"-so then I played my Black Magician and Magical Hats together and the look on my opponent's face was priceless. I wish I had a camera at the time..."
Anzu Mazaki stifled a yawn with her hand, trying to feign interest in the duel Yuugi was chattering on about. Never mind that Anzu, Honda, and Jounouchi had been there at the duel or had watched the video circulating the web at Yuugi's insistence. No, Yuugi was going to give them a play-by-play account of his latest victory against some high-ranking foreigner who had known he was going to lose. 'He's probably all excited because it was all him throughout the duel,' Anzu mused, chewing a piece of bubble gum thoughtfully. 'Whenever Yuugi is challenged, it's usually Yami who does the actual work.'
Lounging on a neatly made bed across the room, Honda Hiroto toyed with a silver yen piece, twirling it back and forth over his left knuckles in boredom. Anzu refrained from rolling her eyes. 'He's going to blow our cover,' she thought furiously. Spying a nearby rubber band on Yuugi's desk, she grabbed it and covertly shot the innocuous office-supply-turned-elastic-projectile at him. Startled, Honda looked up when the rubber band hit his thigh to see Anzu pointedly glaring at the coin. He made a small face but slowly nodded once and slid the coin back into his dark blue jeans pocket. Honda ran his right hand through his hair, an unconscious nervous habit, and badly suppressed a wince when he touched the point almost permanently gelled into his hair.
Yuugi chattered on as Katsuya Jounouchi pulled out his deck and shuffled the cards casually. "Hey, Yuugi, how about a duel?"
'That shut him up,' Anzu grinned momentarily as she silently thanked the gods for her release from such a cruel and inhumane torture.
Yuugi smiled beatifically. "All right. The usual handicap?" He good-naturedly asked. It seemed to be a purely rhetorical question, as Yuugi didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he began to systematically take out almost ten cards.
"Of course! I want a somewhat level playing field!" Jou joked back.
Honda snorted derisively. "Jou, just accept it already man. You're never going to win against Yuugi. A snowball has a better chance in hell. Statistical improbability. One in quite a few trillion." He took the yen piece out of his pocket and began to flip it through his fingers irritably.
Jounouchi, despite having a history of either being slaughtered or strung along whenever he dueled Yuugi, looked shocked that anyone (let alone his best friend) call such a duel a futile gesture. "You don't believe in me? Cold man, real cold. Anzu, you believe in me, don't you?' He desperately turned to his other brunette friend for support.
Anzu bit her tongue to keep a particularly nasty comment in. Some things in life were inevitable and immutable: death, taxes, Kaiba's trench coat billowing. Yuugi winning a duel also belonged on such a select list. "Of course I do, Jou." Anzu smiled sweetly as she lied through her teeth.
Jounouchi looked relieved that at least someone had his back, even if it wasn't Honda, his best friend for years, but Anzu, Yuugi's girlfriend in all but name. "All right Yuugi, let's start this duel."
Yuugi's answer (something along the lines of 'Let's Duel!') was cut off by a loud urgent rapping at the window. E.A. Poe connotations aside, it was quite out of the ordinary. Honda and Anzu jerked around in their seats and glared at he glass with annoyance.
"You wanna get it?" Anzu asked Honda with a resigned "marching towards doom" look on her face.
"Why not? I always love hearing from our boss," Honda responded in a mock jovial tone. "Besides, it's almost always good news," he added sarcastically.
Yuugi, quiet until now from shock, spoke with some authority, indicating Yami might have grabbed the controls. "Boss? You two don't work." He eyed them suspiciously. "What's going on?"
"Yeah!" Jou chimed in, equally bewildered. "What's the secret?"
Honda ignored their questions and deftly opened the window, letting in a large brown barn owl. He absently stroked its head after it landed on his out-stretched arm and removed the letter and a few boxes. Honda tossed the largest one to Anzu, who deftly caught it. "Here you go Tea, enough supplies to last us another ten potions."
Anzu looked momentarily relieved. "Good, we were running low again. What does the big cheese have say for himself this time?"
Yuugi and Jounouchi exchanged confused looks.
"Tea? Potions? Owls?" Yuugi spluttered out bewilderedly. Evidently the Pharaoh wasn't in control, as it is doubtful he would have ever allowed such a note of confusement enter his voice.
"Congrats on keeping 'em occupied, blah, blah, Kaiba is pleased," he snorted at this, "-with your work, blah, blah, your sacrifices are being remembered, blah, blah. Oh and here we go, we aren't getting replaced this year. Seems they couldn't find two suitable candidates."
"So we're still being screwed over," Anzu summarized, sighting as she sank back into her seat, slipping the package she had received into her purse.
Honda nodded. "Yeah. Don't you just love the bureaucracy?"
"I demand an explanation," Yami/Yuugi commanded, more Yami than Yuugi at this point. To his utmost surprise, both of them uncharacteristically ignored him and continued on with their incomprehensible conversation.
"I just wish the damn birds would come at more opportune times," Anzu commented idly, earning her a glare and indignant hoot from the owl on Honda's arm.
"Oh, you know she doesn't mean it, girl," Honda soothed the irate bird. "If you fly to my apartment building, there's a window open into my living room on the third floor, thirteenth window from the right. I've got some food and water left out and you could rest for a while before I send you back with something. What do you say about that, huh?" The barn owl hooted happily and took to the air, vanishing into the city in the direction of Honda's apartment. Honda closed the window and looked over this packages, squinting at the writing on the labels. "Ooh, Gunnar in Foreign Affairs finally sent me the German ale he promised me."
"Well, you did get him pissing drunk last solstice," Anzu smirked. It was an unfamiliar expression on her features and looked wrong somehow. "Tequila body shots should be done first, not halfway through a liquor binge."
Ginning sheepishly, Honda pocketed his packages. "We found that out the hard way. Mika still won't talk to me."
"Small wonder there. You two did ruin her nice outfit," scoffed Anzu.
"What in Ra's name are you talking about?" Yami shouted, no trace of Yuugi to be found. His eyes flashed darkly and the mid-afternoon shadows twisted for a moment before he regained control of his frustration.
No one in the room missed his slight blunder. Jounouchi edged back a bit on the floor while Honda and Anzu warily glanced at each other. Almost imperceptibly, Honda nodded. "Go on, Anzu, why don't you lay things out for the Pharaoh," smirked a slightly tense Honda.
"All right, Honda, I will." Anzu took a calming breath and squared her shoulders before facing Jounouchi and Yuugi. "Okay, here's what's really going on: pretty much everything you think you know about me is a lie, as clichéd as it sounds. I am not your friend Anzu Mazaki. My name is really Tea Gardner. I am an American-born Japanese witch, sent here to gather intelligence on the holders of the Sennen Items and to take preemptive action against them, if need be. I report directly to the head of Japan's magical government and the most influential Muggle of this decade, Kaiba Seto. I am more dangerous than you would ever imagine and I'm also more than willing to start removing limbs if either of you even think about moving towards the phone or your Duel Decks. Oh, and Yami? Could just possibly refrain from using Shadow Magic? The shit you call power has a magical resonance like you wouldn't believe and it gives me headaches. Trust me, you would not want that. At all."
"Honda?" Jounouchi turned to his best friend for a reassurance that this was all made up by a crazy Anzu, hopped up on PMS medication.
Honda shook his head. "Not quite. Tristan Taylor, Unspeakable of the Department of Mysteries, Asia Branch. Gardner is my subordinate. At least, on paper," he amended, after Anzu sent a look in his direction that could peel paint.
"What have you done with our friends?" Yuugi asked, horrified and righteously angry at the same time.
"Personally, I think we made their lives a hell of a lot easier. Anzu is studying ballet in New York City, fulfilling her life-long dream, while Honda races motorcycles in Italy when he's not working to become an architect," Tea stated as she studied her glitter pink nails. "I hate pink," she muttered under her breath.
Yuugi shook his head with wide eyes, not grasping the situation. "But why?"
It was Tristan who answered. "You, my friend, or rather your parasitic counterpart is considered to be a threat to pretty much in everyone in both the magical and nonmagical worlds. We were sent undercover as damage control and had to assume your friend's identities."
"Do you have any idea how annoying it is to go on and on about friendship and shit like that? What's worse, I can't even smoke!" Tea glared at Yuugi as if it were his fault as to why she was nicotine deprived. Which, in a way, he was.
"Besides, it's safer for them to be away from you," Tristan continued on as if Tea had not interrupted. "Given how many extensively-trained agents have gone through this assignment, one can safely bet the real Anzu and Honda would have cracked far earlier. As it is, at least three agents will never be able to work anything more stressful than a remote control."
"So why don't I have a great life somewhere else?" Jounouchi asked, half-seriously.
"You duel," Tristan stated, as if it explained everything. When he saw the confused looks on their faces, he sighed. "Wizards and witches can't get a Duel Disk to work. Trust me, we've tried. Our magic interferes with the technology and the two are definitely not compatible. The few times you've seen us duel weren't real, only illusions. Besides Jou, you were born in Brooklyn. That makes you a citizen of the United States, not Japan. The Yanks don't want to commit the resources on you. Sorry, kid."
Jounouchi, true to form, ignored the important facets of the conversation and instead focused on the 'insult'. "Kid? Who ya callin' kid? I'm older than you by at least six months!"
"You're older than Honda," Tristan acidly replied. Any reminder about his demotion in age never failed to irk him, even after almost a year undercover as a teenager. "I'm twenty-fucking-three."
"While this is all very good and juicy, we do have a job to get to, Tristan. You know, the one that gets even harder to do as time goes on?" Tea impatiently pulled out a dark black wand from her left sleeve. "Petrificus totalus!" She waved her wand in her right hand at Yuugi and then Jou, freezing them in place. "Come on, help me out here a little," Tea complained to her 'commanding officer'. "Set up the cards for a duel about, say four minutes into the game?"
"No problem, Tristan replied amiably. "One duel, coming right up." He plucked a deck up off the floor, shuffled it professionally for a moment, and set up a game, playing against an imaginary opponent for a few turns. Then, picking up the other deck, he quickly fished out some cards and set up that side as well.
Tea levitated the two boys into position with a swish and flick of her wand. "Ready Tristan?"
"Tea, I was born ready," he replied with a grin.
She snorted at the corniness of the line. 'Led myself right into that one, didn't I?'
"What are you going to do?" Yuugi yelped. Or he would have, had his mouth not been frozen into a small "o". As it was, his statement came out more like "hehrewgoigoo".
Tea frowned for a moment, before deciphering what her small "friend" had mumbled out. "We're going to wipe your memory clean of this incident. Don't worry, it won't hurt a bit and your mind will come up with replacement memories. Nature abhors a void and all that jazz. Oh, Yuugi? It doesn't matter if you Mind Shuffle with Yami or not. While it may protect you from the Sennen Eye, it is nearly worthless against our magic. When the both of us hex you at the same time, it punches through what little protection the Mind Shuffle gives you both like it isn't even there." Tea grinned widely in anticipation like a kid in a candy store. Yuugi had been bugging her all week and a little comeuppance was just desserts. 'Pun unintended.'
"Yurevrgewuhis." Jou gurgled out.
"Eh?" Tea blinked.
"You'll never get away with this," Tristan translated, chuckling a bit.
"My, how terribly clichéd."
"Don't bother with your speeches, boys. This is not the first time we've done this, nor will it be the last." Tristan smirked unkindly. This assignment was easily Hell on Earth – his forced stupidity was not fun at all. He nodded at Tea.
"Three." Honda and Anzu – no, Tristan and Tea – advanced forward. Tristan had pulled out a cherry-wood wand from one of his boots and was twirling it slowly in his hands.
"Two." They stopped about five paces from the pair.
"One." Tea blew Yuugi a kiss a she raised her wand in her right hand. Tristan mock saluted them both.
It was the 23rd of October, a Friday, when the strangest sense of deja-vu swept over Yuugi Mutou, Duel Monsters Champion and puzzle aficionado. He was staring inquiringly at a brown bird, an owl to be precise, sitting outside his windowsill. The owl knocked impatiently on the glass pane with its sharp-looking beak, obviously wanting to be let in. Bemused, Yuugi undid the latch and lifted up the window so the bird could come in. Yuugi was aware of the "Hitchcock Creed", which stated that 'one should never allow birds into one's home', but it beat trying to explain to Grandpa how a large bird destroyed his bedroom window. It circled a few times before landing on the headboard of Yuugi's bed.
Katsuya Jounouchi had been flicking through the pages of a glossy Western magazine when the owl landed near his head. Wind from its passing made the blond teen look up. He shrugged and went back to the scantily clad women on the pages of his magazine. A few seconds ticked by as his brain processed the information his eyes were telling him and Jou blinked as he looked back up. "Yuugi, are you seeing what I'm seeing?"
Yuugi eyed the bird skeptically. "I think so, Jou. Are you seeing a bird in my room?"
The owl in question hooted impatiently and stuck out its left leg, a roll of faded paper attached.
"I think it wants us to take the letter," Jou offered up as a possible explanation.
"No," Yuugi argued, "it wants you to do it. Look, you're closer to it and everything."
"By a quarter of a meter." Rolling his eyes, Jounouchi put down the magazine and sat up. He slowly reached for the proffered letter with bated breath and carefully untied the knots of twine attaching it. The owl hooted happily, it's mission over, and flapped out the still-open window.
Jou eyed the parchment letter, eyebrow raised. "Who the hell is Tristan Taylor?"
Well, I have to admit, it was fun writing what I think is the first Harry Potter crossover with Anzu and Honda. Sadly, they are rather ignored by most of the YGO fandom. If you want a sequal, there's one on the back burner for now, but if no one wants it, then I'm not going to bother with writing it. Hope you enjoyed it.
TombCrank the Crafty