Title: 'Tis the Season
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Seto + Yami (main), Anzu + Yugi, Mai + Jou, Malik + Bakura, Rafael + Valon + Amelda
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: The end of a tumultuous year, and the start of something new.
Status: 5 / 5
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

'Tis the Season

Ch. 5: Auld Lang Syne

* * *

It was supposed to be, in Yami’s own words, just "a little get together." Which in Seto’s mind should have translated to being the four of them plus maybe Yugi and Anzu, but he really wasn’t terribly surprised when a seemingly endless stream of hors d’oeuvres started rolling out of the kitchen. Turned out that Jou, Mai, Shizuka, Otogi and Honda were already back from their Vegas getaway, and that Yugi, Anzu and Sugoroku would be coming over a little later as well, and that Pegasus and his bunch would be staying until the next afternoon. So even though Malik and Bakura weren’t due back until after the new year had begun, it would still be a crowded house. And to make the situation even better… Pegasus, Rafael and Amelda had bought an alarming amount of booze and…Yami was cranky.

"Ouch." Seto jerked his hand away from a plate of pita chips as Yami slapped it lightly.

The former Pharaoh had been bustling by, a plate of cheese cubes in hand, when he had caught the attempted thievery of chips. "Not yet, Baby. Wait for the guests. They’ll be here any minute now."

"I was going to eat one lousy chip, Yami. You’re always complaining I don’t eat enough."

"Well, this is different."

Seto pulled away a bit. Your back still bothering you? Not that he really had to ask since he could feel the slight phantom prickling on his own skin, but he wasn’t sure how much more intense the pain was for Yami, even though this time around, the tattooed patch of skin seemed to be healing up quite rapidly. Perhaps there was some validity in Sugoroku’s assertion that their link somehow allowed them to physically heal faster, though surprisingly enough, Yami didn't believe it was possible.

It’s… it’s not that bad. Sorry. I don’t mean to be so snappy. It’s just…

Hmm?

Yami let out a breath. Valon is driving me NUTS in the kitchen! I know he’s trying to help, but he’s just in the way of everything, and every time I kick him out, he ends up wandering back in. By the Nile, he’s a great friend, but he’s just so… so… everywhere!

Sort of like what I used to do? Seto took the plate out of Yami’s hands and placed it on the dining room table before he upset it with all his gesticulating.

Uh… yeah.

Well… and Seto looked towards the entrance of the kitchen. Shall I forcibly remove him?

Don’t be mean to him, Seto.

I won’t be mea… hn! Fine, whatever, but can I just say that I can hardly wait to get all these people out of the house?

Yami sighed audibly. I hate to say this, but... same here. I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone again, but I guess it was a bad idea for them to stay in the house with us.

I agree. No privacy… The young billionaire pressed himself lightly against his boyfriend’s back.

Yup.

A hand traced its way down the side of Yami’s neck and floated over his chest. I like having my privacy.

Yami turned towards the touch and… the doorbell rang. Seto rolled his eyes.

"I’ll get it!" Mokuba yelled as he ran by.

"Hey, stop making out you two!" Valon chided from the kitchen.

Seeing that he wasn’t going to get anywhere any time soon, Seto decided that the best thing to do with his frustration was… to kill Valon. Without a convenient attack pony to sic on Valon, he opted to just go and start chasing him around with a very deadly nylon ladle in one hand. Okay, so it wasn’t such a great weapon. But at least it gave him the satisfaction of getting in a few blows on the laughing Aussie without the risk of actually killing him. He supposed if he had assaulted Valon with a butcher’s knife, maybe Rafael would’ve seen the need to flatten him, and then things would have gotten messy.

"Jesus, are you trying ta kill him or somethin’?" a familiar voice barked.

Without even looking over, Seto smirked and said, "They let you out of the pound, Mutt?"

Jou growled. "Why you…"

"Hey, Valon! What are you doing here?" Mai interjected, running over to hug her former suitor. Then she saw the other hands waving at her from the family room. "Amelda, Rafael, Pegasus? Wow, is this a big reunion or what?"

"Maybe this is for one of them decorating shows, ‘cuz you don't get this many gay guys together in one place without someone trying to reupholster something," Jou added airily. Everyone turned and stared at him. "What?!"

"Since you have their attention, give them the big announcement, Onii-san," Shizuka whispered from behind her brother. Otogi and Honda snickered beside her.

"Oh yeah. Heheh, okay, listen up! See, Mai and I figured that since we…"

Mai rolled her eyes and decided to hurry things along. Grabbing Jou’s left hand with her left, she held them both aloft and yelled, "We got HITCHED!"

"WHAT!?!" several voices cried out.

"Congratulations!" said Yami, stepping forward to give them both a hug and to examine their gold wedding bands.

"My condolences," Seto told Mai with a smirk.

Valon looked depressed for a moment, then brightened up considerably. "Well, we can always have an affair, right Mai? Or a threesome, if Katsuya swings that way." He gave the brown-eyed blonde a wink as he went sidling up to him.

Jou gave the Aussie a queasy look.

"I’m sure he does," Seto commented, then at Jou’s sharp glare of disapproval, he added, "Well, better Valon hitting on you than on Yami."

"Gee, thanks Rich Boy. Go away Valon; I’m a married man and definitely not interested."

Valon pouted, then whispered, "Well, we can always have an affair, Jounouchi. Mai doesn’t have to know…"

* * *

Of course, Mai and Jou’s sudden elopement was the talk of the party. They swore up and down that they hadn’t planned it, but something about being in Sin City loosened Jou’s inhibitions and he apparently blurted out a proposal in a buffet line somewhere between the fried shrimp and the baked salmon. Not exactly romantic, but the spontaneity of it made Mai laugh, and hell, if the worst a guy could do was to make her laugh, she figured maybe marrying him wasn’t such a bad idea after all. So after lunch they went and bought rings, then got a recommendation to a themed wedding chapel. Figuring that since they were staying at the Luxor, they’d keep the theme going and opted for the Egyptian wedding package at the chapel. Honda was the best man, Shizuka the maid of honor, and the minister was…

"Oh no," Yami groaned as he slowly flipped through the photos that Otogi had taken. "King Tut? That’s awful."

Mai laughed. "I thought so too, but oh well, we had already picked the package. And at least I got to be carried in on a palanquin by two ‘slaves.’"

Yugi smiled. "I really wish we could’ve been there. It had to be hilarious!"

"I know Otogi laughed through the entire ceremony," Honda commented. "That's why half of the photos came out blurry."

"Yeah, I wish we had time to fly ya out Yug, but it was so spur of the moment ‘n all… well, tell ya what. Mai and I will host Friday night this week then, how ‘bout that? It’ll be like our… uh, reception."

"Aww, I wish I could attend," Pegasus said, listing a little towards Jou, the steady flow of alcohol already working him into a nice state of sedation, "but sadly I and my employees will be back in California by then. So here, I just went and wrote you a check. Happy wedding. Have I told you all that I love weddings?"

"Uh, thanks…" Jou looked down at the somewhat crinkled slip of paper, then nearly dropped it. "Holy shit! Are you kidding? Or just drunk?" There was no way he was going to accept $5,000 from someone who was potentially so sloshed that he wouldn’t remember what he had done. He’d had enough of lushes in his life, thank you very much.

"He’s not drunk, I am," Amelda told no one in particular as he began pouring orange juice into a glass of peach schnapps and vodka with ice.

"Keep going, ‘cause I’m not holding your hair back while you chunder," Valon mumbled at his redheaded lover, though he really didn't mean it.

Pegasus grinned. "I haven’t had that much to drink. Don’t worry. Keep it. I want you both to have a wonderful life together! Gosh, I love love. Did you know I met my Cyndia at a party in Las Vegas?"

"That’s great…" Some help here?

Mai butted in to rescue her new husband from the turn the conversation was taking. "Thank you, Pegasus. This was extremely generous of you." Okay, so they weren’t that hard up for cash, but from the look on Pegasus’ face, the man was eager for them to smile and gush and ultimately accept the gift. So she took the check out of Jou’s hand and slipped it into her purse before giving Pegasus a brilliant smile. "I’m sure we could use some new things in the apartment once we figure out all of the arrangements."

"What are the living arrangements?" Anzu had to ask. After all, Honda was Jou’s roommate, but they had been talking about having Honda move out anyways so that Shizuka could move in once she was 18 and done with high school.

"Well, I’m movin’ in with Mai obviously," Jou began. "And since we were on a month-to-month lease, Honda will be lookin’ fer a new place and a new roomie."

"Maybe he can move in with Malik and Bakura," Yugi suggested. "Or even Otogi."

Otogi cleared his throat. "Actually, I asked him on the way over if he wanted to move in with me. Figured I have the room, so why not?"

Noa glanced at Shizuka standing off to Otogi’s side. "That makes it convenient."

Jou blinked and cluelessly looked in his sister’s direction, then at his friends. Other than the fact that she seemed slightly flushed, and Otogi and Honda were both looking around as if there were something interesting on the ceiling, he didn’t see anything that explained Noa’s comment . "What makes what convenient?"

A wicked grin crossed Valon’s face. "Ah, nice one, kid!"

Anzu wrinkled her nose cutely, then decided to go one step further. "So what about you, Shizuka? Are you still planning on moving out this summer?"

"I’d like to, but… well, we’ll see. Since I can’t move in with my brother…"

"We’ll help you find a place, don’t you worry!" Honda blurted out. Otogi elbowed him, then both of them began looking around innocently as Jou turned and stared at them again.

"Am I missin’ somethin’ here?"

* * *

The party turned out to be not much of a party, but more a gathering of good friends reliving memories of the past year. At least that was what it was for Yugi-tachi, who ended up in the media room to watch the video recording of Jou and Mai's wedding while chatting about anything that came to mind. Seto had no complaints about that… he liked it quiet, and having them all herded in there made things a lot quieter for him. But somehow, he lost track of Yami, which was odd because he just always knew where the ex-spirit was. Even opening their link up a bit more didn’t help; it just made him lightheaded. Maybe it was because Yami had been drinking a bit too much, or maybe it was something else, but he just couldn’t seem to get a good fix on him and only knew for certain that he was close by, which still gave him reason to worry.

On the way out from a second check of the media room, someone tapped Seto on the shoulder, and he turned around to find Valon standing behind him. "Have you seen Yami around?" he asked immediately, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to question the Aussie.

"Have you seen Rafael or Amelda?" Valon responded.

"I thought they were passed out on the sofa with Pegasus." Okay, so he could see that in fact, only Pegasus was asleep on the sofa, but frankly, Seto didn’t care. Where’s Yami?

Valon’s eyes narrowed slightly, but then he sighed in resignation. "I know you don’t care, mate, but… ah hell, never mind. I think Yami said he was heading out back for some fresh air," he answered listlessly.

Seto gave a slight nod and went to go find his boyfriend, but at the last moment, he turned and looked back at Valon. Now that he thought about it, it was unusual to see the normally chipper teen looking so despondent. Maybe he was taking the news of Mai’s marriage hard; he did carry a torch for her for quite some time. "Uh, look… it’s not so bad. She wouldn’t have married you anyways, right?"

Valon gave Seto the oddest look, then a slight smile touched his lips. "Good thing you’re not a motivational speaker. But I’m okay with her marrying Jou, I guess. He’s a good bloke; not the full quid, but he’ll do right by her."

"If not Mai…"

"Rafael, Amelda and Pegasus don’t always do parties and holidays very well. Oh sure, they look all festive hitting the turps," and he made a shot slamming motion, "but they don’t know when to stop."

"Parties are better drunk, huh?" Seto didn’t have the type of distaste Jou had for binge drinking, but he wasn’t relishing the thought of finding a bunch of drunks passed out in his house either.

Valon’s lips tightened. "There’s people who drink because they’re happy, and there’s those who drink because they’re not happy. Anyways, if you’ll excuse me… I’m going to go find my boyfriends, and then Rafael and I will probably spend the night making sure that Amelda and Pegasus don’t kark it. Happy New Year’s, Kaiba."

Seto watched wordlessly as Valon brushed past him and headed for the sofa. The younger brunette shook Pegasus awake enough to get him standing in an attempt to drag him out of the family room, supporting the taller man’s weight as he groggily swayed from side to side. He told himself it didn’t matter about Pegasus and Valon and the rest of them, but his feet betrayed him and he found himself automatically moving forward to help prop Pegasus up from the other side. Valon peered over Pegasus’ shoulder at him, surprise etched on his face.

"I…" Well, Seto really didn’t have anything to say. He wasn’t even sure what he was doing. So he gave a lopsided shrug and began tugging Pegasus towards the guestrooms, trying to match his pace to Valon’s. But he couldn’t help but suddenly wonder… was this what he would’ve been doing if he had actually ended things with Yami? Would he have been drinking in the name of celebration while in reality, he hadn’t reason to celebrate? And how much worse was it for Pegasus, who had actually lost his lover, or Amelda, who had lost his little brother, or Rafael, who had lost his entire family on a single day? He wanted to say that he would have been better than that, that he would have been consoled by the fact that Yami wasn't dead, only gone from his life... he wanted to say that he wouldn't have resorted to finding forgetfulness in the bottom of a bottle, but it was easy to ignore that possibility when he wasn't directly faced with making that choice.

"… from here," Valon was saying.

"What?" Seto blinked and looked at the other duelist, confused. He had been so engrossed in his own thoughts that he hadn’t realized that they had already reached Pegasus’ room.

"I said, I can take things from here." Valon’s eyes carefully scanned Seto’s face as if searching for some hint of understanding, and then he cracked a smile. "Look… thanks for the help. It’s almost midnight, and Yami’s out back, okay?"

* * *

Seto finally found Yami sitting out on the patio with a pair of champagne flutes on the glass tabletop. Even though it wasn’t snowing at the moment, the ground still had patches of the white stuff, and it was still cold enough for everything to be frosted over in a shimmering coat of silver. And Yami was clad in only a long-sleeved silk shirt and jeans – he had to be freezing. So why was he sitting outside when all his friends were indoors?

"What’s wrong? It’s not like you to walk out on your own party."

Yami turned his head slightly and flashed Seto a warm smile. In a surprisingly clear voice, he said, "I figured you’d come out sooner or later. I just wanted to end the year with just the two of us, you know?"

"Out in the freezing cold? Been hitting the bubbly a little hard?" He hadn’t meant to sound so bitter about it, but he could still smell the alcohol on Pegasus’ breath…

The crimson-eyed teen suddenly shivered, as if he had suddenly been reminded just how cold it was, but he easily laughed it off. "Well, it is New Year’s Eve. I figured I should get into the spirit of things. But maybe I did have a bit too much wine earlier… I feel more warm and fuzzy than party hearty."

Seto relaxed marginally as Yami grinned at him again. At least his lover fell into the "drinking because he’s happy" category as opposed to the other one, though he’d prefer to see him a bit more sober. "Come on, let’s go inside." He held a hand out to help Yami up, but the younger duelist tugged at it until Seto gave in and finally bent down in frustration.

"What time is it, Seto?" Yami asked, trying to figure out how to read Seto’s watch upside down.

"A little over five minutes till midnight, give or take a few seconds."

"Sit with me until midnight, then we can go in, okay?"

Seto hadn’t brought a coat out either, so he was beginning to really feel the chill, but hell, Yami was only asking for five minutes, so after wasting four seconds on thinking about it, he sat down in a chair next to his lover. Yami almost immediately climbed onto his lap and straddled and kissed him, all warm and languorous, tasting a little of champagne, and Seto began hoping that Yami had the foresight to stash some lube in the bushes as Yami ground his crotch against his lap.

Been… year…

"Wait, Yami. I can’t understand you when you’re drunk." The fuzzy feeling was back, and Seto was now certain it was the buzz from the alcohol somehow leaking through their connection. And then he wondered if he could actually help Yami sober up faster if he kept the link open… it certainly was worth trying.

"Oh?" Yami pouted slightly, then frowned. "Is that why you didn’t come out earlier?"

"I couldn’t find you," Seto admitted, feeling a wee bit tipsy already. "Couldn’t get a fix on you, couldn’t get a response, nothing."

"I’m sorry. I didn’t realize…"

"Doesn’t matter."

They sat in silence for another minute, content to just sit together, then Yami spoke up again. "It’s been an interesting year, huh?"

Seto’s mind rolled through the last 12 months of his life. Their first anniversary, their first vacation… things had seemed impossibly good… and then the earthquake and the subsequent series of horrible decisions he had made. His throat felt dry as he rasped, "Yeah, interesting…"

"Don’t, Seto." Yami nuzzled his boyfriend, then locked his crimson eyes on Seto’s sapphire ones. "It all worked out okay. Maybe… if it hadn’t happened the way it did, you’d have never found a way to accept… to tell me… that you love me."

Seto stiffened almost imperceptibly, but after a moment’s hesitation, his hands moved up to trace Yami’s spine through the thin fabric of his shirt, carefully bypassing the still-tender areas. "Maybe." He sighed. "I don’t deserve you Yami, I really don’t… but," and he smiled at Yami’s sudden look of disapproval, "I’m glad you think I do."

The ex-spirit smacked his lover on the arm. "Geez, you did that on purpose."

"Yeah." Seto smirked, then glanced at his watch again. "One minute until midnight."

Yami smiled and sat back a little, going for the champagne flutes. He handed one to Seto, then held his aloft. "A toast then?"

The young CEO stared at the glass, then finally accepted it. Might as well. "Mm."

Yami leaned in until his breath tickled the fine hairs by Seto’s ear. "To you, my Kai-baby – the most selfless person I know. Despite your ‘flaws,’ I wouldn’t change a thing about you, because that’s what makes you the man that you are. The man that I love."

Seto flushed slightly. He couldn’t think of anything that would be nearly that poetic. The best he could do, he supposed, was to just be honest. "And to you, Yami. For putting up with my shit, ‘cause I know no one else would. For never giving up on us, even when I had given up myself. And for… being with me past, present, … and future."

"That was very nice. To us." Yami was beaming as he lightly touched his glass to Seto’s.

"To us." He took a sip, letting the slightly bitter liquid burn away the dregs of the old year, then looked at his watch one last time. "Five. Four. Three. Two… Happy New Year’s, Yami-kins."

"Happy New Year’s," Yami breathed, his lips nearly grazing Seto’s just long enough to get that out, and then he closed the gap between them for a gentle kiss which quickly heated up into something far more passionate. Briefcase… in bushes…

Well, that was one way to ring in the new year…

* * *

~ OWARI ~

Author’s Notes:

February 13, 2006