|I Love You Slifer Slacker
Author: thedancingcrown PM
Cori Swain (and other OCs) goes to Duel Academy along with Jaden Yuki and his friends. Mainly ChazzxOC. (T for some mild language...*shrug*)Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Chazz P./Manjōme J. - Chapters: 9 - Words: 53,057 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 05-04-13 - Published: 11-02-12 - id: 8666485
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Back home, Miss Maxine had always told anyone who would listen that Jaden only knew how to sit still when he was sleeping upright. Evidently, Jaden realized, she wasn't wrong. His knee was bouncing up and down, foot tapping to its own uneven rhythm while his fingers drummed across his lap where he sat in one of the front rows of the test arena, facing one of the occupied dueling platforms. A pair of Slifers vacated the row behind Jaden to take over a recently deserted platform, but despite there being several more that were emptying fast, Jaden would have to wait until every Slifer was done before he could duel. When a student was left without a partner, being an unequal number, one of the students who'd already finished their duel was drafted to be the remaining student's opponent. Whoever was dueling for a second time didn't receive any additional marks from the second duel, though, of course.
Whether you won a duel or lost, depending on the achievements set for the specific match, and how many you managed to actually achieve, both duelists could earn marks, and even if you lost, you could still pass the test at a higher rank than the duel's winner.
Upon hearing this explanation from Bastion some time before the duels were about to start, Syrus's spirits had lifted a little, especially in light of the fact all the rare cards had been sold out by the time they'd reached the shack – for all but one – until Bastion went on to add, and someone over the intercom confirmed, a win was the achievement set for this duel, and thus only a win would earn you any marks, and Syrus's soaring spirits had come crashing down. Not ten minutes later the blue-haired boy's name had been called and Sy trudged up to his assigned platform too far away for Jaden to get a decent look at how the duel was going, what with the other platforms too soon equally occupied and in the way.
Cori was up there dueling too of course, and if Jaden leaned over to the left just a little he had a better view of what was going on – but Bastion sat next to him, and every time Jaden wanted a peek, the Ra would sneer at him over his lengthy nose. So Jaden sat fidgeting, bored out of his skull with having to wait his turn. He'd been a little freaked out when no one had called his name and all his classmates were already dueling, until Bastion explained about uneven students, adding indignantly, "Honestly, do you never bother reading the rules?"
"Then you'd have nothing to do," Jaden shrugged and grinned, leaving Bastion to cross his arms, scowl, sniff at the boy and turn away. He didn't leave though, and Jaden couldn't think of a way to make him so he could take Bastion's seat and watch Cori's duel.
What he was doing on this side of the arena was anyone's guess anyway, because all the Ra's and Obelisks were spread out on the other side of the room altogether, leaving the Slifers on their lonesome like they were some kind of infectious rash. Bastion was either immune, or didn't care if he got infected. Maybe he already was, Jaden had thought at some point, eyeing the Ra-Yellow sideways. During the past month he'd only ever spoken to them through Cori first, and then earlier he'd declined the interest in new rare cards – like Jaden believed all that mumbo-jumbo about a perfectly balanced deck with no room for a new card! – as did she, in favor of…being left alone together?
Jaden's eyebrows had shot up into his hair at this realization, and without having meant to, he'd found himself almost gaping at Bastion. The Ra had come in with Jaden's female friend – she was so petite, and quick, and boyish, that despite the long hair, Jaden sometimes forgot she was actually a girl – and they'd sat down with Jaden and Syrus – Bastion between Jaden and Cori. The Slifer had thought on it for another second, gaping a bit more at the boy beside him, who was nearly twice his size across the shoulders. Bastion and Cornelia…? Cornelia and Bastion. Huh. Really?
"What are you doing now?" Bastion had snapped, having finally noticed Jaden's stare. Startled, Jaden whipped around in his seat to face the front again, saying quickly, "Nothing!" He could still feel Bastion's eyes on him for another moment though.
"You are so very…peculiar," the Ra said, and settled more comfortably in his seat, continuing his watch of the duel.
Jaden nodded feebly. Bastion sounded somewhat scary when he got annoyed like that. And he had reason to be, Jaden wouldn't like some kid gaping at him either. It just baffled Jaden so much, the thought of Bastion liking Cori. Not that she was unlikeable; he argued mentally, idly tapping his foot. But Bastion was such a tall, bulky guy – he could probably snap Jaden in half like a twig with those muscly arms. Syrus, definitely, he was all bone. Jaden had a little sinew. But Cori, she was even thinner than Sy – imagine if he gave her a hug, she'd come away with cracked ribs. Jaden cringed.
But then, maybe she likes muscly guys – makes her feel warm, and safe? Girls have weird notions like that, Jaden figured. Absently he tapped his arm, drummed his fingers across his leg – maybe he could do with a little more muscle himself… A vague image of Jaden's head on Bastion's body came to mind, and Jaden shrugged it off at once. Besides, he had a mild crush on Alexis and she didn't seem to care for Bastion's buff. That was probably not the best idea to be had though, since Jaden was pretty sure Syrus had a mild crush on their blonde – acquaintance? – too. She was probably dating that tall, dark-haired guy they'd spied her down a corridor with once, though.
Their backs turned to Jaden and Syrus, neither had seen the guy's face, or been noticed by the pair, but he and Alexis had been in what Jaden could only describe as a deep conversation, standing as close as they were.
Jaden had wanted to go over and say hello, though he'd never admit it was either a jealous or competitive streak that had sparked the sudden urge to stick his nose into someone else's private conversation – because generally he would never do that – but little Syrus by his side had immediately opposed the idea with a panicked plea. Jaden half thought at the time it was simply out of habit, because Syrus seemed to always be the first to shoot down whatever idea Jaden came up with for anything, only to go along with it anyway half a minute later. It was one of the things Jaden rather liked about his new friend; after all, someone had to keep their heads and it surely wasn't going to be Jaden.
For once Jaden had actually paid attention to Syrus's request though, because it dawned on him his friend would probably not want to stand in the shadow of Mister Tall, Dark and Handsome in front of the girl he had a crush on – there was no denying it on Syrus's part after the incident at the girls' dorm – when she was so obviously fond of the guy, and dismissive of Syrus. Jaden realized he didn't want it for himself much either. They'd promptly scurried away from the corridor at once.
All that thinking had turned Jaden's limbs into rhythmic drums, earning him irritable glances from Bastion, whom, despite the obvious annoyance on his face, didn't say anything. So Jaden picked up his inadvertent fidgeting intentionally, hoping it would drive Bastion to another seat.
As it happened, however, the Ra didn't move, "You should relax a bit more, Jaden," he said snidely instead. "There's no need to be so nervous – dueling is your area of expertise, isn't it?"
"That's what I've been saying," Jaden grinned, but didn't stop tapping his foot. "It's not nerves anyway, Bastion," he said confidently, watching his companion's face. Bastion raised an eyebrow in mock inquisition. "It's excitement."
The more he'd sat thinking about it, the more excited he'd become at the prospect. He'd been meaning to ask her since forever, but it never came up, and there never seemed to be a right time to do it, either, but this was perfect.
"If I'm lucky," Jaden explained, and thinking about the morning he'd had, and the new card resting in his deck, he had to conclude it had been pretty lucky so far. "I might get to duel Cori."
Bastion might have said something about that, but the Slifer barely gave him a chance – Jaden leaned over his seat to get a look at the platform, blocking Bastion's view and almost falling into the Ra's lap besides. "Honestly – get off!" Bastion had Jaden by the arms, trying to push him back, but the Slifer sat crouched in his seat, struggling against Bastion's steadfast grip, and nearly holding his ground.
"You're hogging the best seat, Bastion – and I want to see Cori's match, too!"
"Well, why not just move then?"
"I was here first!"
"Actually, I was in this seat first."
"I was on this side of the arena first – beat that! Why aren't you over there with your Ra-Yellow buddies anyway, huh?"
"Maybe because I-don't-like-them—"
"Well maybe we don't-like-you-either—"
Jaden froze, as did Bastion, to look up at her.
Alexis stood with her hands on her hips, eyebrows raised at the pair – the Ra-Yellow, Bastion Misawa Alexis knew, had sunk down into his seat, almost lying in it really, with Jaden half in his own seat, half climbing over the arm of it, apparently winning his little wrestling match with Bastion even though Jaden was caught by the wrists and Bastion twice his size.
"Err…Alexis Rhodes…" Misawa said, barely audibly, staring at her.
"Hey, Alexis." Jaden greeted, ever so casually, smiling fleetly and giving her a feeble wave with one free hand.
"Get off," the Ra snapped, pushing Jaden away so he fell back into his seat, before he got to his feet and straightened his jacket. "I apologize for the display," he said to Alexis, somewhat formally, and then added with a leer, "It was entirely his fault," half glancing back at Jaden.
The Slifer gaped at him, but promptly shut his mouth when he caught Alexis's eye. She didn't doubt he'd started it for a second. He thought so too, apparently, because he was on his feet right then, bowing even, saying somewhat seriously – it was hard to tell if he wasn't just mocking Bastion – "I apologize, too, Alexis," then he grinned, and she knew there was nothing serious about it. "You didn't need to see me beat down Bastion like that."
"I beg your pardon – you weren't beating me at anything!"
"You want to go again – we'll have a proper duel this time!"
Alexis rolled her eyes, grabbed both boys by the cuffs of their jackets and shoved them down into their seats – Bastion one over so she could sit down between them. "Now be quiet," she snapped, crossing her arms in annoyance. "If Dr. Crowler sees you two fighting like this he'll end your exam right here and you won't get to duel. Or worse, you'd get expelled," she looked over at Jaden, who swallowed. "And I do know how much you'd hate that."
"Heh…right," Jaden muttered, shrinking into his seat like a bad child. "Sorry."
"Yes, me too," Bastion said from her other side.
Settling into her seat, Alexis nodded to herself, satisfied.
"Bastion Misawa, by the way," said the Ra-Yellow after a moment, extending his hand.
"Err, Alexis Rhodes," she replied, shaking it briskly.
"Next to Chazz, I hear you're the best Obelisk in the first year," he said, but she made no move to comment. "Though I'm probably not near as good as you – being a Ra-Yellow, after all – I would love a chance to test my skills against yours some time."
Alexis never backed down from a challenge, she loved them too much, and Bastion was the smartest student in, probably, the whole school. She'd not mind a test of skill against him either. But she wasn't going to let him just have it. "Make it to Obelisk first, and we'll see—"
She'd barely finished her sentence before Jaden cut in, though, "Ha – I already beat you to it, Bastion! And I beat her, too, so if you want to get ahead you're going to have to beat me next!" He grinned.
Alexis glared at him, "Shut up, Jaden."
"Can't leave you alone for ten minutes, can I, Jay?"
"Sy!" Jaden spun round in his seat, and Alexis noticed his short, blue-haired friend as well – the faintest of smiles on his chubby-cheeked face. He was blushing a little, too, she noticed for no reason, and mentally rolled her eyes at herself – probably it was because of her. Like Chazz, the boy obviously had a crush on her – had been for a while; there was no other reason he'd responded to that fake love letter the way he had. And, Alexis loathed to admit, but she did have this uncanny knack for attracting all the guys she didn't want – no offence to poor little Sy. Chazz she could easily ignore, he was a jerk. But Syrus was a bumbling bundle of nerves that came across as sweet and adorable, in a little brother sort of way, and if she was going to keep finding excuses to hang around Jaden, she was going to have to hang around Syrus and his crush on her, too. And frankly, she had no real idea how to deal with that.
She only caught the boy's eye for a moment before Jaden had, thankfully, gotten to his feet and blocked her view, saying excitedly, "Did you win your duel?" Despite the question he didn't sound doubtful of the answer being 'yes'.
"Ah, Jaden – you didn't even see?"
"Sorry, Sy – too many other people in the way," he waved at the platforms with one hand, and, from this seat, all you really could see were the two or three duels going on right in front. From Alexis's seat she could make out one of the back platforms as well, though – where Cori had dueled.
"You could have moved."
"No other seat looked quite as inviting…" Jaden said apprehensively, but glanced quickly back at Alexis for apparently no reason. "Besides, everyone I know's over here," mentally she bet herself he was grinning that ridiculous grin of his. "So, come on, Sy," Jaden dismissed his neglect with another wave of his hand. "You did win, right?"
Alexis frowned, there wasn't an air of triumph surrounding Syrus whatsoever; he seemed more embarrassed than anything else. He really won? She thought he might have rubbed the back of his neck, saying, "Yeah…I had a lucky break, Jimmy drew a bad hand."
"The worst!" Jimmy, Alexis assumed, said from a row or two behind them, and Jaden called back to him, "Sorry, buddy – maybe next time!" then he turned back to his friend, "I never doubted you, Sy."
"So, where's Cori?" Jaden asked, and Alexis continued frowning with vigor – maybe Jaden liked her. They spent so much time together, it wouldn't even surprise Alexis. That didn't mean she had to like the thought, though.
"I thought she was with you guys," Alexis heard Syrus say, sounding puzzled. Alexis had half thought Cornelia would be here, too, now she realized, because she'd seen the Slifer girl's duel end a while ago.
"No, I haven't seen her," Jaden replied with a shrug. "Maybe she's still dueling—"
"Her duel ended already," Alexis filled in, making Jaden turn around.
"It did? Bastion!" he snapped at the Ra, who looked at him lazily. "You didn't say a word?!"
Bastion shrugged, unperturbed, "I thought you'd seen."
"How could I have – you were in the only seat with a view!"
"I'm sure there was one behind me, as well."
Jaden opened his mouth to say something, but then drew a blank expression, "Never thought of that…"
Alexis scowled, "Jaden, would you sit down before you get us all into trouble again—"
"What? I've never—" he started, most defiantly, only to be abruptly cut off.
"Jaden Yuki—" sounded across the arena over the intercom; Dr. Crowler's voice from where he spoke through the microphone in the elevated room in one corner of the arena, its glass windows providing a view to all of the platforms. Jaden froze where he stood, one finger in the air where he'd left it to help prove a point he'd probably by now forgotten anyway. "To dueling area 5 for your examination duel. Now."
There was barely a pause between the brief, relieved exhale of breath that he wasn't in any trouble, and the broad grin of excitement that it was finally his turn to duel, before he gave them all, what had kind of become, or had probably always been, his signature salute with two fingers, saying briskly, "Wish me luck! Not that I need it," and then he spun round, took half a step, and nearly ran into his other blue-haired friend. "Cori!"
"Good luck, Jay," she said, a might breathlessly, his sudden appearance in front of her giving her a start.
"Thanks," he grinned. "I'll see you after," and he was sprinting away again.
Alexis's eyes followed his retreating figure, barely taking note of the girl sitting beside her, Syrus next to her, asking, "Where'd you disappear to?"
"Bathroom," Cori replied, too quickly, she decided afterward, but Syrus didn't seem to notice.
It wasn't exactly a lie, anyway – she had headed for the bathroom after her duel; only, she never quite got there.
Just as she'd been crossing the corridor past the boys' bathroom door, it had opened unexpectedly to permit one tall, blue-dressed boy exit, and she'd walked right into him. Cori had bumped into his arm, losing her footing so she fell down; whilst the Obelisk dropped a deck of cards he'd been shuffling through. He barely paid her any mind, apart from stating with obvious dislike, "Slacker."
"Chazz," she greeted with half a wave,
glaring at him where he'd gotten down on one knee to retrieve his cards. "Not even going to ask me if I'm alright?"
He spared her a glare, said dismissively, "You came walking into me – something of a habit I'm noticing."
"In my defense, this is only the second time," she quipped. "Really. Besides – it's all accidental."
"Second time," he muttered under his breath. "Ha. You should be asking me if I'm alright – show some respect. I should be making you pick up my cards, too, lowly Slifer."
"Oh, you are so full of it…" she said serenely, smiling, and then shifted to her knees, deciding there was no permanent damage from the fall, only a lingering ache in her one hand, and her bum. It would probably go away. "I'll take you up on that last one, though," she said, snatching up one of his errant cards before he could.
"Hey – that's mine!"
"No kidding," she remarked dryly, raising the card above her head and back as far as she could when he tried grabbing it from her.
"Give it, Slacker," he said, teeth grit, his hand held palm up in front of her. On his knees, like she was, he was still taller than her, but Cori wouldn't let him stare her down. This was too much fun. It took real effort not to grin at the look on his face – so serious, she was certain he'd have an inch-deep fissure between his eyebrows before the year was out if he kept that expression on his face.
"Take it," she challenged back, putting up her best intimidating glare.
"Still such a kid," Chazz said, so quietly Cori almost didn't hear, and then he scowled and got to his feet, so she followed his lead. Still. He'd said 'still'- right? Like he'd said it before.
Asking him about knowing her was bound to lead nowhere, though, so she shrugged it off, watched him straighten the cards in his deck, and held out the one he was missing. He snatched it back, barely looking at her.
"That's V-Tiger Jet," Cori said. Chazz ignored her, methodically placing it back in his deck. "And it's brand new…"
Chazz put his deck away without a word before starting off briskly with nothing more than a glance. But Cornelia had had a thought and wanted to know if she was right, so she spun round and followed him. "You buy new cards for every exam back at Prep School? Buying new ones for this exam, too?"
He shook his head, tightened his fists at his sides, "That's why they're there, Slacker. Now go away."
"How many do you buy?" she asked, quickening her pace to keep up with him. Any faster and he'd be running from her, "Every new card that comes in?"
"So why for this exam?"
He stopped, spun round to face her, "What makes you think I bought every card in the shack, Slacker?"
"Every new card is sold out," she stopped almost right under his nose. "No one got one. Except for one person…obviously," she shrugged.
"So it's automatically me because I have a new card?" he scowled.
"Well, that's what I'm asking," she replied. "Did you buy every new card in the shack?"
His grey eyes seemed to scan her face, like he was wondering if he could catch what exactly she was after in her expression. Cori wasn't sure herself.
"Something like that," he answered finally.
"Thought you were the best," she said. "Can't make a simple exam without cheating everyone else out of a fair chance to make it, too?"
"First come, first serve, Slacker," he retorted. "I'm the only one who deserves there cards, because I'm the best."
"Some Obelisk questioned that and now he needs to be taught a lesson?" she ventured – there was anger in his eyes.
"Someone's going to learn something today, I can tell you that much," he replied, and then, like he only now realized who he'd been talking to, he said angrily, "Now stay out of my way, Slacker! You keep popping up everywhere, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were stalking me."
He spun on his heel, and marched down the corridor, but she called him back, knowing what it was she'd been after.
"What, Slacker?" he turned. "What?!"
"Do you have a bond with your cards, Chazz?" she asked. "Do they trust you?"
"What?" he recoiled, not having expected such a question it seemed. "No. The only bond we have is that they're the best cards and I'm the best one to use them. And that's it." He walked away then, scowling back at her over his shoulder before he rounded the corner. Cori let him go.
Presently, Cori watched Chazz take his place opposite Jaden on the dueling platform with as much surprise as the rest of the arena. She had to admit, she hadn't seen it coming – but then, who else needed to be 'taught a lesson'? With Jaden's last drawn card having been Monster Reborn during their first duel, it was clear he was about to win the match – 'humiliating' Chazz in front of his lackeys, the Obelisk would say. Maybe he'd seen it coming, or had so bad a hand anything Jaden managed to pull would've lost him the duel. This was revenge. And with Dr. Crowler's mini-vendetta against Jaden, he wouldn't deny Chazz the chance to duel the Slifer and pay him back in spades in front of the whole school.
As Cori watched the pair draw their starting cards, she almost felt a pang of pity for Chazz – if he lost here Crowler wouldn't be pleased with his top Obelisk student. But if it was Jaden who lost, he'd bounce right back unfazed. For a moment she didn't know which one she ought to be rooting for, but then Jaden's Elemental Hero Clayman appeared on the field, and she realized, she shouldn't be picking. Chazz wasn't her friend.
Much like Jaden's duel against Dr. Crowler during the Entrance Exams, the crowd of students was entombed within a hushed excitement, so when Jaden spoke, Cori didn't doubt even the highest seated Obelisk had heard every word, "You remember him from our first match, don't you?"
Chazz drew his first card, sneered, "Let's finish what we started that day, hey, Slifer Slacker?"
"Thought you'd never ask," was Jaden's reply, not sounding any more intimidated than he had with their first duel.
"I wasn't asking," Chazz said, barely loud enough for Cori in the front row to hear it, though the venom in his tone was unmistakable. Then he raised his voice, sliding one card into his Spell/Trap slot, "I activate the effects of Magical Mallet!"
"Oh," Bastion's slight whisper of impressed surprise bode ill for Jaden, no doubt.
"A…what now?" the Slifer was saying, earning him a scowl from his opponent, who then impatiently explained, "I get to shuffle my unwanted cards back into my deck, and redraw some new ones," he did thus, and smirked at his new hand. "Look here – Magical Mallet again!" So he activated it again to exchange two cards in his hand for a set of new ones.
Beside her, Alexis wore a thoughtful expression as she mused, "Chazz has never had that card in his deck before. Not that I can remember…"
Idly Cori wondered how impressed Chazz would be at learning Alexis kept tabs on his cards – she'd noticed the way he blushed every time the Obelisk girl so much as looked in his direction. And then she mentally rolled her eyes – what did she really care about that? – and said, "Then it must be new."
"Lucky me I've found what I was looking for," Chazz was saying, and, smirking like he'd already won the duel, summoned the monster in Attack Mode to his field, "V-Tiger Jet!"
Cori stared at the apparition, awed as the rest of the arena was, but for different reasons – no doubt Chazz's entire deck was made up of as many of the new cards that went together as he could manage to assemble in an hour's time, and despite how new they were, and this only their first duel with Chazz, he played them with such confidence. Or arrogance… Regardless, it had taken her a dozen duels and more to reach a semblance of that with her own deck.
Absently she fingered the deck in its holder at her hip, wondering how he managed that, but then shook her head, fervently – this was just Logan getting into her head.
Unaware, her eyes had drifted from the duel, and when she looked up, Chazz had summoned a W-Wing Catapult, and was in the middle of some triumphant-sounding speech before he said, "Now, merge!"
V-Tiger Jet launched into the air, as did W-Wing catapult, meeting each other somewhere above the field to fit together as though they'd been made for each other, forming a larger, stronger unit that settled back down between Chazz and Jaden, sporting 2000 attack points – just enough to get rid of Jaden's Elemental Hero defense. "VW-Tiger Catapult!" Chazz barely gave them time to breathe, though, "But I'm not done, yet! He still has a special ability—"
"Not good," Jaden's comment was nearly lost to Cori's ears over Chazz's over-zealous explanation, but she heard Syrus's echoed sentiments beside her just fine.
"By sending one card to the Graveyard, I can force one of your monsters into Attack Mode!" he slipped a card from his hand, and Jaden's Elemental Hero Clayman, now donned in a meager 800 attack points, stood from its crouching position. "So now, after this heat-seeker blitz from my Tiger Catapult, your Life Points are toast!"
"Anyone hungry?" Cori muttered ruefully, crossing her arms as Chazz's creation destroyed Jaden's large, round brown Hero, shattering it to pieces, sending it to the Grave, and leaving her Slifer friend with 2800 LP, nearly half.
Beside her, Syrus groaned, but across from the arena Obelisks were looking mighty smug, and more than half the Ra's were quietly applauding or nodding their heads in obvious admiration.
What's really the worst that could happen if Jaden lost…? We're already Slifer Slackers…
"I'll finish up with one card face down," Chazz said, satisfied and still smirking – Cori didn't think he'd spent as much time smiling his whole life as he had the last ten minutes kicking Jaden's butt. No offense, Jay…
"Yeah, go ahead and finish up," Jaden retorted. "Me? I'm just getting warmed up!" he drew his next card, oblivious to Chazz rolling his eyes. "Speaking of – here's a guy who can really turn up the heat – Elemental Hero Sparkman!" he slapped down the card on his duel disk, adding defiantly, "In Defense Mode!"
"Ha – yeah, very hot," Chazz said dryly, and Cori berated herself for thinking almost the same thing.
Jaden paid the Obelisk no mind, though, adding another card to his duel disk, "And, I'll finish with a card face down!"
"Not much else to do, what with all the rares Chazz seems to have," Bastion commented from Alexis's other side, and Cori quietly seethed – Chazz was playing unfairly. Worse even, he knew it and he didn't care. Neither did his cards seem to care either, though. Oh, stuff it in a barrel, Cornelia – they're only cards. It's not as if they know what's going on. She very pointedly avoided a glance at her own deck. She'd won her duel by a hairsbreadth, that's all it had been. Lenny said he had a bad draw, but he'd showed Cori his cards afterwards, and his looked a whole lot better than hers. If he'd played it right, he'd have won. It had been Amy's Kuriboh that'd saved her.
"X and Z?" Syrus's squeal from beside her snapped Cori from her thoughts and she blinked up at the platform – Chazz had added X-Head Cannon and Z-Metal Tank to his side of the field. "That can only mean one thing…!"
Chazz, meanwhile, had flipped up his facedown to reveal Call of the Haunted, "In case you slept through that class, too, Slacker, it lets me bring back a card from my Graveyard—"
"I know what it does," Jaden said, sounding half annoyed, half…troubled? Was he worried about this? That was ridiculous – Jaden never worried…right?
Chazz carried on like he hadn't heard the Slifer, "And I'm choosing—"
A light shown from the Trap card onto the field, replaced a moment later with—
"It's him!" Syrus squawked, and from beside Alexis, Bastion unfolded his arms and leaned forward in amazement, "He has it!"
Alexis eyed him askance, but, she loathed admitting, she was a little impressed herself.
"Y-Dragon Head!" Chazz exclaimed on stage, arms spread wide with a flourish. He laughed, a little maniacally Alexis thought.
"Whoa…" that was Jaden. Alexis shook her head.
"Don't be too impressed yet, because I'm not done," Chazz continued. "Next I'll combine them, to form XYZ-Dragon Cannon!"
As they formed Chazz's newest creation, Bastion remarked, sounding somewhere between awe and regret, "Now Chazz has two monsters out with over two thousand attack points each! And Jaden with barely any defense…" Apparently Sparkman counted for very little in the Ra's opinion.
Alexis glared at the field, as though that would will Jaden into spontaneously pulling a rabbit from the hat, and then realized she was biting down so hard, jaw tight, that it was giving her a headache. "Ugh…"
"But wait, Jaden – there's still more!"
"Actually, less," Chazz corrected, grinning still. It wasn't a very pleasant grin, though – the way Jaden grinned, all full of genuine happiness and enjoyment for what he was doing. Chazz's grin seemed twisted by comparison. "Sure they say two heads is better than one, but I disagree—" Chazz's monsters, his newly formed XYZ- Dragon Cannon and VW-Tiger Catapult, sprung into the air, twisting and connecting to shape another new monster. From the corner of her eye, Alexis caught a glimpse of Cori, faintly shaking her head. "Especially when the one in question is the ultimate, VWXYZ-Dragon Catapult Cannon!"
A giant robot formed before their eyes, donned in Y's wings, X's missile turrets, V's claws, and Z for its arms and X for its legs.
"Too ambitious by far, Princeton…" Alexis heard Cori mutter, and she spared the girl a glance. "Shouldn't have done that…"
Alexis was tempted to say that, from where she sat and Chazz stood, it was plain to see he had the upper hand, what with 3000 attack points and nothing in Jaden's deck that could beat that – that she knew of herself anyway – just to be contrary, but then thought better of it and kept her peace instead.
Though Alexis couldn't see his face, she thought Jaden must have been gaping at Chazz's monster from the way he stood nearly frozen in place, looking up at the gigantic thing. Bastion beside her and Syrus two seats over certainly were.
"Makes your Sparkman look like a heap of spark plugs, doesn't it?" Chazz quipped. "Or at least, it did!" He'd barely finished speaking or Sparkman evaporated from the field without warning, leaving Jaden and the audience, Alexis included, stunned into silence. Not that they weren't speechless before, but…
Bastion, however, nodded slightly like he'd seen it coming.
"Oh, I'm sorry – didn't I mention Dragon Catapult Cannon's special ability?" Chazz said sarcastically. "I get to remove one card on your side of the field once per turn," he chuckled. "And if you think that's great, wait until you see him attacking. Actually – why wait? Go—"
"Don't think so, Chazz!" Jaden countered, his facedown jumping up. "A Hero Emerges!"
Chazz scowled, "What?"
"Pick a card from my hand, Chazz – and if it's a monster, I get to play it," he must have been grinning again by the sound of his voice. Maybe all he had in his hand were monsters.
"Far right," Chazz all but growled, the grin wiped from his face.
"Sweetness!" Jaden exclaimed, and Alexis's spirits lifted a little – at least he'd have one more turn now. And sometimes with Jaden, that's all he needed. "Elemental Hero Burstinatrix! I'll play her in Defense Mode—"
"Wrong!" Chazz's grin was back. "When Dragon Catapult Cannon attacks, I get to pick your monster's Mode – and you know what I'm in the mood for? Attack Mode!"
Burstinatrix, all red with flowing grey…that wasn't hair even though it came from her head, stood regal and ready despite Dragon Catapult Cannon's blast coming straight at her, and even though she raised her arms at the last second, she wasn't spared – neither were Jaden's LP's.
"Jaden!" that was Syrus. A quick glance at Cori, and Alexis saw she looked a little worried despite her earlier remark, frowning as she was.
And rightly so – Jaden was down to his last thousand points.
Chazz laughed, "What's the matter, Jaden?" Jaden breathed a little heavily, resting one hand on his knee. "Having some test anxiety? Don't worry, it'll be over soon." He grinned wickedly.
"No way, Chazz!" Jaden retorted, fists clenched, standing straight. But whether he meant 'no' to having test anxiety, or 'no' to it being over soon was really anyone's guess. "I got a whole deck of vicious monsters just waiting to get at you! This isn't over," so that one, then. "Not quite yet – my draw!" he drew with a flourish, "Ha!" and then paused unexpectedly, drew in his arm to see what he'd drawn a little slower than usual. Alexis sat a little straighter in her seat.
"I summon Winged Kuriboh in Defense Mode!" his furry little friend with its bright white wings materialized on the field. It would buy Jaden one more turn, at least, because destroying the tiny creature whether in Defense or Attack Mode wouldn't result in any damage to Jaden's Life Points. It was a pretty good card to have in a bind. "And I'll throw down a facedown, too. That's it." He said it so simply, so confidently, that Alexis couldn't help but doubt him. He was in over his head here, and all he was bargaining for was one more turn, with a winged furry creature and a measly facedown – either of which Chazz could destroy with the snap of his fingers. He needed a better defense than this. He needed some offense, that's what he needed.
"That's it? That's all?" Syrus was saying from beside Cornelia. "But all he's been playing is defense!"
"A good offense, Sy," Cori said, perfectly calm, the worried frown wiped from her face. Indeed, she'd sat up in her chair, having been slouched in her seat before, and unfolded her arms, too, eyes intent on the battle. Alexis was frowning now. Cori left the saying hanging in the air, though, saying instead, "Don't count him out yet," and then she added, barely a whisper, "This is it…"
Know something we don't? Not until Cori looked up at her did Alexis realize she'd voiced her thoughts. A blush crossed the girl's cheeks and she looked away again quickly, waving a hand, "Ah – y'know, Jaden just…never loses," she finished in a mutter, leaning back into her seat.
Well, she wasn't wrong. Miss Fontaine's dueling class had them facing off against each other at random, aiming to either complete a specific set of moves with a pre-determined deck and hand, or to achieve some other specific goal with using only a certain Type or Attribute or kind or Level of card, and even though Jaden lucked out on getting any of the requirements right half the time, he never lost a single match.
Chazz had taken some time to mock and banter, but he was all business when Alexis turned back to the field, "There's about to be a fried fur ball on the field, ya loser!"
"You don't scare me!"
"I don't have to," Chazz retorted. "That's his job – Dragon Catapult Cannon, attack!"
Ah, Jaden, I sure hope you know what you're doing…
"I sacrifice two cards and activate—" Jaden's voice rang through the sound of Dragon Catapult Cannon's charging cannon, as he slid two cards from his hand for sacrifice, allowing his facedown to flip up. With his back turned to their side of the arena – figures Slifers would have the worst seats – Alexis couldn't see what it was – but then, she didn't need to, "Transcended Wings!"
There was no light, no spark, no flashy appearance about the Kuriboh, but everyone's attention was instantly drawn to the tiny creature as its small white wings spread out, lengthier and more angelic than before, to fold protectively in front of itself while Chazz's Dragon Catapult Cannon released its attack, the blue beam crashing against white wings. Instead of blasting his Kuriboh to bits though, the blue laser was deflected off its wings, arching around Kuriboh and Jaden, fading into the air behind them.
Jaden grinned – he couldn't help it; that was one sweet card. Who ever said being late to class was a bad thing obviously hadn't helped out any old ladies on the way.
"Argh – it can't be!" Jaden heard Chazz exclaim somewhere beyond the blue light of his monster's attack.
"Oh, but it be, Chazz," Jaden said, trying and failing to keep the smugness from his tone. What? He totally deserves it… he mentally argued. "Transcended Wings has evolved Winged Kuriboh into a Level-ten monster!" the furry creature donned a shiny, dragon-shaped golden headdress in addition to his new set of wings, though he still looked just as cute as before despite the more mature look in its eyes. So Jaden had an adorable little monster that made all the girls in the arena squeal like…well, girls – unless he was hearing things again, which wouldn't even be a first – but, who cared, right? Cute or not, it was kicking Chazz's butt. "And here's the best part," he continued. "By sacrificing himself, Kuriboh destroys all monsters in Attack Mode, deflecting their attack points back as damage to you!"
Kuriboh was a glowing white orb within the dimming light of blue, and with an echoing cry Jaden wasn't sure everyone else had heard, the ball of light exploded outward. Casting everything in white for a split second, Dragon Catapult Cannon was struck fiercely, obliterated into tiny fading pieces.
On the other side of the field, Chazz lowered his arms slowly, his expression all surprise and horror for a moment, before he replaced it with a vicious scowl, "Lucky punk!" he spat.
Jaden smiled, unperturbed, "Lucky?" he repeated. "No, Chazz, I just have a soft spot for old ladies," she kind of reminded him of Miss Maxine now he came to think of it. "But not for you, Chazz," he added. "And that's too bad, cause with a thousand points apiece and my turn coming up, all I need's the right monster and you'll be done," two fingers on the topmost card of his deck, his thumb slipped in beneath, "Here goes something!" Jaden drew his next card with a wave of his arm, and glimpsed it from the corner of his eye – but he'd already had a feeling for what it might be. He wasn't disappointed. "Yeah!" he slapped it onto his duel disk, conjuring a bright light onto the field. "Elemental Hero Avian!"
Chazz wasn't scowling so much as looking horror-struck again.
"Attack!" barely all there yet, Avian sprung forward across the field even as it appeared, striking the Obelisk before he knew what came coming.
Losing his balance, numb with shock, Chazz sunk down to his knees, bent over, hands clenched into tight fists on the floor. He heard the unfamiliar sound of depleted Life Points, all the way down to zero, beep from his duel disk. Once. Twice, before he shut the thing off, and slammed one fist back against the floor.
"That's game!" Jaden was saying, and Chazz looked up just enough to watch the Slifer salute him with two fingers the way he always did when he won a duel. No matter what duel it was. "Unless you want to duel again?" he chuckled, and Chazz scowled, muttering under his breath, venomously, "Oh, we will."
He was on his feet a second later, ignoring the crowd's applause – Ra's and Slifers cheering with equal elation – and the exasperated headshakes from his fellow Obelisks as their eyes followed him across rows of fields, down from the platform, all the way to the arena's exit.
Across the intercom, voice echoing about the spacious arena, Chazz only just paid the Chancellor any mind, "Not in the history of our revered Academy has a Slifer ever dueled an Obelisk during the exams. Jaden, not only did you hold your own, but you won! Your courage against overwhelming odds is inspiring. Thus it is with great pride I promote you today, to Ra Yellow! Good job."
Chazz paused at the exit, looked back over his shoulder. Jaden and his dorky sidekick stood on the edge of the platform, grinning like idiots. But it wasn't them he was interested in right then – she hadn't climbed up to congratulate Jaden like the pipsqueak had, but stayed off the platform, smiling slightly is all. Only, right when his eyes slid from the pair of idiots to her, her smile faded, her expression changed as she looked at him, too. Pity. That was pity on her face. For him?!
Tucking a stray strand of blue hair behind one ear she looked away, smiled back at her friends – Jaden dancing Syrus in circles.
Damn it Slacker, I don't need your pity.
Scowling, he marched from the arena.
My apologies for having taken so long to finish this!
And thanks a lot to our first reviewer :D I'm glad you think Cori's a well developed character. I've rewritten this story a couple of times, sometimes just because she bugs me, but I like what I'm doing with her now and I'm glad someone else agrees :) (though she's probably so developed because I've been working on her for soooo long X_X sometimes I think this story is never coming to an end XP)
Also, thanks to Blue Rose Diablo 666, Latina shewolf, Nyx'sBlackRose and RettaTheNotSoWildCat, and Osanai Yume and Taffdog19943, who all faved or followed! And everyone else who didn't, but still keeps up with the story :)