Dedication: To The Lady Winged Knight because she's wonderful and recently gave me so many wonderful gifts that I've entirely lost count. And also, because YGO s-ai goodness is never gone unpraised by her, and I love getting ego boosts. I am only human, after all.

A/N: Um. So. AU fic. As per the challenge-request, the following character contexts are given:

Yami: Highschool hottie, as usual. However, though He knows he's good looking, he's nice about it. He's also the unsuspecting crush of two other teens.
Yugi: Secret admirer of Yami, number 1. As usual, he's quiet, easily embarrassed, and...his best friend is Ryou in this one because Joey is taken. Sadly, Yami barely knows he exists. Poor guy.

Anzu: Secret admirer number 2. As usual, cheerleader of girl-power, and school psychologist. Her best friend can be anybody. Yami definitely knows she exists, because she's kinda hard to miss. But, still...Chuckles

Joey: Yami's best friend. The only one who knows anything about Yami in the way of preferences, crushes, and anything else that would help anyone figure said goth teen out.

Bakura: Loud-mouthed secret crush of Ryou. Feel free to have them tumble over each other in crush-dom as you wish. Always there to embarrass Yami, or remind him when he makes a mistake, though he usually leaves Yugi alone. Very self-contained otherwise.

Ryou: Quiet supportive best friend to Yugi. Understands his friend's problems with shyness. Secretly falling head over heels for Bakura with a sympathetic nod to Yugi by being in the same boat.

Oh, and she didn't specify as per Seto, so I amused myself with him. I mean, I'm sure he had to hold down a part time job at some time in his life, right? ((cackles))

The 27 Days of Christmas

"The rose of beauty," Yami softly mused, staring into his latte, "is often crushed with the herbicide of technology."

Joey tilted his head. "Deep. But how can an herbicide crush anything? Isn't it a gas?" He slurped his iced mocha.

The two of them were sitting a corner booth in a coffee shop. The lighting in that area was dim, and so the two of them were left alone, away from the other patrons who enjoyed the light.

"Normally, yes." Yami consented. "But herbicide could also be a really heavy rock. Anything that kills plants, yes?" He smirked, having recovered quickly from imminent defeat.

Joey snickered. "You're such a dork." He slurped up some more of his drink, his eyes assessing Yami's style.

Yami, in typical fashion, had applied only light eyeliner to accentuate his enticing eyes, and a quick dusting of white to his already pale face. Clearly, he was letting his clothes do most of his emotional talking: Black jeans, a dark blue ragged tank, and a black leather vest showed society's style belonged to him and not the other way around.

And buckles. Buckles everywhere. Three on his right leg, two hung around the hips, one across his chest, three placed strategically on each arm, and one around his throat.

When Joey had first met Yami, he'd been under the impression that one only asked Yami for something like the time if the only other option was dying.

Surprisingly, Yami was a pretty easy-going, for a goth. Not to mention that he had a great sense of humour. Soon, the two of them had become fast friends. Joey knew it was strange seeing them walking down the school hallways: Yami was quiet, conservative in his movements, and darkly dressed, while Joey was loud, energetic, and tended towards glaring colours.

Yami sipped once more. "What's bothering you, Joey?" he asked. "You've gone all quiet."

Joey blinked, thrown out of his musings, before recovering with extravagant flair. "I was overcome by your dazzling beauty!" he proclaimed, throwing a hand dramatically over his eyes. "Forsooth, time ceased to be of import!"

It was Yami's turn to snicker. "Got lost in your thoughts again? One of these days you'll do that to someone else by accident and they'll take you seriously."

Joey gave him the raspberry.

An employee walked up, clearing his throat. "Can I get you two anything else?"

Yami looked at Joey inquiringly, but shook his head. "I'm fine."

"Me, too," Joey leaned forwards to read the boy's nametag, "Seto. That's a weird name, huh?"

'Seto' gave him a condescending look. "There are worse," he merely bit out, obviously aware that he was currently on the payroll. He sniffed haughtily and left with a sneer.

"Huh!" Joey huffed. "What crawled into his Cheerios?" He saw Yami smother a soft laugh in a sip from his latte. "Oh, come on," Joey groaned. "Admit it. That guy's going to need surgery in a coupla days to remove that stick from up his butt!"

"Possibly," Yami agreed mildly. There was no use in arguing with Joey when he got like this. Time to change the subject. "Are you going to the party tomorrow?"

"Huh?" Joey straightened from where he was slouched over and growling. "Oh, you mean that girl… Anzu? Now that's a weird name."

Yami shrugged. "I heard it didn't translate well, so she just left it the way it originally was."

"Huh. You goin'?"

Exuding the calmest aura Joey had seen in a long time, Yami drooped his normally piercing gaze and pursed his lips thoughtfully. "I might. I don't really know her, and it might get awkward."

"I could go with you," Joey encouraged. He had no problem with Yami being goth, but he was pretty sure that teens should have more interaction with society than just in the occasional coffee shop.

"All right, then."

Joey grinned, then turned to look at the rest of the café. "Hey, speaking of awkward, you think those two could be any worse?" he jerked his head meaningfully at two nervous-looking boys who were just sitting down in a kitty-corner booth.

Yami followed his gaze and looked intense for about a minute. "I think I know them."

"Yeah?" Joey snorted. "Well, they do sit right behind you in class. Do you even pay attention to the people around you?"

Yami drew himself up into his 'I'm a goth, fear me' pose. "All society is sound and fury, signifying nothing."

"Whoa," Joey was actually taken aback. "That's good."

Yami looked at him curiously. "It's Shakespeare. Mostly."

"Shakespeare was goth? I didn't know that!"

"Neither did he," Yami muttered. "But how else do you explain A Winter's Tale?"

A brief exclamation of dismay came from the near table where the two classmates were. As Yami and Joey glanced over, a sheet of paper glided over the floor to land near their own table. Yami sighed and picked it up, then rose.

"I'll take it back," he said, resigned.

Joey saluted him. "Don't scare 'em away now." Not really surprised when Yami ignored him, he watched as the scene unfolded.

"You dropped this? This is yours?" Yami asked coolly.

The two teens froze in the act of getting up.

"Ah, yes," the silver-haired one squeaked. "Thank you for your trouble."

Yami barely heard him, too busy giving his friend a second look-over. "This hair… it's a new style," he observed.

"Well, uh, normally I wet it down into a ponytail but it's a Saturday, so I didn't bother?" Through the explanation, the poor boy's voice got higher and higher as his cheeks grew more and more red.

"It's almost like mine," Yami continued thoughtfully.


Yami leaned in, now curious, and gently rubbed the ends of the bangs. "It's not dyed."

"Ah, no…" the boy's face was incandescent with embarrassment.

"Interesting." Yami stepped back. "Here is your paper." He turned to go.

"Are you going?"

Yami looked at the albino. "What?"

Said albino waved the card apologetically as an explanation. "To Anzu's party, I mean."

Yami debated between offense at the insinuation he'd read other people's things (because he hadn't) and giving a decent answer. He settled for answering in a very frosty voice. "Possibly."

He walked back over to his booth, spoke briefly with Joey, then the two left. The two boys watched them go with rapt eyes. Finally, they breathed again.

"Ryou," Yugi whispered in shock. "He touched my hair."

"I can't believe it. He actually spoke to us. Yami! To us! He always acts like he never notices us in class, but I guess…" Ryou rambled, equally shocked.

Reverently, Yugi raised a hand to the bang. "I'm never washing this again as long as I live." He smiled dreamily.

Ryou smiled. It was wonderful to see his best friend so happy. For as long as Ryou could remember, Yugi had had a crush on the mildly popular, only vaguely reachable goth, Yami, in their class. For about half as long as Ryou could remember, he'd been trying to convince Yugi to do something about it. Yugi, though, would always stammer and decline; he was too shy.

Ryou inwardly sighed. He really shouldn't judge, especially when he suffered the same problem.

The two sat in meditative silence for a while. Ryou finally spoke up. "So, you'll be going to the party, then?"

Yugi stiffened, as Ryou had half suspected he would. "It's the perfect opportunity, Yugi. I mean, you don't even have to do anything huge. Just maybe go say 'hi' or something."

Yugi bit at his thumbnail. "I don't know."

"Oh, for crying out loud. Grow a backbone and go." The new voice was unfamiliar, and they spun on their seats to face it. The waiter, Seto, looked down on them. "With that problem dealt with, can I get you two anything to drink?" He clicked his ballpoint impatiently. "I'm done in five minutes, so hurry up."

The Day of the Party: November 27

"Welcome, everyone!" trilled Anzu. She struck a pose, and then examined herself in the full-length mirror. Her blue jeans glittered with sparkling pins, and her pink shirt was a modified cheerleader top. She looked awesome. "How was that?"

One of her super-close friends, Mai, gave her an assessing look. Though they were a couple of years apart, time had showed them to be fast friends. "It's good," Mai agreed finally. "I like the pose. It doesn't look practiced."

Anzu sagged with relief. "I'm just so nervous about this evening," she confessed, collapsing on the bed. "What if Yami ignores me? Or what if he doesn't like me?" her eyes widened "What if he doesn't even show up?"

Mai shrugged. "Then you find another fish in the testosterone-charged sea who isn't a stuck-up pretentious angster."

"Maiiii," Anzu moaned. "Don't say that about him. Yami's nice. He helped me up after I accidentally ran into him. He even picked up my notes for me!"

The older girl chewed her gum. "You sure it wasn't Yugi? The two look a lot like the other, and I know Yugi's the kind of guy who'd do that."

"Of course I'm sure!" Anzu straightened defiantly. "They look totally different! I have no problem telling them apart!"

Mai surrendered. "Ok, ok! I get your point!" She gave a moue, "And here I thought you'd be nice to me today, what with it being my last day here."

Tears filled Anzu's eyes. "Oh! I am being mean to you!" She buried her face in her hands. "And you're going away tonight, too! I'm going to miss you so much!"

"There, there," Mai rubbed her back. "I'll be back in a couple of months. The exchange program doesn't last forever."

Anzu pouted. "No, but it lasts too long as it is. What am I going to do without you?"

Mai grinned. "Oh, come on, girl! I get to go to New Zealand! You'll be happy for me and write me every week."

Sniffling, Anzu dried her tears and attempted a watery smile. "Y-yeah, I guess."

"And hey!" Mai continued, trying to cheer her up. "You've thrown me this great going away party! How could we not be happy?"

"You're right!" Anzu brightened. "It's with your favourite colours and everything!"

"Totally, girl," Mai hugged her. "You've even put up sprigs of mistletoe! You know that's my favourite plant!"

Anzu stood up and posed. "Like two berries on the mistletoe," she started reciting their friendship creed.

Mai joined her, "So is our closeness!"


"And love!"

"Is forever!" they finished in unison, grinning at each other, before collapsing into laughter.

The doorbell rang, making them jump. "It's seven already?" Mai patted at her hair. "That went fast."

"Quick! You've got to get to your special seat!" Anzu pushed her into the living room, then rushed to the door and flung it open. "Welcome!" she trilled, and struck the pose.

"Well, don't you look good enough to eat," Bakura leered at her, which made her blush. "Speaking of which, where's the grub?"

"Oh! Um. This way," she gestured, and looked behind him as he brushed past her. "Did Yami come with you?" she asked hopefully.

"Nah. He can't get anywhere fast in those pants of his, so I came ahead to check this place out." He stuffed a double-dipped chip into his mouth and looked around accusingly. "Where's the music?"

Anzu looked down. "I-I thought we should wait until everyone got here. There are a couple of things I wanted to explain first."

Bakura looked at her assessingly. "You're either lazy, or over-organized."

A few knocks on the door interrupted her no doubt scathing retort. She hurried over and opened it again. "Welcome, everyone!"

This was more like it! A group of teens grinned at her from her front step.

"Come in, come in!" She stepped aside, comparing the incoming crowd with her mental checklist.

Bakura was already here. And now it was Serenity, Duke, Tristan, and Malik, then Yugi and Ryou, and then Joey and, wonder of wonders… Yami.

"Hi, Yami," she smiled engagingly.

He blinked at her with those long lashes of his, then nodded in acknowledgement and moved on.

She nearly swooned, then recovered. She had a party to start, after all! Clapping her hands, she moved through the crowd over to Mai's chair.

"Ok, everyone! Before I start the music, there are three things I want to say! First, this is Mai's going away party. I know not all of you know her as well as I do, but you should at least wish her good luck at one point during the party!" She ignored Bakura's aggrieved moan.

"Second! You'll notice the mistletoe?" She pointed to the abundance of it located at spots in the doorway, over the punch bowl, over Mai's chair, and in a couple of corners. "I know it's not Christmas, but it's Mai's favourite plant, so the tradition still stands! Any two people caught under it have to smooch!" She noticed Joey shifting discreetly towards Mai's chair. Anzu cleared her throat and grinned ominously.

"Third, last, and most important, I'm the one who's going to be cleaning up after this – because I am nice – and so," she dropped the smile and her voice dropped an octave into something that was altogether too scary. "If anyone breaks or spills important, I'll take you out back and rip your face off. Got it?"

Crickets chirped as the partygoers nodded silently, eyes wide.

"Good!" she regained her cheerfulness. "Then let's go!"

The cheer went up as the base-filled music began to shake the house.

A couple of hours into the party and everyone was enjoying themselves. Anzu nodded to herself in approval. It was a near success. The only thing that would make this perfect was if she could catch Yami under the mistletoe. A few pairs had been caught already (the sprigs were put in place with scheming ingenuity), but Yami was standing in a mistletoe-less corner, quietly sipping the punch that Joey had grabbed for him earlier. Joey had then taken off (with Yami's 'ok') to … talk with Honda. Something about if he caught Honda manoeuvring his sister into a corner one more time, then…

So there Yami stood, brooding and gorgeous. Everything about him was just so perfect that Anzu was surprised that no one had tried to date him yet. At least, not to her (extensive) knowledge. She was determined to bring him out of his shell and the two of them would kiss. It would be romantic, and angels would sing in harmony as their lips met for the first time, revealing that their very souls were destined to unite.

Anzu briefly lost herself in a blushing reverie. When she left it, her gaze was drawn to Yami, who was staring impassively at his empty glass.

She was immediately resolved. This was a sign! She'd get the punch for him, and he would be so overwhelmed by her generosity that he'd move alluringly five feet forwards, where a mistletoe dangled promisingly.

Anzu hurried to the punch table.

"Twerp. You're so pathetic even the wallflowers are ignoring you."

Yugi shifted. "Hello, Bakura. If you're looking for Ryou, he went to get some more punch."

Bakura smirked and noted the information. "So why are you even here? You don't dance, you don't talk; the bimbo could have probably rented a plastic flower to fill the space, and it would have been more interesting."

Yugi looked down. "Probably." He sighed, "I don't even know why I came anymore."

In a rare moment of human decency, Bakura allowed his harsh exterior to drop. "Look. You don't have to be the life of the party. This doesn't have to even be the time of your life. The point is, this is a bunch of people that you kind of know, getting together to have a bit of fun."

"This is fun," Yugi weakly defended his wallflower position.

Bakura gave him an odd look. "Yugi, you're never going to get anywhere with an attitude like that. Find someone and go. Say. Hi. Move on from there, I don't care."

"B-but what if he- they," Yugi corrected hastily, "What if they make fun of me?"

Bakura looked around the room. "These guys? They won't do that. Now if that twin of Malik's was here, then maybe I'd worry, but nah."

Yugi breathed deeply. "O… ok. Thanks, Bakura."

Bakura shrugged.

"Why are you being so nice, anyway?" Yugi asked, daring to show his curiosity.

"No reason. Felt like I should."

Yugi timidly smiled. "It wouldn't have anything to do with me being friends with Ryou?"

"Hey!" Bakura looked surprised. "A backbone! Nice start!"

A sudden whooping started up, a sure sign that two un-dating people had been caught under the mistletoe. Yugi and Bakura glanced up, just to be on the safe side, then looked over. Yugi gasped in surprise, while Bakura's eyes narrowed ominously.

"Speaking of someone needing a backbone," he growled, then strode purposefully over to the punch table, where Ryou and Anzu were gazing at each other with glasses of punch in their hands and trepidation in their eyes.

A/N: TBC in the next chapter. Naturally, dah-lings!