NOTE: Again, I'm sorry, as usual, for the REALLY late update. It'd been forever, hasn't it? I apologize. School, you know? And yet I'm to blame too. I haven't had much of an urge to write these fics…and yet tonight, I just had a sudden want to write this one (I didn't feel like drawing, so hey!) I hope this isn't getting too boring! I want to see if I have the old touch still – perhaps a new and better one too! Enjoy!
And here's a note months later from when I decided to try writing this again. Okay, I have to say I'm REALLY super-sorry! I really just haven't had the motivation to write fics anymore, but seeing so many other people update really hurts me, because I know I should be too. But what REALLY got to me was that I finally read some of the recent reviews this was getting…and it touched me. It really did. Now, I WANT to write it. Let's just see if I remember what should happen…and if I can make it so.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh! or "Lonesome Loser" by Little River Band.
The Band Trip:
In the Dead of Night
"Good Lord, it's almost midnight already!" Anzu groaned, glancing up at a clock as she passed it.
"That's what we get for being regional finalists," Marik answered with a yawn. He rubbed his eyes as he spoke, "Late practices constantly until the performance."
"Hey, at least that's tomorrow," Yugi answered, coming up beside them. His eyes were bloodshot and there were dark shadows under his sockets.
Anzu gave a weak smile. "You look positively lovely, Yugi."
Yugi laughed slightly, "You know it. No girl could resist my charm tonight."
"What's this?" Marik looked back and forth between the two, "Is this what's known as "subtle flirting?""
"Shuddup," Anzu shoved him away from her, almost making him barrel into Yugi. "You look even more "handsome" than Yugi does."
Marik smirked and put and placed his arm on her shoulder, "You think so?"
Anzu rolled her eyes and sped up her walk, letting Marik's arm drop. "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I want to get to bed ASAP. So, if you don't mind, I'll be heading up now." She continued walking, but stopped when she noticed they weren't following. "Aren't you guys going up as well?"
"I'll be up in a sec," Yugi answered, starting to turn down another hallway. "I just want to stop by the vending machines and grab something to eat. I'm absolutely starving."
"No kidding," Marik replied. "I'll join you. I haven't eaten in hours."
"Oh, okay then," Anzu answered. "See you all tomorrow."
"'Night!" Yugi smiled, waving.
Anzu pushed open the door to the room she shared with Miss Ishizu, only remembering too late that the woman ought to be asleep. She stumbled to catch the door before it crashed into the stopped. She succeeded…but knocked her head on the door in the process. Holding back a yelp, she accidentally bit her tongue and hissed. She stood still for a moment, leaning her head against the door and letting the pain subside. She heard the covers of a bed shifting as Miss Ishizu rolled over. But she hadn't seemed to wake.
Anzu gave a small sigh of relief, then gently closed the door. She slowly felt her way over to the other side of the room where her suitcase was. She parted the curtains slightly in order to get a bit of light. She picked out her pajamas in the mess of clothes scattered about her luggage and stood up. She glanced out the window before letting the curtains fall.
The view caught her eye. Quickly, she pulled the curtains back again and noticed that their room had a view of the outdoor pool.
Man, that hot tub looks really relaxing right about now. Six hours of intense practice…I surely deserve a break. My back's killing me. That's the one thing I hate about pianos. Benches, not chairs.
But the pool's closed at this hour. And if someone saw me entering, I'd get in trouble.
…What would Malik and Bakura do?
She almost scared herself, trying to think like them, but the answer came all too easily.
Hop the fence.
I think I've been hanging around them a semester and a half too long.
Anzu took a deep breath before walking across the lobby calmly and coolly. Nothing out of the ordinary. A hip, young, teen walking through the lobby past midnight, dressed in a baggy T-shirt and a pair of short shorts, carrying a small bag. Nope, nothing new there.
"Hey there, toots," a voice called out. Anzu froze. I've been found out! How like her – overreacting in the face of mischief.
A young man leaning on the check-in counter was grinning at her. "I'm off duty in fifteen minutes. How'd ya like to meet up with me afterwards? The night's pretty darn young."
Anzu almost gagged, but simply ignored him and kept walking. Once she was out the front doors, she made plenty of disgusted faces to herself. That was sick, and totally double-meaning! I'll have to remind myself to get Joey to sock the living daylights outta him. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. …He and Valon. That's good, that's good….
Looking both ways to make sure that the parking lot was empty, she ran hastily in her flip-flips to the fence on the other side of the hotel, far from the eyes in the lobby.
She smiled as she approached the fence. Bars of iron, eh? It's practically begging me to hop over! She dropped her bag on the other side of the five-foot high fence, then gripped the spikes protruding from the top. She stood on the rail at the bottom, then forced herself upwards. Her arms began shaking immediately. This was never my strong suit…. Careful, trying not to impale herself on the spikes, she lifted on leg up and put her foot in the space between two rods. Then she lifted up the other. Satisfied, she let go of the fence and leapt off, landing on the concrete inside the pool area.
Picking up her bags, she walked over to the hot tub, which was still pretty darn warm, despite the hotel having turned off the heat for the night. She set her bag down in a shadowy corner near the edge of the tub then took off her shirt and shorts, revealing her bathing suit. With another quick look around, she lowered herself into the warm water and allowed herself a smile. Now this was relaxing. She laid back and closed her eyes.
With a jerk she opened her eyes and sat up straight. What was the noise? She listened carefully. Nothing.
Slowly, she reached for her towel. …Just how long have I been here? The sky was still plenty dark. At least it wasn't morning yet.
She continued to rummage in the dark for her bag. I could have sworn I put it right here. I made sure I had plenty of light to see it with….
The bag dropped by her hand and she yelped, pulling back immediately.
"Now what's a decent, delectable young thing like you doing out here, breaking rules, in the middle of the night?" The voice was deep and a tad husky, and Anzu backed away immediately. There's something familiar about that voice. She gulped. Did that guy find me?
The man reached out from the darkness and caught her chin, gently lifting it up. Anzu struggled to pull away, but he had quite the grip.
And then his face appeared. "Boo."
"KAIBA, you JERK-WAD!" With a mighty wave of her hand, she sprayed a wave of water onto him.
He let go immediately and stepped back. "Mazaki, that was uncalled for." Feebly, he muttered, "This is dry-clean only…."
"Well think twice before you sneak up on me in the dead of night again!" she whispered harshly. "I thought you were that perv from the lobby!"
Kaiba narrowed his eyes. "What?"
Anzu waved her hand, "Never mind, he was just pathetically attempting to hit on me. Now then, would you mind explaining to me what you are doing out here at this time and in the pool area?"
Seto crossed his arms. "Why are you here?"
"To get some relaxation! I won't be able to tomorrow, what with the concert! And frankly, I thought I deserved a bit of time to myself."
"So you hopped the fence."
Anzu looked away, "Look…I don't always have to be Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, do I?"
"Somebody's been hanging around Malik and Bakura for a little too long now…."
"Shut it. I was just getting out."
"You were snoozing like there was no tomorrow. If I hadn't woken you up, you would have been here till morning."
"How long have you been watching me?"
"Since you came out of the hotel."
"Are you stalking me?"
Seto recoiled. "Get over yourself."
"Then what were you doing outside, presuming you were out here before I was. Your room is on the other side of the hotel. Obviously, you weren't spying from a window."
"No, I was on the roof."
"Ha, ha, very funny," Anzu rolled her eyes. Seto smirked. She held out her hand, "Just help me out, will you?"
Seto looked at her strangely, "Can't you get out yourself? That's what the stairs are for."
Anzu remained rooted to her spot. "I think I deserve some kindness after that prank. Honestly, Kaiba, pulling pranks like that isn't funny. You try being a girl sometimes – especially at night. Then see how you like it."
Seto raised an eyebrow. "Right…I'll keep that in mind." Rolling his eyes, he reached out his hand. He knew she was stubborn enough to stay in there all night if she wanted to. True, he could just walk away and leave her, but then she would be trying to get him back for days. It would be better for the both of them if he just helped her now. Then she got out of the water, and he wouldn't be annoyed for the next week.
And then the gears started working again in his brain.
This was the prank.
But he realized it too late. Anzu reached up with both hands and yanked down on his wrist, sending Seto stumbling into the water with a great splash. Water flew up, flooding over the side of the tub and soaking the concrete.
Anzu laughed hysterically, holding her stomach as she replayed the moment in her head. That was TOO perfect! He didn't even see it coming! …And his FACE!
Sometimes, she truly loved herself.
Seto resurfaced a couple seconds later and shook the hair out of his face, sending droplets of water all over.
Anzu shielded her face. "Hey, watch it!"
"Maybe that'll teach you next time not to pull me in!" Seto growled, taking his shirt off and ringing it dry. "Honestly, do you have any courtesy at all? Wet pants don't feel the greatest, I'll have you know."
Anzu had to keep herself from snorting. Had Seto Kaiba just said that? But really, she wasn't at all sorry for pulling him in. Getting to see that chest of his is worth ten pranks of his! This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I'm actually happy I broke the rules tonight.
"Stop gawking and get out already. We need to leave before someone comes out and we both get in trouble. Somebody is bound to have heard us."
"Well, if you hadn't screamed like a little girl when I pulled you in, then maybe we'd still be fine."
"I did not scream!"
"Who's to say you did or didn't?"
"Count your blessings, Mazaki…."
Anzu stopped and lowered her arms slightly. "Kaiba…your lip is bleeding."
"What?" he looked at her quickly and put a finger to his lip. He lifted up his stained finger and frowned.
"Was that my fault? I'm sorry," Anzu reached into her bag and got a Kleenex. "Here."
Seto hesitantly reached for the tissue and put it up to his lip, all the while watching her. After a moment, he crumpled up the tissue and licked his lip. Then he shot the Kleenex into the trash can nearby.
After a moment of awkward silence, Anzu walked over to the steps. "I suppose we ought to get out now…." Suddenly, a pair of arms snaked around her waist and pulled her back in. Before she knew it, she was right smack up against Seto's chest.
"Now why should I let you go after pulling a stunt like that? No…I should just keep you here the whole night. In the morning, you can get in trouble, like you rightly deserve."
"Newsflash: if you're here with me, you'll get caught too."
Seto's eyes flashed. "Trust me, I'll be gone in the blink of an eye. You, however, will be left to be discovered."
Anzu pouted. "So this is what I get for acting like my classmates. I knew they were nothing but trouble."
She would never have caught the words if she hadn't been waiting for some sarcastic retort. Seto mumbled it so quietly, that she wasn't even sure if she heard correctly.
"When will you be done playing games, Anzu? They're all waiting for you to make your choice. Things will only get worse from here on out."
The absurdity of his words stunned Anzu, so she remained quiet. But Seto acted as if he had said nothing and continued, finally retorting to her earlier comment.
He spun her around to face her and leaned her up against the side of the tub. He leaned in slightly. "Come now, Anzu. Would it really be so bad spending the night out here, with me?"
Anzu could see the humor in his eyes. If that's how he wants to play, who am I to spoil the fun?
Mocking surprise, her eyes widened and she looked away coyly. "Gosh, Seto…I never knew you were such a go-getter."
He leaned in closer still. "There's a lot you don't know about me. …And since when were we on a first-name basis, Anzu?" he added softly.
Anzu…I like that sound of that, coming from him. "Like what?" she whispered, her eyelids half shut. She could feel the faint traces of his breath against her lips.
His mouth brushed against hers. "…I'm a vampire."
Anzu flew back, smacking herself against the wall. "What?"
"Gotcha," he knocked his knuckles against her forehead.
Anzu looked at him warily. ""Gotcha," as in, I'm you're next meal, or "gotcha" – I'm playing you for a fool."
Seto shook his head and rolled his eyes, jumping out of the hot tub. "Honestly, Mazaki, I refuse to believe you thought that was all real. One joke for another. You seemed like you were playing along quite nicely."
Anzu's ace fell. It was…all a joke? Every…part?
Seto paused and slowly looked over his shoulder. "…You were playing along, right?"
Anzu quickly ran up the steps and grabbed her towel, facing away from him. "Of course, Kaiba! I'm just as good at acting as you are. There's no way in a million years I'd ever kiss you." Whoops…she hadn't meant for that last sentence to slip out.
Those were the words of the hot tears blurring her vision.
"Right," Seto answered stiffly, walking to the fence. Anzu turned around and found him suddenly on the other side. How'd he do that so quickly?
"Kaiba, wait up," she called out a bit desperately and ran over to the fence. She threw her bag over and grabbed hold of the bars. She put her foot against the fence and applied pressure, but it slipped out from under her. "Darn it!" she cried out, frustrated. All she wanted to do now was get to bed and sleep off the feelings of…whatever she was feeling, and now she was stuck inside the pool yard!
"Hold on," Seto said, coming towards her. "Let go of the fence. I'll help you over."
"I'll do it myself!" she snapped, continuing her struggle. "Really, it shouldn't be this hard!"
"Suit yourself," Seto answered, walking away, flapping his shirt in the air to dry it off.
"Three…two…one…" Seto jerked his thumb back.
Seto smirked and turned around. "Why should I? You declined my offer before. I was being generous. You hurt my pride."
"Kaiba, please?" she begged.
"Back to "Kaiba" now, is it?" he sighed facetiously and walked back over towards her. "Lift out your arms. I'm going to lift you up. You'll have to kick off the fence to get the rest of the way over."
"You can't lift me! You'll break your back!"
"You can't weigh more than one-hundred ten pounds. It's nothing." He grabbed her under her arms and lifted her up. She lifted her legs and pushed off the top of the fence. Seto guided her down to the ground. "See? Nothing at all."
Anzu just stared at him, dumbfounded. …Just how much does he work out? Remembering her manners, she picked up her bag and smiled slightly. "Thanks." Before she, or he, knew it, she stepped over, gave him a small kiss –the kiss they had denied earlier- and scampered off back to the hotel lobby, pulling on her shirt and shorts along the way and drying off her hair.
Seto blinked and slowly touched his lips for the second time that night. …What was that?
"Hehe…Seto and Anzu sittin' in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G." The young, sing-songy voice floated out from the bushes nearby. Seto whirled around and stared at the grey eyes watching him. He frowned.
"Mokuba, how long have you been watching us?"
"Long enough to know that something's going on between you two that the others wouldn't be happy to hear about. And long enough to know that you don't know how to get the girl you obviously really like."
"You know, sitting there all smug in the dark really isn't helping the devilish image I have of you."
"Seto, don't insult me. I'm no devil, and I'm no demon."
Anzu flopped into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin and turned on her side. What's going on? Why do I feel so depressed? I should almost be…happy that it was all a joke.
But instead, I feel miserable. But, I have no attachment to the man whatsoever! Why? Why do I feel this way? It doesn't make sense. None of it does! Like…when we were pressed up against each other in the pool…I felt sort of…elated. Like when I was with Yami that one time…or even kissing Valon at Christmas! What's going on? Why am I suddenly taking interest in guys like this? I was never this way at home. And I hate feeling like I'm…I don't' know, cheating on them or something – not that any of us are going out! I've only "dated" Joey, technically. And then there were those motorcycle lessons with Marik. I mean, that was purely friendship…at least, I think it was. And that night Duke started getting fresh with me on the beach. And the fights over who would take me to the dance-
Seto was right. His words make sense now. All these guys…are going after me. And my preferences might break-up the relationships of friends.
Now I feel really awful. I'll never get to sleep now.
And she never did.
Malik was inspecting his guitar that next afternoon in the auditorium. Various other students were running around doing last minute check-ups on their music and instruments. He heard Mokuba, Noa, and Leon whispering in the corner. Randomly, hushed exclamations could be heard, and intense fits of laughter or forehead-smackings.
What are those troublemakers up to?
Bakura walked onto the stage and tapped Mokuba on the shoulder. "He's coming."
Mokuba smiled. "Thanks, Bakura."
"No problem…" the white-haired boy added, somewhat suspiciously. Malik beckoned his friend over.
"Any idea what they're up to?"
"Not a clue. Mokuba just wanted me to tell him when Kaiba was on his way."
Leon leaned over in his seat and straightened back up immediately. "Eins…zwei…drei!"
Seto strode into the room, and immediately, a three-man chorus broke out.
""Have you heard about the lonesome loser? Beaten by the queen of hearts every time…. Have you heard about the lonesome loser? He's a loser, but he still keep son tryin'!"" Seto glared at the trio as they rose into a falsetto chorus of "ooo's".
"I don't know whether to be scared that you all sound like sopranos, or angry and pound the living heck out of you," Seto steamed. Mokuba, you little rat!
"But Seto," Noa started.
"You can't hurt us! We're your baby brothers!" Mokuba finished. Both went into a show of puppy-dog eyes.
"Leon's not my brother. I'm free to hit him."
Mokuba put his arms in front of his friend, "You wouldn't hurt a little German boy, would you?"
Seto walked over and gave each a good knock on the head. Leaning down to Leon's height, he said, "My regards to Zigfried." He turned to Noa. "I'll deal with you later." Lastly, he faced his own flesh-and-blood brother. "You, sir, are dead when this concert is over."
Mokuba pointed to himself and blinked with large, round eyes, as if to say, Me?
"Aw, isn't that cute," Malik snickered to Bakura. "He really is quite the father, isn't he?"
Noa whispered to Mokuba, "…First comes love…then comes marriage…then comes the baby in the baby carriage!"
Seto's neck muscles cracked with the speed at which he spun his head to face Noa. He gave him the worst, and in fact only, death glare the boy had ever seen.
"Class: places! The contest begins in five minutes!" Dartz suddenly commanded, coming up the walkway. "Mr. Kaiba, stop harassing your brothers and get in your seat."
Seto turned his glare-of-hatred onto his teacher. Me? Harassing them? You wish.
As he walked past them, he hissed, "Only the intervention of that green-haired freak has saved you."
"Yes, and this green-haired freak has already instructed you to sit. So he would suggest doing so before Mr. Kaiba got a detention." Kaiba grit his teeth. "Money won't save you where I'm concerned, sir. I run my own company, just like you. Now get your caboose over onto that bench." Seto stalked away sourly.
Noa pulled down some of his bangs. "Is there something wrong with green hair?"
"Where's Anzu?" Dartz looked around.
"She hasn't arrived yet," Ryou spoke up from his seat.
"I'm here," Anzu announced, yawning as she spoke. "Sorry."
"It's no problem. Just take your seat please," Dartz put a hand over his eyes. The stress was beginning to get to him.
Anzu sat down and set up her music, yawning once again.
"Alright, class. We've come here, this year, to win," Dartz stepped up onto his platform and looked around. "You all have come along so well, and I'm very proud of you. We have a couple new additions to our band this year, and that makes it all the better. I wish you all luck, and I hope you do your best. Remember, don't fret. Try to win, but don't make it a necessity. We're here to have fun."
"And to get out of school!" Bakura added.
Dartz smiled. "That too."
The audience was enraptured by the music. The judges sat at the table, carefully listening. Oknuhu Private was the first band to play. They were a quarter of the way through their first song. Anzu's part was coming up quickly.
She stared hard at the music, but for some reason, she could not concentrate. Some of the notes swirled in her vision, and her fingers were laden with sweat, no matter how many times she wiped them off on her uniform. Her heart was pounding. Something told her she was going to mess it up for the entire band.
Don't fret…come on, you'll do it. You're just a little tired. It's okay. You've practiced this for months. You can do it.
Anzu's fingers flew into action. But her anxiety cost her. Her shaking fingers, along with the unfamiliarity with the piano's texture caused her to slip up her scale. She winced as she heard the cacophony. She regained her balance, but screwed up another few notes in the process. I'm totally bombing this! No, no, this isn't good!
She finally came to her two-measure rest. She lifted her hands and repeatedly told herself to concentrate. Time's up.
She lowered her hands, but suddenly heard the music flowing. She looked down. Seto had shifted of his bench and leaned over to play her part. She looked up at him, shocked and somewhat, just somewhat, angered, and yet still quite thankful. He face expressed no emotion. In fact, it seemed to become less tense the more he played. And he played flawlessly.
Maybe we both needed this to happen.
He finished her segment, then flew down to play his part. Anzu stared at the music. She didn't have another part for another page. Okay, he's given me a chance. Now, I need to concentrate, and play as well as he does.
That's it! Competition is the key to success.
When Anzu's turn came again, she played through it without one screw-up. Seto glanced at her, and she suddenly locked eyes with him. She gave him a smile and nodded to the music. Their piano-duet was right around the corner.
The corner of his lips twitched up –was that a smile?- and he drifted right along into the melody. Noa worked his violin right after Seto came in, and the winds then drifted into play. Joey patted his drums in a light but continuous manner, creating a finale-like effect.
Joey gave the final pound just as Noa sliced across the strings one last time and both pianists landed on their last chords with a booming air.
The crowd cheered as Dartz turned around to bow. Marik and Malik looked at each other as they saw their sister clapping enthusiastically in the front row.
Anzu looked over at her partner, still smiling. Thanks, she mouthed.
Seto nodded in return.
After the concert, the students filed out, ready to hit the hay. Dartz put a hand on Seto's shoulder. "Seto, a word please." They waited until all of the students had gone ahead. Seto turned around and faced his teacher.
"If this is about my comment earlier, I apologize. You caught me in an irritated mood," Seto stated monotonously.
"While I appreciate the gesture, no, that is not what I wanted to talk about with you. I noticed you played one of Anzu's parts during the performance. May I inquire as to why?"
"She was nervous. I suppose the pressure of being at the State level go to her, and she was probably anxious too. It didn't look like she slept much. I'm sure she could have handled the part on her own, but I figured I'd give her a minute to relax."
"How very considerate," Dartz looked him over. "However, I'd rather you not let it happen again. I'm grading each of you on your effort during these performances. I'll let her grade slide, since I understand anxiety issues, but this is the last time."
Dartz nodded, then put a hand on his shoulder. "Still, well done, Seto. That and your pieces." With that, he left.
Eh, eh? Good SetoxAnzu fluff, right? Ah, it felt SO good to type that again! And hey, I practically sat here in one night to give that to you, so please review! (In so much, I apologize for any mistakes...there might be a few of them. I was getting tired.) I know I don't deserve anymore readers or reviewers, with how I've kept you waiting, but just remember! It was those reviews that got me typing again! Maybe that and the feeling of the new year. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed it! It was actually very fun to type, and I enjoyed writing again. I hope to do so more often now! PLEASE REVIEW!