“Okay, I understand. You’re the pretty sister, but since when am I a fucking bargaining chip?” You really just wanted out of the building and out of the suit you were currently wearing. You really just wanted to loosen the tie, give up for the day, and head back outside. Really, the only thing feminine about you was the pair of black pumps and the couple handfuls of studs in your ears that your mother had bought you. Sure, they were real, but that didn’t really make up for anything. Well, there was that, and then there was the fact that your sister never let you leave the house for important things without doing your hair and makeup. You could do it yourself, but she always insisted. If you looked like a lady from the neck up, everyone generally ignored the fact that you weren’t dressed like one. They also generally ignored you, which was even better.
“Well,” the younger woman began, lowering the book from in front of her face, and really, she did have a gorgeous face. To be honest, she was just gorgeous in general, and in that green dress, professional yet delicate, she looked even better. “I can’t really say. To tell the truth, I don’t even know why you’re here.”
You couldn’t help but let out a long sigh and run a hand through your hair. “They’ve been going back to that conference room for three days now.” You flicked your wrist and straightened the newspaper in your hand. “So things are either going well, or Nishimura’s getting desperate.”
“I don’t think Dad is getting desperate. He was in good spirits this morning.”
“Sorry, he’s always hateful toward me. I couldn’t tell the difference.”
She sighed, just as delicately and ladylike as she was. “You know that’s not right to say.”
“I say a lot of shit that isn’t right. Again, sorry. Must be the American coming out in me.” But you said it with such overstated spite in your words that she wasn’t sure if you were serious or not. You were about to stand and suggest a coffee run when you heard the door behind you open. Your eyes just stayed focused on the paper.
“Well, Dad?” Lucy asked, and you saw her close the book and set it in her lap in the edges of your vision.
“Mr. Kaiba and I came to an agreement. However, we began talking, and one subject lead to another.” Just the older man’s voice was enough to make you want to punch him in the face and drop him dead right then and there.
“Get to the point,” you ordered. “Some of us need to get the fuck out of this building and go to work.”
He cleared his throat and tried to ignore your swearing and blatantly rude tone. “He seems to be very interested in your car.”
You lifted your gaze to Lucy who sat across from you and raised an eyebrow. “You can’t put a price on my baby. You should know that by now.”
“He doesn’t want to buy it. He just would like-“
You were already rolling your eyes. “He’s not allowed to drive it either. I swear to Christ, you never listen to a word that comes out of my mouth.”
You heard your step-father sternly call your name.
“Tell him to get one of those Z-Tuned Skyline GT-R’s. Speed, flash, and pompous asshole all in a neat package.”
“You’re out of line.” He wanted to hit you so badly, and he probably would once you got home.
“Oh, sorry. Would you like me to launch into something more interesting? Perhaps my usual rant about how rich fucks like himself like to spend ridiculous amounts of money on cars they can’t even properly handle?”
You saw Lucy’s expression and had to hold back your laughter.
“And before you say anything else, he’s standing right behind me. I know.” And you just got away with calling him a rich fuck. At least that could be one bright spot in your day.
“You are so frustrating,” Lucy muttered before standing, leaning across the table between you, snatching you up by the collar of your jacket, and forcing you toward her so she could whisper in your ear. “Didn’t you even bother to read the contract?”
You frowned. “No, I didn’t. Do I ever?”
“You should. This one actually concerns you,” she whispered fiercely. Then, she continued, quickly explaining everything that concerned you.
You kept nodding your head and listening. “A whole three months, huh? That’s a long time to have some peace and quiet. Wait, but why me?” She kept going, and you just kept nodding away, still adding, “That doesn’t make any fucking sense, Lucy.” When she was finished, the two of you stayed in that position with you visibly turning the prospect over in your head. So she’d only given you what could be considered the Cliff Notes for the entire, million and a half page monstrosity that was called a contract. You could still make a decision based on that. It didn’t take long. You tossed the paper down on the table without looking and pulled away from Lucy, casually putting your hands in your pockets.
“Well?” she tried.
“Lucy, you know I love you to death, right?”
She seemed a little thrown off by the question. “Of course I know that. I love you, too.”
“And do I ever let you even sit behind the wheel of my car?”
“That settles it, then.” You turned and started for the elevators. “You can take a ride with me, Mr. Kaiba, but that’s all I’m offering.” You had to admit that you were a little surprised when you called the elevator and he was standing beside you. Hands still in your pockets, you took the silent ride to the ground floor. The only thing that broke the silence was your phone vibrating in your pocket. It was a text from Lucy stating the obvious that you were just making Mr. Kaiba angry. Well, exiting the building into the parking garage, he didn’t seem too upset.
“And if you’re going to make any seemingly witty and amusing comments about the American driving a Mustang GT, make them now.”
“I don’t find it remotely amusing,” were the first words he actually spoke to you. “I don’t find you remotely amusing either,” were the second.
“Don’t care. I didn’t put any stock in the rich and famous back home, and I certainly don’t put any stock in them here. So be as much of a prick as you like. I’m not one of your fangirls, and I don’t intend on becoming one anytime soon.”
As you approached the jet black car, his third words were, “I expected something at least slightly more impressive.”
Three strikes and he should’ve been out, but in the beautiful print of that stupid contract-monstrosity was three months of freedom from the bastard upstairs and your lush of a mother. Sure, you were twenty and could’ve bailed, but Lucy was only seventeen, and you weren’t about to leave her. Of course, you would have to put up with the asshole who was getting into the passenger seat next to you, but he only seemed to speak when you spoke to him. If you shut the hell up, you probably wouldn’t even notice him.
But you knew what your step-father was after. Get the problem child out of the big city, and send Lucy with her to keep watch and make sure everything stayed in line. There were probably a few other twisted, fucked up reasons, but that was most likely the gist of it.
“You should know better,” you told him, sliding the key into the ignition. “It’s not what’s on the outside. It’s only what’s under the hood that matters, and she does a bit more than purr.” To prove your point, you pushed in the clutch and started it up. You turned to him and leaned back, hand resting lazily on the steering wheel. “You don’t scare easily, do you, Mr. Kaiba?”
“What do you think?”
“Good, I’ll take that as a no. Also, you’ll want to put your seatbelt on.”
He, of course, didn’t move.
You just laughed a bit to yourself. This was going to be too easy and way too much fun. Without warning, you threw it into reverse and peeled out of the parking space, swinging around violently, throwing it into gear, and letting the tires cry against the pavement. You weren’t sure if he was ready or not when you tapped the brakes, hit the throttle, and the weight shifted from the rear tires to the front, sending the car sliding through the turn and into the sparse afternoon traffic.
“This isn’t street legal,” he commented just as you righted the vehicle and began accelerating down the street.
“Your drifting is basic at best, by the way.”
“I’m not going to stress the driveline if I don’t have to. So unless you’d like to buy me a new one after we’re finished here, you can shut the fuck up and let me drive. I built this car from the chassis up, and I’m not about to let a damn Sunday drive put me in the shop to work on it again.” You were weaving in and out of traffic, letting every other car fly past and end up in your rearview mirror.
“Your father made you out to be a much better driver.”
Just for that, you swung around and passed the car in front of you with another shift of weight. This time, though, it was with a few quick turns of the wheel, and you sent all the weight to the passenger side. You kept yourself upright, but he wasn’t quite as ready for it and you clearly heard his shoulder make a pretty firm impact with the door.
“Keep talking shit and I’ll send you out the window next time. You know, since you’re not keen on wearing your seatbelt.” Everything righted again. Only this time, he kept his mouth shut. “He’s not my father, by the way. That fucker will never even be a quarter of the man my Dad was.”
“So your father is dead.”
“You’re extremely goddamn observant, you know that?”
“And your mother.” He didn’t finish the statement. You supposed he was expecting you to finish it for him.
“Clueless,” he repeated. What the hell was this? Some friendly get-together?
“In relation to me. For all the time my Dad and I spent in the garage, you think she would know how much this car means to me. All I asked for when I turned sixteen was the money for a limited slip differential, and trust me when I say the bitch had it. She bought me jewelry.”
“I’ve known you for ten minutes, and you seem beyond being just a bit rough around the feminine edges.” He was very casual with everything he said, which wasn’t what you had expected at all. He was Seto Kaiba, the fucking monster that hid in every businessman’s closet on late, stormy nights. Sometimes he chose to hide under the bed and drag small children away. Then, who knows, maybe he ate them or something. You’d never asked.
“I’ll take that as a compliment. Anyway, I pawned it and bought the damn thing anyway.”
“Which type?” Okay, back to something you actually enjoyed talking about. You could live with that.
“Clutch, of course.”
“So you race.”
“If you were any more fucking observant, I think my head might explode.” You spared a glance at the rearview mirror for any police before hitting another turn. This time, he managed to hold on. Then again, you were back to throwing the weight forward and not in his direction. “So, you seem to know a bit more than the rich jackasses I usually run into, and from your arrogance, I’m going to assume that you actually know how to handle something decent. I’ll also take a guess and say that out of your collection of vehicles, a Mustang is not among them, or you wouldn’t have been so curious to drive it.”
“I never had the desire to own one.” It wasn’t a condescending statement. He was just very point-blank with everything.
“I can relate,” you answered casually. “I don’t really want to own anything beside this. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to get my hands on a few other things.”
“Well, I’ve worked on more than a few, but I’d really like the chance to tear apart a Mazda RX-7 and see what I can make it do.” You frowned and cursed under your breath. “They’re called something else over here.”
“Right, that’s it. Same with the Lexus IS350. Or an ISF-Sport. Christ, those things are gorgeous.”
You laughed. “Seems a little cheap for you.”
You just caught him out of your peripheral vision raising a questioning eyebrow at you.
“So, can I take a look at it?” Clearly meaning Can I rip it apart and make it a little less street legal?
“No.” Well, it had been worth a try.
“You have money for another one.”
“That’s not the point.”
You just gave a defeated sigh but straightened yourself back up. “So, this whole deal you struck up with Nishimura.”
“What about it?” He obviously wasn’t as good at finishing your half-statements, and he seemed a little annoyed by it.
“What the hell possessed you to let someone like me live in your house for three months? Really, Nishimura has more money than I’m comfortable with, but you don’t exactly need money.”
“No, I don’t. I do, however, need a good mechanic. You obviously didn’t read anything.”
You slowed down noticeably and turned to give him a disbelieving gaze. “You’ve got to be shitting me. You took three days to strike a deal over a mechanic.”
“No. I actually took two weeks, because you were extremely hard to find information on.”
You slammed on the brakes and swerved to the side of the road. “You’ve been stalking me for the past two weeks?” you nearly shouted in anger.
After he recovered from almost cracking his skull off the dashboard, he settled himself back into the seat. “Stop doing that.”
“Stop pissing me off.” You let out very low and extremely frustrated sound before getting back on the road and promptly pulling a U-turn at the next light. “So you spend two weeks stalking me-“
“I was not stalking you.”
“Fine. You spend two weeks collecting information, and then this. What’s the deal?”
You heard him sigh, more than a fair bit of annoyance in it. “Because Nishimura is a known liar, and most of what he said was bullshit.”
“Huh. Didn’t take you for the cursing type.”
“Don’t take me for any kind of type.”
You shrugged. “Fair enough. Continue.”
“I couldn’t trust a word he said when it came to you or your sister.” He paused for a moment. “So you’re not going to threaten to put me out the window for calling her your sister.”
“Lucy? Of course not. Again, continue.” Little Lucy. Because apparently westernized names had some kind of appeal to them, at least according to your step-father. You never understood it.
“Since most of what you do seems to be under the table, you’re not exactly the easiest person to find credentials on.”
“Hence the reason you wanted to drive my car.”
“It certainly wasn’t to strike up conversation or get to know you. I still find you nearly intolerable.” It should’ve sounded a bit more harsh. You knew he had the potential to get truly rude and disrespectful, and even you had to admit you were an easy target for him. He did seem generally more laid back than most people made him out to be, though.
“I guess no one mentioned that I already have a job.”
“Not anymore. You work for me.”
You shot him a sideways glare. “When the hell did I agree to that?”
That got you a mildly curious glance. “Last week, apparently. You were the one that signed, weren’t you?”
You thought for a moment and then turned your head away from him in a short fit of snickering, even though it wasn’t that funny. At all. It was kind of sad, to tell the truth. “Oh, that.” You turned your gaze forward again. “I was in the hospital for a concussion.” Before he could get the words out that followed that extremely upset look he was sporting, you shifted and raised your hand to wave it off. “I know. I’m supposed to be fully informed and capable of making rational decisions whenever I sign anything, but I’ll ignore it if you will, especially since Lucy was with me. She said it was fine, and she’s honest to a fault.” You made a small motion with your hand. “Now grab my cigarettes out of the dash.”
“I didn’t take you for the smoking type,” he told you, leaning forward to retrieve them for you.
“Don’t make me throw your own words back at you.” You grabbed one out of the pack and lit it, surprisingly quick behind the wheel when you really should’ve needed both hands to be driving. “You can have one if you want. They might be the smallest bit stale, though.”
Oh, the curious look again.
“I could smell it on you the moment you walked out of the conference room. It’s how I knew you were standing behind me.”
“You’re much more intelligent than you look.” It came out muttered, but you heard it anyway. You also thought you heard him say some sort of thanks. Not for the cigarette, but for something along the lines of not having to put up with a complete idiot.
“By the way, burn a hole in my seat and I’ll break your arm.”
“Don’t put me into the door again, and you won’t have to worry about it.”
* * * * *
You pulled up right in front of the Kaiba Corp building and dropped him off. You said a quick thanks for the job and told him you would see him that coming Saturday when you and Lucy officially moved in. He just gave you a short nod in return before getting out. Lucy and Nishimura were waiting outside, and she ran up to your open window.
“So, how did it go?” she asked with a giddy anxiousness.
“I have to call in to have my tools delivered.” You looked at her and smiled. “I have a new job, and a really attractive boss to look at for the next few months.” The second part was extremely sarcastic.
“Really?” She was way too excited about this.
“Yeah.” You motioned to the passenger side with a sideways nod of your head. “Get in. We’ll grab some coffee on the way.”
She nodded and quickly moved around the car, frowning when she got in and closed the door. “Were you smoking in here?” she asked.
“Yeah. Hell of a day. That man has a really obnoxious way of going about getting to know people.”
“How so?” she questioned, fastening her seatbelt.
“He pissed me off just so I would show him how I could drive.”
“Did you put him into the door?”
You just turned and smirked.
“That’s so horrible of you! He’s your boss!” But she said it with a smile and a bit of laughter.
“He completely deserved it.” With that, you got yourself away from the curb and into the flow of traffic. Of course, with Lucy in the car, your driving was much more...well, normal. And safe. You had only gotten a little crazy with her in the car once, and that was on a closed course with nothing to hit. Still, even that was enough to have her shaking. She just wasn’t used to it. You tended to scare the hell out of a lot of people with your driving, though. That was probably why no one ever got in the car with you. At the very least, the people who did get in with you knew not to piss you off. Kind of the exact opposite of what Kaiba had just done.
“So, what do you think?”
You shrugged a bit, keeping casual eyes on the road. “He has a Lexus that I really want to steal.”
She gave you a look that just said you couldn’t be serious.
“What? Was I supposed to say something different?” You were honestly a little confused.
She gave a bit of a huffy sigh at you. “He’s Seto Kaiba, one of, if not the most eligible bachelor in the country. He’s delightful to look at, and all you can think about is getting into his Lexus instead of his pants.”
“Hey!” You reached over and gave her a light tap in the arm with your fist. “That’s not fair!”
She giggled and pulled away. “Seriously, think like a girl.”
You glanced down at yourself. “Hello? Suit and tie? I was obviously raised by a man. Even Mr. Kaiba told me that I was more than a little rough around the feminine edges.” Stopped at the red light, you rested your head against the steering wheel and pouted a bit. “And Lucy, it’s a Lexus ISF.” With an even bigger pout on your face, you added, “The sport model.” Lucy would never understand how you could get so emotional over cars. Actually, it tended to be hilarious. You treated all of them like children when they were brand new, bad boyfriends when they were a bitch to fix, or...perhaps a country’s most eligible bachelor when you really wanted to tear into it.
“You know that means absolutely nothing to me.” It was her way of saying, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
“You take the speed limiter off that and it can top out at a hundred and ninety five miles per hour.” You raised your head when she said nothing. “That’s almost three hundred fourteen kilometers per hour.”
“That’s ridiculous. And you want to drive it?” She sounded a little worried.
You didn’t respond. Obvious answer. You did, however, still have something to say. “You’re supposed to be able to convert off the top of your head, stupid.”
“I can. It’s just easier to hear you spit out information.”
You rolled your eyes as the light changed. “I’m not spitting out information. Also, don’t worry. He’s never going to let me drive the damn thing, let alone do anything to it.” You shrugged. “Well except, you know, fix it if I have to.”
* * * * *
Freshly out of the shower and dressed in loose pants and a tank top, you were more than ready for bed. You were really very tired, and you’d done nothing but get up at the crack of dawn with Lucy to go sit in that damn building for the last three days.
Exiting the bathroom to go down the hall to your room, you popped in your earbuds and yawned. Maybe if you would’ve been paying more attention, maybe if you hadn’t been blasting the loud, heavy metal, political statements of System of a Down into your ears, maybe, just maybe, you would’ve heard the footsteps approaching from behind.
The next thing you knew, there was a horrible crack to the back of your head. You stumbled, trying to keep your balance, and it came again, slamming into your skull with more force, sending you straight to the floor. With slow movements, you pulled the music out of your ears and grabbed for the sharp pain. You were pretty sure your brain had been bounced around in your head, and you couldn’t even think straight.
“Jesus Christ,” you cursed lowly, voice full of more annoyance than pain. You never showed weakness in front of your step-father. “That was way too hard to be a damn fist.” You couldn’t help it. Everything came out in English, and you were pretty sure that just pissed off the man standing near you even more.
“Can’t you pull yourself together for five minutes? You’re such a disrespectful little shit. How many times do I have to tell you that this kind of behavior may be acceptable where you come from, but I will not tolerate it here?”
“Right. You hit me twice. Can I go to bed now?” You pushed yourself and rolled your body over so that you were on your back and staring at the ceiling through squinted eyes. It was best to just let him go. You’d hit him back once. Well, technically, you’d hit him five times.
And he promptly took it all out on Lucy, just to show you that he ran the household. The consequences of that were why you’d never hit him again since.
“Get up. You’re bleeding on the carpet.”
“It’s not my house. I don’t give a damn.” You closed your eyes, hoping he would just go away. No such luck. This time, he was standing over you, and it wasn’t clear whether he was going to haul off and break your face or hit you somewhere else. In the very dim light, you couldn’t tell what he was holding. It was long and slender and...Oh Jesus. The man hadn’t seriously hit you with his fucking Nine Iron.
You groaned and tried to clamp a hand over the wound to slow the bleeding. “You should’ve killed me with that. I guess your swing is starting to suck a lot more. Just don’t break my arms. I have a job to do.”
“Then that’s exactly what I’ll break.”
You tried to lift your head and get a better view of her, but your neck just wouldn’t bend that way. “Lucy, just go back to bed. It’s not worth it.”
“She’s right. It’s not. Lucy, go back to bed,” her father ordered. “And you, hold up your hand.”
You sighed and raised your left hand.
“No, your other hand.” Of course. He wanted to shatter the hand you needed to shift. Fucker.
You groaned and pulled it from the back of your head, holding it above your body.
And as soon as you felt that damn club connect with your palm, your bit your tongue to hold back a shout and rolled to your side, grasping it tightly.
“Didn’t want you to leave without a proper goodbye.” And with that, he was gone, walking back down the hall from the same direction he had come. Lucy was jumping down to your side immediately.
“Hey, get me a towel, would you?” you requested, trying not to sound like you were in as much pain as you actually were.
“Of course. I’ll get you one.” She nodded and disappeared into your bathroom, coming back out with a fresh towel. You sat up and tossed it over your shoulders. “You should try to put pressure on it to stop the bleeding.”
“Yeah, sure.” Slowly, you stood and cursed when you tried to use the hand he had just used to tee off. You took a few cautious steps down the hall, letting the blood flow down the back of your head and onto the fabric against the back of your neck.
“Tell me you’re going to the hospital.” She probably had that fearful, pleading look on her face, but you didn’t turn to look. You wouldn’t have been able to see her in the darkness anyway.
“Yeah, I am,” you replied.
“I’ll go with you.”
You sighed. “Lucy, it’s late. Please go back to bed already.”
She grabbed you by your good hand and started pulling you down the hall. “Just shut up and let me go with you.”
Of course, your very first attempt to shift with what you were certain was a broken hand resulted in more cursing and a miserable failure. Lucy then batted your hand away and said she would shift for you, since you were too stubborn to let her drive. You were just hoping you wouldn’t soak the towel through with blood and get any on the seat.