Title: Good Night and then Goodbye
By: Azurite
Pairing: Seto Kaiba x Anzu Mazaki
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh
Theme: #24 (good night)
Disclaimer: I don't own them. But the Froot Loops own me.

This ficlet is in response to the 30kisses (LiveJournal community) pairing: Seto Kaiba x Anzu Mazaki (Yu-Gi-Oh) but also Harlequine's newest, latest, and quite possibly greatest 30 minute challenge. You can find details and more at her LiveJournal, wickeddawn . (Don't click unless you will NOT participate or you're ready to participate NOW!)

"I won't defend you anymore. I can't defend you anymore. You're on your own."

She forced herself to turn away, keeping her hands clenched into tight fists at her side. If she faced him now, he'd know —he'd see right through her, the way he always did. He'd know she was doing this to save herself from so much future heartache, to save themboth

He stood there, his face as perfectly stoic and expressionless as ever. The truth was, cold, numbing shock was filtering its way through his system, and for once, he was reacting the way any normal person would. He couldn't accept it, so the words just kept echoing in his mind, over and over and over…

"Are you listening to me?" she continued, her voice strained. He wasn't paying attention to the nuances in her voice like he always did— though it was usually more of a subconscious action than something he intentionally did whenever he was around her. At least, that's what he told himself… repeatedly.

"This isn't just 'good night,' Kaiba," Anzu gritted, trying to force her irritation to grow, rather than ebb away. If she could just stay angry at him for a bit longer, perhaps it would make it easier in the long run. She could remember how stupid it was how they always fought like this when they were alone, but there was always that strange satisfaction… and she would forget about all the reasons why she defended him, the one who claimed not to need anyone or anything, whenever they were around anyone else.

"This is good night and then good bye. Do you get it?"

The silence was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Slowly but surely, every moment that he didn't speak, Anzu's defenses crumbled. Her whole speech, prepared to account for every contingency, started to fade, forgotten. Why was she doing this again? Why was she throwing away the possibility for something that could be everything to her?

'Because I'd never be his everything!' Anzu reminded herself fiercely. So long as she stayed in this not-quite-friendship with Kaiba, everything would always be a muddle. She would never really know how he felt or when, or exactly what he liked and disliked— if he even liked anything at all. The smallest things always seemed to irritate him, and she was sick of being on that list…

Still no answer. More silence. More of her strength chipping away, with every word he didn't speak, with every second passing where she longed to turn around and see…

'Is he even still there? Has he walked away? Or if he is still standing there…'

The temptation began to build. She wanted to turn, she wanted to look and see what sort of expression was on his face this time. Would doing so be giving in, giving up— setting herself and her fragile heart up for more disaster? What if he looked at her the way he almost always did— like he didn't care about her in the least?

And what if he didn't?

She had three options, then:
One - Turn around and face him… if he was even there. Deal with the situation as it presented itself;
Two - Don't turn around. Just keep talking until the bonehead says something at last; or
Three - Stop talking. Forget him, forget everything you felt, forget everything you've been through. Just walk away and leave his idiotic expressionless face behind.

Were there any other choices? Anzu wracked her brain for any other possibilities —none of the ones she considered were all-too appealing. Choice One could be the end of any so-called relationship they had, and the start of a fresh heartbreak. Two and Three would be safer for her… but more cowardly. Could she ever forgive herself if she couldn't face him, and let him see what she felt? Even if she could never say it, surely one look would be all he'd need to see and realize and understand…

She took one deep breath, sucking in the cold night air through her nose and letting the icy winter weather whip through her senses. She closed her eyes carefully, silently praying to any gods or spirits out there. Her thoughts were still a jumble, but her prayer was simple: "Let this work."

When she opened her eyes, the midnight blue sky seemed even more brilliant, as if hundreds more stars had suddenly come to life in that lapse of a few moments. The atmosphere was right, her feelings were "right" and now…

'The ball's in his court,' Anzu thought to herself, bracing the whole of her —body, mind, and soul— for what she was about to do, for who she was about to face.

And then she turned around.