A Web Cam With Roses
Author Note: I do not own Yugioh or any of the characters from the show. I hope you enjoy this story and I look forward to seeing what people think of it. If you like it please R&R. I don't expect this to be a long story like my other two Yugioh fics, but I think it will be a fun ride as it moves along. Just a warning; this story will contain spoilers for Battle City and possibly the Noah's Virtual World saga. This fic has been beta read by Minor Arcana; a big thank you to her for all her help and advice on the story.
Dog Days Chapter Fourteen: A Web Cam With Roses
Duke held his breath as he waited for a few moments, he wanted to let Kaiba message him first. He didn't like to just outright demand the young businessman's attention without just cause and if his hunch was correct he wanted him to know that his concern was appreciated. A window appeared with a message from the young CEO, which Duke hit yes to accept a video chat invitation from him. Then he looked up and smiled because there was Kaiba sitting at his desk at work, his face non-threatening, yet it was also plain that he was already prepared to answer Duke's questions. Much like he had felt today when questioned about how he'd come to befriend Joey.
"Hello Duke. I saw you weren't in school today. I do hope everything is ok and you're not ill."
Duke shook his head, "No nothing like that, I just had to help Joey with something important. So I need to talk to you about something Seto. I have been noticing some guys around my place here and they seem to appear where ever Joey and I go. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?"
Seto paused, then nodded, "Yes, I admit I have had some guards posted around your shop."
'/He admitted to it? I'm speechless!' /
"Did it go well today?" Seto hoped he didn't seem too eager, but his curiosity was peaked about the matter of Joey's petition to gain independence from his father's abusive custody.
"Uh, yeah actually. I think Joey took things really well because he was granted his petition. I was called upon to speak as a witness actually. Quite the nerve wracking experience, one I hope to never have to repeat," Duke sighed thinking back to how Joey had seemed so frightened and pale under the florescent lighting in the courtroom.
"I imagine that it was. It's good that's all behind you both now. I hope you don't mind if I continue with the guards. I don't want to see anything bad happen to you Duke. You are a bright person and one I have enjoyed doing business with."
"I don't mind at all Seto, thank you for the concern. I haven't told Joey and I hope you don't mind just keeping this between us? I think he's going through enough right now and the less he has to think about right now the better."
Seto nodded and then moved to rest his chin on his folded hands.
"I think it's best too. I'd like to take a moment to say that if you ever feel threatened you can call me Duke. Know that all right?" Seto made his expression stern yet his eyes were soft as if that was all the emotion he could allow to show even though he was making an uncharacteristic gesture of caring for another person besides his little brother.
"I'm glad you trust me enough to tell me I can do that if I need to. And you know you can count on me to not be one of those people who'd abuse such a trust. Thank you Seto."
Seto smirked and nodded again, "I have to commend you on being able to pick up on the guard detail I'd assigned to look over things and also for coming forward and confronting me directly. That took balls Duke. I admire that about you."
Duke laughed nervously, "Oh yeah, well I had a feeling that those guys worked for you once I began noticing them around. That was all I had to talk about though, I know you have other things needing your attention Seto, so I will let you go. Thanks for getting with me so quick. I saw a couple of different people out when we were at the mall and just in case it was something shady going on, without alerting Joey, I got us both sunglasses and hats."
"I saw, very colorful. Something you could get away with wearing, but I couldn't."
"Oh I don't know about that Seto. But it's probably more of an image thing I think. If you didn't have to head up one of the most influential corporations in the world I bet you'd display a wicked sense of style yourself," Duke winked at his web cam which made Seto's smirk deepen.
"Tell that to anyone else and not only will I deny it but I'll sue you for slander Devlin."
Seto smirked again at the young man who broke out laughing.
"Ok then, count on it staying between us. Can't have people doubting your corporate image now can we?"
"Definitely unacceptable yes. Will you be in school tomorrow then?" Seto asked, still smirking, his blue eyes shining even though he wouldn't let himself laugh Duke got the impression he was amused and flattered by what he'd said.
"Absolutely. I plan on working on homework tonight, but later I might be up working so if anything comes up and you want to talk I'll be here."
Seto nodded, "See you tomorrow then Duke. Goodnight."
"Ok, tomorrow then, goodnight Seto."
Duke sat there stunned for a few minutes after Seto had closed his end of the chat. It was just as he'd thought. Now he didn't feel he had to spend any more time worrying about the tapes. He'd keep the camera rolling though until things were definitely quiet. There was no telling if Joey's father might come looking for trouble and if Duke had his way he'd find it in the form of a police man and jail cell. He shivered remembering the cold hard glare he'd trained on Duke the entire time he was on the witness stand.
Shaking off the memory Duke got up and stretched, it was getting close to dinnertime so he went out to see about getting something for dinner. He'd already put the entire thing with the men outside watching out for them behind him and was thinking about having something delivered so he stopped by Joey's room and knocked. After a few moments Joey called out to him.
"Yeah, come on in Duke," came Joey's invitation from within his room.
"Hi Joey. Still working on homework for tomorrow?"
"Yeah, almost done with it though. What's up?" Joey turned to face Duke and smiled.
"I was just thinking about what to do for dinner. Feel like having some take out delivered?"
"Oh yeah that sounds great. I could really go for some veggie fried rice and sweet and sour chicken about now," Joey turned his chair towards his friend and stood up from it.
"I think I'll have that too. Let's go call it in."
Duke turned and led the way to the kitchen where they both sat at the table to look over a take out menu from the Chinese restaurant around the corner. He then picked up the portable phone that was sitting on the table and dialed the number. When someone answered Duke set up their delivery and Joey got up to get them both a root beer. By the time Duke had hung up Joey had handed him the cold can of soda and suggested going to watch something on television, so the two went into the living room to see what they could catch on television while they waited for their dinner to arrive.
It was after eight when Joey went back to his room, intent on finishing up a chapter he had been working over for Mai. She had sent him back the chapter he'd finished working on last night and so he set to get it posted to be added to his story. He opened up a browser to the website he'd been using to post his story and then he logged into his account. Next he uploaded the final copy of the next chapter he'd written and then added it to the story. He'd been happy to get some more reviews on it and only two people had bothered to flame his work anymore.
He wasn't sure how many chapters were left, but he was enjoying writing it and that was what counted. Mai had showed him her stories and some had been rather racy carrying an 'R' rating for good reason. He had to admire her imagination and had been reading her chapters before she posted them as she had been for him. She called it beta reading and he had to admit it did help him to improve on his work. The things she spotted and suggested changes for he was always impressed by and went with every change she suggested.
He felt he hadn't been as helpful to her as she had to him, but she never said anything about it and did go with his suggestions most of the time. It was an interesting twist to their relationship, to be working on stories together. Of all the girls he'd ever dated, and there had only been three, she was by far the only one he'd ever really cared about. The others had been against his wishes, but he'd done it for Tristan. There had been three different occasions where Tristan had needed someone to go on a double date with him and that was how he'd gone out with these other girls. It had been over a year though since his last official date and he never once even kissed any of those girls.
Joey couldn't get Mai out of his mind so sitting at his computer he waited to see if she was going to log on, he so wanted to chat with her. He eyed the web cam Duke had gotten him, they had dropped one to a florist's shop to be delivered to Mai with a dozen roses along with a corny card saying he couldn't wait to see her with a pun on the web cam. His heart leapt in his chest seeing her coming online. He waited hoping she'd get situated and message him. This would be the first time they chatted with the web cams if she'd gotten hers set up yet. She'd had time so maybe.
"Hi Joey, I see you've got cam! Flip that bad boy on for me eh hun?"
He laughed and accepted the invitation to chat by voice using the headset he had along with turning on the web cam. It was already set on top of his monitor so he just turned it on and sent her the invitation to join him. He was pleasantly surprised seeing her face pop up in front of him. And so began their evening chat. One where they would talk about their plans for the weekend and how much they missed each other. Joey looked over to the window as it began to rain growing louder by the minute; he thought about how amazing it was just how much he had grown to need her presence. Lucky thing she needed him too.
The smoky bar was filled wall to wall with various blue collar working men. Some there to avoid the duties waiting for them at home, others there to escape the pain of not having a real life to go home to. Jim Wheeler was already pissed at his co-worker Daniel. He was mouthing off about how great his kid was, the damned quarterback of Joey's high school for crying out loud. What ticked him off the most was how he'd so carelessly mentioned Joey and how he'd seen in the paper where he'd gone to court about Joey's petition to become emancipated.
"/What the hell are you talking about Dan? You saw what in the paper?" He'd asked angrily /
"/Yeah it said there were even allegations you'd been knocking him around too. Wouldn't surprise me with how stupid that boy of yours is. Always getting into trouble. Not like my Dan Jr. at all." /
He was still seething over the insult, not made at his son, but the insinuation that he had somehow overstepped his parental boundaries which no son of a bitch had a right to tell him he had.
That kid might be stupid but he was still his kid. The years might have killed whatever affection he'd had for the little boy grown into such a defiant and difficult teenager but he still didn't like him being talked about like that. He was still fuming when Dan just stupidly added to the already smoldering fire.
"Hey Mark? Does Jim here kick your ass if you eat too many doughnuts during your coffee breaks?" Dan laughed, the alcohol obviously getting to his head, but Jim didn't care.
He jumped up and took a swing at Dan, "Why you little bastard!"
The other guys tried to stop Jim, but he got one good swing in missing Dan's face directly, and actually connected with his co-worker's shoulder before he'd been pulled off of the drunk. The bartender told him to hit the road and Jim angrily did just that. He didn't need to be here with these guys. Stupid jerks, thinking it was so easy when they had wives standing by them despite their own drinking problems. Why had Sandy left him like this? Why had she taken away the darling daughter he'd always wanted?
Jim still loved Sandy in his own twisted way even though he knew she'd gone on to see other men during the years since their divorce. He'd gone out a few times himself, but mostly it was one night stands and hookers he went to, to fulfill those needs. He had given up hope long ago of ever having things be right between him and Sandy, but part of him longed to hurt her back as deeply as her leaving him with that brat boy he loathed so much. He'd fantasized before about squeezing the life from her, imagined her expression as he drained the very life out of her, then even thought about what her dead lifeless corpse would be like when he kicked it like the garbage she'd treated him as.
It was starting to rain and it drew him out of his morbid fantasies as he cursed his luck. Jim could have walked home in it but odds were he'd miss more work on account of getting sick and he'd already lost enough time this month that he didn't think he could afford to stay home again even if he was getting sick. So he went to a phone and called for a cab to come get him. They said it would be about twenty minutes as they had a driver in his area that was just about to drop off his current fare in the vicinity. Jim thanked the woman on the phone and then hung up. He sighed and went to a covered bus stop to wait where he said he'd be.
As much as he didn't want to do any thinking that was all he could do it seemed. He remembered the day Joey had been born. How happy they'd been. Then reality had sunk in and it had gotten so hard to handle a crying infant that Jim had back then begun to drink more then just for recreational use. He'd begun drinking to escape the whining child that nothing seemed to be able to comfort. Sandy had said that the doctor told her that it was colic, but he thought it was just another bullshit excuse and that she was just a bad mother. He hadn't been shy about telling her so either when the subject had come up which was almost daily. It seems Joey was still in diapers when she'd announced they had another baby on the way expecting him to be as happy as she was about the impending arrival of their second child.
But all he had thought about was how damned hard he would have to work to make ends meet. He didn't have time to go to baby labor coaching classes or any of her doctor appointments, and always had the feeling she'd gotten pregnant again on purpose. He'd heard that some women got addicted to having a baby and all the attention they got when pregnant and just after giving birth. Even though he knew deep down that hadn't been the case with her, he couldn't agree with her that it was his fault for not having a vasectomy done if he didn't want any more children. Because he felt it was all her responsibility he had scoffed the idea anytime she'd been bold enough to bring it up.
It was after Serenity had her first birthday that he'd first hit Sandy. He had to stay clear of Joey because he was too tempted to toss the little bastard across the room when he refused to stop crying. Just when things had gotten better with the kids they had steadily grown worse between him and his wife. He'd accused her of sleeping with other men and had his suspicions that Serenity, no matter how much he loved her, wasn't really his biological daughter because of how different she looked compared to him, Joey or even Sandy herself. If that was the case then it for the best that she got a little of what she deserved.
A bus came and stopped but Jim being the only one there waved it off as it wouldn't be going the way he needed to go and besides, he didn't want to ride a bus half drunk when he needed to be home. He wished he hadn't agreed to go out with the guys, he'd had a feeling Dan wouldn't be able to keep his trap shut the damned fool. He just loved to spit venom all around him and didn't care who got hurt in the first place. Jim wished he'd gotten a solid punch in on the jerk's fat face. He was such a pig and anytime Jim saw Dan that was just what he thought of him, ever since they'd hired him on Dan was 'the pig' to Jim even if he never said it aloud to anyone at work.
He had more tact than that. Some people might think it was ok to run off at the mouth spending checks their asses couldn't cash, and he knew that was the case with Dan Parson. He was the kind of man to get an over inflated self-image at the drop of a hat. Just then the taxi appeared and Dan got up from the bench and huddled under his coat to get the door open before plopping in with a big grunt. He was soaked and would need to take a hot bath when he got home or else he would get sick for sure.
"Where to sir?"
Jim gave the young man his address and laid his head against the seat. Things were spinning around him and his back hurt. Again he wrote it off to being wet and not feeling good to begin with coupled with stress of having to face that son of a bitch in court and defend his fatherly honor. No Joey was the one who was wrong here. Dead wrong. When the taxi pulled up in front of Jim's house he paid the man and then got out, fumbling with his keys under the front porch. He was pissed he'd left the light off. If he'd known that when he got back to work after court that the guys would all want to go out he'd have left the bloody thing on, the electric bill be damned.
Finding the key finally, Jim set about putting it in and getting the door open. He was shivering and needed to get out of these clothes. With any luck Dan would be out sick tomorrow from either a hangover or from a cold he caught being out in this weather. Jim locked the door behind him and turned on some lights. He winced as he bent down to turn on the light by his recliner, his back was in fitful knots of pain centering near his waist. He set about getting some of his wet clothes off and getting a hot bath started. It didn't even cross his mind how close he'd come to having serious trouble with that co-worker. Nor did he give much thought to his back.
One of those grave mistakes that you might expect someone to regret at a later time. But Jim Wheeler wasn't your everyday sort of man. Memories of his own hard life with his own abusive parents came unbidden as he turned the water on for his bath. His mother had been addicted to pills and alcohol and had never stuck up for him when his father had gone on his drinking binges only to come home and beat the living hell out of Jim. It didn't matter if he had done something to deserve it. The man just liked seeing him in pain. Jim had to admit he liked seeing his own son taking his punishment and despite being freed from the little leech, he'd miss being able to inflict that kind of violence against the stuck up punk. He knew Joey thought he was better then his old man and it infuriated Jim no end.
Jim took off the rest of his clothes and hung them up to dry over the towel rack. He got into the tub and groaned as his back screamed at him for the movements. He sat in there enjoying the warmth as he felt it reaching deep down where he needed it most. That rain had chilled him to the bone and it seemed to have come out of nowhere. But that was the way things were this time of year. Showers could just pop up and the heat from the day gave the energy needed to pump out vast amounts of rainfall in record time. He let his mind just drift as he sunk beneath the surface getting his hair wet.
He went about washing himself and then added more hot water to the tub because he wasn't quite ready to get out. Jim hadn't had dinner, but he didn't care. Food was not always easy to keep down when you were drinking as much as he liked to. And as luck would have it he had plenty of beer left to drown his sorrows in after he was done in here. As he floated in the water he thought about the arrogant look Joey had shot him as he was leaving the courtroom today. As he went under the water again he thought about how much he'd wanted to punch that smile off his cocky face. But he was going to have to accept, it just wasn't worth going to jail for.
No even that bastard Dan Parson wasn't worth going to jail over, but had he gotten a few good slugs in he'd have gladly let them put on the cuffs just to laugh at the broken nose he'd surely have given him. He would try to go to work tomorrow, that was the best thing he could do at the moment. Focus on getting himself ready to go to work in the morning. As he got out of the tub and let the water drain out that was the only thought in his mind. Getting back to work to begin putting this whole ugly part of his life behind him.