Disclaimer: "Hi! I'm Tristan, and since someone asked for more of me in the story, Angel-Belle is letting me do the disclaimer for this chapter. I would just like to say that Angel-Belle does not own Yugioh. Now, with that out of the way, we can get to something that's really important! We'd all like to cheer my bud Joey up…so if all you single ladies out there could send your pictures to…"

"Okay, Tristan, that's enough."

"But…"

"The whole point of a disclaimer is not to get sued. There could be minors reading this story; I'm not gonna get sued for solicitation of minors!"

"But I'm doing the soliciting, not you!"

"Good. Go solicit in another fic, then. Not in mine!"

*Tristan growls and runs off to find another fic to solicit in.*

Author's Notes:. I'm probably taking some liberties with the original story here…but hey, that's what fanfics are all about, right? Kleenex warning for this chapter. *Passes out boxes for everyone. * A special thank you goes to my beta-reader, Hyatt Insomnia!

Warnings: Mild violence and language.

Listening With The Heart

Chapter Twenty-two: The Ironic Journey

After his rival had left, Kaiba looked up the stairs. He started ascending the staircase, heading towards Joey's room. When he got to his door, he knocked softly. There was no answer. This didn't surprise Kaiba. He quietly let himself into Joey's room and sat down next to the young blonde, leaning his back against the headboard. Again, Joey turned so that his back was facing Kaiba, just as he did with Yugi. The tall brunette just sat quietly for a while, looking out into space. Finally he spoke up. "What happened to your father was an accident, Joey. I didn't mean to kill him…although I honestly can't quite say that I'm sorry that it happened. People like that deserve exactly what they get. They go around hurting people all the time and think they can get away with it…because they're older and stronger…because they think they have the power to do so….then one day someone finally strikes back. And they're so shocked…because they didn't think it could ever happen. They were wrong." Kaiba paused, took a deep breath and went on. "This time it was honestly an accident. I don't even know how the gun ended up pointing at your father's head. But the first time…..the first time I ever killed someone…it wasn't."

Joey still said nothing, but rolled over on his back and stared at Kaiba with wide brown eyes. The CEO glanced down at Joey. "Are you surprised?" Joey didn't reply, he just continued gaping up at him. He sighed and went on. "You know I'd do anything for Mokuba, right?" Kaiba tore his gaze away from the teen and stared out into space again. "Mokuba was getting older….my foster father had suggested that he start joining in on his…."lessons". That's what he called everything he did. "Lessons". Anyway, he gave me an ultimatum…either Mokuba start receiving "lessons" or he would be sent back to the orphanage. No way I was going to send my little brother back to that place. And I wasn't willing to let Mokuba take any of his so-called "lessons". Mokuba's younger and he's not as strong as I am. He…might not have survived it. I suppose in a way, it's my own fault that Mokuba's not as strong as me…I've always tried to protect him. But I could never stand to see him in pain. Never. I couldn't live with either of the options that Gozaburo gave me…so I created a third option. " Kaiba shook his head. "The old man had to be a fool not to see it coming. Give me a choice between the two….well, let's just say you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out which one I'd pick. It was either Gozaburo or my brother. Guess who lost?"

He glanced down again at Joey, who was still staring at him with wide eyes. "The reason I'm telling you this is because I know you'll understand." He chuckled slightly. "Life is nothing else if not ironic….of all the people in the world, you would be the one most likely to understand."

Kaiba went back to staring at nothing in particular. Joey finally stopped looking at Kaiba and instead looked up at the ceiling. The two stayed that way for a while, until Kaiba heard a soft-spoken voice break the silence. "Why?"

The young businessman looked down at Joey again. "Why what?"

"Why did they haveta hurt us?" Joey shifted his gaze to Kaiba once again. "Why?"

Kaiba sighed and looked away. "I don't know, Joey. Maybe in some sick way, it makes them feel superior."

The blonde once again stared at the ceiling. "I tried, ya know. I really tried. He always said Mom couldn't take livin' wit' me 'cause I was such a wild kid. He said that's why she left and took Serenity. So I thought that maybe, jus' maybe if I could be good enough….everythin' would be ok again, ya know? Man, I tried everything. I tried not gettin' inta fights at school; I tried bringin' my grades up…..even tried cleanin' the house….nothin' I ever did was good enough for him. He always found some dumb reason ta get drunk and beat the hell outta me."

"Your father had problems, Joey. None of that was your fault."

"Yeah…well…..I dunno….maybe if I jus' could a found a way ta please him….if I jus' could a found a way to keep 'im happy…..maybe it wouldn't o' been like this, ya know? Maybe…..maybe he still would o' been…" Joey trailed off, not wanting to finish his sentence.

"Alive?" Kaiba finished it for him. "Your father brought this on himself, Joey. We all have choices to make in life, and your father made some very bad ones. This was not your fault."

Joey turned to face Kaiba and propped himself up on one elbow. "How c'n ya say that, Kaiba? This was my fault! If it wasn't fer me, none of this would've ever happened! None of it! And I made you…I made you….oh, never mind!" He flopped back onto the bed and turned his back .

"You made me what?" Kaiba asked. When the blonde didn't answer him, he forcefully grabbed him, and turned him around so that they were face to face. "You made me what?" Joey averted his eyes and looked over to the side and downward. "You are going to answer me, Joey Wheeler, and you are going to answer me right now! I know you can talk, so don't pretend like you can't! Finish your sentence. YOU MADE ME WHAT?"

"I MADE YOU KILL 'IM, OKAY!? I TURNED YA INTA A MURDERER!" His amber eyes were beginning to well up with tears. "Th-that's what I was gonna s-say. Are ya happy now? I…I…m-made you…..do it….."

"Joey, listen to me. You didn't make me do anything. You should know me well enough by now to know that no one makes me do anything. And as far as me being a murderer….well, I guess I already was one, so you had nothing to do with that, either.."

The blonde squeezed his eyes shut, trying desperately to hold the tears back. He choked back a sob.

"Let it out, Joey. You need to."

"No! I…I d-don't w-wanna…."

"You have to." Kaiba encouraged him gently. "You can't keep this bottled up inside forever."

Joey still had his eyes shut, but a tear escaped and began to slide down his cheek. " B-b-but….i-if….if…I…I s-start…..I..I-I'll ….n-never…I'll …n-never….."

"You'll never what, Joey?"

He choked back another sob. "I….I….I'll…..n-never…s-s-stop. I'll n-never s-s-stop…." A sob finally escaped Joey's lips and the tears he had trying to hold in finally came to the surface. "I'll n-n-never s-stop…" The floodgates burst open and Joey began crying and sobbing, unable to hold back any longer. Kaiba wrapped his arms around the younger boy and and held him close. Joey grabbed Kaiba and held on for dear life. "It's okay, Joey…..just let it out."

Kaiba didn't know how long they ended up staying like that. Joey cried his heart out. Not only for his father's death….but for all the years of abuse that he had been forced to endure. A couple of times his crying slowed down to some hiccups and little sniffles….every time he thought it was over, the blonde would start crying again. Finally, Joey was silent for a little while. Kaiba looked down to find that he had fallen asleep in his arms. He sighed. Who would've ever thought that I would end up telling my darkest secret to the puppy….and that I'd end up being the one to comfort him in one of his darkest hours? Life is definitely an ironic journey.

Just one more chappie to go! And then we can start on the sequel. Tell you more about that next time. Please read and review! Arigato!