Joey laughed as you rubbed your temples. It's been years since the two of you had been in high school and you both had done your best to meet up whenever you could. Then again, it wasn't hard. You both still lived in Domino City and you both had decided to meet up once a week to see one another. Yours jobs had kept you busy, that wasn't a lie. Still, you both hoped that you two could see each other more. Maybe one day you two would be able to.
“Well, you gotta admit, it was pretty funny!” Joey stated, that big grin on his face.
You gave him a playful glare. “Are you kidding?! You all went into the forests without anything to survive on!”
“But we survived, right?”
“Barely,” you said with a scoff. You leaned back into your half of the booth and crossed your arms and legs. “That's something I wouldn't want to do every again.”
“Well, that's a shame, then.”
You raised an eyebrow at him. You knew that tone of voice. It was that voice that clearly spoke “I have a stupid idea, so we should do it”. Nine times out of ten, you usually went along with it. Not this time, though. You assured yourself that you wouldn't fall for his ideas. Not after all the dangers he put the two of you through. “Why is that?” You held up a hand before he could continue. “Before you say it though, realize that I won't do it. No matter how great of an idea you have, I won't be a part of it.”
Joey shrugged, agreeing with your terms. “I've been thinking about going on another trip like that. You know what I mean. Going into the wilderness and surviving on pure instincts.” He watched your expression change from an incredulous one. “Oh, come on, (Y/N), it'll be fun!”
“Fun?!” you questioned, staring hard at him. “What part of Duelist Kingdom was fun? The crazy zombies, the starvation until Mai showed up, or Pegasus stealing souls?” As fun as that adventure was in the end (a fact you wouldn't admit to the person sitting across from you), there was no way you were interested in doing it again. “Sorry, but it's not happening.”
Pouting, he crossed his arms and slumped in his seat. “Fine. Guess I'll tell the others that you're too scared to come on the camping trip.”
The others were going? You thought they were too busy with their own things to go on something as silly as a camping trip. So why now? Thinking about it, it could be fun to try and have an adventure again. The possibility of something bad happening didn't seem too high. It wasn't like you were going to duelist kingdom for this camping trip. What was the harm? Finally, you sighed. “Fine. I'll go with you guys.”
“Great!” Joey jumped up from his seat and enveloped you in a hug. “Meet me in front of the bus terminal at 10AM sharp! We'll be meeting the others at the camping sight.” He grabbed his bag from the back of his seat and tossed it over his shoulder. “Don't be late!”
Before you could even retort, Joey was already out of the restaurant. Somehow, you felt like you had bitten off more than you could chew.
The trip to the camping ground was filled with laughter and memories of the old days. Joey had brought along games, snacks, and his irresistible laughter. It was rare for you to see him like this without Tristan by his side. When you did get to see it, you enjoyed every moment of it. “Are the others excited about seeing everyone again?” you asked. Your face hurt from smiling and laughing since you seen Joey today. He made a face and your smile immediately disappeared. “What was that look for?”
Plastering on his smile again, he laughed. “What look? There wasn't a look!”
“Yes there was!” You continued to stare at him until you realized what was going on. “The others aren't coming at all, aren't they?!”
He looked down at his drink, a somewhat guilty look on his face. “Yeah, they're not coming.”
You smacked his arm. “Then why are we on a bus into the middle of nowhere?!”
“I didn't think you'd actually come!” Joey explained, rubbing where you had hit him. “I was going to wait there with my bag and leave after half an hour! You never believed me before, so why would you now?!”
Groaning, you buried your face in your hands. You couldn't believe this. Not only were you stuck on a camping trip that you weren't really planning on attending, but now you were sure that Joey didn't bring any supplies with him. “There's no food or anything else in your bag, is there?” His silence was all the answer you needed. Taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly, you did your best to calm yourself. “Ok, this is easy. We just ask everyone around us if they can help us. If they ask what happened, I'll just point to you and hopefully you'll put on that puppy dog look.” Looking up at him, you saw the look and grinned. “That's the look!”
Joey snarled a bit and turned away from you. “Whatever.”
Sighing again, you knew that this was going to be a long trip.
By three pm, you were both exhausted. You had looked left and right, asking for help, but many of the campers that got off at the sight had only enough supplies for themselves. Slumping against a tree, you groaned in frustration. Joey stared at the other campers, watching them as they moved further and further away from one another to make room for everyone. You two wouldn't take up much room. In fact, you both wouldn't even take up a fraction of what the others would take. You were stranded in the middle of no where for a few days and there was nothing that could change that.
“I can't believe you dragged me into this again.”
“I mean, it was different back then. There were more people around and we even had Mai come and save us.”
You slammed your hands on your knees. “Damn it, Joey! Listen to me!”
Joey turned to look at you. He looked like he was deep in thought before you raised your voice. “Huh?”
Rolling your eyes, you cupped your chin in your hands. “This I great. I'm stuck in the woods with someone who isn't even paying attention. We're doomed.”
Sensing your discomfort of the situation, Joey opted to sit down next to you, resting his arms on his knees. “Hey, it's not all that bad, (Y/N).”
Raising an eyebrow at this, you pouted. “Oh yeah? Why not?”
He grinned. “Well, we've been through it before! We know exactly what to do!” Standing up, he grabbed your two bags and held his hand out to you. “Do you trust me?”
You narrowed your eyes at him. “How dare you pull an Aladdin on me...?” He grinned and you thought about the situation a little bit more. He was right. You both knew what to do and you still had the leftover snacks he brought. How much worse could it get? Grinning back at him, you took his hand and he helped you stand up. “Alright. Fine. Let's do this!” You both cheered and split up to do individual chores.
While Joey went to collect firewood, you did your best to make a makeshift camp. You gathered rocks to form a circle for the fireplace, grabbed a folding chair from one of the other campers while they weren't looking and set it up as best as you could. It wasn't much but with what little you had, it was something. You rolled out your sleeping bag, the only shelter from the elements. You had thought that Tea would be joining you and you could share a tent with her. Now that that wasn't the case, your sleeping bag would be your only friend. Joey came back just then, carrying a large bundle of sticks he had found lying around.
“Aw neat! You're sharing that?” he asked, his grin never leaving his face.
Scoffing, you laid on top of it, arms and legs splayed out as if to protect it from Joeys greedy hands. “You wish. If you hadn't lied to me, maybe I would have. You did, though. So, no.” Rolling his eyes, Joey set the firewood down and started to work on the fire. An hour had gone by before it finally lit. You clapped your hands slowly. “Wow. That was amazing.” He could immediately tell you were being sarcastic.
“Hey, I didn't see you doing any work.”
“I'm a lady.”
“Don't make excuses that bad.”
Rolling your eyes, you crawled closer to him and the fire. “So, are we having that potato chip chocolate thing like last time?”
“You know it!” Joey answered, his grin returning to his face. You always wondered how he could always smile. It seemed like even through the worse of times, he continued to do so. Sure, he faltered sometimes, but that was to be expected. Not everyone could be strong all the time. When you thought about it, you really admired him for it. You couldn't remember the last time you smiled through a difficult situation. He finally looked up at you and, noticing your dazed state of appearance, waved his hand in front of your face. “Helloooooooooooo! (Y/N), you in there?”
You shook your head. “W...what...?”
He scrunched his nose. “You were staring at me. Probably for a while. You ok?”
You felt your face turn red. “Of course I'm fine!” You moved a bit further away from him and crossed your arms. “So, how do you plan on cooking that stuff?”
Joey had to think for a moment before leaving the area. You waited for at least 5 minutes before returning with a pot. Before you could speak, “I asked another camper if I could borrow it for the night. They were already done using it.” He made a makeshift frame to hang the pot over, making sure the sticks would hold. “They just want us to clean it when we're done and return it in the morning.”
You hummed in acknowledgment and watched as Joey started to cook. The dish was a simple one. You had it so many years ago and it was surprisingly good back then. You weren't sure how it would taste now, though. The minutes slipped by in silence while Joey concentrated on recreating the dish he made last time they were stuck in the wilderness. You watched him carefully, making sure there was no smoke coming out of his ears from him thinking too hard. If he burnt his hand, that could be mended. If he broke his mind, well, that was a different story. When the dish was done, he pulled it off the sticks his hung it on and placed it down. Why he didn't get plates when he was over there, you didn't know.
“What about utensils?” you questioned, moving closer to the boiling food.
Joey grabbed his bag and reached inside it, pulling out two plastic sporks. “Ta da~!”
“I don't get how you're prepared for food but not for the case that I would end up going along with this stupid trip,” you commented as you took the spork.
“Hey, it happens. Don't feel down. We'll be gone tomorrow.”
You shrugged and dipped the spork into the pot, lifting up a small scoop. It looked questionable. Just like it did so many years ago. Why anyone would want to eat it again was beyond you. Since you were stuck there for the night, you had no choice but to eat it. Nervously, you put the small portion in your mouth, tasting it for the first time in years. Surprisingly, it was good. You had chalked it up to survival kicking in back then, but now, to this very day, it was still good. “This is really amazing.”
“Heh heh,” Joey laughed, rubbing his nose. “I still got it!”
You shared his laugh and while you munched away at the meal, you both continued your talk from yesterday, reminiscing of old times. He told you what the others had been doing and you shared with him on what you have been doing. You two were comfortable with one another again despite the bumpy start to what Joey still called a “prank”. It felt good to relax with your friend, even if the environment wasn't to your liking. The comfort of a friend was better than anything, though.
A twig snapped near the forest and you jumped. Abandoning your conversation, you stared at the area, waiting for something to move. You expected a bear to come out in search for food or maybe a wolf ready to tear your flesh apart. Although nothing happened, you were now terrified. Joey placed a hand on your shoulder and shook you a bit. “You ok?” he asked.
Shaking your head, you wrapped your arms around yourself. “I... I thought I heard something...”
Joey did his best to peer into the forest and the general direction you were looking at. “I don't see anything.”
You shook your head again. “I heard something, Joey. Now I'm... I'm a bit freaked out.”
He moved his hand to rub your back, being surprisingly comforting. It was more than what he usually did to help you calm down. It felt nice. “Why don't you get some rest? I'll keep a watch on ya.”
If there was one thing you didn't doubt Joey on, it was ability to keep someone safe. Whenever you were around him, you felt safe and you never wanted that feeling to go away. Nodding your head slowly, you crawled back to your sleeping bag and slipped inside. He took a spot at your feet, facing the forest and the fireplace. “Good night...”
Looking over his shoulder, he smiled back at you. “Night.”
You buried yourself deeper into your sleeping bag, not wanting to be exposed to the elements anymore than you already were. Naturally, it was dark inside but you preferred it over knowing what was going to attack you. ...Or attack Joey. Now you were more afraid for his sake then for your own. You couldn't let that get to you, though. You were scared enough. Every time you closed your eyes, though, you kept imagining Joey being ripped apart and you would wake up to a bloody mess. No, you couldn't allow that to happen.
Popping your head out from the sleeping bag, you took a few minutes to feel the cool air on your heated face. “Um, Joey?” He looked back at you and you gnawed at your bottom lip. “Can I... hold your hand...?” The next look he gave you was incredulous but you ignored it. “I just want to feel a bit safer... That's all.”
The next few seconds went by agonizingly slow. You expected him to laugh at you; to call you a baby and tell you to put your big girl panties on. Instead, he smiled slowly and edged his way back to you. He lay flat on his back and flexed his hand at you, signaling for you to grab it. You grabbed it, your fingers interlacing. His hands felt warm. “Feel better?” Joey asked, still smiling.
You gave him a small smile in return and nodded. “A little... Thanks.”
“Not a problem.”
You squeezed his hand and he gave you a reassuring squeeze back. He was assuring you that he wasn't going to let go, maybe even after you fell asleep. You hoped he wouldn't. You didn't want to let him go. Although you had been struggling with your feelings for Joey for years, you always knew that you would have enjoyed being more than friends to him. You were unable to bring up the topic whenever you talked. Maybe it was because the timing never seemed right or maybe you were too afraid to talk to him about it. You didn't want to ruin what you two already had and if you brought up the possibility of dating, you might lose his friendship. Boys were weird like that.
Pushing the thoughts out of your head to the best of your ability, you curled up and closed your eyes, falling asleep peacefully.
“Rise and shine, (Y/N)!”
You jolted awake and looked around. Joey was holding the pot from last night over your head and you could only imagine what it was. You rolled away quickly and he laughed, bringing the pot full of water down. “What time is it?”
“Almost noon,” he answered, moving to dumb the water closer to the trees.
“Noon? You let me sleep that long?”
“Well, yeah,” Joey said with a stern look. “You looked so freaked out last night that I thought you should sleep for a little while longer. You feel better?”
Sitting up, you scratched your head. “Y... yeah. I do. Thanks.”
“No problem.” He smiled at you and then took off, most likely going to return the pot to the other campers.
While he was gone, you brought your knees to your chest and rested your chin on them. Last night, Joey had practically raided your dreams. Every few seconds was a different scenario. The two of you on a date at the beach or an amusement park. The two of you resting at home on a rainy or snowy day. You weren't sure how much longer you could put up with this. For years you had kept it as a secret. Maybe it was time to bring it out into the open.
That settled it. Today, you would talk to Joey about your feelings. With this resolve, you got out of your sleeping bag and started to pack up what little supplies the two of you had. All you had to really do was roll up your sleeping bag and pack it in your bag. When you were done, Joey arrived.
“When's the bus coming?”
Joey looked at his watch and thought for a moment. “In another half hour. Wanna get to the bus stop and try to be the first ones on?” Nodding, you pulled your bag onto your bag and followed him down the long trek to the bus stop. There was no one there which was good for the two of you. That meant you would be the first ones on it if all went well. Dropping your bag, you sat down on it and waited while Joey remained standing.
It was now or never. You two were alone now so it created the perfect opportunity. The question to yourself was if you were ready to talk about it. You struggled with it for only a few minutes before deciding that it was time. “Hey, Joey. Can I talk to you about something?”
“Sure. What's up?”
You fiddled with the straps of your bag, trying to say the words you wanted to say. “I don't know how to say this. You're really the first guy I've ever wanted to talk to about this and well...” You took in a deep breath. “I really like you, Joey. A lot.” It was then that Joey decided to look at you. He really looked at you when you said this, his eyes wide. Who would expect anything like that coming out of your mouth. “I've liked you for a while. Since we were in high school, really.”
Joey stared dumbfounded at you. You couldn't blame him. Here you were in the middle of the wilderness and you decided to dump your feelings on him. You wouldn't blame him if he decided to leave you and never talk to you again. Instead of doing what you expected, he sat down next to you. “You like me, huh?” You nodded your head slowly, opting to stare at your feet then at him. Joey laughed. “What a relief!”
You looked at him, surprised by his reaction. “Huh?”
“All this time I thought I was feeling unrequited love yet here you are having feelings for me. Wait until I Tristan. He's not going to believe this!”
“Is this a dream?”
Joey shook his head. “Nope. It isn't. I always liked you, (Y/N). I just never had to time to tell you. You know, busy saving the world with Yugi all the time. The little guy needs me, ya know?” He wrapped his arm around you and pulled you close to him. “I'm glad you finally said something though. Took a lot off my shoulders when you made the first move. You must have been so nervous!”
Although you were confused about what Joey was saying, you understood his feelings loud and clear. He liked you. He liked you just as much as you liked him. And you loved it. Smiling, you scooted even closer to him. You grabbed his hand that as on your shoulder and laced your fingers with his. “Does that mean we're an item now?”
Flustering, Joey rubbed at his head. “Well... Yeah... If you'll have me, anyway...”
You smiled and kissed his cheek. “Of course.”
He grinned that familiar stupid grin and held you close. Despite how the trip started, in the end it was worth it. You were able to relive a moment you didn't want to experience again, but you were able to open up to Joey about your feelings for him. The real adventure would continue when you returned to the city. You could hardly wait to see what the future had in store for you.
“I don't want burgers again, Joey!”
“But I can't cook and you can't either!”
“I can too cook!”
“That burnt chicken doesn't count!”
“What was that?!”
Three months later, you were still together with Joey. Despite the arguments that occurred at least once every two weeks, you couldn't be happier with him.