Mai drove down the highway in her convertible. Heavy metal blared out of the speakers, trying to make it so she could no longer hear herself think. She had been stupid, and because of it she was ashamed to face her friends again. To face Joey again. She'd blamed him for her loneliness, when in the end it was her fault, shutting everyone out like that. Joey saw something in her when no one else could, even herself. When all was said and done, Joey had saved her. Sighing she remembered when she first dueled Wheeler. He'd beaten her, more than likely, because her heart wasn't in it. All she could think about was Mai, Mai, Mai, Mai. Joey dueled from his heart for Serenity. And when she dueled Joey in that alleyway he… He was dueling for her. No he wasn't, said another part of her. But she knew she just didn't want to admit that perhaps Joey had feelings for her... NOT.
She remembered back to the Battle City Finals. When she dueled Marik, she'd been lost in the shadows. Joey didn't give up on her, even when he'd been erased from her mind. And he wanted to take the hit for her when Marik was going to deliver his last attack. That was an obvious sign. But when she'd been sent to that dark place, into that nightmare, she'd doubted him, and her friends. She was stupid and confused. Why did she care about Joey anyway? He was an idiot and a space case, with the attention span of a rodent.
But he was loyal and brave. Stupid, yes but wasn't that what bravery was? Just a synonym for stupidity. No bravery was knowing that no matter how afraid you are, that there is something more important that kept you strong. She shook it off. All you're doing is confusing yourself, she thought. Mai found herself getting off at Domino. Driving down familiar roads and streets. Then there walking on the sidewalk was Joey. He was kicking a rock as he walked, head down. Mai felt herself blush for no reason. Praying he wouldn't see her she kept driving. But just as she was past him he looked up and called, "MAI?" And what can you do when someone shouts your name like that? Mai turned and looked, he stared straight at her and called her again, breaking into a run. She knew he'd never catch her, but without realizing it at first she dropped from 60 mph to 45. She turned a corner and heard someone behind her honk their horn. Looking in the rearview mirror she saw Joey had cut through the oncoming traffic without looking twice. Mai kept driving. He was going to get himself killed. The chase lasted for about 10 or 12 blocks. She changed the station and looked in the mirror again. Joey wasn't in it. Sighing she changed lanes, a part of her wanted him to catch up. A truck pulled up alongside her and she heard a thump in her back seat.
Joey climbed from the back to the passenger's seat. "You are one hard girl to get in touch with, Miss Valentine." he said trying to catch his breath. "I've been worried about ya." Mai didn't look at him. Instead she put an angry look on her face.
"I don't need you to worry about me, Wheeler."
"That's never stopped me before."
Mai still didn't look at him, "What do you want?"
"Talk is cheap."
"That's good. 'Cause I don't got much on me."
Mai glared at him. He on the other hand smiled. She now realized he was in black swim trunks, and a red Hawaiian shirt. She he'd lost his shoes somewhere, and he had a backpack filled to the bulging point. Something told her he was beach bund. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"
"Yeah, but it isn't half as important."
Mai's glare toned down some. It considered her important. "You're wasting your time. I have nothing to say to you."
"Well I have enough to say for the both of us I think."
Mai wasn't paying attention to where she'd been driving. If she had she'd noticed they'd left the city and were now in the more suburban area. Suddenly she pulled over. "Okay, then, if it makes you get out of my car then I'll listen."
"I was worried about ya, Mai." Mai's looked at the steering wheel. He'd said that with the utmost sincerity. Something flutter in her stomach. "After Battle City you didn't call or write. For the longest time I looked for you but never found you. Then you force me into a duel were the loser loses there soul, and keep yelling about how you wanted to make a name for yourself, and how lonely you were. If you are always so lonely why do you leave? Why not stay? You don't have to be alone when you have friends who care about you."
"Joey," Mai said softly. "Can I ask you a question?"
She swallowed hard. Squeezed her eyes shut. "Do you hate me?"
Mai felt Joey recoiled. "What kinda question is that?" There he sat with a smile on, that stupid moronic, and yet somehow kind smile. "Is that why you left again, because you were afraid I'd hate you?" Mai stared at the wheel again, and put her hands in her lap. "Mai, after all we've been through you think that I'd blame you for what happened? I know you weren't yourself. It was that card that made you do those things."
"I wasn't strong enough. I let it take me so easily, barely putting up a fight. I am weak and stupid and don't deserve such good friends. I wouldn't blame you for hating me."
Joey took her hand and squeezed it. "I could never hate you. I love you too much."
Mai turned to him with tears in her eyes. She hugged him and cried, mumbling 'I love you too's into his shirt. Then she looked up at him and stared into his deep brown eyes. He smiled, and kissed her softly. "It's alright to need help sometimes, Mai. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you human. No matter what happens. You'll never have to face it alone."
Later the whole gang was at the beach. Tea and Mai were sunbathing Tristan and Duke played volleyball while Serenity watched and Yugi and Joey was building a fire. Joey looked around. "Come on guys we're at the beach! Last one in gets dunked!" Joey ran and jumped in. The other followed. Mai sat up on her towel and watched them run and jump into the water too. She smiled and took off her sun glasses. Joey waved and called, "Come on, Mai!" She stood and stretched. Then ran and dived at Joey, both were forced under the water. They resurfaced and started to laugh. Mai splashed and swam with the others. She didn't have to be alone anymore. She had her friends, and Joey who loved her. Knowing they would always be there for her made her feel stronger than ever before. That shadows prism was far from her mind now. All that was left was the light of the summer sun.