Title: The Boys of Summer - Ch. 3: A Whiter Shade of Pale
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Seto + Yami, Rafael + Valon + Amelda, Malik + Bakura
Spoilers: none... takes place post-Orichalcos Doom arc
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. "The Boys of Summer" is performed and recorded by Don Henley. " A Whiter Shade of Pale" is performed and recorded by Procol Harum. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: Sequel to "More Than Words" (can stand alone, but it makes more sense if read as a sequel). Rafael's day off takes Yami and Seto to the Getty Center in Santa Monica during the third day of the vacation.
Status: 4 / 9
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

This is a SHONEN-AI fic (male + male romantic relationship). If you are offended by homosexual relationships, please do not read this. Flames will be disregarded.

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Author's Notes:

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The Boys of Summer

Ch. 3: A Whiter Shade of Pale

* * *

Yami and Seto arranged to meet Rafael in front of the hotel at 9:00 AM for the drive up to the Getty Center. The burly blonde showed up moments after they stepped out onto the sidewalk in a dark blue Mercedes-Benz CLK500 Cabriolet with the top down, and nodded briefly at his guests after they climbed into the back seat. "Just a word of warning. We're going to get caught in some nasty traffic. There's a SigAlert for an accident on the 405 at the 55 and then another one up past Long Beach, so we're in for a long drive."

Seto waved his hand dismissively and Yami just shrugged. "We'll still get there sometime today, right?"

"I hope so," said Rafael dryly. "You two already eat breakfast?"

"Fuck breakfast. We need coffee," Seto snarled.

The former Doom member smiled thinly. "No argument there. Anything else?"

"No. Less talk, more go." Seto kicked the seat in front of him and Rafael was suddenly glad that the former Pharaoh was seated behind him instead. It was going to be a long drive, but at least it wouldn't be murder on his back.

* * *

Caught in the middle of the worst looking traffic Yami had ever seen, the convertible crawled along all the way up to Los Angeles. Rafael was too busy weaving in and out of lanes to talk and Seto was just being his usual grumpy morning self, so Yami attempted to fill in the silence by commenting on the crush of cars and pointing out various sights along the way.

As he sipped at a triple espresso, Seto idly wondered how long Yami could talk for without having to take a breath. Breathing was overrated, he decided. Oxygen was overrated. He held his breath for several seconds then sucked in a fresh lungful of air and held it a little longer.

"Seto, you're starting to turn blue, you know that?" Yami pointed out after a minute.

He released the stale air he was holding in his lungs and panted a little. "Whatever."

Yami's brow furrowed. "What were you doing?"

"I was wondering if I could go without oxygen longer than you. Apparently not."

"Huh?"

In the driver's seat, Rafael quirked an eyebrow at the rear-view mirror but didn't comment, although he was amused. The two younger duelists had changed a lot since he saw them last. Of course, at the time, they were trying to save the world from Dartz's deranged plans, so he supposed that building a relationship had not been first and foremost on their minds. After all, he hadn't considered the possibility of forming a romantic relationship with his own former teammates until Dartz was defeated and they were suddenly faced with the prospect of building a future for themselves without his influence.

Yami's voice cut through Rafael's musings. "Isn't that it?" the ex-spirit asked, leaning slightly against the back of Rafael's seat and pointing out a series of white buildings that practically glowed against the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the freeway.

"Yes, that's the Getty. We'll be getting off at the next exit," the blonde answered, moving over a lane. He exited less than a mile later and pulled into a underground parking structure nestled into the base of the hills. They traveled into the lower levels of the structure before finding an available spot, then took the elevator up to the automated tram that carried passengers up the slope to the Center itself. After several minutes, they finally stepped out into the arrival plaza of the Getty Center.

Yami gave a low whistle in appreciation. The Getty was made up of several clusters of buildings on a manicured landscape, the off-white stone of the walls glowing in the hot California sun. "How can they afford to run this place and not charge admission?"

"I believe this Center is funded by the J. Paul Getty trust. When Getty died in 1976 he was the wealthiest man in the world and I guess he was really into art and culture, so he left most of his fortune to the trust in order to make his collections available to the public. And to think... I'm worth more now than Getty was when he was the wealthiest man alive. What a difference 30 years makes," Seto stated softly, but with obvious pride in his voice.

"Ever think of building a museum, Kai-baby?" The brunette dipped his head and merely smirked in response.

Rafael just nodded his head briefly in agreement with Seto's earlier statement. "All right, I suggest we start with the gardens because I already made lunch reservations for 12:30, so we only have a half-hour to kill."

Seto shrugged, which the blonde took as a sign of acceptance, so he led them past several buildings and fountains and towards the "scenic route" leading to the central garden. They began walking down a narrow zigzagging path that was walled in by high travertine tiled walls, which started ringing harmoniously as Rafael smacked his palm against the stone surface.

Yami cocked his head and mimicked the motion, smiling as the walls resonated with the impact of his hand. "Nice trick." The sound was rather soothing.

"First time we were here, Valon said that he had heard from Pegasus that the walls rang if you hit them in the right area," Rafael explained. "He was right. I like it. But wait till you see the garden... it's not very big, but it's rather interesting."

They continued on, finally emerging into an open, shallow ravine which ended with a garden planted around a floating azalea maze in the middle of a large circular pool. "Wow, this is really something," said Yami, obviously impressed by water maze.

"Hmph. Yami, if you're so impressed with it, I'll have it recreated in the backyard."

The shorter duelist grinned and shook his head. "It's not what you're thinking," he responded. I was just wondering... what it would be like to play hide-and-go-seek in a maze like that. As in you hide, and I seek. Yami waggled his brows suggestively.

Seto blinked. Mentally he was wondering if being on vacation was making Yami more lecherous while his other head was springing to life and screaming, "Yes! Yes!" He suddenly found himself calculating how much it would cost to close down a place like the Getty for a private tour. Perhaps it would be easier to simply have the maze recreated at his mansion. Verbally he only managed to say, "Ummm...."

Yami laughed heartily and shifted over so that his shoulder bumped against his lover's arm. I wish we were back at the hotel, just for a little bit.

Damn you... me too. Are you sure you don't want a maze in the yard?

We could play hide-and-go-seek in the mansion...

Seto made a face. As long as Mokuba and Noa don't find us first.

"So does lunch right now sound okay?" Rafael asked, his deep voice unintentionally knocking both Seto and Yami out of their mind linked flirt session.

"Yeah, whatever," Seto drawled. Not what I'm really hungry for... Maybe vacation was making him a little hornier too.

You can have me for dessert later, Kai-baby. Yami winked and sauntered after Rafael as the blonde began walking up the grassy slope which lead back to the arrival plaza and adjoining restaurant.

Seto grumbled and adjusted himself quickly before following.

* * *

After they ate, the trio headed for the pavilions where various works of art were displayed. Starting with a section full of restored antique furniture, they strolled from one exhibit to the next, speaking softly amongst themselves. By the time they reached the pavilions which housed paintings, Yami had turned their browsing into a game.

"Hm. 'The Banquet of Cleopatra.' She looks... European." The former Pharaoh put a finger on his chin. "It looks like a bunch of French people having a party in a Grecian temple," he decided, grinning slightly as his companions.

Seto squinted at the placard. "The artist is Gerard Hoet and he's Dutch. European artist, hence the European styled figures."

"It's supposed to represent her indifference towards her wealth, since she is about to put a pearl earring into her wine and drink it," said Rafael gruffly, reading the sign over Seto's shoulder.

"But shouldn't she... oh, I dunno... look Egyptian?"

"Well, look at this next one," said Seto, sidestepping to the next painting. "'After the Bath' by Degas."

"Ouch. She looks... disjointed." Both Yami and Rafael tilted their heads in contemplation of the awkwardly positioned naked woman featured in the painting.

"Hn. Personally, I think it looks like one lady trying to pee on a bathtub while the other lady is yanking on her hair."

"Seto! That's awful!" scolded Yami, but he couldn't help but snicker. His boyfriend was right; that was what it looked like.

Rafael grunted and chuckled under his breath. He would never look at art exhibits the same way again. "Then what about this one? Another famous artist, Paul Cézanne. This one is entitled 'The Eternal Feminine.' Rather unsettling, don't you think?" He gestured at a pale, red-eyed female figure surrounded by a throng of male figures.

"Is that supposed to be a chick? She has your eyes, Yami. She looks like she's going to Mind Crush her entourage."

The crimson-eyed teen peered closely at the painting. "I don't think those are her eyes... it looks like her eye sockets are bleeding. Gruesome."

Seto merely shrugged and turned to look at the next painting. "'The Death of Dido' by Rubens. Or by one of his underlings. Why are the women in these paintings always so... rotund? And pale, lumpy and naked? Looking at this makes me glad that I'm gay."

"That was Rubens style, hence the term 'Rubenesque,'" said Rafael.

The brunette CEO rolled his eyes. "I'm familiar with the term, thank you. But she's... Yami, if you ever let yourself go like that, I'm dumping your fat, lazy ass."

Yami smacked his lover's arm. "How about her? 'Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn' by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Prettier than the last woman."

"A decently attractive lady," commented Seto, half shrugging at the huge portrait of a wealthy woman in a white gown reclining on a low Turkish sofa. He really didn't have an eye for women, but at least she wasn't heavyset and nude.

"I think she's pretty."

"Oh? She meets your approval, huh? Your type?"

"My type? I don't see you anywhere in the painting." Their eyes met and Yami smiled, eliciting a smirk of amusement from the other. Your jealousy is showing. "Anyhow, it's nicely painted. And at least her eyes aren't bleeding," Yami added, stepping around a corner and into the next room. "Oh, now this is amusing. These are both boys."

"Please. That's a boy and a girl."

Rafael snorted. "This is 'Portrait of Joseph Gulston and his Brother John Gulston' by Francis Cotes. They're boys."

Seto frowned and read the placard. "Shit. They put little boys in dresses?" He looked more carefully at the pastel drawing. "That kid is wearing a dress and carrying a basket of flowers. That is SO wrong."

Yami quickly peeked at the sign. "I guess in 1754 boys wore dresses. I wore a... guess you would call it a 'kilt,' when I was Pharaoh."

"But you don't look like a girl at least. And the Scottish still wear kilts to this day. Besides, that little boy looks like a girl. If you put Mokuba in a dress, he'd also probably look like a girl."

"Here's another painting of boys in dresses: 'John, Fourteenth Lord Willoughby de Broke, and his Family' by Johann Zoffany. Maybe it's a theme in this room," said Rafael, sweeping his eyes over the walls before stepping towards a softly lit corridor.

Seto briefly glanced at the portrait of a man, woman and their three dress-clad children. "Horrid," he declared, his fingers brushing against Yami's as he attempted to pull his lover a bit closer before following Rafael down a hallway and towards another cluster of rooms.

Yami smiled at Seto and bumped him gently with his hip, then he choked back a laugh when he spotted the first painting in the room they just entered. "Rafael. 'Three Lovers' by Théodore Géricault. Is this the situation in your household?"

The burly blonde grinned openly. "Yeah, that would be Valon the voyeur lounging on the side," he said, gesticulating at the brunette woman in the painting, "and that's would be Amelda on top of me."

"Amelda likes to top, eh? He doesn't seem like the type," Seto said.

A faint blush colored Rafael's cheeks. "I didn't say that. Just in this painting, he'd be the blonde woman. Because I'd be the guy."

"Well, since you're the blonde and the blonde's on top, shouldn't that be you instead? With the nice, exposed thigh and buttcheek? And Valon has nice boobs."

"Stop looking at Rafael's thigh and Valon's boobs, Yami," Seto commanded, placing one hand on the back of the former Pharaoh's neck and massaging it. Yami leaned into his lover's hand. "Next painting?"

"It's a pencil portrait. 'Portrait of Lord Grantham' by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Good looking guy," commented Rafael.

"Hey, he is pretty cute."

"He looks stuck-up and arrogant," the brunette said haughtily. Both Yami and Rafael turned to look at him. "What?! And look, he has tiny feet. You know what they say about a man with small feet."

Yami looked down at his shoes. "What's wrong with my feet?"

"Nothing's wrong with your feet."

Yami slid his foot over next to Seto's in comparison. "I have small feet. Are you implying something about my..."

"Your feet are fine. They're proportional. You're a foot shorter than me; what do you expect? If you had huge feet you'd look like a clown or something," Seto blurted out. Yami frowned at him. "Oh, God... fine. You're hung like a horse. You're just a short horse. Better?" The young billionaire suddenly conjured up a mental image of mini Yami-centaur with stumpy legs. Wait, why does he have five le... oh. Gah!

"I don't want to know," mumbled Rafael. "Mm, you guys should recognize this one. It's a Van Gogh."

"Ah, 'Irises.' I didn't know it was displayed here."

"Would it be wrong of me to say that I don't like it?" asked Yami, finally lifting his eyes from the floor.

"Say whatever you like," answered Seto. "I'm not crazy about it either."

"Then perhaps this would be more to your taste? This is 'Mars & Venus, an Allegory of Peace' by Louis Jean François Lagrenée. This one and Bouguereau's 'A Young Girl Defending Herself against Eros' are my favorite paintings here."

Yami read the placard and nodded. "I like it. The symbolism of the Goddess of Love overcoming the God of War, and the doves nesting in the discarded battle helmet... and it's nicely detailed as well." He felt Seto shift beside him.

"The symbolism is cheesy. But the bed looks nice and plush and comfy." Makes me think of the pavilion with the furniture...

The ex-spirit grinned. But those beds looked hard and uncomfortable. And we'd probably break them and then get kicked out of the museum.

Okay, maybe the beds wouldn't work out. But there was that little blue bench from the court of Marie-Antoinette. Perfect height for bending you over and giving you the spanking you deserve. Seto casually traced a finger over the mid-seam in the back of Yami's khakis.

Kai-baby, you beast. You're in one hell of a mood today. And why do I deserve a spanking anyways?

Because... He pursed his lips in thought. I didn't know I needed a reason.

I think this mind link thing is affecting you more than we realized. But... I have no complaints thus far.

Whatever. Hn... Okay, I thought of a reason.

And that is?

You deserve a spanking because we didn't try to break the bed in the hotel before we left this morning, you lazy ass.

Yami laughed cheerily, which only earned him an odd look from Rafael. But the blonde didn't make a comment. Baby, I'm going to be really sore if you insist on pounding me every morning.

Well... I would be content with... alternate activities.

Oh, I see. If I can think of one, maybe you'll get a surprise tonight.

"Hmph!" Seto said aloud.

"If you two are done with the telepathic conversation, we can move on to the next pavilion."

"What mental conversation?" How does he know that...

Yami just hit Seto lightly on the shoulder. "Yes, we're done." Valon figured it out during our brunch, don't you remember? Besides, when we stand around gesticulating at each other without saying a word, it's rather obvious that something's going on.

I do not gesticulate! Seto mentally yelled, his arms flying up in the air. Oh. Shit.

The crimson-eyed teen just laughed and said, "We're done here."

* * *

After strolling through the East and North Pavilions and viewing illuminated manuscripts, photographs, tapestries, and sculptural works on display, Rafael suggested that they skip the photographs on exhibit and start heading back. He hoped to beat at least some of the southbound traffic but knew that the drive would be slow in spots regardless. Once they got back to the car and began heading out of the parking structure, the former Doom member received a call from Valon and extended out an invitation to dinner at Aqua at the St. Regis Hotel, which Yami graciously accepted just as Seto's cellphone began ringing as well.

The brunette flipped the phone open and glanced at it momentarily. "Mokuba."

"Hi Seto! How are you? Doing anything fun?"

"We've just left the Getty Center, which is a museum in LA, and we're getting on the freeway right now, which... it looks like a parking lot." He frowned at the jumble of cars on the 405.

"Um, okay. Anyhow... I have a question."

"Let me guess. You want to invite Yugi-tachi over for your birthday."

"Hehe. Yeah. And have 'em spend the night..."

A soft growl rumbled through Seto's throat, ending abruptly as Yami put his hand on his boyfriend's thigh, just above the knee. "... As long as they stay out of my office and bedroom, fine."

"Okay! And um... then I was going to take them to KaibaLand."

"All right. Anything else?"

"Not really. Uh, wait... Nii-sama, hold on..."

There was a pause and a slight sound of rustling, then Yugi popped on the line. "Hi Kaiba. Is Yami there?"

"Why don't you call him on his phone? Or mind link him?" Seto grumbled. Yami tugged on a strand of brown hair and held his hand out for the phone. "Oh, fine..."

The ex-spirit smiled and held the phone up to his ear, dropping his hand back onto Seto's leg. "Aibou?"

"Hi Yami! Having a good time? I tried to mind link to you yesterday but I guess it doesn't work well over long distances... I could sense you for a few moments, but just barely."

"I'm sorry. I should have called yesterday..."

"Nah, it's okay. I figure you guys are 'busy' and I don't want to interrupt anything, you know." Yugi snickered. "But since Mokuba has no shame..." Yami grinned at Mokuba's shout of protest as Yugi continued on, "... and already made the call, I'm just piggybacking." There was another muffled sound in the background. "Oh, and Noa says hi too and wants you to put Kaiba back on."

"All right. I'll talk to you later." Yami held the phone out to his lover and slid his hand all the way up to Seto's lap with a smirk. "Seto... Noa's on the line."

Quit that! "Noa. What?" he snapped.

"Geez. I just wanted to say hi and... uh... Yugi, is he gone? Good. What are you getting Mokuba for his birthday?" Noa whispered conspiratorially.

"I don't know." Seto lodged his hand firmly between Yami's legs.

Ah! Kai-baby!

"Nii-sama!"

"Huh? What? I don't know yet. I'll find something." It's called payback. Stop teasing me or I swear I'll...

"Hey, not in my backseat you two," Rafael interrupted loudly, his eyes flickering up to the rear-view mirror.

"God damn it!" Seto yelled, jerking his hand back in surprise. His face turned red and Yami completely busted up laughing.

Noa's voice squeaked in concern over the phone. "Seto? What's wrong?"

"Nothing! I'll... I'll call you later. Tomorrow maybe. Hell, I don't know." He hung up the phone in a hurry and glowered at Yami, who was trying to look innocent and failing miserably, and Rafael, who just stared back stonily through the mirror, his sunglasses hiding his eyes. "I hate both of you."

"No sex in the car. Other people have to sit there, you know," Rafael said simply, suppressing a grin. Seto ground his teeth in irritation.

Relax... I'll make it up to you, Baby.

Oh yeah? Do you know how humiliated I am right now?

But Kai-baby... I just thought of some "alternate activities."

Did you now?

Uh huh. Something involving a bench and a spanking. I've been very bad today.

Seto grinned, already settling back down. Yes, you've been a horrible tease today. You need to be taught a lesson. I can hardly wait.

Same. So... am I forgiven? Yami placed a hand on his lover's forearm.

Not yet. Ask me later. Much, much later. But he lifted the hand and kissed it anyways.

* * *

TBC

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Additional Author's Notes (regarding how this chapter came up):

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July 14, 2005