Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-gi-oh. I don't even own the idea: moonymonster suggested it at random.

This was written to support the jouxmai and polarhearts fan groups on lj. Join! Post!


"So this is the Shadow Realm?" Mai rubbed her arms nervously.

"Sure." Jou nodded. "What were you expecting?" They stood in the middle of a grassy plain, Jou's favorite monster the Flame Swordsman standing beside him.

"When," she paused, swallowed, spoke again, "Malik brought me here…"

"That wasn't Malik," Jou interrupted. "That was his evil split personality thing."

"I know, I was standing right there when he explained himself." Typical Jou. Idiot. "I was in this hourglass slowly filling with sand over a beach. All of you were playing there."

"All of us leaving you out?" Jou scowled. "Bastard."

"It wasn't that bad," Mai objected. "I'm a big girl, Jou, I'm used to being alone. It wasn't a very good personal hell. I mean, you would have expected whips and chains." She didn't want to admit how much it had hurt inside.

He clearly wasn't buying it. "You remember when I collapsed when Ra blasted me?"

"Yeah?" He'd gotten up. When she'd asked him, he'd blushed like crazy and denied that she had been one of the ones to pull him up. She couldn't believe she had believed him, he was a horrible liar. Horrible as in bad at it. She'd acted like her old self then, and what had it gotten her?

Her own personal hell. Watching him and unable to touch.

"If I hadn't seen all of you, known you were there for me, I wouldn't have been able to get up."

"I'm amazed you got up at all. That was pretty impressive for a loser."

"Loser! Why you, I come all the way out to New York to teach you how to handle the Shadow Realm and everything, and this is the thanks I get? I don't need you to call me a loser, I get enough of that from Kaiba-bastard."

"Sorry. Punk."

"That's better." Jou crossed his arms and nodded.

Mai laughed. He was such a kid. "Seriously though, thanks for bringing me here. It's not so scary anymore you've shown me how to get in and out of here." She looked at the Flame Swordsman with wonder in her eyes. "I can finally meet the Harpie Ladies?"

"Sure!" Jou grinned. "They really stick by you in duels, Mai, so I bet they really want to meet you! Let's ride the Red Eyes to the mountains and you can use the cards to call for them."

Mai used her hand to shade her eyes from the sun. "Is that the Red Eyes?"

"Huh? I haven't summoned him yet." Jou looked. "Oh man." He closed his eyes and drew in a single motion. "Come forth, Red Eyes Black Dragon!"

The dragon appeared and roared at the white dragon flying towards them. "And I equip him with—" Jou screamed as the White Lightening blasted the Red Eyes apart.

Make that Neutron Blast. That was the Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon. And 2100 life points gone. She didn't know how many they had in real life, but if this was Duelist Kingdom that would have been a one hit kill.

"Jou!" She narrowed her eyes and reached for her deck, but the massive tail slapped her lightly and her cards scattered.

"Mortal." Why did the Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon sound like a woman? A very pissed off woman. "You dare?"

"Uh… are you talking to me?" Jou was still standing, though he was panting for breath. Smoke rose from his clothes.

"I am talking to the duelist who controlled me and used me against the one male I do not despise," the dragon hissed.

"Kaiba?" Mai could hear the surprise in Jou's voice. "He's the only person you don't despise? That's nuts. He's a bastard."

Mai winced. "Idiot!" she yelled, fumbling for her cards. Where was…

No, that wasn't thinking like a duelist. She scooped up four cards. These would be the ones.

"You dare! Using me… You're just like all the others!" Man, that dragon was pissed off. Jou had that effect on people, didn't he? Punk.

"I summon the Harpie Lady!" She heard wings behind her, but didn't pause. "Elegant Egotist!" More rustling. "I aid them with United We Stand!" She couldn't just let Jou be obliterated. He was a duelist. He wasn't an enemy. He had fought to save her. She laughed, that she could save him now.

The dragon turned to regard her, but seemed to be hesitating. She hated men? Mai understood that. "And Triangle Ecstasy Spark!" Colored light shown behind her. "Attack!"

And the dragon was gone.

Jou smiled at her. "Gee, thanks Mai. You really saved me there. If I'd said anything, she would have blasted me." He held up a card. Fissure.

"It was nothing for a duelist like me," Mai grinned. She turned around.

They were smiling at her. One winked. She grinned back. "Thanks." They nodded.

Without them, she would have gone through life without a reason. Without all their help, she would never have been able to win all those duels and become the champion she was. Without them, she wouldn't have been able to sacrifice to summon Ra… well. She'd never do that again.

Thanks to them, she'd just saved Jou.

"Gee, you learn fast, Mai." He walked up behind her.

"I'm amazed you're willing to teach me all this. After what I did to you, taking your soul… you saved me there. Again."

He shook his head. "I tried to save you. I failed. Again."

"It was my own fault both times. My stupid pride."

"Don't say that Mai, you deserve to be proud. It was my fault. If I hadn't lied about seeing you… I acted like you weren't a friend because I had a crush on you. I shouldn't 'a done that."

"Had a crush on me?"

"You're hot, you're a duelist, you don't take nothing from nobody, what's not to like?" Jou shrugged, blushing a little. "I know, you're going to tell me I'm just a kid. I've got no chance with you of you've got big stars after you."

"Dating you would be robbing the cradle. You're still in high school, punk." She grinned.

"Yeah. Why would you want to date a kid?" He looked away.

"Well, I wouldn't want to date a kid… but I would want to date the champion who came in second at Duelist Kingdom and fourth at Battle City."

He blinked and pointed to himself. "You mean me, Mai?" He clearly didn't believe it.

"Who else? Doofus." She smiled, looking at him with her Harpie Ladies ranged behind her.

"Re… really!" His grin was starting to match hers.

Her smile softened. "Really."