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Eine Mitternachtsstimme Ch.3 (Yu-Gi-Oh, Seto , Téa , Yugi , Joey , & Mai ; #10)

Title: "Eine Mitternachtsstimme" ("A Midnight Voice") Chapter 3: The Dinner Party (other chapters available in other LJ comms and/or ff.net)
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Subject: Seto Kaiba, Téa Gardner, Yugi Muto, Joey Wheeler, and Mai Valentine
Theme(s): 10; A Night Out
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, but the story is

Will be cross-posted to 10_hurt_comfort, 31_days, and http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4586339/3/


Seto Kaiba was as brusque as ever when he finally did explain to Téa about von Krolock’s insistence of having someone accompany him to the dinner party. Although he didn’t voice the words, his tone made it very clear that this was not even the vaguest resemblance of a “date.”

Flustered, Téa decided to accept; she had no other commitments, save for the next afternoon’s dance recital. And so they agreed to meet at the location that von Krolock had mentioned. She was just getting off of the phone when her friends arrived.

“Hi, Guys,” she said. “I thought you were going to meet Madame Mystíca?”

“Yeah, we were,” sighed Joey. “But her shop was closed.”

“And I’m worried,” added Yugi. “She normally keeps her shop open six days a week. And you would think that with Halloween upon us, she’d even have special extra hours.”

“I guess something came up,” suggested Mai. “You know that sprits would be the most active around this time of year…”

“All the same, I think we should have someone staked out to see if and when she comes back,” said Tristan.

“What a great idea,” said Duke, with a smirk. “And since you thought of it, you can be the one to do so while I take Serenity to the Halloween party tomorrow.”

“What!?” Joey and Tristan both yelled as the others rolled their eyes.

“Joey, calm down,” said Mai. “We can all go to the party, too.”

“Um…” said Téa, sheepishly. “I can’t. I just committed myself to… another event tomorrow night.”

“You’re missing the Clock Tower Park Halloween Bash?” asked Yugi, surprised. “But, Téa… You’ve never missed that in all the years I’ve known you! It’s the kickoff to the Fall Festival; are you sure you can’t make it?”

“Yeah, Téa,” agreed Joey, temporarily forgetting about Duke and Serenity. “You don’t really wanna miss the Zombie Jamboree, do you?”

“I sort of forgot when I agreed to go to the dinner party…” Téa trailed off, realizing she had said too much. “I’ll see you guys later, I guess; I have to get back to rehearsal…”

“Dinner party…?” Joey repeated, as Téa walked away. “Guys, there’s something going on here; she’s trying to hide something—I just know it!”

“Joey, you’re letting your mind run off on empty again…” said Tristan. “Someone just asked her out for the evening.”

“And we’re going to find out who!” the blond youth replied, eagerly rubbing his hands together.

“Joey, no,” said Yugi, slapping his forehead. “You remember what happened the last time we tried tailing Téa, don’t you? She’ll be furious if she catches us again.”

“So we make sure that she doesn’t,” Joey replied, smirking. “Bakura, I need you to keep an eye on Serenity while I commence with the stakeout!”

“Um… sure…?” the fair-haired boy replied, confused.

“I think I’d better go with you, Joey,” said Yugi. “Téa will find it more difficult to be livid if I’m there, too.”

“And you can count me in,” mused Mai. “Something tells me that I don’t want to miss this…”

***********************************

The next day came and went by so quickly; Téa’s mind was hardly with her as she oversaw the recital. She hardly registered what Tristan was saying about the psychic shop being closed that day. And she didn’t have a clue as to what Joey was planning, and that all five of them would end up convening at the address.

She sat silently as the taxi pulled up to her destination, wearing the yellow-orange evening gown that she had received over the summer. She loved and loathed this gown at the same time; it was the only evening gown she owned, which was why she hadn’t thrown it out, but it carried unpleasant memories of the time when she had been tricked and manipulated by Rare Hunters over the summer. Kayser, the crooked dance troupe leader (and Rare Hunter), had given her this gown to wear at a meet-and-greet in Chicago. Upon her return to Domino, she had shoved the dress away in a closet, unable to look at it, but also unable to throw it out.

With a sigh, she departed the cab, waiting for Seto to arrive; he had promised to pay for the cab fare.

“There she is…” said Joey, looking rather uncomfortable in the three-piece suit that he was wearing. “Man, I can’t believe I had to wear this straightjacket again…”

“Joey, this is a dinner party, not a Halloween bash; wearing these will be the only way we have a chance of sneaking in uninvited,” said Mai, looking surprisingly elegant in a lavender evening gown of her own. Her eyes fell upon the garlic breadstick that Joey was eating. “And I don’t think you’ll be allowed in trailing crumbs all over the place like that.”

“Eh… No one will notice,” the blond youth replied, brushing the crumbs off of his suit.

“I still say that we shouldn’t even be doing this,” said Yugi, also in a suit. “I think we should be able to trust Téa’s judgment. She escaped from Rare Hunters over the summer; I think she knows what’s she’s doing.”

“Yeah, well… if things stay this dull we probably can just leave without…” Joey trailed off, his eyes widening in disbelief as Seto, wearing a navy-blue suit, emerged from his limo and strode over to Téa. Joey’s lungs quadrupled in size as he drew in the breath for his astounded yell. “KAI--!?”

Yugi and Mai had seen it coming; they clamped their hands over Joey’s mouth, forcing him away and out of sight as Seto and Téa glanced behind them.

“What was that you were saying about Téa’s judgment?” asked Mai, quite stunned by what she was seeing.

“Well…” said Yugi, flustered. “Well, we don’t know the whole story…”

Seto, upon deciding that he had been hearing things, turned back to Téa.

“I suppose I should thank you for showing up,” he said.

“There were places I’d have rather gone to on Halloween night,” Téa admitted. “I suppose I can assume that this is, in no way, shape, or form, a date?”

“You’d assume correctly,” Seto replied, confirm what she had thought the previous night. “However, I don’t see what good it would do in either circumstance if we stood outside here.”

Téa nodded, following Seto inside the lavish building.

“There,” said Yugi. “Kaiba just needed to have someone accompanying him; it’s not a date at all.”

Mai glanced at the younger duelist in amusement.

“Don’t you believe it…” she mused, quietly. She made a mental note to have a long talk with Téa after tonight.

Joey finally freed himself from Yugi and Mai.

“The world is turning upside-down!” he yelled, causing a well-dressed pair of businesspeople to glance at him with raised eyebrows as they walked past. “That was Kaiba with Téa— our Téa! Where did she go so wrong, Yugi!? Where!? And I thought Duke and Serenity together was bad--”

“Joey, wake up, Hon,” said Mai, actually sounding sympathetic. “You can’t choose these things for them. And besides, Yugi is probably right; those two didn’t look like they were all that close. I think this is just a casual get-together.”

“Well, I know what I think!” said Joey. “We need to get in there and keep an eye on those two, and make sure that it stays that way!”

“We’re chaperoning Kaiba and Téa…?” Yugi asked in disbelief, as they followed Joey into the hall of the building. How on Earth had their circle of friends had come to this?

“Well, I’ll say this much,” said Mai, with approval. “This place looks more like a mansion than a businessman’s headquarters. Whoever owns this place must have a lot of money to throw.”

“And I’m guessing that he’s the one who’s throwing it,” said Yugi, indicating the silver-haired man who was greeting Seto and Téa. He was wearing a jet-black suit with a matching violet-lined cape.

That’s a fashion statement you don’t see everyday…” said Mai, her eyes as wide as dinner plates.

“Never mind that,” said Joey. “We have to get past him to get inside. How do we do that…?”

Yugi glanced at the marble staircase at the far left of the hall.

“We can dash up there for now and look around; I want to find out who that guy is,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before, but if he’s meeting with Kaiba, then he must be involved with game design somehow.”

“Good idea,” said Mai. “We can sneak back into the party a bit later.”

The three inched their way towards the staircase before practically flying up the marble steps. Graf von Krolock paused at the sound, glancing at the staircase in suspicion.

“What is it, Johan?” asked a brunette woman in a red dress, taking her place by his side.

“Perhaps it is nothing…” he said, his eyes narrowing. “But let me take this moment to introduce you to Seto Kaiba and Téa Gardner.” He turned to the younger duo. “My friends, this is my wife, Sarah.”

“Look,” said Seto. “Are all these introductions really necessary? You told me that I’d get see a demonstration of your new holographic system. I’m not here for dining and dancing; I’m here to see results.”

“All in good time, Kaiba,” said von Krolock. “Not everyone has arrived just yet, but you are more than welcome to talk amongst my other guests. Ah, and here come more of them now…”

Seto and Téa both turned and were astounded to see three familiar faces heading towards them.

“Alister?” asked Seto, incredulously, as he, Valon, and Raphael said their hellos to von Krolock and Sarah. He exchanged a slightly baffled glance with Téa, who shrugged in reply.

“We are the representatives for Industrial Illusions,” said Valon, presenting von Krolock with a business card. “Maximillion Pegasus was unable to attend, and so he sent us in his stead.”

“I know that voice!” whispered Mai, edging back towards the staircase to get a glimpse of him. “Why would Pegasus send Valon!?”

“Who cares?” Joey replied, frowning.

“You know, Joey, if I didn’t know you any better, I’d say that you were jealous…” Mai smirked.

“Now why would I be jealous of Valon, just because he has cool shades and a motorcycle?” asked Joey. “Top Grunge has those things, but you’ve never asked if I was jealous of him!”

“I would hope you wouldn’t be jealous of a thief,” said Yugi, his eyebrows raised at the comparison.

“Well… you know what I mean…” muttered Joey, turning his attention back to the bikers.

“So…” said Valon, glancing from Seto to Téa as von Krolock and Sarah spoke with Alister and Raphael. “You two finally on a date?”

“Not at all,” Seto replied, flatly. “I was apparently requested to not come alone.”

“Really?” asked the brunet. “We were never told anything like that. Well, we don’t know what the exact words are; we never actually saw the letter that Pegasus received.”

“You mean he just sent you three here, just like that?” asked Téa. “And he didn’t even explain a thing?”

“That isn’t like Pegasus at all,” said Seto, a frown etching deeper into his face. “Normally, he can’t get enough of these social gatherings.”

“You’ve, er… hit the nail on the head,” said Valon, lowering his voice so that von Krolock would not be able to hear him. “Pegasus never got a chance to reply to the letter that von Krolock sent him. You know that recent report about a disappearance in San Francisco?”

No!” gasped Téa, her eyes wide.

Valon nodded, solemnly as Yugi, Joey, and Mai, who could hear every word, exchanged glances.

“Vanished right from his room in the middle of the night,” he said. “Croquet showed up the next morning to offer him breakfast in bed… but he was completely gone.”

“So that was Pegasus who vanished…?” said Seto, deep in thought. “Either he’s pulling some sort of crazy stunt again, or--”

“But if Pegasus was planning something, he would’ve at least told someone about it,” said Téa.

“That’s what has Croquet so worried,” agreed Valon. “And we’ve all been trying our hardest not to let anyone know that it was Pegasus who vanished; there’d be an uproar.”

“But you said that he vanished after receiving the invitation from von Krolock?” asked Seto, glancing at the silver-haired man.

“That’s what happened,” the brunet agreed. “I don’t know if he got a chance to read the letter or not, but…” He trailed off, shrugging.

“I see…” the blue-eyed youth replied. He turned to Téa. “Gardner, I need you to cover for me while I take a look around.”

“Do you really think that Pegasus would be here?” she asked.

“I don’t know, but if von Krolock has something to do with his disappearance, it is possible,” Seto replied. “Use your intellect; I’m sure you can come up with something.”

“Kaiba, I can’t hold him off forever!” she said. “I can give you ten to fifteen minutes… twenty, tops.”

“I’ll take what I can get,” he replied, slipping from the entrance hall and into the maze of darkened corridors. He passed by the lit-up ballroom; undoubtedly, the festivities were going on in there, but Seto could care less.

“There he goes again,” said Mai, having watched the scene from the top of the stairs. “Maybe we should make his job easier by checking out upstairs.”

“Good idea,” said Yugi. “If he comes up here, we can tell him that we already looked around.”

“Once he gets over the fact that we’re here…” Joey pointed out, taking another bite out of his breadstick. “But at least Téa’s on her own; maybe we should tell her--”

“Joey, we’re not even supposed to be here!” chided Mai.

“Look out!” exclaimed Yugi, pulling them both out of sight as von Krolock’s gaze scanned the stairwell again. The silver-haired man could sense that something was amiss; his expression turned dark as the faint smell of breadstick reached him. With a slight recoil of disgust, he steered Sarah away from the marble steps, continuing his conversation with the bikers in the middle of the hall as he watched the stairwell out of the corner of his eye.

Seto, in the meantime, was silently walking through the darkened corridors with nothing but a small penlight to guide him. Old portraits lined the walls, the painted eyes of people following him with every step as the leering windows of a lighthouse seascape seemed to taunt him. Magnificently carved pedestals were scattered amongst the wider regions of the passageways, each one holding either an antique vase or a sculpture of multicolored, hand-molded glass.

So… he’s an art collector?” the young man asked himself. He blinked in surprise as one of the passageways led him to a dead end, ending at a fully-stocked bookcase, the books’ spines showing signs of wear and use. “And a book collector, too…?

His hand reached towards one of the books, wondering what sort of literature the silver-haired businessman collected. His fingertips were only an inch from the spine of a book bound in red-dyed leather when he felt a heavy blow upon the back of his head.

He didn’t even have the time to cry out as the bookcase came up to meet him. The penlight slipped from his grasp, breaking as it struck the ground. But the young CEO’s world had already gone dark.

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