Author's Note: A one-shot set smack dab in the middle of Battle City. It was inspired originally by a two-second shot of Seto on his knees in front of Anzu. The episode is the final episode featuring Noa, right after Seto's duel with Gozaburo for the right to return to his (Seto's) body from the virtual world. You know what I'm talking about. Enjoy.


Feel Beautiful

Dedicated to Meena, the Meaner. Happy Birthday, M!

Anzu Mazaki was terrified. There was no other way to say it; Anzu was absolutely terrified. She did not want to admit it but she had the sneaky suspicion that she just might die today. As she stood staring out of the opening of the Kaiba blimp, she worried. She wasn't anxious, she was worried.

She was worried about Yugi, who was still inside Noa's virtual world. She was worried about her friends who were all on board the craft with her, all facing the same prospect of death. She was worried about her parents and family and what they would do if didn't make out of there. She was worried about the Kaibas and whether or not Noa had kept his promise, about Mokuba and whether or not he had gotten his body back, and about Seto and whether or not he had defeated Gozaburo. She was sure she'd have high blood pressure if she lived.

If she lived.

The very fact that a conditional applied to her life petrified her. And it made her angry. It wasn't fair. She had not been given a chance to do anything with herself. Her life would end and she would be considered a minor casualty of a freak accident. All her hopes and dreams would go up in smoke - a smoke that would drift away into nothingness, much like the memory of her. She was not great or important. Then Anzu realized that she was - to an extent - worried about herself.

In an instant regrets weighed heavy upon her rapidly beating heart. With her eyes nailed in the general direction from which Yugi and the other would emerge, her life flashed through her mind.

She thought of her parents and her heart ached at the prospect of not being able to tell them that she loved them one final time. She thought of her sister and her eyes watered at the idea of not being maid-of-honor at her wedding whenever it happened…

Anzu glanced briefly at all of her friends - Joey, Honda, Shizuka and Duke. All of them were such unique people, all of them with so much potential, all of them going to waste. A single tear fell. She thought of Mai, whose beauty and vitality would die while her spirit would remain trapped in the Shadow Realm, subjected to whatever torture it was currently enduring for the rest of eternity.

She thought of Marik/Malik - who would win by default - and the fate of the world when he did. She raged mutely. She thought of Yugi and Yami and realized that the worst thing that could happen to them would happen to them. They would die knowing that, in truth, they had failed.

Then she thought of Mokuba, whose case would be the saddest of all. Everyone here was over 16 and had lived at least a little. He hadn't even hit puberty yet. She bit her lip to strangle her sob as, finally, she thought of the elusive Seto Kaiba…

And she hated Gozaburo Kaiba more than ever. In fact, Hate was not half strong enough. Noa was atoning for his sins but Gozaburo - Argh! Gozaburo Kaiba deserved to be dead.

Despite the fact that Anzu wouldn't become all she wanted to, what riled her the most was that she missed her chance to at least say to Seto that she cared for him. That, given the chance and the time, she believed she could love him. That, deep down, she supposed she always had.


The footsteps of a 15-year-old on dry asphalt.

"Kaiba, hold up!"

Only slightly irritated, "Yes Mazaki?"

"Where do you wanna do the project?"

"My house. We'll have more space."

"OK."


The eraser of a No. 2 pencil tapped a steady rhythm against a polished desk.

"You know Kaiba; this is a really nice place."

"Why thank you Mazaki. Are you getting any work done over there?"

"…Yeah."

"You don't sound so sure about it."

"Well, you see there's this tiny…problem…"

An exasperated sigh. A chair scraped across the hardwood floor. Quick, brisk, no-nonsense footsteps were muffled by thick carpeting.

"Let's see it." A few papers shifted from point A to point B. "This?"

A nod then expectant silence.

"Here."

The papers moved back to point A. Another short silence and then a spontaneous hug.

"Thanks Kaiba."

Stunned hush.


"Kaiba, it's not that hard to understand!"

"It makes no sense, Mazaki."

An infuriated, "It makes perfect sense, Dumbo!"

A frown. "Dumbo?"

"You have big ears."

"I do not."

A contemplative pause and a long, hard stare. "Well, maybe not."

"Thank you."

"But you're cute when you're irritated."

A sharp glance. "What?"

"Nothing!"

A few minutes.

"But it still makes more sense."

A growled warning of, "Mazaki."

"Does too!""Don't put that there!"

Confusion. "Why not?"

"Because it goes there"That is completely illogical, Mazaki"

"No it's not."

"I'm not in the mood to fight with you Mazaki, now move

"No."

A step forward. "Move."

"No."

Another step forward. "Mazaki move."

"No."

Another step forward, a corresponding step backward. "Mazaki."

More steps - forward and backward. A desk in the way, blocking anymore steps backward. A bit too close. Another step forward. Too close. Shallow uneven breaths, trembling lips. "…No."

Almost a kiss. A blink. A jerk apart. Hasty steps backward and a 180-degree rotation. "…Fine. Do what you want."

An over-the-shoulder glance.


"Help?"

"What?"

"Help!"

A smirk. "Oh no. You wanted to go up there."

"You're the guy. You should be up here."

"You wanted to put up the wall-display on your own, Mazaki."

"Yeah. But now I need your help."

"Fine. Get down."

A broad, brilliant smile. "Thanks Kai - AH!"

A slip. A lunge forward. Hands around her wrist pulling her back through the huge window onto solid ground. A tight reciprocated hug. A few tears on his shirt. Then three quick, impulsive kisses: to the crown of her head, to her forehead, to her lips. Silence. Release.

"…Than-"

"It was nothing." Not necessarily referring to saving her life.

"But-"

"It was nothing."

Defeat.


Three sprinting figures appeared in her line of sight. Everyone began shouting words of encouragement as hope arose within them all. Anzu felt relief flood through her. Now she knew they would make it out. But it wasn't just Yugi's presence she drew her comfort and strength from.

Mokuba and Seto were in line, Yugi a step behind. Then the smallest began to fall back and shouted that he wasn't going to make it. She saw it then, the flash of fear in Kaiba's eyes before he ground something out. The rushing wind, the aircraft's rumbling engine and the collapsing edifice behind them made it inaudible. Abruptly Mokuba went flying through the air, propelled by an amazing amount of force, into Duke's arms. Within the blink of an eye Seto made an awesome leap in her general direction.

Whether or not he had meant for his feet to hit the ground directly in front of her was a mystery. All that Anzu knew was that he was beautiful. His blue eyes were alight with his adrenaline rush and the wild quality it gave him made her heart pound and stomach her flutter. His vision found a focus: her. He was looking at her for the first time in two, almost three, years. He was seeing her again.

Though he had landed on his feet, as the ship lurched she saw him stagger slightly and tip backwards. Thoughtlessly, instinctively, she reached out and wrapped her hands around his. She pulled him forward, keeping him on board. The amount of force she had used was enough and more for he went down on his knees before her to steady himself. He looked up as Yugi reached Joey. He was perplexed. So with her eyes she clarified.

She was there to help him. She would help him in any way he needed. She didn't mind his moods and temper. She didn't mind waiting for him to accept that she wanted to be his friend and so much more. She had been waiting for years already. She knew what they would have wouldn't be easy. It wouldn't be roses and chocolates and kisses alone. It would take hard work and both of them would have to bend more than just a little. She knew she would have to bend more than he would simply because she was more flexible. She knew that he was broken but she wanted to fix him. She loved him with all her heart. And if he ever wanted it, her heart was his for the taking.

Recognition clouded his eyes just before he took off in the direction of the cockpit to save all their lives.


She had waited for three years and she was only just beginning to feel impatient. Seto Kaiba took too long to go to bed. He needed as much if not more rest than quite a few of the people on board yet he was still roaming the ship. Finally, the door opened, revealing a tall figure in the doorway, dressed in an unmistakable white trench coat. She watched him walk in and remove his duel-disk from his arm. She watched him put away his deck, lose the coat and at last, as his fingers moved to the invisible line of buttons on his shirt, she sighed and stepped out from her hiding place.

He looked up at himself in the mirror and his eyes went round as he noticed the girl standing behind him. He hadn't been able to stop thinking about her since he'd gotten back on the ship. But Anzu didn't know that. She didn't know how he had reacted, how he would react to what she came to do. But she was determined that before she left here, Seto Kaiba would know that he could be loved.

He stared at her expression, set with purpose, and dropped his hands to his sides. He turned to face her. His eyes raked over her form and the clothes she was wearing (a dark blue T-shirt and blue denim jeans) and she blushed. The pants were a bit hugging. But she believed she could have worn a sack and one look from Seto Kaiba would still have set her on fire. For once she didn't try to dispel the notion. This wasthe time for them. There wasn't enough time for procrastination in life. She knew that now.

Slowly, tentatively, she stepped forward, closing the space between them. When there wasn't a step left to take, she looked up. His eyes were pools of confusion. That was ok, she hadn't ever done this before either.

Her fingertips lightly touched his covered abs just above his waistline. She could feel him tense up. She drew them up his chest to his shoulders where his own hands ensnared her wrists. Not wanting him to stop her, she tiptoed and pressed her lips against his. Their eyes drifted shut simultaneously as she began coaxing him to responsiveness. When he did start to respond, Anzu was amazed. When he parted her lips with a questing tongue, she sighed. When he nipped her earlobe, she bit her lip. When he placed a hot, open-mouthed kiss on the hollow at the base of her throat, she moaned his name. And then he stopped. He pulled back.

She found her chin held firmly in his grasp. His dark eyes riveted hers in place. He searched her face and she hid nothing. In the end, he asked, "What do you want, Mazaki?"

She lifted a hand out of his hair and cupped his cheek, stroked her thumb across his lips and smiled up at him.

"I want to make you feel beautiful."


Anzu woke up the next morning in a distinctly unfamiliar room and bed. She didn't need to think about what had happened. Everything - every look, sound and touch - had been ingrained on her memory for life. She pulled the sheet up to cover her bare chest and rolled onto her right side.

A brunette angel lay beside her, already awake. He draped an arm across her midsection, pulled her against the length of his body (which she was now well acquainted with), and kissed her. When they broke apart he smiled, buried his face in the curve of her neck, and said her name. Her real name, not her title. After all, she had screamed his last night.

Finis


Author's Note 2: As I'm sure you've noticed, I was highly influenced by the by Maroon 5's 'She Will Be Loved'. In more recent news, I've just made some minor though fundamentally important changes to the end of the story on the suggestion of Theos Amneos. I believe it has more balance now.

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