—and anyone else in their slowly-growing circle, he was their friend. Maybe the others didn't think of him that way, but it was a start.
Téa frowned then; she remembered something else he'd said.
'The guys and I…'
"Well," Téa murmured, suddenly moving closer to Kaiba, watching him closely as he suddenly faced her, his eyes widening by a fraction, "What about me?"
Kaiba swallowed, and then looked up and away—to clear his thoughts. A split second later, that same cold, unfeeling expression was back, and he was staring at her without a hint of amusement in his eyes.
"What does any of that have to do with that foolish Obelisk joke you and Wheeler were laughing at earlier?"
Téa swallowed and wondered what the heck she would do now- she was quickly wandering back into the Danger Zone. 'Well,' she thought, 'Might as well have some fun while I'm at it. At the least, get back at Kaiba for just INVITING himself in my room…'
'Even if it is his blimp…' a soft voice murmured in the back of Téa's mind. She ignored it.
"'This is…'" Téa recited, leaning down slightly, so that her breasts just barely grazed Kaiba's knee, "'My…'" She trailed a finger up his right leg, which was still splayed out in an uncharacteristic casual and laid-back manner—for Kaiba, at any rate. She glanced upward and saw Seto Kaiba swallow once more, and she delighted in watching his cheeks suddenly flush the faintest shade of red.
True, she was rather tipsy at this point, and this whole incident would no doubt embarrass her to death the next they, but she was having fun now, so what did any of that matter?
And then, almost a whisper, Téa's mouth enunciated the final word of Kaiba's "quote."
"'Obelisk.'" Her tongue pressed against her teeth for a long second as she formed the 'l' sound, all while she kept her finger running up Kaiba's thigh and her eyes trained on his. Oh, yes indeed, he was blushing brilliantly now.
Téa felt an inward surge of satisfaction at knowing that she had gotten to Seto Kaiba when other people couldn't even crack his shell—the poor boy really hadn't had much of a social life with people his own age, had he?
It was awfully sad. He was just beginning to have some semblance of a friendship with the guys, though it was mostly a mutual respect thing (well, not in Joey's case) for dueling abilities. What Téa was doing now was entirely different.
Téa stared at his face for a few minutes, eyes locked with his, before she suddenly burst out in laughter and toppled backwards onto the couch.
"Hahaha! Your face—! Oh man, that was so–so…" Téa continued to giggle, all while Kaiba swallowed and tried to cool his burning face, "So cute!"
He stared at her again, eyes wide in bewilderment. 'Cute?' Seto Kaiba, Cute? That was a word applied to kids like Mokuba! Not him!
"Why did you think that was funny?" Kaiba demanded, obviously getting the joke now, while leaning forward and hovering just above Téa's face. Her delighted smile faded away, and she whispered, ever so softly, her hand trembling and oh-so-near Kaiba's own face—
"I don't know why, I'm a stupid girl…" She paused, blue eyes shimmering, "I do stupid things."
And then she yanked down on Kaiba's too-tall starched collar—hard—forcing his head down, and pressed her lips against his.