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That Dress!

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Seto Kaiba's brain felt like it had been hit by a "denial of service" attack. Too much input all at once (her dress was clinging, gauzy silk, her laughter was dazzling, and she was arm-in-arm with her idiotic brother) and not enough resources to process it all (lack of oxygen to his brain as his blood rushed away to heat up his face and other parts of his body).

Bad enough that the limo was already late picking him up, so he'd come rushing out of one meeting with two minutes to spare for getting to the next, and ended up standing on the sidewalk for most of that two minutes already. Snarling into his cellphone at the driver had done about as much good as glaring at the barely-moving wall of traffic, so he'd given up on both, jammed the phone in his coat pocket, and stood there in the middle of the busy sidewalk. The stream of shoppers pouring in and out of the mall next door parted around him, as if his seething impatience was an invisible force field.

Then a flash of color had caught his eye, gleaming watercolor-peacock colors fluttering around slim, pale limbs, and a dash of reddish-gold hair, flowing out of the door of the shopping mall. He found himself staring into familiar, brown eyes...

He almost forgave the driver for being late.

All he saw for a moment was Shizuka, as she (in his eyes) floated out of that mall doorway on the flying carpet of her own happiness, looking radiant in that dress. Not only was it his favorite out of all the clothes he'd given her, but he mainly remembered it from their most recent date, and from that occasion, he mainly remembered taking it off of her, slowly, mostly with his teeth...

Fortunately Kaiba's brain was slowed down due to all the blood leaving it to head south, so it took him a couple of seconds before he could react, and saved him from saying or doing something that could have been not only publicly embarrassing but dangerous, because....

"Shi-" he'd started to say, and he even started to smile - and then her brother had appeared, coming out of the door behind her, arms full of packages and bags. Shit!

Which is when Kaiba felt his brain break, because he automatically needed to say something appropriately cutting to this loud mouthed, fourth-rate duelist wannabe, but he had promised Shizuka he wouldn't say anything disparaging about her brother in front of her.

So he couldn't say anything at all. Unfortunately, that didn't work in both directions.

"Oh great, doesn't that just make my day!" Jonouchi said, with the predictable sarcastic grin to go with the tone of voice. "It's Mr-stick-up-his - uh, I mean, Mr Stuck-up, himself!" Jonouchi yapped, like the scrappy, annoying little mongrel that he was.

Shizuka's face turned pink, but she couldn't say anything, either. Because, of course, she couldn't tell her brother not to say anything rude to him, because that might drop Mr Clueless a clue about the fact that they were dating. If you could even still call it "dating." They were a little (okay, way) beyond the candlelight dinners and walks on the beach stage of things.

So Kaiba couldn't say a word. Not the insults he wanted to fling at Jonouchi, and even less, the "you look gorgeous in that dress, how would you like to come home with me right now!" that he seriously wanted to say to her.

"Take it easy, Big Brother!" Shizuka chided, not for his language or even for whom it was aimed at. She plucked the shopping bags, which he'd started squeezing and wringing in his fists, out of his reach. "Be careful! You'll break that brand new bottle of "Sexy Darling" perfume I just bought!"

Jonouchi flailed, distracted and embarrassed by her scolding (and probably terrified he'd end up smelling like a Sexy Darling himself), but Kaiba's brain took another dive towards the south that left his mind spinning. That perfume! Oh damn. That perfume on her, and that dress coming off of her.... He felt faint at the memory of it.

Desperately, he forced himself to think of something else, anything else: game code, financial statements, the board of directors...

Shit, he thought, and winced. The meeting!

At least that finally gave him something to say. Not that it was anything brilliant.

"I don't have time for this!" he snapped.

Somehow, speaking got his legs moving. He swept past them - refusing to glance at either of them, and trying not to breathe, just in case she had any of that "Sexy Darling" on right now. He had a feeling his legs might give out if she did.

He was saved by the sight of the limo finally snaking across the lines of traffic toward the curb. He made it to the door, and managed not to fumble too noticeably at getting it open for himself, far too impatient to wait for the driver to actually stop the car and get out and hold the door for him.

Of course, then they were stuck at the curb, with not a chance in sight of getting back out into traffic any time soon. And of course Shizuka and her idiot brother had to walk right by the car, and of course Kaiba had to let the window down a crack to catch a last clear glimpse of her, and that meant he had to hear Jonouchi go right on muttering idiotically.

"Jeez, look at that, a little jerk with a big car. Ya think he's compensating for something?" he pretended to whisper aside to her. Then he noticed her arms loaded with all the packages she'd taken from him. "Oops, let me carry those, Sis. Promise I won't hurt anything! Y'know, you're too young to be wearing fancy perfume and stuff like that, anyway - as if you're trying to get a boyfriend or something!"

Shizuka giggled, right next to the car door; the sound of her laughter made Kaiba's skin shiver all over.

"No, that's not it, Big Brother... I don't need to try to get a boyfriend any time soon!"

"Darn right!" Jonouchi went on sputtering about what he'd have to do to "any guy who looked at his little sister like that" - so he didn't notice when Kaiba glanced out the window at his little sister, just exactly "like that."

Caught up in his own tirade, Jonouchi didn't notice her, either, when she caught Kaiba's eye just for a second and said, with a gleam in her brown eyes and a blush in her cheeks, "I happen to know he doesn't need to 'compensate' for anything, either!"

"Huh?" Jonouchi blinked at her. "What'd you say, sis?"

"Nothing!" she answered breezily. "C'mon, we've still got shopping to do! I need a new scarf to go with this dress... I lost the one I had to go with it, somewhere..."

They were swept off by the crowd of shoppers and businesspeople, and Kaiba's driver finally forced an opening in the line of traffic and started crawling across town.

Kaiba settled in the seat and reached into his coat pockets. Cell phone in one hand, ready to call and give his ETA to the folks back at the office and make sure they were holding the meeting for him, but he ignored it and stared at the peacock-shimmering scarf in his other hand. He was sure she knew perfectly well where she'd "lost" it.

Hell with the meeting; they knew enough to wait for him, and he'd get there when he got there. He stuffed the cellphone back out of sight and mind, and held the scarf up to his face. Slowly breathing in the scent of "Sexy Darling" mingled with Shizuka's own delicious scent, Kaiba sat back and relaxed, and smiled all the way to the office.

~~ the end ~~