A/N: A cute fanfic based off of "Catch My Breath" by Kelly Clarkson. I own nothing.
Tea smiled softly. Today, she was going to meet up with her old friends, whom she hadn't seen since leaving a few years ago for the United States. Ever since the ceremonial dual that he had lost against Yugi, her life had just turned downhill. Immediately after graduating high school a year later, she had accepted an offer to join Mai in New York City and study dance for three years. Losing Atem had been hard on her, and she regretted not telling him how she felt about him before he left into the Afterlife.
Leaning her head against the window, she stared at the clouds around her. A voice over the intercom announced the plane would be arriving to the Domino airport in five minutes. She sighed. These last four years without them, no, him had been lonely. Sure, she had tried getting over Atem by dating, but that didn't last long and she had ended the relationship only a week after. Luckily, Mai had been there for her.
Sighing again, she thought about all the time she spent alone in her and Mai's apartment, dancing by herself while Mai was out partying, wishing that he was there. She had kept telling herself that she was fine, and lying to others that she was busy. Even when her friends called from Japan, she told them she was doing great. Her whole life in New York City had been based on lies. Gazing out the window, she allowed herself to get lost in her thoughts.
Realizing the plane had landed, Tea stood up, following other passengers as she grabbed her purse and carry-on. Once inside the airport, she spotted Joey and Tristan waving at her crazily, Serenity next to them.
"Tea, over here!" they yelled, running towards her and hugging her. She laughed at their antics. Despite now being 21, they hadn't changed much.
"Where's Yugi?" she asked. "He was supposed to be here."
"He is out in the car waiting for us with Rebecca." Joey replied. "They brought a van for all of us."
"I forgot they were dating." Tea chuckled, smacking her forehead. Just then, Tea noticed the grin on her friends' faces as someone from behind her slid their hands around her eyes.
"Guess who, Tea." a deep baritone voice whispered. She jumped in surprise, turning behind her to look and gasping.
"Oh my god, what the heck are you doing here?" she demanded, looking up into deep amethyst eyes. He had a huge grin on his face.
"What, are you not happy to see me, Tea?" he asked, crossing his arms.
"Please, don't tell me this is a cruel joke, and that the person in front of me is Yugi." she stated, collapsing to her feet.
"No, Tea. It's me, Atem." he stated, kneeling down next to her.
"But how? I don't understand." she replied, tears forming in her eyes as he hugged her to his chest, rubbing her back to comfort her as he rested his head on top of hers.
"Because I missed all my friends here, especially you. I came back a year after you had left for New York to find out that you had gone to study dance." he whispered. "The gods saw that I was unhappy in the Afterlife, and decided to let me live my adult life after we all saved the world from destruction. And now I can finally tell you something I've been keeping a secret all this time." She stared up at him, surprised.
"What do you mean?" she asked, allowing him to pull her up as he turned back to the others.
"You guys go ahead without us. I'm going to help Tea get her bags." he ordered them, glaring at Joey, who started to protest. "We'll meet you later at the game shop."
"Joey, let's go talk to Yugi and Rebecca. Leave them be. He hasn't seen her in four years." Tristan pointed out, grabbing Joey's arm and dragging him off, Serenity following them slowly, trying not to chuckle.
After they left, Atem took Tea's hand in his, helping her up off the floor.
She stared up at him as he held her hand, blushing slightly as he led her to a nearby cafe, sitting down beside her at a table. He stared at her with his amethyst eyes, smiling.
"Would you like something to drink while we wait?" he asked softly. She looked up at him in surprise, shaking her head and blushing more as she felt her stomach growl. Atem chuckled, standing up to go buy something from the cashier.
Tea sighed, pulling a book out of her purse and pretending to read it, hoping it would distract her from staring at her dearest friend. She couldn't help but notice how hot he looked with his toned muscles and tanned skin. Atem turned to her, seeing her staring and smirked before turning back to the cashier, who was waiting for him to pay.
'I forgot how intoxicating his smile can be.' Tea thought to herself, smiling as she closed her eyes.
"Tea, are you okay?" Atem asked, interrupting her train of thought a few minutes later. She opened her eyes, looking up at him to see him standing over her, his concern for her evident.
"Oh, yes. I was just, uhm, thinking about someone." she stammered, lowering her head in embarrassment. He chuckled.
"I wonder who... Someone from New York?" he teased, trying to mask his jealousy. His eyes flashed crimson. She shook her head, blushing.
"No, he's one of my best friends, and someone I've known for a while now. He's brave, smart, kind-hearted and a great leader, as well as a great duelist, so he gets along well with my other friends. I love him dearly, but I've never had the courage to be as brave as him and admit this to his face." she stated, not realizing she had said the last part out loud.
"Tea, who is this person that means a lot to you?" Atem demanded to know, sitting back on his chair and pulling it closer to where she sat. She looked back down, a tear in her eye.
"I can't say. I'm afraid he'll reject me if he knew. I've only ever had one boyfriend, and that lasted a week. I-I'm scared. I've been lonely the last four years since you left, Atem." she whispered. "I was secretly hoping you would win the duel so you didn't have to leave, and I could see you again. I wanted you to stay so you could be mine."
"Tea, you underestimate your value to your friends, and to me." he replied back softly, wiping the tears from her eyes with his thumbs. "You're smart, caring, talented and a beautiful dancer, and you deserve to be loved by someone who accepts you for who you are. You are not alone anymore, and neither am I." Stroking her cheek, he lowered his voice. "And now, I can finally tell you a secret I've been keeping hidden for so long, even from Yugi. Tea, I came back because of you, not anybody else, just you. The Gods allowed me to return because they saw how much I missed you, and because they realized I would never find my queen in the Afterlife. They know that the one holding my heart is in the modern age."
"Do I know her?" Tea asked. "She sounds absolutely amazing."
"Yes, you do. In fact, she is sitting in front of me right now, and like always, she takes my breath away."
"I do?" she squeaked. "A once great king is here because of a commoner like me?!"
"Yes, you do. You have from the time that we first met. You were always there for me, even when I thought we had lost Yugi for good, and the others left me. You hold my affection." he stated, leaning over to kiss her forehead. "There is nothing 'common' about you, my dear, if you managed to capture the hearts of the Egyptian Gods. Most importantly, you've captured mine."
"Do you know how many times over these last four years I've wished I could see you again, and how lonely I felt?" she asked, looking down as she started crying again. "I never told you how I felt because I thought I was being selfish, and that you deserved better than me. I know you had princesses chasing after you from other realms when you were pharaoh."
"Yes, that may have been true, but the only females I allowed near me in Egypt were those that were in my court, like Mana and Isis. No one else has ever taken my breath away like you do." Hearing him say this made Tea gasp, looking into his eyes and knowing he was telling her the truth. "Tea, you are my closest friend besides Yugi. I trust you more than anyone, even him."
"R-really? You do?" she asked, surprised.
"Yes. In fact, I am the one who is lucky that you care for someone like me after all that I've done, killing countless people."
"Atem, you were a king. You did what you had to in order to protect your friends and your kingdom!" she exclaimed. "And don't even start about feeling guilty for having to do what you did to protect your friends here either. You are a hero for what you did, protecting everyone and saving both our modern-day world, and Ancient Egypt. Even if others don't recognize it, you are a hero in my eyes. That's why I fell for you. Uhm, I mean that's why I admire you." She looked down, realizing she had just blurted out something she never meant to say out loud. "Soooo, I think my suitcase is probably waiting to be picked up now. Let's go get it." she suggested, changing the topic as she stood up." he chuckled walking alongside her.
"So, what's been happening the past three years while you were in New York?" he asked her a few minutes later as they stopped to stand in front of a pile of suitcases, the airport around them crowded and slightly noisy.
"Well, I went to study dance and lived with Mai, Joey's girlfriend. I danced on stage with a company I signed a three year contract with, and taught at a school over there. I even tried dating, but that lasted a week. I was lonely and missed my friends here, so I came home as soon as my contract with the company expired. I don't even care about being a dancer any more. I just had to come home and be with everyone again. I had to be with the people who understand me the most." she stated, a sad smile on her face. "I mostly missed you, Atem... Well, enough about me. What have you been doing these last four years?"
"I lived in the Afterlife for a year with everyone, but I wasn't happy there because my heart was still in the mortal realm with my friends here, and mostly you. Not once was my mind not thinking about you." he said in a low voice, closing his eyes as he continued. "After a year, the Gods allowed me to return. Since then, I've been living here, volunteering part-time at the local museum and working at the game shop with Yugi's grandfather."
"How are they explaining your relationship to him?" she asked softly, feeling herself being shoved around as a large crowd walked past. His arms instinctively wrapped around her, pulling her close.
"I'm legally his cousin now." he replied. "I live across from the game shop, and I now own a car. What do you say about coming to stay with me until your parents return from their business trip? Possibly even longer, if you don't want to live with them again. You are twenty-one after all..." Tea blushed at his suggestion, burying her head into his shoulder. "Besides, I want to see you every day."
"Atem, are you asking me out?" she asked, gazing up at him, hoping she had heard correctly.
"Yes, I think I just did." he stated, his face slightly red. Her response was to throw both her arms around his neck as she pulled him and planted a kiss on his mouth, much to his surprise. He chuckled low in his throat before kissing her back softly, four years of unsaid emotions and hidden secrets finally having been revealed.
She smiled shyly as he finally pulled away, a blush on her cheeks. His fingers reached up to move her hair out of the way as he gazed into her deep blue eyes.
"Do you know how long I've wanted you to ask that?" she demanded. "Of course I say yes!"
"I love you, my dearest Tea." he growled, reaching to kiss her again as his lips crushed against hers hers. His hand reached up to caress her cheek as he pulled her closer against his chest. Her mouth opened slowly against his, deepening the kiss as the sparks flew. Passion over-took him as he eventually pulled away from her, both of them gasping for breath as she leaned her forehead against his, cerulean eyes meeting amethyst. She panted, trying to catch her breath before she replied.
"I love you too, Atem." she whispered, tears puddling in her eyes. "I always have." He smiled softly, taking her hand in his as he helped her grab her suitcase, then led her outside of the airport to his waiting car, a future together awaited them.