A/N: I don't even know why I'm writing this. This is the complete opposite of the kind of polarshipping I usually write. All my plot-bunnies are post-series, and usually involve someone almost dying. This takes place the night they first met, and has no violence whatsoever. I even make a joke about how much he eats so much. First the puppyshipping, now this! What's happening to me?
Did you know that Mai actually says "Jounouchi-kun" during the beginning of Duelist Kingdom? It made me spaz when I first read it. It made me spaz that much more when I realized that she now refers to him without an honorific, but she USED TO, which means she dropped it because they were close, not because she's rude. (Jou, on the other hand, never uses honorifics, so the only way you can tell his relationship with people is the "you" he uses.)
"The night air breathes, but not so easy as before. Did you take the time to listen to my breathe or to my words?"
--Teddy Geiger, "Night Air", from the album Underage Thinking.
Disclaimer: If I owned Yu-Gi-Oh!, you'd be watching this scene in the middle of episode three (or perhaps as a flashback in episode 15 or 31) and not reading it online.
Jounouchi Katsuya leaned against the railing; his eyes squeezed shut, trying as hard as he possibly could to ignore the motion of the ship. A dull light burned behind him, mounted on the outside wall of the first-class cabins. The fluorescent bulb shone on his back, unfortunately not warming him in the slightest. It was bad enough to be sick, but seasick and freezing cold--he hadn't properly dried off yet. The wind blew on his face as he stuck his head over the edge of the ship. Oh, why'd he have to eat so much? His stomach churned and he gripped the rail tightly. Come on, not again...
Kujaku Mai watched the seasick boy from her cabin window, his voice echoing in her head. Thanks for givin' me one of your star chips. Annoyed, she turned away from the window.
Baka, she thought, flopping down comfortably on the couch. Look at him; he couldn't even handle the boat ride. What chance did he stand at the tournament with just one star chip? He couldn't even be more than 16. Mai shuffled her deck absentmindedly.
First time on a ship, girl? You better get used to it.
She started flipping through the cards. Anyone who was lame enough to get seasick... her hands stopped moving instinctively as she remembered the smooth playing cards in her hands eight years ago.
I ain't puttin' a seasick dealer at the tables.
Mai quickly threw the Duel Monsters cards down on the table, eager to push the memories out of her mind. She glanced at the window again. Without thinking, Mai slipped her jacket on, tugged on her boots, and left the room. Voices from the past flitted through her's head as she made her way through the ship.
Suck it up, kid. Unless you'd rather go hungry, I don't feed employees that can't work.
Come on, Kujaku, it's been four days. You don't get your sea legs soon you're off at the next port.
Yeah, you can tell that to the patrons when you lose it at the table. You're off.
Mai found herself unexpectedly standing behind the younger duelist. A breeze picked up and ruffled his blond hair, his head still hanging over the railing.
"Hey." It sounded a heck of a lot cooler in Mai's head. But then again, what does a 24-year old woman say to a 16-year old boy she just met?
"Nng," Jounouchi groaned, not even looking at her. She wondered if he recognized her voice.
"Seasick, Jounouchi-kun?" Oh, this was going extremely well. Mai all but smacked herself in the forehead. If years of casino dealing taught her anything, it was the art of conversation. That was not conversation. Hell, that wasn't even small talk. That was Mai not knowing what to say around a 16-year old boy. She might as well start talking about the weather.
Luckily for her, Jounouchi was not so well-versed in the ways of the world. Well, that, and he was too busy trying not to throw up in front of her. After a moment's pause, he responded.
"No." He sounded so pitiful, Mai couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or trying to hide the obvious fact. Groaning, he backed away from the railing and leaned against the wall.
"First time on a ship?" Mai asked. Well, at least it wasn't as pathetic as the weather. One more sentence like that, though, and her old boss would turn over in his grave.
"Yeah," he said with a bit more energy than before. "Didn't feel anything before, though..."
"Huh. Wouldn't know anything about that..." It was true. Mai had been seasick from the moment she stepped on her first ship. Took her two weeks to completely get her sea legs--the longest time it'd taken anyone, they told her. They wouldn't give her any Dramamine because then she'd just get sick again on the next job. It'd been two of the worst weeks of her life, but now she could ride boats.
Personally, she wished they'd just given her the Dramamine.
"Ohh..." Jou slid down the wall, shivering. He sat down heavily, wrapping his arms around himself.
"Hey," Mai said, more concerned. "You okay?" Shivering was bad. she had more than enough bad memories of being on ships to know that.
"Stomach's getting better... I'm just... cold..." he mumbled.
"What're you doing out here, then?" Mai chuckled. Stupid kid. He was lucky, then, if he was just cold.
"Can't stay in there. Makes me sick." Not full sentences, but at least he was talking a bit more.
Mai casually walked over next to him and leaned against the wall. "Eh, it's not that bad out here. Now the Atlantic, that's cold." The boy said nothing, and Mai glanced down at him. He was hunched over pathetically, hugging himself for warmth.
"Oh, come on," Mai said, remembering her days on the ships. She nudged him with her shoe. "It's not that..." She trailed off. Her bare leg had brushed against his arm, sending a chill through her. What the heck...? She leaned over and put his hand on his shoulder. It was soaked, and freezing cold. She quickly withdrew her hand, startled.
"What happened to you?" she asked, eying him up and down. It was hard to tell in the dim light, but now that she was looking for it, she saw that he was completely drenched.
"I..." he stopped mid-sentence and eyed her suspiciously, thinking of the disadvantage Yugi would be in if word got out. Now if he had just taken the time to think about how idiotic it was to jump off of an ocean liner... "Nothing."
Mai wasn't fooled. "What'd you do, fall off the boat?"
Jou didn't say anything, but put his head back down.
"Aw, they didn't throw you off, did they?" Mai glanced up and down the deck. It probably wouldn't be good for her to be talking to someone who got kicked out.
"No," Jou said firmly, his head snapping back off. "Like I'd let them."
"Well something happened. There's not a cloud in the sky, so don't try to tell me it rained."
"Doesn't matter," he mumbled.
"They--he's inside, sleeping."
Jou quickly looked away from her, his face burning, so she figured it'd be best to just pretend he hadn't let anything slip.
"And you're out here, freezing your ass off."
"Can't go back in, makes me sick."
"Baka," she muttered. He said nothing. They stayed there together in silence for a bit. Why did this kid make her think so much of her past? Not just the stuff that happened. It was like... something she'd had a long time ago and forgotten about. Lost. Been taken from her. Not innocence, not from a punk kid like this, but... something close to it.
"Baka," she said again, though who she was referring to was anyone's guess. Pushing off the wall, she strode away suddenly. Jou looked up when he heard her shoes clacking on the hardwood deck, but said nothing. When she was out of sight, he sighed, and rested his head on his arms. He was tired all of a sudden. Jumping off of a cruise ship into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and almost drowning probably had something to do with that.
He had almost fallen asleep when something whacked him in the head. He looked up to see a blanket slide off of him and fall onto the floor. He raised his head to meet Mai's gaze.
She looked like she wanted to say something. Probably an insult, but she decided against it, and just stared at him. He didn't know what to make of it. Why was she helping him? Though for that matter, why had she even talked to him in the first place? Well, he wasn't that proud. Jou grabbed the blanket up and eagerly covered himself with it.
"Well..." Mai hesitated. Oh, what was it about this kid that made her so inarticulate? All that training for dealing with tough customers, and Mai was getting thrown off by some boy. Now what was she supposed to say to him? There was a "good night" on the tip of her tongue, which bewildered her immensely. 'See you around'? 'Later'? 'Good luck in the tournament'! SOMETHING. The words all jumped into her mind at once, and she opened her mouth.
THAT was your brilliant exit, Kujaku? 'Well... yeah'? Fudo-san wasn't just going to roll over in his grave, he was going to come back from the dead just to yell at her. She was going to have to duel the heck out of this kid when they got to the island to prove she wasn't a complete idiot. Stupid...
Mai turned to go back and waved a little half-wave at him. She was walking away already, but Jou nodded in acknowledgement. He was certainly puzzled by her actions, but then again, he was puzzled by Anzu smacking him in the forehead and calling him an idiot when he asked Honda what the big deal was when Miho said hi. For that matter, just about anything that came out of a girl's mouth puzzled him. Jou shrugged. At least he didn't have to freeze all night, now. And she'd actually talked to him... heh... he'd have to remember to tell Yugi about this. Maybe Honda, too, the next time he went off about Miho.
A/N: And so begins what I hope will be a summer full of fanfiction updates. Next chapter of No Day But Today is on the way, along with at least two more polar one-shots.
I've never actually been seasick, so I have no idea if you can actually get it later on like Jou does. ;; If I've got any details wrong that can't be attributed to jumping off a boat (seriously! who jumps off of an ocean liner?) then review and tell me, and I'll fix it. For something that takes place in-series, I thought it was a cute enough little fic. Now if I could just write something like this for the contest, I'd be all set. Not like I'm going to win, not against all those awesome people, but I'd like to at least last another round.
Bonus for anyone who stuck around this long in the Author Notes! Something of a drabble, goes with this fic.
Mini-epilogue, Ten years later: There were many things Jou did that made Mai want to smack him upside the head. Jumping off of a hundred-foot ship into the Pacific ocean in the middle of the night for a handful of Duel Monsters cards was one of them. After hearing about the number of times Jou had nearly died throughout his adventures, Mai had developed a standard response, which she employed now.
"You did WHAT?!"
Jou grinned sheepishly like he always did, and Mai wondered why on Earth she loved him. He would then regale her with a tale of how he actually died--no joke, his heart stopped and everything--during the Battle City tournament, and she would remember. She would also proceed to actually smack him upside the head, causing many restaurant patrons to look at them oddly. Mai pretended to fume, and Jou just laughed.