It was early morning and the first bell had just rung announcing the start of class. All the students were seated and prepared for whatever the curriculum for the day was…well almost all.
"Yug, wait up!" Joey exclaimed as he and Yugi rounded the next corner. They were still several blocks away from school.
"Joey! We're…late…your curiosity…don't want to…be even more…late," Yugi managed to get out after much gasping.
"Not my…fault…card selection…too good," Joey grunted as he managed to close the gap between himself and Yugi. That morning Joey had convinced his best friend to go with him to a shop that was said to be stocked full of rare cards. In all the excitement Joey, and to be fair Yugi as well, completely lost track of time. Now they were sprinting for school. Though they may be first class duelist, they were second class students in their teacher's eyes.
"Almost there!" Yugi groaned as at last the school was visible.
"Not many…fans today…ey' Yug?" the blond commented as they approached the gates at a run.
"Just keep running…Joey."
They made it through the small gathering of gawkers and were now at least in the threshold of the school. They could hear the people behind them comment as they run.
"Must be late," a man with light blue dreads stated.
"Wow, they were Cu-tee!" said a high pitched female voice.
"Wasn't that Yugi Muto and Joey Wheeler?" another commented, sounding bored as he ran a hand through his long red hair.
"No, couldn't be. Duelists like them wouldn't be late to school," muttered a bald man with a black goatee.
"Well maybe we sho..."
Joey and Yugi were at the school steps by then and out of hearing range. They burst through the front doors and began to run down the halls. They didn't stop until they were at the door to their classroom, then as if on cue both bent over to catch their breath. Joey straightened up with a side-ways grin on his face.
"How's my hair?" he asked.
Yugi shook his head and smiled. "Joey, we're about to get torn apart by Mr. Hayashi and all you're worried about is your hair?"
"Gotta look good for my fans! 'Sides, long as my hair looks better than yours, I'm happy," the blonde mocked as he rubbed Yugi's multicolored head with his fist.
"Cut it out Joey, get serious," Yugi demanded as he smacked Joey's hand away.
Instead of continuing with his fun Joey asked, "Got an excuse?"
Joey looked down at his shoes, "Working on it. You go in first, I need as much time as I can get. The secon' Mr. Hayashi sees me, he'll jump on me like a fangirl on Kaiba." Yugi stifled a laugh and opened the door to their class with his best friend following after him.
"…you to remember that when we are speaking of…ahhh Mister Muto and Mister Wheeler, so glad you could join us. What elaborate story have you concocted this time, Wheeler? I do so hope it's better than your last. What was it again; gang of cloaked men trying to steal some children's cards?" Mr. Hayashi rudely inquired.
Yugi had already taken his seat in the far left of the classroom by the windows, all the while trying to avoid Téa's questioning gaze. Joey however was still in the front of the class, with his hands behind his head, walking leisurely to his desk.
"You know Mista H. that actually did happen. But you see this mornin, this crazy fangirl got a hold of Yugi's–"
But the class never found out what harebrained story Joey came up with because at the moment Mr. Hayashi slammed a yard stick on the laminate table in front of him.
"Enough of your poor excuses, Wheeler! Take your seat, unless you'd like to spend the remainder of your day in a very quiet room by yourself." Mr. Hayashi replaced the ruler on the chalkboard rail, seeming to regret his loss of composure.
"Sure thing, Mista," Joey sighed as he took his seat next to Yugi.
The class found the whole situation humorous, but typical. This sort of thing happened often at Domino High. The only person who didn't seem remotely amused was Seto Kaiba, naturally.
The billionaire sneered, "You should have tried your dueling monkey excuse, Wheeler. That was the one were you dueled a monkey and lost, right?"
"Can it, Kaiba," Joey said as he turned around to glare at the brunette sitting a few seats back, "one more word and I'll–"
"Gentlemen, please!" Mr. Hayashi yelled, demanding their attention. "Mister Wheeler if you do not retake your seat there will be consequences."
"Yes sir," Joey mumbled before he shot Kaiba one last hateful glance.
When Mr. Hayashi was sure there were no more interruptions he turned back to the board and said, "Now, where was I? Ah yes, when you are dealing with vectors…"
Whenever Mr. Hayashi taught his lessons he wouldn't stop unless a fight literally broke out. He did not tolerate interruptions; he also frowned upon questions which he felt were meant to be asked at the very end of the lecture. You could get away with anything in class; sleeping, talking, even a duel if you were quiet enough.
"Ten minutes late. You'da thought we missed more than an hour by the way he reacted," Joey said, smiling as he turned towards Yugi. Yugi opened his mouth to respond, but Téa beat him to it.
"You're 'ten minutes late' everyday, Joey. You have to know how much it irritates him, how much it irritates all of us," the dancer hissed under her breath.
"Oh come off it Téa, you know it's pretty funny," Joey said as he gave her an apologetic smile.
Téa shook her head, but there was the slightest upward pull on her lips as she rolled her eyes.
"My favorite is the one with the parachuting ninjas from Canada," Tristan declared as he gave Joey a light punch on the shoulder. They all began to laugh quietly, remembering Joey's first excuse to his and Yugi's tardiness.
They were a circle of friends that were constantly together. Sometimes Bakura and Duke joined them, as Bakura sat behind Téa and Duke next to him, but they never had anyone new. They had been like this for what seemed like forever, and it was hard to imagine a time when it had not been this way.
The hour continued monotonously and when it was up the bell rang for their first free study period of the day. The teachers called it this because "free time" sounded too fun, but that's what it was. They were given thirty minutes after every hour and a half of lessons. The headmaster felt this improved testing scores and stimulated their minds, and the students weren't about to disagree.
"That time already?" Mr. Hayashi asked while looking at his watch. "Well we'll pick up where we left off after your study break. As always save your questions for the end of the period."
Finally. Now I can get something productive done, Kaiba thought as he took out all his notes on duel disk technology and design. Recently he'd been working on a new system that diluted the impact of a Duel Monster's attack. He'd never quite been able to figure out why the attacks of holograms physically affected the duelists even with the safeties in place. Though he had first written that accident off as a meaningful part of the system, now that he had free time he was determined to discover why. Sometimes, Yugi would look at him and feel sorry that he had to sit through lessons when he obviously had the knowledge already; Kaiba was the CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation after all.
Kaiba scrutinized his work as he always did during their free periods, while the rest of the class goofed around.
"Come on Yugi, duel me. I want to try out some of those cards we got," Joey said as he took the seat in front of Yugi a girl had just vacated.
"Alright Joey, I could use a good match," Yugi said as he reached into the spot on his belt where he kept his deck. He hadn't used his God cards in a duel in a very long time; it had become almost unnecessary. Atem was suddenly more present in his head than he had been during the lecture.
"Do you want me to take this duel Yugi?" his yami asked as he appeared to the right of Yugi's desk.
No I think I can handle this one, besides Joey gets mad when you help, Yugi told Atem as the pharaoh leaned against Joey's desk.
As if he were reading Yugi's mind the blonde declared, "And no helping him Atem, you know it's like cheating."
The argument began there, each person choosing whether Atem's help was considered cheating or not.
Suddenly Joey asked without cause, "Ey' Yugi, you see that girl we passed on the way here?" Tristan's head snapped up and Yugi looked puzzled.
"What girl?" Tristan asked.
"No, I didn't," Yugi said honestly as he shuffled his deck.
"Yug, you're tellin me you didn't see that fine lookin girl in front of the school? Do you even notice girls?" Joey asked seriously as Tristan attempted not to laugh. Téa was ignoring them for the moment, trying to figure out what she had done wrong in her notes.
"I notice girls," Yugi mumbled as he shyly peeked at Téa and then quickly resumed shuffling his deck when she looked up.
"Riiight. The only person who notices girls less than you is Kaiba," Joey said as one of his cards fell from his hand to the floor and he bent over to pick it up.
I notice girls, Kaiba thought critically as he examined the pencil he'd just accidently broken, but none of the girls here particularly appeal to me. Sighing, the billionaire got up to sharpen it at the same moment the girl in front of him stood. He collided with her back.
She had short, sandy blonde hair and before turning around she bit out, "Watch where you're going when…" She looked up to find Kaiba glaring down at her. Her face paled and she began to stammer before bowing low, "M..my apologizes, Kaiba."
"Hngh," Kaiba grunted in response. He walked past the girl whose face flushed a dull pink as she retook her seat, forgetting why she had stood up in the first place.
That's how every girl reacts, Kaiba thought. They're rude until they see it's me and then suddenly they're like Mary Freaking Poppins. He registered the look on the girl's face as a mixture of embarrassment and was used to this kind of reaction by now, so he wasn't surprised that she was no exception. Girls notice me more than I notice them.
The rest of the day passed smoothly and then Yugi and his friends were back in front of their favorite game shop. They were discussing plans for Friday night, which was only two days away, when a glossy white limo sped by at top speed.
"Of all the nerve," Joey said, only beginning on his rant. "That Kaiba's going to get what's coming when I getta hold of 'em."
Tristan laughed as Téa said, "Joey, we all know how much you want to take on Kaiba, you don't have to continuously–" But Yugi had stopped listening because Atem was demanding his full attention.
"We know all of Kaiba's limousines, and that was not one of them."
I know. What do you think it means? No one else in Domino has enough money to rent a limo, let alone own one, Yugi replied with a worried frown.
"I can only speculate. But do you feel that? The wind has changed directions." Yugi and Atem stared after the limo as it disappeared from sight.