Fate: Anyhoo, this would be a very, very deranged story starring Mai, Jounouchi, and Seto. And I'm experimenting with using everyone's Japanese names and such. Go with it. Whee.
Disclaimer: Fate doesn't own Yu-Gi-Oh, because she has her hands full with her own characters.
Kujaku Mai couldn't sleep. At all. She was instead lying on her back on the couch, channel-surfing with the TV on mute. She was staring blankly at the ceiling rather than watch the TV, however. The A/C roared limply and breathed lukewarm air onto her face, pressing her thick hair into the cushions and thence spilling over to the floor.
Bored, bored, bored, roasting and bored, Mai thought, sighing and flicking past a few more channels idly. And early-morning TV really sucks, she added mentally, glancing at the clock. Two-fifteen a.m. on a Saturday, halfway through July. Her poor, half-dead air conditioner wasn't going to last much longer, and she didn't know what she'd do if this heat wave didn't break aside from spend the day submerged in an ice bath.
She threw the remote at the TV in sudden and pointless anger at her situation. Dammit. I'm all but penniless from rent and finishing university and other money-sucking things, I don't exactly have a ton of friends in this damn country, and I can never sleep. "Oh, God, I need Valium," Mai groaned, taking her grievances to the vocal stage. She lay there in frustrated silence, listening to the odd little jingle emanating from the TV more or less peacefully, albeit wide awake.
Then she blinked. "Wait a..." The TV screen clearly read 'mute'. "Dammit! My cell!" She immediately made a dive for her handbag, juggled the contents madly for a few seconds, then grabbed the cell phone and flicked it open, dropping the rest of the stuff on the floor. "Moshi moshi?" she asked breathlessly, cramming things one-handed back into her handbag.
"Moshi moshi?" she repeated, throwing her handbag across the room. It hit the wall, burst open, and scattered makeup, tissues, spare chance, and other such objects onto the floor.
"Am I talking to a member of the living dead?" Mai asked tartly, putting a hand on her hip and turning her back on the mess with a huff. Normally she would have already hung up, but there was nothing else to do.
She blinked. "This is Kujaku Mai, yes," she told the phone.
"Oh, thank God! You've got to help me!" Mai blinked once more. "I can't go to any of my normal friends because I don't know what they'll say and I want this to be over with fast! If I tell them it'll never die, especially Honda-kun!" A panicked, gasping breath followed this completely and utterly nonsensical statement. "Please help me!"
Mai was beginning to feel alarmed. "Who...?" The voice was familiar to her, had been so familiar at one time that she hadn't needed to think about identification, just...
But that time was apparently over, and the person was reduced to a nameless shadowy figure from the past. Mai wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
The panicked nameless shadowy figure seemed to think it was definitely a bad sign. "You...you don't know me? It's...I'm Jounouchi. You...you remember when we did a lot of dueling together, right? I..."
"Oh!" Mai said, surprised, as the nameless shadowy figure snapped into startling clarity. She spared a few seconds to mentally berate herself for forgetting a duelist's voice, something she'd sworn never to do just because it made life easier. Still, she wasn't sure that she'd recognize any of the old crew if they came up to her in the street at first sight, not when they'd been so familiar she'd simply forgotten the physical details about any of them...
"Yeah," Jounouchi said nervously. "Hi."
"Hello there," Mai replied, ignoring her involuntary resurrection of the old tumult of strange confusions that had risen back in those weird times. "What's wrong? It doesn't sound like you just called up to talk." Especially since none of you ever did...
"Can I talk to you face-to-face?" Jounouchi blurted, confirming her suspicions.
"Now?" Mai asked with a glance at the clock.
"Um...if you don't mind too much," Jounouchi said quickly.
Mai spared a second to make her decision. "Oh, sure," she said decisively.
"You really don't mind? I mean, you must have been asleep and all so I..."
"I wasn't asleep, actually, but I was bored out of my mind. I suppose it'd be out of place to ask how you and your friends have been getting on since I saw you last," Mai said coolly.
"If you really want to know I'll tell you, but I'd rather wait for that," Jounouchi said. She could practically hear him squirming in some sort of discomfiture over the phone.
Mai shrugged, although the would-be recipient of the gesture couldn't see it. "Then I'll wait to satisfy my curiosity. Well, actually, I won't. I want to know what's going on."
"You'll come here? Right now?" Jounouchi inquired hopefully.
"Where's 'here'?" Mai asked sensibly.
"The coffee shop on Marandon. The all-night one," Jounouchi specified.
"All right, I'll be there in, oh, say, half an hour," Mai estimated, looking around for her clothes.
"Half an hour? You're that far out?"
"Well, I suppose I could be there in fifteen or twenty minutes, but I'm only wearing a negligee at this point. I don't want to give some poor unsuspecting person a heart attack or kill someone of blood loss. Being charged with manslaughter would be so inconvenient," Mai said solemnly.
"Eh...excuse me for a bit actually well I'll see you then thank you so much and please wear clothes wait that came out wrong wait wait I didn't mean it that way either um so bye!" Jounouchi babbled. Mai could practically hear his nose bleeding before he hung up.
"Bye," she told the dead line, amusement coloring her voice. "Now where are my clothes?" she wondered. She got up and immediately tripped over a pair of thigh-high pant legs, landing face-first in a box of stiletto heels. "This does not bode well."
She found herself screeching curses some time later as she tried to wriggle into her clothes, clean up, and stay relatively close to her allotted amount of time, all at once. She tugged ineffectually at her red skirt's hem, then began reapplying the makeup she'd washed off when she'd returned from the club just a scant hour before. She managed to accentuate her natural gorgeousness (because she was, of course, naturally beautiful) to the point of perfection in record time, then snatched up the selected pair of stilettos and wrestled them on as she hopped into her relatively new car.
"Decent timing," she congratulated herself, fluffing her hair once more and straightening her clothes once more before peeling out, tires screeching and the few late-night drivers cursing and veering frantically out of her way.
The high-speed drive woke her up enough that no trace of the would-be somnolent time she'd spent in her apartment showed by the time she flounced into the coffee shop. It also woke up every single driver she forced off the road, as well as those agile enough to stay within the confines of the black asphalt. She liked to think of herself as one who did the public a favor, not as a national driving hazard. Unfortunately for her, she was the only one to think that way, and maintaining her drivers' license sometimes rested only on the flutter of her eyelashes.
Mai glared at the near-empty coffee shop. As far as she could see, the only people occupying the shop were a dozing young cashier with limp mousy hair hanging down to her shoulders, a dark redhead who looked like a college freshman, and her partner in conversation, a skinny dark-haired boy of the same age. They seemed to be awake only by the graces of the several empty cups of espresso surrounding them. As she watched, the girl reached a shaking hand over and grabbed another shot out from behind the counter. She handed it to her equally wired companion, who knocked it back, slammed it down, and slumped onto the counter, obviously waiting for the extra caffeine to kick in. Jounouchi was nowhere to be seen, unless he'd gotten a sex change or managed to shrink about half a foot and dyed his hair black since she'd last seen him.
She angrily turned to the door, reaching one hand into a pocket for her cell phone. Her finger was on the 'redial' button and she was mentally composing her rant when an exhausted voice reached her.
Mai did a double-take, glancing to her left. What had seemed to be an empty corner with an uncleared table was instead a table with a very tired Jounouchi sitting at it. As she sailed off towards the corner, her hapless cell phone breathed a sigh of relief at its salvation from being deafened in such an undignified way.
"You look like hell," she informed the blonde boy who had blended in so well with the yellowed walls. He had a half-drunk cup of coffee in front of him, surrounded by empty sugar packets and one stray bloody napkin, proof of her phone call. He also gave no sign of having heard her, neither lifting his head out of his hands or speaking as she slid into the seat across from him and picking up an unused swizzle stick idly. Mai sighed and tried another tack. "You're not supposed to have your elbows on the table, you know," she admonished, poking the aforementioned joints with her purloined swizzle stick.
"Mrrr..." Jounouchi groaned, then looked up at her with bloodshot eyes. "I am so very glad you came," he said slowly. "I wasn't sure you would. I didn't wake you?" he asked, uncharacteristically solicitous.
"You actually solved the problem of what I was going to do for the rest of the night. I seem to have developed the most hideous insomnia," Mai confessed. "What did you want to see me about?" she probed, drawing invisible designs on the scratched tabletop with the swizzle stick.
"I have serious problems," Jounouchi said, staring meditatively at the half-drunk cup of coffee. He picked up another packet of sugar and absentmindedly emptied it into the mug.
"Why are you coming to me with them? We haven't even talked in, what, a year and a half?" Mai tried to think back to their last meeting, and failed. She'd taken it for granted, and then there was simply nothing to take for granted anymore, just fading memories. "Don't you have lots of other, closer friends?"
Jounouchi blinked at the mound of sugar slowly vanishing into the coffee, which he supplemented before answering, "If you don't want to deal with this, it's okay--"
"No, no, I didn't mean that," Mai cut him off. Jounouchi relaxed visibly and dumped yet another packet of sugar into the coffee. "I was just wondering why you'd come to me. Are they hurt or in trouble?" she pressed, not expecting much of a positive on any of those due to the singularly odd phone call she'd received to kick the whole matter off half an hour ago.
"No...It's just that...that I want your help," Jounouchi conceded gruffly.
"I can't help you if you don't tell me the problem," Mai reasoned.
"No, you probably couldn't." Jounouchi looked furtively at the girl dozing at the cash register, at the wired pair sitting at the counter, then back at Mai. "I...er...I'm, um, crushing on someone," he stammered in a whisper, his face covering the entire spectrum from white all the way to deep purple and back.
"And this explains why you're talking to me how?" Mai asked, deciding to not waffle with anything she said. Jounouchi was waffling enough for the both of them, and more to spare. Thus, when no answer save for more dumping of sugar into the hapless coffee was forthcoming, she reached out and poked Jounouchi's forehead with the swizzle stick experimentally. "I can't help you if you don't tell me what you need," she said, more gentleness in her voice than she'd expected to be there.
"Promise you won't laugh or tell or blackmail me?" Jounouchi rattled off, still in a whisper.
Mai held up the swizzle stick officiously. "Swear to God."
"Smurfs are for small children, Jounouchi-san," Mai couldn't resist teasing him lightly. She thought maybe be grinned, but his newfound position of nose-to-the-table didn't exactly allow her to study his face that closely.
"Smurfle-furfle," Jounouchi 'enunciated'.
Mai bit back a giggle and waited.
"Oh, fine, Seto Kaiba," Jounouchi said, picking his head up from the table briefly. As soon as he finished speaking, he dropped his head to the table once more. "Seto fucking Kaiba the fucking CEO of fucking KaibaCorp."
"I didn't know Kaiba-sama was a pimp," Mai deadpanned.
Jounouchi threw himself upright in his seat and burst out laughing, although there was a slightly hysterical tinge to the laughter. He caught his breath after a few seconds, closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them once more. "How would you like me to help?" Mai asked tactfully.
"You could shoot me here and now," Jounouchi suggested.
Mai glowered at him. "No. So you're asking me to help you get over him quickly. Why?"
"What do you mean, why?" Jounouchi wailed. He glanced around furtively, relaxed when he saw that his moment of hysteria had not in any way attracted the attention of the other three in the café, then continued, "I don't like him. I hate him, dammit!"
"Oh, so you're looking to get your mind to overcome your wayward body," Mai said, nodding. "Although being a rich man's boy-toy could have its advantages," she thought out loud. "He'll give you anything you want, and he might be--"
"Gyaaaaaaaah!" Jounouchi screeched. The blast of it ruffled the hair of everyone else in the shop. The cashier was oblivious, the wired pair both glowered momentarily at Jounouchi before resuming their intense scrutiny of the long line of espresso cups, and Mai immediately took out a brush and returned her hair to its previous state. Jounouchi, meanwhile, was whimpering, "No! Nonononononoooo! That's what I--" He then 'eep'ed, clapped a hand over his mouth, and promptly began bashing his head on the table.
Mai was overwhelmed with a sudden sense of consternation. "Hey," she said ineffectually, poking him with the swizzle stick. When no response was forthcoming, she repeated the performance at a higher volume. Again, no response. The consternation decided to try and possess her to mimic the blonde boy, but after a moment of mental bargaining, she settled for an exasperated and unladylike, "Aaargh." Help, she added mentally.
"Excuse me," said someone behind her, as though her mental summons had magically whisked someone over. Mai began fervently believing in a higher power when the owner of the voice summarily parted Jounouchi from the table and slapped him across the face, halting his hysterics.
Mai found herself staring in relief at the wired redhead from the counter, who was now sternly addressing Jounouchi. "Now stop screaming and be sensible about this. Since I couldn't help hearing you, I'm going to offer my advice for you to consider or reject as you will. It sounds to me like you avoid this person anyway, so it's not as bad as it could be. I mean, it could be your co-worker or something like that. So just calm down and let the nice girl help you out, and stop screeching. You'll wake up the cashier and I won't be able to mooch any more espresso. Ta," said the redhead cheerily. She then returned to her mooched espresso and her companion with a wave.
Jounouchi swallowed. "I get the feeling that I have just been severely reprimanded."
"You have," Mai confirmed.
"Oh." Jounouchi blinked. "I'm sorry, by the way. You're trying to help and all I'm doing is panicking."
"Apology accepted," Mai replied primly. "Now. You want to get rid of any feelings you might have for a certain CEO. I'm inclined to treat this as a normal occurrence. This sort of thing does happen to adolescents all the time. I don't know how you boys deal with it, but the girls' tried-and-true method may yet work for you."
"Oh, thank God," Jounouchi said. It sounded like he meant it.
"I'll have to talk to him, then," Mai said thoughtfully. "You won't, of course. We want to keep you clear of him until we know what his feelings are, of course."
"But he hates me, too!" Jounouchi protested.
Mai raised one eyebrow. "Maybe he doesn't, and you're somehow subliminally picking up on it on a level your mind doesn't understand. This sort of thing happened once or twice to friends of mine, you see."
Jounouchi looked faintly relieved.
"Tell him you want his body but wouldn't mind if his mind was conveniently abolished from it? No, of course not," Mai reassured him.
"Question," Mai said after a thoughtful pause.
"How do I find him?"
"Um. Kame Game Shop, two days from now, around noon. I avoid the place then, it's how I know," Jounouchi clarified.
"Because you don't trust him to neither knock him and and punch his lights out or knock him down and snog his brains out," Mai concluded shrewdly. Jounouchi's responding coloring and sweatdrop was more than enough confirmation. "So this has been going on for a while?" Mai asked slowly.
"Then why wait so long to get help?" she inquired.
Mai would have made some sort of sweatdrop-provoking remark about teenage boys, but the empty look and complete lack of embarrassment (for once) that accompanied the one word dried the words in her throat.
"I see," she lied. She then
looked more closely at Jounouchi. "Have you slept at all
"No. I told you, dreams," Jounouchi pointed out.
"You need the sleep," Mai said, standing and waiting for him to also wobble to his feet. "Go home and stop drinking so much coffee. Or liquefied, coffee-flavored sugar," she amended, peering into the coffee mug that was now half-full of sugary sludge.
"Mmm," Jounouchi acquiesced, following her gaze.
"Did you drive here?" Mai inquired.
Jounouchi shook his head. "I walked. I needed to clear my head after..."
"That's a blessing at least, since you're in no condition to drive. Hellish as my form of transport is, you may be up all night," she added maliciously as she towed the now-docile blonde out of the door and packed him into the passenger side of her black Bug. He had scarcely begun poking at the purple leather interior curiously before Mai rocketed out of there, knocking him into the window.
Five minutes of breakneck driving later, Mai pulled up to an apartment complex and watched in amusement as Jounouchi vaulted out and kissed the ground.
"I know this is going to sound silly after what you just went through, but go to sleep," Mai told him.
"All right, sergeant major lady, sir!" Jounouchi straightened up and snapped a perfect salute, then backed away down the drive with a tired wave. "I'll call you in two days," he called as he pushed open the door.
"Two days," Mai confirmed. She slumped back into her seat, suddenly tired, as Jounouchi disappeared into his house. She fired up the engine and purred back out into the street before hitting the accelerator. "I hope I'm still in practice for this."
Fate: Mwaha. Mwahaha. Mwa ha ha ha haaaaaa....
Duel: *comes running out waving the review stick of doom*