(A/N) This is my first Yugioh fic and if you find anything wrong or something you feel is OOC, don't hesitate to tell me. And, sorry Mahaffey, your name is too long.
Standard disclaimers, as always, apply
If there was one thing in all the world he hated, it was school on Saturdays. Yugi sighed and swung his bookbag back and forth in rhythm to his walk. He tried to make a game of it but soon lost interest. It wasn't even fun walking home today. Honda had rushed off home right after school for a family event, Anzu had given him a mysterious wink and told him she had to go home to get ready for…something and Jonouchi had been cornered by the evil guidance councilor and told Yugi to go on ahead. Now he was walking home all alone. Almost as if to rebuke him, the millennium puzzle bumped softly against his chest and reminded him that he wasn't completely alone. Yugi smiled and absently traced his fingers over the raised eye in the center of the pyramid. Even so, it had been a pretty down day--a pretty down week. School had gotten so busy he hadn't had time to play a single game. Mother even threatened to take away his cards if he got one more lousy grade. Even now, he wasn't sure if he believed her threat, but it was better not to tempt fate sometimes.
"Hey, Yugi!" shouted someone behind him. He turned and saw Jonouchi waving enthusiastically. Yugi waved back and waited for his tall friend to catch up.
"So what did Tsuruoka-sensei want?" Yugi asked as they resumed walking.
"I don't know. You know him," the blond boy said, rolling his eyes and shoving his hands into his pockets. "I woulda gone sooner but the headmaster was standing two feet away."
"Do you want to play something tonight? Collectable cards? Checkers? Monopoly?"
"Can't tonight! Tonight is the fireworks at Kado Park, remember?"
"Oh yeah," said Yugi with a sigh, kicking a loose pebble and watching it bounce down the sidewalk.
"What's the matter? I thought you liked the fireworks."
"I do. It's just…" He shrugged. "They'll be the same fireworks as last year. Everything has been so routine lately I guess I just want to do something different. Meet someone new."
"Yeah I guess. As long as this new guy doesn't have some deadly game they wanna spring on the rest of the world, I guess I can deal with that."
Yugi giggled. They did tend to run into a lot of people like that. Of course, what else could you expect being possessed by the king of games.
"Anyway, I better go get ready. Anzu probably wants to get there early to show off. You know how girls are." This was said with another eye roll and Yugi nodded, albeit blankly. He generally had no idea what girls were. Despite being friends with one, they were still mysteries he couldn't even begin to fathom. Like…how Anzu could spend two solid hours putting on make up then come out looking like she wasn't wearing any. Jonouchi said his goodbyes and Yugi waved him off and resumed his walk home.
Two hours and one black yakuta later, he was walking with his friends through the park. It was a relatively big park in that it had a wide pond with a giant stone fish sticking out of it that sprayed water. Since Anzu's yakuta had a koi and seaweed pattern, he'd told her she reminded him of the fish. Somehow she hadn't seemed to take that as a compliment. Now she was walking slightly further away from him then she had been before, but she kept sending him smiles so he wasn't sure if she was still mad at him. Somewhere deep in his mind, he had the feeling Yami was laughing at him, but when asked, the spirit denied it but with a slight smirk he could feel rather then see.
"Hey, Yugi, look at them," Honda said, pointing. Coming down a wide, cherry tree lined path were two girls, neither of them wearing yakuta and one talking very loudly in English. The loud talker was also a loud dresser with a white t-shirt sporting an American flag, black jeans and a red baseball cap so bright he was sure airplanes could see it. The other was shorter and much quieter, and seemed to have a camera permanently affixed to her face.
"I wonder where they're from," said Yugi, half to himself.
"America probably," Anzu said.
"They'd have to be," Jonouchi said. "Considering how loud they are."
Honda snorted. "Look who's talking."
"Whaddya mean by that?!" Jonouchi yelled, effectively proving Honda's point. No one called him on it, though, and as the American girls drifted closer, Jonouchi, all too causally drifted closer to the edge of the pond until he was walking on the low stone rim.
"You're not going to look too impressive if you fall," said Honda.
"I ain't gonna fall," Jonouchi said, blushing slightly. Then the universe rolled its dice, got a super critical, and the blond tripped over an unseen crack and tumbled into the ankle-deep water. Yugi ran up to him, only vaguely amused by the strand of green waterweed dripping off his hair.
"Are you all right?" Yugi asked as Honda burst into laughter behind them. Jonouchi picked the waterweed off his hair and glared at it before tossing it back into the pond and saying:
"Yeah, I'm all-" Then stopped and looked at something over Yugi's shoulder.
"Say cheese!" said a cheerful voice followed by the click and unmistakable whirr of a camera. Yugi looked up to see, not the shorter girl, but the baseball cap wearing girl who was holding the camera and grinning like someone who'd just one a game show.
"Hey!" Jonouchi started.
"Pretty nice fall there," said the American, one hand on a hip and holding the camera with the other. "This is going to look great on my website. You going to be okay?"
"You can't just put that up on a website!" Jonouchi snapped, getting to his feet and nearly falling again.
"Why not? It's a free country."
"It's still not very nice," said Yugi. The girl looked down at him as if just realizing he was there. Wow. She was nearly as tall as Honda. He didn't know girls got that big. She smiled and knelt down.
"Hey, little guy. Was that your big brother there who just got all wet?"
Yugi blinked. "Umm…no he's my friend."
"Well don't worry. This pic is only going to stay in America…" She paused, rolling her eyes upward thoughtfully. "And every English speaking nation out there."
"What nation doesn't speak English?" Jonouchi said, finally managing to clamber out of the pond.
"Only the ones without the internet." She laughed. "Kinda sucks for you, doesn't it?"
"Sharon, will you stop running off with my camera?" said the other American, coming up to her side. She looked at everyone. "Um…hi… sorry if my friend's been bothering you. She hasn't tried to grope anyone yet, has she?"
Before anyone could even formulate an answer, the loud girl stood said:
"Oh right. Introductions. Well, Konnichiwa everybody, I'm Sharon Glace and this is my friend Crystal Yira. We're from the good ol' US of A, gaming capital of the world."
Yugi brightened. Now that was a subject he could get into!
"You like gaming?" he asked.
"Does a fish swim?" Yira-san muttered. Glace-san didn't seem to hear.
"You bet, little buddy. Back home I'm known as the queen of games. Haven't lost a single-"
"Twenty," Yira-san interrupted with a cough. Glace-san bopped her with the camera.
"Hey. Don't forget about me!" Jonouchi said, popping up by Yugi's side and clenching his fist. "What are you gonna do with that picture?"
"All ready told ya what I'm gonna do, blondy… Unless…" she grinned.
"Oh God, please stop her," Yira-san said, burying her face in her hands.
"Unless what?" Jonouchi asked.
"Unless you wanna play me for it."
"I will!" Yugi said, before Jonouchi could even say a word. It had been so long since he'd played anyone new. Since he'd played anything new. This might be just the way to pick up his week and make the fireworks really something to see. Glace-san looked down at him skeptically, raising an eyebrow.
"I dunno. I don't like stealin' candy from a baby…if you catch me."
"Ha! Yugi's the best gamer out there!" Jonouchi said.
"Yugi will wipe the floor with you!" Anzu put in, smiling. She seemed completely happy with him again.
"You better be sure you want to do this because you're going to lose!" Honda said. Yugi felt his face heat at all the praise from his friends. It was good to know that people were standing behind you.
"Well all righty then. I'll see what ya got, shorty. If you win, you get the picture…and if I win." She paused, tapping the camera against her chin, then grinned hugely. "Then I get to make copies and put 'em up all over this town."
Yugi hesitated. If, by some slim chance he lost, then Jonouchi could be embarrassed for a very long time. Maybe he shouldn't… A hand clapped on his shoulder and he looked up into his friend's grinning face.
"Go on, Yugi. I ain't scared. I know you can beat her!"
"All right!" Yugi said, clenching his fist and feeling pumped with energy.
"Heh. Well then, let's get a picnic table first and get started."
"Can I have my camera back first?" said Yira-san with a sigh.
They found a table under a large tree and Glace-san spent a great deal of time shuffling a deck of ordinary playing cards in every way imaginable. She wasn't bad at it. As she shuffled, she explained the rules.
"This game is no holds barred, low go, double stacked, Virginia style poker. Almost like regular poker, except the high cards and low cards switch places and there's no betting." She winked. "'Cept for our original wager of course. You can exchange up to four cards in your hand one time, only you have to exchange at least one and of course there is the Aces Luck rule."
"Aces Luck?" Yugi asked as she dealt him five cards.
"You betcha. If you manage to get all four aces in your first hand then and only then, do you get the option to fold. You don't have to of course. But if you get four aces with any card above a three in your final hand then that's an automatic loss of the game."
"And if I don't?"
"Jackpot baby. You get the pic and I'm off home with my tail 'tween my legs."
"With the Asian male population much happier," Yira-san put in. Once again, Glace-san studiously ignored her.
"Anyway. We play 'till dark…which should be fairly soon. You ready?"
He nodded, picking up his cards and shuffling them around a bit to get a better picture of what he had. A nine, a ten, two fives and a jack. Not a very good way to start off. But it wasn't terrible.
"I'll exchange the jack, the nine and the ten," he said, lying them face down on the table.
"All righty." She flicked three cards back at him. Two sevens and a three. He sighed. Oh well. Next hand would be better…and he still might win this one.
"Since I dealt, you lay out first," Glace-san said.
"Two fives, two sevens and a three," he said. By the huge smile that slipped over her face, he could tell he lost.
"Sorry, hon." She said, laying out three twos, a four and an eight.
"The score is zero for David and one for Goliath," Yira-san called out.
"I'm gonna make you eat your camera, Yira!" Glace-san said.
"Then you won't get the picture, Glace," Yira replied with a giggle. Glace-san grumbled, shifted the baseball cap so it sat backwards on her head and dealt five more cards. Yugi smiled. Despite their comments, it was obvious they were best friends. Maybe he had more in common with this American then he thought.
Jonouchi watched the game progress. It definitely wasn't as fun to watch as other things…but it wasn't as deadly either. Truthfully he wanted to be the one in there beating her, but Yugi had been pretty down and bored lately…so he was happy to give the game to him. Unfortunately, Yugi wasn't beating her. He was stumbling along and keeping up, but he always seemed to lag behind. Granted that this was a game of chance but the chance seemed to be going all too often against Yugi. He watched the game closely, trying to keep track of Yugi got better hands when he dealt rather then her. After Yugi's third straight loss, Jonouchi decided to say something.
"This is all lookin' a little fishy to me."
Yira-san looked back at him.
"Are you calling Sharon a cheat?"
There wasn't enough evidence to say it outright, but he wasn't going to take it back either. Yira-san clenched her hand into a fist.
"Look, Sharon may be loud and obnoxious and arrogant and inconsiderate…with slightly questionable fashion taste…"
"I'm can hear you, you know!"
"But she's no cheat," Yira-san finished. Jonouchi wasn't sure if he quite believed her, but she was obviously loyal to her friend and there wasn't any reason do doubt her. So maybe Yugi was having a rare run of bad luck. Hang in there, Yugi¸ he thought. You can beat this thing.
Twilight was falling and things were not looking good. At first Yugi didn't see how he'd have a problem… But this was a game of pure chance. There was no strategy involved other then making decisions what to keep and what to throw away. He'd even tried watching Glace-san for her strategy, but she didn't seem to have one. At the moment the score was eleven to four. Since any hand, no matter what, was only rewarded one point a piece, he didn't see how he'd ever catch up before dark fell. Looking at the cards told him this would most likely not be a winning hand either. But if he lost…if he lost then that meant that Jonouchi's picture would be up all over town. Bowing his head, Yugi clenched his hand over the cards. He couldn't let that happen. He didn't see how he could win, but he had to win somehow. But how could he? It was impossible.
Don't worry, Yugi, said Yami, filling his mind in a soothing presence. I'll help. Yes. With Yami's help he would win this game somehow!
"Aww…I'm sorry, little guy. Are you upset?" Glace-san said. "You could forfeit now if you want and I won't think any less of you."
"I'm not going to forfeit," said Yami, looking up. "I'm going to win." The American stared at him, eyes wide. For a long moment she didn't say anything, then blinked a few times, blew out a long breath and said.
"O-kay!" Then she seemed to think of something, grinned, and leaned her cheek on her hand. "But since it is getting late, let's up the stakes a bit. These last two hands will be worth eight points each…but it also doubles the pot, if you catch me."
"What are the stakes?"
"Name your side and I'll name mine."
"If I win, you have to give Jonouchi the photo and apologize to him for taking a picture of him without his permission."
"And if I win, I get to put them up all over town and…you have to watch the fireworks with me."
Well that's strange. Yugi thought.
Is it? Yami said, and Yugi could feel him smiling vaguely. Whatever it meant, Anzu seemed to get it.
"You better win this one, Yugi!" she shouted.
Wow. She really must care about Jonouchi getting embarrassed. We'd really better win this one. I don't want both of them upset with me.
Yami said nothing, but again, there seemed to be quiet laughter there. Yugi just didn't get it.
"Fine," Yami said. "I accept your terms. Let's play."
"My deal," Glace-san said cheerily. After a quick deal and an exchange he discovered that he had quite a good hand. Two threes and three fours. Since the discard pile never got reshuffled back into the deck, and since Glace-san had all ready used three twos at the beginning of the game. There was no way she could beat him.
"Two threes and three fours," he said, laying out his hand.
"Ooh sorry," she said, laying out three twos and two aces. Yami narrowed his eyes as a mild eruption happened behind him.
"Hey!" Honda shouted at the same time Anzu said:
"Just what the hell are you tryin' to pull?!" Jonouchi growled.
"Wait!" Yami said, holding up his hand. No, she wasn't cheating. He couldn't believe she was cheating. There was something here he wasn't seeing. He stared at the two decks sitting on the table…and suddenly got it. That's right! The game was called no holds barred, low go, double stacked, Virginia style poker.
"We're playing with two decks," he said, more confirming then asking.
"Uhh…yeah. Didn't I mention that?"
In that case…in that case there was still a chance. The twos were out…and…doing a rough mental calculation so were the threes more or less. It was a slim chance…a very slim chance…but….
"Ready to watch fireworks?" Glace-san said.
"Not yet. There is still one more hand to play. You deal again," he added, just in the very mild chance she would accuse him of cheating.
"All right." She laughed. "You sure are a stubborn fellow."
The cards were dealed. Yami picked up his cards, nearly holding his breath. Two aces stared back at him. The other cards were two fives and a six. This was a good hand. A very good hand. But not enough.It would only give him thirteen points to her nineteen. There was no chance but to take the risk. But if he lost… If he lost…
"Believe in your luck, hon," Glace-san said. "And it just might come through for you." Yami smirked at her.
"That's almost what I was thinking." Getting rid of the fives and six, he took the three more she offered and picked them up one by one. An ace…. Another ace… He hesitated on the last card, heart thudding against his ribs. This one had to be a three or a two. It was a slim chance. Razor thin. But it had to be. He picked up the final card…and stared.
Sharon sighed at the strangled look on the boy's face. Ouch. She honestly hadn't meant to beat him so badly. At first, she'd felt bad because he was so little…then he'd gone all intense with those narrow steel-edged eyes that just made her heart jump and she felt bad because he was so hot. But at least she'd get to watch fireworks with him…and she wouldn't put up the posters of the blond boy after all. She'd only been half-joking. Wouldn't stop her from putting it on the internet though.
"Two twos, a six, a nine and a king," she said, even though technically he should have gone first. He closed his mouth and put on a completely neutral expression. Well, at least he could lose with dignity. With a precise, tension mounting air, he slowly laid out one, two, three…four aces. Had he got the last remaining three? The last card, he lifted up in the air and showed her, holding it with index and middle finger, before plunking the fifth ace down on the table.
Sharon…stared. Five aces. Five. Enough to fuel a formidable terrorist group if one watched the right anime. That was… that was… that was…
"Double Aces Luck," the boy said. His friends, even Crystal burst into loud cheering. Sharon stared across the table into the hard lavender eyes and knew she had met someone who was not only her match, but far surpassed her. Then she laughed, and impetuously reached across the table and hugged him.
"Ha! Best damned gamer on the planet!" she said, before planting a big kiss on his cheek and pulling away. He stared at her, eyes all big and kid-like again, red blush staining his cheeks. Sharon giggled, left the table and walked over to the blond boy. Ugh. Apologizing. This…was gonna be tough. However…a deal was a deal. She bowed like she saw them do in all the movies.
"I apologize for being rude and taking a picture of you without asking. I'll give it to you as soon as we have it developed. Hell, I'll even send the negatives.
"But Sharon," Crystal said. "We're leaving tomorrow afternoon. We won't have the time."
"Oh…yeah," Sharon said, rubbing the back of her head and sweatdropping. "Well I swear on my honor as a champion gamer that I won't put it up anywhere. Deal?" she asked, sticking out her hand.
"Yeah. Sure," he said, accepting her offer.
"The fireworks will start soon," said the girl. The little gamer with the strange necklace came up to her.
"You can still watch it with us Glace-san."
"Thanks…but nah…I hear these fireworks are to be shared with friends and I wouldn't want to intrude."
"Translation," Crystal said. "She wants to use the cover of night to goose all the Asian men she can before we have to go back home." The older…well…taller boys fell over…the girl went red and the little gamer just blinked in confusion. Sharon grabbed her friends arm and pulled her away from the small group. She didn't know what was worse. The Crystal had said that or that she was dead right.
Green and yellow fireworks bloomed in the night sky. Yugi watched them, his face actually beginning to ache from smiling so much, but he didn't care. It had been a good day. A very good day. The encounter with the Americans had been just the thing to pick him up… and she hadn't even been evil. A firework in the shape of a bell glittered for a moment in the night sky, then faded away.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Yugi said.
"Yeah, really amazing…" Anzu said, looking right at him. He smiled at her and returned his gaze to the sky. There was a soft chuckle in his mind, but this time, Yugi didn't bother to ask. Maybe there was something he wasn't getting, but right now, he was fine with that. Somewhere else among the spectators was a startled yelp, a wild giggle and the sound of running feet.