A Kiss Before He Leaves
”But this was supposed to be our weekend together, damnit!”
Jou couldn’t keep his voice down as he looked in aggravated frustration at Seto.
Seto didn’t even pause in his motions as he packed his briefcase, taking his personal belongings and arranging everything neatly with practiced ease. The small suitcase with clothes was pre-packed, standing by the door downstairs, ready to be put in the trunk of the limo when he came downstairs.
“Jounouchi, I can’t let everything burn because we were supposed to go to the movies,” Seto said, and Jou couldn’t help but feel like a child being scolded for demanding something unreasonable. He felt patronized and talked down to, like someone who clearly hadn’t understood the priorities of the world. The anger flooded him once more with a fiery heat and he tried to control himself. He wanted to convince Seto to stay, not start up the argument of a century.
“We weren’t going to the movies,” he could hear himself yelling at Seto and tried to lower his voice, “we were supposed to go out eating with my friends who are all downstairs waiting for us!” As he hissed out the last words, his eyes continued to follow Seto around the room as the other grabbed a folder from the bed and placed it in the case.
Jou suddenly noticed that he was holding so tightly on the bedpost, that his fingers were white and his nails had that intense red and white look that told of blood being mashed into one place from squeezing something. He had to consciously let go of the wooden post, and felt every nuance of the surface where the roughness of his finger pads scratched over the veins in the wood. When he didn’t immediately turn his head to look at the other, he noticed that he could see faint marks on the wood from where he had been clenching it.
“I fail to see the difference, Katsuya. I have a responsibility, you know this. We will go out with your friends next weekend.” Seto said, not having noticed anything or choosing to ignore, as he walked to the connected bathroom and collected his toothbrush and other toiletries with a calm indifference that had ire shooting through the blond man again.
Jou couldn’t even wait for the other to return to the room, and his attempts to have this be more of an actual discussion and less of a fight slowly seeped through his fingers as his aggravated words spewed from his mouth. “No, we won’t! I’m writing my final assignment that weekend, you know that!” The frustration was mounting.
Seto came out of the bathroom and packed the last few things in the briefcase, “then we will do something the weekend after that,” he said in an increasingly annoyed, yet somehow detached, voice, before shutting the case and snapping the locks in place. Jou could feel the other’s indifference grating on his nerves. He was slowly coming to a realization. One that he didn’t want to have. Suddenly a scene so like this one flashed through his mind.
He saw himself standing outside the front door, yelling at the limo driving out of the driveway. His boyfriend off to take care of a problem with the software that Mokuba had called in about just 20 minutes ago. Nothing he had had to say had stopped the brunet, nothing in their 15 minute long argument had managed to make Seto stop for even a second and see it from his point of view.
The feeling of being discarded and taken for granted had filled him that day, the experience of being completely overlooked and having one of the few people he counted on having totally disregarded him and ignored his voice.
“Seto, you’re not even in town that weekend!” The exasperation made his words slightly breathy.
The blue eyes shot him an icy glare. “Why do I even have to be there? You know I can barely tolerate your friends, why not just go out with them yourself?”
“Because I wanted to do something together, all of us, I wanted to do something special with my boyfriend and my closest friends before my exams!” He could hear that the argument was going absolutely nowhere, but he had to fight for this, he couldn’t let go. It was important, it felt like the most important conversation to fight for right now. It was urgent. Jou could feel himself growing increasingly red in the face as he half-yelled half-pleaded with the man in front of him. “You promised, Seto!”
“Oh, don’t use that on me, ‘you promised, Seto’,” he whined the last part at Jou, “like some damn woman!” Seto snapped in an annoyed tone. “You can’t expect me to be able to make promises like that on such short notice! And I didn’t plan for an emergency to happen, but when the stock market crashes and everything is in chaos, what do you expect me to do?”
Even more blood flooded Jou’s face as he heard his words being mocked, and he felt his pride soaring to life with a wounded roar at being called a woman, but he desperately tried to rein himself in and stick to the real argument, fighting not to take the bait.
“Delegate fer fucks sake! Like every other CEO on the damn planet does, y’can’t micromanage everythin’, Seto, there are people trained ‘n hired to handle that kind of situation.” His words slipped a bit as his fury manifested itself in a language that he hadn’t used in a while. The insult still burned, but it wasn’t about that at all. The worst thing was that he knew they had been in this situation before, they had danced this particular dance on numerous occasions. There were only so many times you could repeat the same words and arguments, and he could feel a wave of something more dangerous than even his anger flowing just beneath. “And I didn’t plan this with you on a short notice, I asked about this three months ago, because I KNEW that Anzu would be back in town this particular weekend. This isn’t even an emergency; this crisis has been underway since Tuesday, why do you have to leave to take care of things tonight?”
“I have a busy calendar Jou, that’s the way it is, maybe you should make sure with my secretary when scheduling things like this. This is one of the worst crashes in 10 years and I deal with incompetent people every day, I will not let some moron in Taiwan bring the company down because of an idiocy that I could have prevented by simply using a single weekend on the issue.” Seto was now picking out a coat from the closet and shrugging into it.
“Scheduling? Secretary? I’m your fucking boyfriend, I don’t need to schedule things with your secretary to spend time with you!” Jou’s voice had flared up an entire octave, his anger making him raise his voice even more. This was actually a new one. The outrage he felt blended smoothly in with every other emotion currently flowing through him.
“When we started dating you knew this was a reality, you knew that I would have to cancel on a few things every once in a while,” the words were cool with a belittling tone hiding just beneath the surface as Seto gave him a look indicating that the conversation was over. Then he started for the door, walking out of the room and down the hallway that would lead to the large flight of stairs, that would take him to the foyer, where his suitcase and the car were waiting.
Indignant anger made Jou lash out with words as the other continued out the door, trying to reach him with his voice. “I know that, I respect the fact that you have responsibilities and that you have company to run. But you haven’t just been cancelling a few things; everything, Seto, everything that I’ve planned in the last eight months has been cancelled,” he stopped talking for a moment to take a few quick steps to the door that his boyfriend had walked through. “- Or you have shown up late or you left freaking early. And not just things with our friends, but dinners and movies and nights at home just the two of us have been fucking scarce and few and far between! Hell, I can’t even remember the last time we fucked and actually had time to actually be together afterwards! Why are you so deliberately NOT prioritizing our time together?” Jou had increased his pace down the hall, voice loud and bouncing off of the walls, the sound waves continuing down the empty space to the foyer at the big staircase that Seto had just reached the top of.
Downstairs was quiet enough to hear a pin drop.
Jou didn’t notice; he was furious. His hands were clenched in tight fists, the nails digging into his palms, and he welcomed the slight pain as he embarrassingly felt his eyes begin to grow wet with his frustration. He felt like he was yelling at a closed door. Seto rounded on him at the stairs and Jou had to dig in his heels and make an abrupt stop, lest he march right into the tall man in front of him. His speed had him toppling just a bit off center as he came to a stop, trying not to reach out to steady himself on Seto.
“Don’t shout about things like that with people downstairs!” Seto hissed, looming above the blonde, his eyes intend on Jou’s face with much more focus than before, though he showed no recognition of the tears in his boyfriends’ eyes. It hurt Jou to think that something like that was needed for the other to truly focus on him. It also made him even more angry.
“Oh, so now it’s important that there a people downstairs! D’you remember why they are there, too?” Jou hissed back with venom in his tone, his eyes shooting daggers, hopefully tear-free.
Seto completely bypassed the snide answer, “And I do not neglect you, Jou. It’s been a crazy few months, but soon it will be over and we can spend some more time together. We can go eat at that curry-place you like, or have a short vacation together.”
He started down the stairs at a much more calm pace, as if he had resolved the issue. Jou stood at the top, completely still, watching the brunet walk down the stairs, away from him. His heart constricted once more as the promise rang with a familiar sound that brought forth the hazardous undercurrent of emotion within him, making him more sad than frustrated. He felt time stand still for a second as he realized once more that nothing he had to say would stop the other. It hurt so goddamn much, in that space void of time, where the only thing he could see was Seto’s back.
But then the world started up again and he was once again faced with the reality of his boyfriend leaving for Taiwan.
“Seto, please...” Jou said in a low voice as he quickly followed after the other man who had now reached the bottom of the stairs. He winced inside to hear the pleading note that had sneaked into his voice.
Seto completely ignored him and walked to the doorway leading to the sitting room where five people sat waiting in a dead-silence, intensely pretending not to have heard a thing. They looked up and away from each other as he stopped.
“Hey Kaiba, what did you and Jou decide?” Honda asked, even though they could all see the briefcase in his hand.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut this evening short, I’ll take a rain check.” Seto answered in a bland voice and a barely-there nod, not offering any explanation as he turned and walked back towards the front door.
Jou had been following Kaiba but stopped dead in his tracks at Hondas words, ‘what did you and Jou decide? ’
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He hadn’t decided a damn thing.
Seto walked past Jou who now stood between the door and the ridiculous decorative table with a vase of flowers that a designer had insisted on putting in the middle of the foyer. Jou found himself turning in place to look at him as he walked by, but couldn’t make his feet leave that spot of marble floor.
Seto had signalled the driver to take his suitcase out to the limo and had even started out the door with a single step before stopping as if forgetting something.
Everything was completely still as he turned and walked the three steps to the blond man who stood as if frozen, staring at Seto and door he was about to exit. Barely without breaking the momentum of his stride he stooped just a bit and gave Jou a peck on the forehead with a mumbled “I’ll call you in the morning” before turning and walking out the door, closing it after him.
Jou didn’t exactly know how long he stood there, trying to compose himself. He was experiencing such a tidal wave of emotions, and he knew all of them showed on his face right now, he couldn’t turn to face his guests, his friends. He closed his eyes as he tried to bring everything under control. It was completely hushed, no one moved as they all heard the motor coming to life outside and the sound of tires moving across the small pebbles of the driveway.
He couldn’t stand here forever. He had to move.
He finally managed breathing in a deep lungful of air and shoved the rampant emotions into a different room in his mind. Summoning up every ounce of strength he had, he exhaled and turned with opened eyes, moving towards the sitting room.
He could clearly see the pity in Yuugi’s gaze, the confusion in Anzu’s surprised look, Ryou’s empathetic downward gaze directed at his knees and the anger in Honda’s eyes as he drew nearer. But he chose to ignore their expressions that positively screamed at him to explain. He couldn’t handle questioning from his worried friends right now; he felt like if he began opening up, then a dam inside him would break. And that wasn’t what he had intended this evening to be about. He wanted to go out with his friends whom he hadn’t seen as a whole group in almost a year and have a great time. That was the plan.
Sitting down in his favourite chair as relaxed as he could manage, he asked them what they wanted to do for the evening. Anzu looked like she was going to ask a question but Yuugi’s hand on her arm stopped her as he gave a minute shake of his head at her bewildered look. Jou couldn’t help but shoot him a grateful look before resuming the conversation, this time focusing on where to go out to eat. He injected a joke about exactly how much money they could spend, what with all of them being students, with the exception of Otogi.
But even as all of his friends finally, wordlessly agreed to let the fact that they would be one less person, and the scene that they had witnessed between their friend and his boyfriend pass, and engaged in talking and planning, Jou could feel himself detach, reacting and talking on autopilot. He found himself thinking more about Seto.
He had lost his appetite, suddenly feeling acutely more like being alone, but he kept up his happy facade and enthusiasm about the dinner, and night on the town that was being planned. This was the plan after all.
When he returned later that evening, to a cold empty house, the rooms giving off an aura freezing him inside, he felt something inside himself burst. He found himself making a decision that had been looming in the back on his mind for a while now. Maybe it was time to stay some more at his shared apartment with Yuugi for a bit.