"What?! What do you mean 'for my own good'?!"
"Calm down. Rishid and I talked this over already, and we think it would be best for you to get out for a while. Get a taste of what life is like above-ground..." Isis trailed off, watching her brother go from stunned disbelief to betrayal to outright anger.
"Oh so THAT'S it! You BOTH want me gone and out of your lives now! Some family YOU are!"
Rishid sighed, shaking his head "It's not like that. We think... " he paused, searching for the right words to keep the other from blowing up, "...that it could be a very valuable learning experience for you. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something that no one in your family has even considered since they began guarding this tomb."
Anger dulled into skepticism. "So? I STILL refuse."
It was Isis who gave the final push. "The Pharaoh has been doing it for a while now. Are you really going to allow him to one-up you like that?" She hated to say it, knowing that although on the surface Malik showed no more resentment toward Yuugi's other half, he still resented him. Years of hate and mistrust weren't so easily dismissed, but if it helped to get him to see things their way...
"HELL NO! ...so... where am I going?"
"...And you'd DAMN well better not lay a hand on my shit while I'm gone or you're gonna be tastin' plaster!"
"I ain't gonna touch anything."
"You'd better not! I'll be back... ah hell, I don't have to answer to you. BEHAVE brat!" The door slammed shut, hard enough to rattle the walls and nearly knock things off the shelves.
Jounouchi Katsuya glared at the door in a final act of defiance then sighed and grabbed the newspaper from off of the coffee table, sending empty beer cans rolling. "I quit. Maybe I'll get lucky and be able to find my own place...and see if I can't find someone to split it with."
He flipped through the paper to the Classified section and scanned the apartment listings.
"Nah... too expensive... bad neighbourhood... I ain't livin with a girl... wait now this one..."
Jounouchi picked up the cordless phone and sat down on the couch to re-read the ad and be certain he hadn't imagined it.
"Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, living/dining room, patio, washer and dryer hookups not too expensive and it's in a decent part of Domino." He tapped the phone's plastic antenna against his lips in thought. "I wonder if I could con Yuugi, Honda or Ryou into movin in with me but first..."
He dialed the number listed in the ad and spoke to the landlord for a while. After scheduling a time to take a look at the place, he grinned excitedly and called his friends, hoping that one or two would agree to become his roommate.
Yuugi stared blankly at the phone as an excited Jounouchi babbled on about an apartment he'd found. When the voice on the other end paused to take a breath, he decided to bring up something that apparently his friend hadn't thought of. "Um, Jounouchi-kun, I've already got a place to live."
He sighed as the other continued on about why Yuugi should try being out on his own. How many times in the past week had he heard this from others? How many times had he shot every attempt at their reasoning down with reasons of his own for why he shouldn't? How many more times would he have to hear the same thing worded differently?
Eventually, Jounouchi seemed to give up, sighing dramatically. Yuugi groaned inwardly, waiting for the guilt trip, but none came. Was Jounouchi actually letting the matter drop?
"Jounouchi-kun? Are you alright?"
He waited patiently for the other to speak.
"...yeah. It's just, I can't afford to live by myself, Ryou said he'd rather visit and Honda flat out said 'no'. I guess I'm just feelin' kinda bad since you were my last resort. I know you don't wanna move out, so I really didn't wanna ask you..."
Yuugi chewed on his lower lip. "Um... I'd have to talk to my mom and grandfather, but I'm sure they'd understand... and it's not like I couldn't visit home, right?"
"...and I doubt your grandfa... huh?"
He wanted to laugh. Jounouchi hadn't heard a word he'd said. "I said that I'd have to talk to them about it, but I'm sure they'd be okay with it. I know they'd want to check the place out themselves, but I don't think they'd tell me no."
"You mean it?!"
Yuugi winced. He had to hold the phone away from his ear or risk going deaf when his best friend began squealing like a giddy schoolgirl on the other end of the line.
"I'll ask them tonight and get back to you, okay?" He yelled into the phone, holding it at arm's length.
It was Jounouchi's turn to hold the phone away from his ear. "I heard ya loud and clear. You didn't have t' yell."
"I'll call you back later when I know for sure. I'll talk to you later, Jounouchi-kun!"
He hung up the phone and rubbed his ear. Talking to his mom and grandfather might not be easier than talking to Jounouchi, but at least he knew it'd be quieter.
The day Jounouchi was supposed to take a look at the apartment, it was all Yuugi could do to keep from strangling him with the heavy chain of the Millennium Puzzle. Every conversation, whether it was about classes, homework, or what colour of shoelaces he had, somehow the apartment managed to work its way into it in some way, shape, or form.
At first, Yuugi just smiled and brushed it off. It was something new for Jou, so of course the blonde would be excited... but after nearly 4 hours of hearing about it, in the hallways, at lunch, before class, after class, sometimes even during class... it began to wear on him. And it wasn't just him. Yami had taken to locking himself within his Soul Room and refused to come out until Jounouchi either went away or shut up.
When the others heard about Yuugi's accepting the offer of moving in with Jou, their reactions scared the spiky haired teen. Anzu pouted for a split second, but then was back to her annoyingly perky self when she realized that she could come visit any time she wanted since Jounouchi wasn't about to tell her no. He wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, but he wasn't stupid enough to put up with a disappointed Anzu. She could be scary when upset... Of course, she was scary when she was happy too. Honda had laughed, slapped him on the back and said "He's my friend and all, but seriously, better you than me!" Ryou simply smiled saying that Yuugi was a good friend to help Jounouchi out like that and that he'd be sure to come visit often.
For Jounouchi, everything seemed to be going great. He wasn't getting in trouble in class, he didn't fail any pop quizzes, he had one of the more popular girls in school buy him lunch because she thought he was 'cute', and he'd even found enough change on the ground to cover a soda out of the vending machines. Sure, Yuugi would sigh or roll his eyes when he started talking about the apartment, but still... and when he'd groan and bury his face in his hand when Jou mentioned it before class, or when he'd flag down Honda, Ryou or Anzu and run to catch up to them, or when he'd try and change the subject, or when he'd kick him under the desk during class... it was because Yuugi was excited about it too, right?
To Jou, it seemed things were looking up and going his way... until they got to the apartment.
The two boys stared off at one another, pointing accusing fingers and doing rather nice fish impressions, neither one able to speak.
Yuugi sighed, "Yes, Jounouchi, that's Malik. Yes, Malik, that's Jounouchi. Now that you've properly introduced, can we see this apartment so we can go home?"
Malik rounded on him. "What?! No no tell me this is just a bad dream!" He gave his sister a mournful look "Tell me that the 'other two' aren't them!"
Chocolate eyes widened in horror. "HE'S the third person? No way in HELL!"
"Jounouchi-kun, you already agreed to take a third roommate. In fact, I believe your exact words were 'I don't care who it is, as long as they pay their share of the rent."
"I didn't mean HIM! I'd rather live with Anzu than a psychopath!"
"I'm not psycho!"
"You shut up. I was talking to Yuugi, not you. Did you hear me say 'Desert Monkey' anywhere in there? No? Me either. Therefore, I was NOT talking to you."
Malik's lavender eyes narrowed sharply, his voice growing cold. "Desert Monkey?"
"Yes, Desert Monkey. Face it, you're from the Sahara, you speak a dead language, and you're the same colour as a monkey." Jou crossed his arms and nodded, as if to say 'so there.'
Yuugi paled as platinum blonde hair began spiking out all over like his own, "Um Jounouchi-kun, maybe you should apologize."
Rishid finally killed the tension in the room, grabbing hold of Malik's shoulder, startling the angry blonde and announcing that the two of them had better get used to being around one another, since they'd be living together from now on.
Both boys stared at Rishid in shock before going back to snarling at each other, and after forcibly signing the lease, both parties parted ways.
When moving day arrived, tempers flared again over who would get what room and who would get to put what where in the apartment. Neither boy wanted to give up their chosen room, which, coincidentally, happened to be the same one.
Yuugi was in his room, putting things away and setting things up, He'd shut the door, hoping that it would help to muffle the arguments. He could still hear them, but now it was bearable.
"I was here first!"
"No, I was!"
"I called this room before you ever saw it!"
"I found this apartment first!"
"No you didn't!"
"Nice place. I want this room. No objections? Great, now both of you get the hell out."
The two blondes jumped at the voice, glaring at the speaker. Two voices sounded as one. "Who the HELL invited you?!"
Bakura smirked, "I did. Now get out."
Malik opened his mouth to protest, but he was dragged out of the room by Jounouchi. "Even a Desert Monkey like you should know better than to pick a fight with a 3000 year old whack-job."
"I AM NOT A DESERT MONKEY!"
"Yeah yeah, ook ook. You're gonna be sharing with Yuugi because I don't want you."
"Why do I have to share a room? He's your friend, you share with him."
"Look Blondie, I found this place. In fact, it was Yuugi's idea to keep you at all, not mine. He wanted you here, he can share a room with-"
"I can't share a room," Yuugi stated, poking his head out from his doorway, "Yami refuses to share with either of you because you both are driving him nuts."
"Awww can't the widdle babies get along?" Bakura mocked, standing in the hallway, his hands on his hips. "Really, the two of you are so childish."
Yuugi blinked, smiling hesitantly. "Um hello, Bakura?"
"They can grow up and share. This room," he jerked a thumb back at the room behind him, "is mine."
Malik balled his hands into fists and stomped his foot. "Oh no it's not! You can share with Poochie!"
"POOCHIE?!" Jounouchi yelped, his voice cracking as though he were just hitting puberty.
"I'm not sharing with anyone. I'm older than both of you combined and I'll do what I want." He grabbed Jounouchi's wrist in one hand, Malik's in the other, dragged them both into the last room, and left them there, holding the door shut. "Maybe we'll get lucky and you'll kill each other, then we won't have to put up with either one of you.
"You can't leave me in here with the Desert Monkey!"
"Oh, go choke on a Milkbone!"
"You're just jealous 'cos I'm not inbred!"
"Leave my family out of this!"
"EW! You're actually inbred?! That's disgusting!"
"At least I'm not some moron's pet!"
"Hey! I'll have you know that Kaiba and I broke up months ago!"
"KAIBA?! Oh god, you've got no taste whatsoever, do you? I was talking about Yuugi! Wait if you broke up with Kaiba, then that means... I AM NOT SHARING A ROOM WITH A GAY PUPPY!"
"I'm not gay, I'm bi!"
"So, what, that's supposed to make me feel better? Because it doesn't! It makes me wish I wasn't stuck living with you at all! And you being bisexual means that I couldn't even go out and get a sex change in hopes you'd stay away from me if I wanted to!"
Outside, Bakura and Yami looked at one another in confusion. They were learning things about their new roommates and it was starting to scare them.
"I wouldn't go after you if you were the last male on Earth!"
"I'm not sharing a room with you!"
"It's not my fault you're homophobic!"
"I'M NOT! I'M JOUNOUCHI-PHOBIC! There's a difference!"
Jounouchi grinned and held his arms out, walking toward the Egyptian. "Aww, c'mon and gimme a hug."
"Is the Desert Monkey really scared of harmless little me?"
"Get away from me, dumb mutt!"
"Don't call me that!"
"Don't call me a Desert Monkey!"
"You ARE a Desert Monkey!"
"Well, then you're a dog!"
Bakura groaned, banging his head against the door. They were giving him a headache and he found himself wishing that he had something sharp to shut them up with.
Yuugi scrunched up his nose, relinquishing his body to his other self, who was none too happy. "SHUT UP BEFORE I'M FORCED TO COME IN THERE AND KILL YOU BOTH!"
Bakura stopped beating his head off the door, eyes wide. A grin spread slowly across his face. Perhaps he might enjoy living with these losers after all.
From the other side of the door, both voices stopped. The boys stared at one another, then at the door, and back to each other. "Did he just-?"
"So that was-?"
Malik sighed. "Stupid Pharaoh."
Jounouchi crossed his arms and sank down against the wall. "This is your fault, you know."
"Ne?! How the hell is this my fault?"
"You had to argue about the room. Now I'm stuck sharing with a psychopath, and it couldn't be just any psycho. It had to be YOU. Psychotic, inbred, and a bit too girly to be straight."
"You're no prize either, and I'm not girly!"
"Lavender shirt, 'nuff said. Look, if we're stuck here together..." Jou got up, removed his shoes and jacket, and used them to divide the room in two. "This is my side. You stay off of it and I'll stay off yours."
"No fair! Your side has the door! How am I supposed to get out?"
"You have a window."
"Have I mentioned that I hate you?"
"Today? No, this is the first time."
"Well, for the record, I hate you."
"Feeling's mutual. You don't have fleas or ticks do you?"
Malik cocked his head, confused. "...no. Why?"
"So, my side, your side. Get it, got it, good."
"Wait, don't I at least get a say in this?"
"Yes, you do. You can agree with my terms or sleep on the patio."
"But this isn't fair!"
"So you want to sleep on the patio?"
"No and you're sounding a lot like Kaiba, you know."
Jounouchi stuck his tongue out at him. "If you don't wanna sleep on the patio, then stop whining."
"FINE!" The Egyptian glanced around his side of the room and grinned. "I get the closet."
"That's not fair!"
"Then let me use the door!"
"Then no closet."
"Oh yeah?" Jounouchi moved the jacket and shoes to adjust the sides of the room.
Bakura slumped down against the door, sighing. "Do they ever stop?"
Yami gave him a weak smile. "At least they've accepted the idea of sharing a room?"
"I want the door."
"You have a window."
"I don't want a window!"
"I want the door!"
"I don't care what you want. You got the window!"
Malik growled and launched himself at Jounouchi, intent on strangling him.
The minutes passed, the loud banging from the other side stopped, and everything lapsed into silence.
Bakura raised his head, listening intently. "Too quiet."
Yami arched an eyebrow. He hadn't given up control yet, Yuugi had the patience of a saint, and given what he'd been put through over the past few days, had earned a break which Yami was bound and determined to let him have. "Did they kill each other?"
The spirit of the Ring opened the door a crack and peered in. "I think they're breathing, but I'm not really sure. Still, it's rather amusing and if they're not dead, can I finish them off?"
"No," Yami climbed over Bakura to take a look inside. What he saw made him force back a laugh.
Both boys were out cold. Jounouchi lay on his back, one of his hands tightly gripping Malik's hair, the other holding one of his shoes. Malik was sprawled out on top of him, his hands near Jounouchi's throat, and, judging from the bruises forming there, had been on his throat for a while. His head was resting on Jou's stomach, one earring snagged on the hem of the other boy's shirt pulling it up underneath him, and causing him to be half on, half off bare skin. His left eye looked as though he'd been playing in dark blue eye-shadow, a deep bruise colouring his face.
"Kinda cute in that 'aw, look, they tried to kill each other' way. Not too effective, but it's funny to see that they actually tried." Yami's words caught Bakura by surprise. It wasn't something he thought the former Pharaoh would ever say, but it was a nice change.
Bakura chuckled, the idea of a bad-ass Pharaoh amusing to him. "If we hadn't heard them screaming at each other, it'd almost look like a poor attempt at rough sex gone wrong. What I'm trying to figure out is how Jounouchi knocked Malik out by beating him with a tennis shoe unless it was over his face and forcing him to inhale. Is it even possible to bludgeon someone to unconsciousness with a sneaker?"
Yami eyed him cautiously. "What are you doing here anyway?"
"You can't. Your name isn't on the lease. You'll be forced to move elsewhere."
"Nope," chocolate eyes glinted dangerously. "You're gonna put me on it."
"No, I'm not."
"Do you really wanna have to live here all alone with no one but Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber for company? Seriously, I don't like you, you don't like me, but every once in a while even enemies have to band together for something. So, if you really want to spend your time with ol' Wingnut and Screwloose in there, then by all means I'll happily move out. This way I figure, I'll get a place to stay and you'll get someone to help keep the children at bay. We both win."
He thought about it for a while. Sure, he'd have Yuugi for company, but they shared a body, so it wasn't as if they could really put up much of a fight against the idiots who were currently reenacting 'Othello' on the floor in the other room. Maybe having Bakura around would be an asset to him but then again, it WAS Bakura he was talking about. The same Bakura who tried to seal them all away in Monster World pawns. The same Bakura who'd fought against them time and time again. The same Bakura who- "Okay, I'll do it."
A small smirk touched the white-haired boy's lips. "Knew you'd see things my way."