A/N: Hey, look, I'm not dead! But I've turned into one of those evil writers that never updates. Gomenasai!!! I finally finished it for my Christmas fic. (RENT mostly takes place on Christmas after all)
"Itai" is Japanese for "ow", and "kso" is a curse word. Some say it means "shit", but it's actually not that strong.
Beta-read by pyrocrazedgel.
Parings this chapter: Polar
Last Chapter: A year ago, Jou had something special with a girl named Miho, but it ended in tragedy when they both contracted AIDS, and she killed herself. Now Jou's time is running out. But before he goes, he wants to write one last song, and go out in a blaze of glory.
Meanwhile, Ryou finds Atem lying in the alley, and helps him. But more on them later. Remember the woman from the fire escape? Oh wait, I already said it was Mai, didn't I? Anyway, she's baaack!
Rated T (maybe even T+) for suggestive dialogue and drug references.
"Would you light my candle? ...what are you staring at?"
"Nothing. Your hair in the moonlight. You look familiar."
--Mimi and Roger, "Light My Candle" by Jonathan Larson.
Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi owns Yugioh. Jonathan Larson, rest in peace, owns RENT. I am neither of them.
Jounouchi took one last look at the bright New York skyline before going back inside. He trudged down the steps, which were almost as cold as the freezing roof. Muttering curses at Kaiba, he shut himself back in the apartment.
Unseen by Jou, a young woman--the woman from the balcony--was standing in the shadows and watching as he went into the apartment. She stepped gracefully into the hallway, and raised a hand to knock at his door. Her hand hesitated. After a brief pause, she blew out the burning candle in her hand, and then pounded the door.
Jounouchi threw his coat off and was at the window when he heard the knock. Turning around, he crossed the room and undid the latch on the door, expecting to see the familiar face of his roommate.
"Back already--?" The words died when he instead saw the beautiful woman standing in the doorway. She had long blond hair, and stunning violet eyes. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
A beautiful woman.
In his doorway.
What the HELL?
"Expecting someone else?" she asked.
"Um..." Jou said, confused. He recognized her now, from the fire escape, but that still didn't explain anything. "Can I help you?"
"Would you light my candle?" she said innocently.
"Excuse me?!" Jou stammered.
She held up the candle.
"Oh," he said, rather relieved. "Yeah. Gimme a sec." Jounouchi turned around to grab a packet of matches off of the table. The door shut suddenly, making him jump. He spun around. The woman had entered the room, and was walking towards him. Jou snatched up the matches and started fumbling with them.
"Nice place," she said conversationally.
"Not for much longer, if Kaiba has his way," Jou replied, trying to seem calm. He struck the match and she held the candle out. In the small light, he noticed her shivering hands.
"You okay?" he asked after he had lit the candle. She noticed his gaze on her hands and pulled them back. If she didn't want him to see something, then she covered it well, replying, "Just cold. They turned the heat off, remember?"
"Yeah..." Jounouchi trailed off, watching her gaze out the window. She was still smiling. It made him think of Miho. The good days with Miho, before the drugs. After a few moments, the blond woman noticed him and turned to him.
"What?" she asked.
Jou was embarrassed that he had spaced out. He fumbled for words. "Oh... sorry... you were smiling... and it just... reminded me..."
The woman smiled knowingly. "Girlfriend?"
Jounouchi shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah..."
"Didn't work out well?" she asked sympathetically. He shook his head.
"She died," he said in a hollow voice. The woman's face fell.
"Oh," she said, taken off-guard. "Sorry."
Jounouchi said nothing, and an extremely awkward silence followed. Jou fidgeted awkwardly, unsued to being in the company of a woman. He debated whether or not to continue the conversation, but his nervousness won out.
"Well, goodnight," he said, moving toward the door. She looked surprised, but followed him.
"Thanks for the light," she said, glancing at him. Jou blushed, but didn't change his mind. He opened the door, and she exited. Closing the door behind him, he breathed a sigh of relief.
Then she knocked again.
Jou jumped and nearly yelled in surprise. He whirled around, and without thinking, opened the door again. By the time he thought to just ignore the knock, he was already staring at her. The thought just as quickly left his head as his mind went blank. She held out the candle again, but Jou didn't notice. He couldn't take his eyes off of her. They stood like that for several seconds before she waved the candle around a bit. Jou started, realizing that he had been staring.
"Got a light?" She spoke up to get his attention.
"Sorry," he said quickly. He looked down at the candle for the first time. "It went out again?"
She rolled her eyes. He blushed, and reached in his pocket for the matches. They weren't there. He glanced down at the floor to see if they fell out.
"Kso," he mumbled, turning back to the apartment. Where'd they go? He quickly walked back over to the table. Shoot, he should have told her to wait in the hall. Please don't come in, please don't come in, please...
The door slammed again and Jou winced. Shoot.
"Need some help?" she asked.
"No," he said quickly. "They're right..." his eyes fell on the empty table. "...here."
She leaned over his shoulder. Jou hadn't even heard her walk across the room. He turned and their eyes met. Instead of feeling awkward and nervous again, though, Jou felt something else... She wasn't a complete stranger. He recognized her... where...?
"You look familiar," Jou said without meaning to. She seemed pleased that he had managed to get a sentence out without blushing.
"You said that already," she replied, taking a few steps back.
"No..." he answered, turning around towards her. "Not Miho... I know you from somewhere else."
"Do you, now?" she said coyly, but he wasn't thrown by her this time. For whatever reason, knowing that she wasn't a stranger made him more relaxed. "Was it from the balcony, Romeo?"
"'Romeo'? Does that make you Juliet?" he teased.
"Me?" she scoffed. "Oh yeah, I just spend my days standing on the fire escape, waiting for my prince charming to come while his family wants to kill me."
"Hey, it's New York. There's plenty of single mafia guys out there. Or gangsters."
"So now you're saying I'm Maria?"
"Except we're on the East Side," Jou said, taking a step forward. Something crunched under his foot and he looked down. They found the matches. He scooped them up and went over to her.
"And if I remember correctly," the woman said as he lit the candle. "Juliet was in the east."
"The rising sun," Jou replied, his hands lingering over the candle as their eyes met again.
"Thanks, Romeo," she said softly, leaning towards him. They drifted closer.
"No problem..." Jou replied, pulling nearer to her. They were hardly inches apart. Jounouchi felt his heart beating wildly. What was he doing? He had half a mind to pull away when she suddenly jumped and let out a little yelp of pain.
"Itai!" She exclaimed.
"You okay?" he said quickly, both relieved and slightly disappointed that they had been interrupted.
"The wax dripped," she answered sourly. She took a hand off the candle and shook it. "Itai..."
"Anything I can do?" Jou asked.
"Nah," she said. "Guess I'd better go. Thanks for the light."
Jou nodded. She turned around and made it all the way to the door. Suddenly, she stopped, and checked her pockets. She whirled around, cursing.
"What?" Jou asked, surprised.
"I... dropped something," she said evasively, bending down to search the floor. He raised an eyebrow.
"What is it?"
"Never mind that and help me look," She said.
"How am I supposed to look if I don't know what it is?" He replied. She looked up at him, and quickly put on another one of her seductive smiles.
"Oh, you just want to look from up there, is that it?" she said playfully. Jou looked confused.
"They say I have the best ass below 14th street. Is it true? You're staring again."
Jou's face reddened more than it had all night. "Oh no..." he stammered. "I didn't meant to... I mean... you do... have a nice... uh..." He quickly got down on the floor so it didn't look like he was staring anymore and changed the subject. "You look familar!"
She sighed. "You ever been to the Cat's Eye?"
"The club?" he said, surprised.
"Yeah," she said turning away from him and continuing to search the floor. "I'm a dancer there."
"Yes!" he exclaimed. He had indeed been the club before, though it was more than a year ago. "I remember now! Wow, you've been working there a while... they still tie you up?"
"Yeah, well," she answered. "Gotta pay the rent.
"No wonder I didn't recognize you. No handcuffs," he laughed. As embarrassing as it was to be rememebered for handcuffs at a night club, she couldn't help but laugh with him.
"So what're we looking for?" he said after the laughter subsided.
"My stash," she said simply. He looked up sharply.
"Stash," she repeated. "Heroin. See it yet?"
"What are you..." Jou sat down and stopped looking. That explained her shaking hands. "Why?"
"What's the problem?"
"You... you shouldn't be using that stuff," Jounouchi said shakily, thinking of himself and Miho.
"Says you," she said, sticking her tongue out at him, and resuming her search. Jou watched for a few seconds, then spotted something on the ground by her foot. He snatched it up. She whirled around at his sudden movement, just in time to see him hide it behind his back.
"What was that?" she said.
"Uh... candy bar wrapper," he lied. With his free hand he pointed, and changed the subject. "Hey, your candle's out."
She inched towards him, and he quickly stood up, slipping the small packet of powder into his back pocket. He held out his hands innocently. She eyed him suspiciously. Grinning sheepishly, Jou reached for a match. She stood up with him and tried to circle behind him. He turned with her, and they wound up face-to-face. Ignoring her attempts to get the heroin back, he struck a match and offered it. Reluctantly, she held out the candle.
"There," he said when it was lit. "That's all you wanted, right?"
"My--" she started to say, but he cut her off.
"I'll let you know if I find it," he lied again, and tried to steer her towards the door. She blew the candle out when he wasn't looking.
"Oops, it's out again," she said. Without even bothering to hide it from her, Jounouchi threw the pack of matches over his shoulder.
"That was my last match," he said. "And it's so dark in here; we'll never find it..."
"Oh, no it's not," she said quickly, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the windo. "Look at the moon." Jou sat down on the couch before she could reach for his pocket.
"That's not the moon," he replied, pretending to be annoyed. "Chris Columbus is shooting down the street."
"Oh, don't be like that," she said. "It's Christmas!"
"Bah Humbug," he answered, taking a leaf from her book and sticking his tongue out.
"I know!" she said quickly, pulling him back to his feet. "Let's dance, Romeo."
"Uh..." he stammered as she moved closer. His mind went blank again when she took his hand. "I'm Jounouchi, by the way," he stammered, sticking his hand out in front of her, forcing her to stay back. "Jounouchi Katsuya."
She rolled her eyes at his obvious attempt to keep her away. Reluctantly, she shook his hand.
"Nice to meet you," she said. Then, suddenly, she raised his hand up, slipped under his arm, and reached into his back pocket.
"I'm Mai," she said triumphantly, waving the bag in his face. "Kujaku Mai."
And without another word, she crossed the room and left.
A/N: The whole Romeo thing was a reference to the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. I believe the line is something like, "A light in yonder window breaks! It is the east, and Juliet is the sun." Then they switch to West Side Story, which is based on Romeo and Juliet, only with gangs instead of feuding families. Maria is the West Side Story equivalent of Juliet. (That's also my favorite musical. RENT's a close second.)
"They say I have the best ass..." and "I mean you do... have a nice... I mean..." were straight from the song. I couldn't help it. I can't make up good stuff like that.
Chris Columbus is the guy that directed the movie version of Rent, not the guy who sailed the ocean blue.
Next chapter: "Today 4 U". Atem finally shows up, and Jou and Yugi get to meet Bakura. Meanwhile, Anzu's having trouble with the protest and needs Yugi's help.