DIS: Songs to thank for my inspiration: "Untitled" by Simple Plan, "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North, "Fall for you" and "Vulnerable" by Secondhand Serenade. Thank you for all the reviews and concrit during this story. I really would not have finished this without knowing that you guys were waiting for me to update. Additional blubbering will be at the end. For now, enjoy!
Fingerprints: Part XIV
Anzu shifted from foot to foot anxiously, standing at the tall clock that Malik bade her to meet him at. She checked the time on her phone. It was not yet a minute after the last time she had looked at it, only four minutes since she had gotten off the phone with him. He was, no doubt, still at home when calling her. She sighed and crossed her arms, tapping them impatiently, rocking side to side and looking around, her brow furrowing worriedly. She moved to check her phone again when she heard the rumble of a motorcycle. She dropped her arms, but the motorcycle continued past and the man was burly rather than nimble like Malik.
This is stupid, she thought to herself, suddenly angry. You knew this was coming, Anzu. She had done most of her worrying and crying over Malik's departure long before this moment and, in fact, as soon as she had been told of the plan. Part of her was anxious because she knew how upset Malik would be, but more than anything, she was worried at what Malik would say once she told him that she had known all along that he would be returning to Egypt. Should I even tell him? she wondered and then hastily shook her head. Of course I should. He's my best friend, why lie to him? He'll be upset, but I'm sure he'll understand once he's calmed down. Unfortunately, Anzu's mental argument was not all that comforting.
She checked her phone again. Six minutes had passed. No, wait... Seven minutes. She put her phone away again and began to sigh heavily. She also wondered whether Marik had been there when Isis delivered the news. She could only imagine how much worse it would be if Marik sat in his impassive manner, completely unsurprised, as Isis delivered the news. Malik would know that he had also known the news and that the only person unaware was himself. This is horrible, she realized, pushing a hand through her hair. This must be the worst case scenario...It must be.
This time, when there was a rumble of a motorbike, she didn't look up, staring at the ground. "Anzu," a voice called to her, startling her from her thoughts. She looked around, bewildered, before her eyes found Malik on his bike. His face was set in a neutral expression as he pulled off his helmet and he offered it to her. She took it and paused, staring up in his face with concern. "Not here," he murmured, averting his gaze. "Get on." His tone was strangely brusque, not at all to what she was accustomed. However, she obeyed and settled behind him, closing her arms around him. He barely waited for her to secure her feet before pulling away from the sidewalk.
She tried very hard not to notice that they were going somewhere that she had not been before. She tried to ignore the fact that they were going faster than he normally would have gone while riding with her. She tried to pretend that his body wasn't so stiff and tense. She tried to keep thinking of him as her best friend and less the monster that he turned into when he became angry. She was frightened and perhaps he knew by her grip because he slowed his speed somewhat to reassure her of her safety.
They ended up some ways from the city and at a small beach that lied outside of Domino. It was here that Malik paused, waiting for Anzu to get off and hand him the helmet before setting his bike up. He walked a few paces, turning the helmet in his hands and then violently hurling it into the sand. Anzu watched him with sad eyes, saying nothing. She shivered slightly from the wind that passed over her. "You knew," he said in a quiet, hollow voice after a length of silence. "You knew what was coming and you never told me." He turned to look at her, a pained expression on his face. "How could you not tell me, Anzu?"
"I'm sorry," she whispered, closing her eyes, blocking out his face. "I wanted to, Malik...I really did, but Isis and Marik made me promise – " She realized her mistake a second too soon.
"Marik made you promise?" he spat caustically. "Oh and keeping a promise to Marik means more than telling your best friend that his sister was planning on dragging him to another fucking continent? Is it, Anzu?"
"No!" she hastily said. "It was more of Isis than Marik. She...she wants what's best for you and...and I know that I have no business butting into family issues. I found that out the hard way, didn't I?" He just shook his head disgustedly, staring moodily towards the lake. "I'm sorry, Malik...I really did want to tell you about it, but how could I? You have no idea how it felt to know that I was going to lose you to Egypt."
"If you asked me to stay here, Anzu," he quietly murmured, "I would do it in an instant. I would run away to New York to be with you." He paused and turned to look at her seriously. "If you accepted me as your boyfriend, I would do anything for you. You know that. If you really feared losing me all you had to do was tell me and then say that you wanted me to go to Julliard with you and I would have done it." She closed her eyes again, bowing her head in shame. Marik had been right when he had spoken about Malik.
"...Most would sacrifice everything they have for that one emotion. Malik would throw away his entire life to follow you to New York and he would make himself even more miserable than sitting here, waiting for you, hoping that you might one day change and be more than his friend. It is better, therefore, for him to go to Egypt and let thoughts such as that be gone."
You were so right, Marik, she thought and then she felt a rush of shame, realizing what she had been doing. "I shouldn't have asked you for help with my exam," she quietly said.
"What?" he snapped, his temper barely held in check. "What are you talking about?"
"I just...I thought that if I could pretend to be your friend, maybe you could just forget. Instead I ignored anything like that and encouraged it, being comfortable by it and taking comfort in your feelings for me. I've only been hurting you more."
"Damn it, Anzu!" She was startled as he whipped around and stormed towards her. She took a step back, but he grasped her arms and pulled her up so that they were nose-to-nose. "I don't give a shit whether it hurts me. Every moment I've shared with you, every moment I've smiled and been able to be happy I have been thankful for. Introducing me to Miho and Honda...making me feel like I was really worth something...that is more important than my feelings get a little hurt."
He loosened his grip on her arms, conscious that his nails were digging into her skin. "My heart breaks a little every time I see your face," he continued in a soft voice, raising a hand and plunging it in her hair, "because I know that you'll never be mine. You're the unearthly treasure that I'll never have and yet I still covet it. Just a glimpse of that treasure and I feed the addiction and I don't give a damn that it hurts every time I'm away from you. Because...I know that the next day I'll get to see you smile at me and say good morning or some other greeting. And that keeps me satisfied, even if at the end of every day a little piece of me dies." He released her, a morose expression crossing his face. "I knew that the first time I was aware of how I felt for you that it wasn't going to be easy. I was prepared for that, no matter what the case. And, really, that isn't what hurts me the most."
"Then what is?" she asked, feeling tears building behind her eyes.
"The fact that you'll miss him more than me," Malik said quietly. Anzu froze, staring at him, unable to speak. "Don't try to deny it, either, Anzu. There's something that you have with him that you don't have with me, something that draws you to him rather than me. I hate him for it. Him, having something so fucking special and not even knowing what to do with it." He gave a bitter laugh. "The irony of it all..."
"I don't – " she began unsteadily, but he interrupted her.
"Yes, you do, Anzu," he sighed heavily, closing his eyes and tipping his head back. "Maybe it's not love, but it's something. I love the beach," he added as a remark, the wind diving into his hair, blowing the long strands around his face.
For a long time, Malik stood that way with Anzu watching him silently, a churning of emotions curling in the pit of her chest. She then stepped towards him and put a hand on his arm, causing him to return his head to its normal position and look at her. She slid a hand behind his neck, pulling his forehead down against hers. "I love you, Malik, and someday you'll find someone that will treat you better than I have." Before he could give a sarcastic quip, Anzu pulled his face to hers and hesitantly pressed her lips to his. When she withdrew, he simply gazed at her with an enigmatic stare and then turned and looked out at the waters that lapped against the beach. The waves clashed against the land violently. Anzu, too, looked out at it and closed her eyes.
"Maybe," he finally said, "but I'll never find someone who could have helped me become who I am now."
She smiled and turned her head to look at him, pushing her hair behind her ear. "Maybe." He glanced at her and offered a small smile in return.
The week that followed was long for Anzu, who had her test results rushed to Julliard so that she might begin preparing for her departure to New York or her new life in Domino without her best friend, as he was due to be moving to Egypt in three to four weeks. She avoided thinking about the other male that she would be losing in the move as well. She had helped Malik go shopping to find some things that he might want to remind him of Domino. He requested that they go to the photo booth at the mall and they spent a good deal of money on film strips, which neither of them seemed to mind. By Tuesday of the following week, Anzu would have her results and then they both would have to make plans.
"It doesn't seem fair," Miho admitted when the two of them had gone out Saturday night, sitting at an internet café, drinking raspberry Italian sodas. "I mean, how can Isis do that to him? He has friends now, has a life, and seems perfectly happy where he is. You two are practically glued at the hip and she wants to tear this away from him?" She gestured around her to indicate Domino City in general. "Why doesn't she take herself and leave?"
"Well, she has Rishid and Marik to think of, too."
"She can take the psycho while she's at it," Miho said firmly. Anzu didn't reply, staring glumly across the room. Miho noticed her expression and gave her a puzzled look. "Anzu? What's wrong?"
"He's not a psycho, Miho. Marik's actually very knowledgeable...he sees more than other people do. I've talked to him," she admitted. Miho looked surprised by this, but had no judging expression on her face as Shizuka tended to whenever she spoke of Marik. "If it wasn't for him...I don't really think I would have ever stopped being abused by Jounouchi and Yuugi and their idea of 'friendship' if it wasn't for Marik. I also wouldn't have realized that this return to Egypt is a good thing for Malik."
"What? That's crazy, Anzu!"
"No, it's not," she said with a sigh. "I've been leading him on a chase that I didn't even realize I was enacting. He loves me and I treated him like any other friend, got comfortable with him so that he would become even more attached. It was wrong of me to do that and I should have realized that I was doing that. I shouldn't have gotten closer after he admitted to loving me, but stayed at the same distance that I had been. I feel so awful about it...knowing that I've been hurting him so much all this time." She shook her head. "It's better for him to be there and away from me. He can find someone that he can truly love and will love him in return. He deserves that. He deserves so much more than I've given him...toying with his emotions, just like Yuugi and Jounouchi did to me with their false friendship." She paused and then added, "He told me he would go to New York with me if I agreed to date him."
"I just don't understand how you can't love him, Anzu," Miho sighed. "The first time you told me that, I was really doubtful to be honest. The way you two act, you might as well have been a couple. Are you sure that you're not making a mistake? Maybe you really do love him that way and simply aren't aware of it." She leaned forward and touched her hand very lightly. Anzu looked at her. Miho's feathery eyebrows were knitted together in worry. "Sometimes you have to be best friends first before you can be lovers. Whoever you are with should always be your friend. It took me forever before I agreed to go out with Honda and that's because I thought he was just a friend and would only ever be that way." She hesitated. "I don't want you making a mistake. Once he goes to Egypt, that's the end of it, Anzu. He'll be forced to find someone else."
"I know," Anzu calmly replied, "but I also know that my heart won't ever be his." Not when I'm losing it elsewhere, she added silently to herself.
Miho shook her head, seeming to find her more than a little ridiculous. "I think you're making a mistake. Someone as good looking, intelligent, and faithful as Malik doesn't come by very often. He understands everything you've been through, too."
"I know," she repeated. "I know..." Miho surveyed her and then sighed again, clearly giving up on the subject and simply letting Anzu be. They spent the rest of the night discussing other things, Anzu purposely controlling the conversation so that Miho did not feel compelled to return to the subject.
On Tuesday, she received her letter and she, her mom, and Malik sat around the table staring at it. Malik was frowning very hard at it, as if willing it to be an acceptance letter. It was not the same type of envelope that she had received last time, so Anzu allowed herself to dare to hope. "Okay," Anzu released a breath and looked from her mother to her friend, "let's do this." They both nodded, serious expressions on their faces. Anzu took the letter opener from where it was placed by her right hand and then picked up the letter, pushing the metal up against the paper. She set it down and looked up to meet Malik's eyes. If she ended up staying in Domino, her life would only be more miserable. She would be living a life reminding her of him and that would be too much. He smiled encouragingly. She removed the papers from the envelope and stared at the first line.
Congratulations! We have received the results of your cumulative entrance exam and, having found your scores acceptable, are pleased to welcome you to Julliard School of Dance...
She lurched out of her seat, squealing, jumping up and down. "I passed, I passed, I passed!" Her mother's face lit up with joy and Malik beamed at her. He rose out of the seat while her mother put her hands to her mouth, tears gathering in her eyes.
"Well done – " he began and Anzu threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. He put his arms around her a little uncertainly and then tightened his hold around her. "Good job, Anzu," he murmured in her ear. "I knew you could do it."
"Thank you," she whispered, her eyes clenched tight to hold in the tears of happiness. "Thank you so much, Malik..."
They went out that night in celebration with Miho and Honda, who both congratulated her. There was raucous laughter and idiocy, including Honda driving while drinking through the city, blaring loud techno music that caused people to give them dirty looks. However, none of them cared and for Anzu and Malik, this would be one of the last few moments of happiness that they would have with their friends, let alone together. While Anzu would be able to return and enjoy her friends' company, Malik would never see Miho and Honda after moving. And that, really, was reason for any act of desperation. If it meant driving and acting recklessly, then they were prepared to accept that.
"Let's go to the beach outside Domino if you're going to do that," Malik suggested when Honda pulled out a bag of fireworks. "I'm not too hot on having Isis bail me out of jail."
"Or my mom," Anzu added, taking a drink of her beer.
"A beach?" Miho repeated a bit dimly, her senses dulled by the alcohol. She laughed suddenly. "If only it was warmer, we could go skinny dipping!" Whatever any of the others thought about that was drowned out as Anzu and Malik started yelling at Honda as he ran through a red light. Honda, having been taking a long drink from his bottle at that moment, laughed it off and then shifted his route so that they were heading out of Domino City and to the beach.
They collected their alcohol, a dirty blanket that was stuffed in Honda's trunk, and the fireworks and settled out on the beach. Honda and Miho went and set off the bigger fireworks that Honda had, crying out as soon as they went off and erupting in ridiculous laughter. Anzu and Malik sat at the blanket with sparklers, drawing little things in the air with them. Their attention was diverted as Honda and Miho came running to them, panting, "Look in the air, look!" They both looked up just as the firework went off, showering the sky with large sparkles of different colours, lighting up the beach. The water reflected the fireworks and each of their faces were lit up from the light.
"Wow, it's so pretty," Anzu breathed, a delighted smile on her lips.
"Yeah...," Malik slowly responded, staring at the show as well, "it really is."
That was the last time that Anzu visited the beach with her friends and Malik.
Anzu walked through the park slowly, her hands tucked inside her jacket. The temperature had finally dropped to where a jacket was required. She looked out at the grass that was beginning to look rather neglected and frost bitten. The mornings had gotten fiercely cold and any unprotected plants had died from the change in temperature. The park was empty of its usual inhabitants, those of which had been children, elderly couples, or people walking their dogs. Anzu peered through some trees that had lost most of their leaves and recalled the last time she had been in the park. There had been children playing soccer in the expanse of green and she had been on the bench not too far from where she was standing.
Walking around the bend, her steps slowed seeing a figure settled on the bench. She recognized the still male after a moment and when she determined who her companion was, she continued forward and then settled on the bench. Marik opened his eyes, glancing at her, and then he closed his eyes again, apparently disinterested and unbothered by her presence.
Anzu did not say anything to him, sitting and staring ahead of her instead. She had been busy with phone interviews for the few weeks and calling on apartments around the campus. She had gained a job and also an apartment, using money from savings for the first and last month and the down payment. Americans, she remembered thinking, seemed a bit too suspicious for her liking, asking for that much money so soon. She had packed all her things in her room, with help from her mother. Malik had been scarce, having his own packing to prepare. He would be leaving a day after she was leaving and had a lot to get done and seemed to be distancing himself somewhat from her. She felt a little hurt by it, but understood the necessity of it.
"Just like last time, hmm, Mazaki?" Marik queried mildly.
"It is a bit," she agreed. "Isis is letting you wander around?"
"She's too busy to care what I am doing."
They fell silent once again and Anzu, having been occupied by other thoughts, was finally able to consider over Malik's words. She had taken them as an accusation at first, but now knew that he was just trying to allow her to come to terms with her own feelings while acknowledging that he was aware of them. Her relation to Marik had always been one that she had carefully avoided considering too deeply upon. She was unsure of whether it was love, either, but just as Malik had said, there was definitely something there. She had firmly told herself that he was just another friend and that was something that she could handle. Anything else, however, and she felt uncomfortable and awkward, as if in a situation she knew she ought not to be in. "Marik," she said, recalling one of their previous conversations. He opened his heavily lidded eyes and shifted his gaze to her. "What is the one thing that you don't understand?" She met his eyes in a challenging stare, daring him to try and avoid the question.
A corner of his mouth tilted upward in a humorless smirk. "What is the one thing you don't understand, Mazaki?"
Baffled, she frowned and considered over the question. "Love," she decided after a moment's pause.
"Then I have no need to answer your question," he coolly stated, lifting up some of his hair to examine it. Anzu watched him, her mouth turning down. "Despite having observed Malik's fumbles, despite having watched modern humans trip over each other just because of this emotion and despite experience, I have yet to come to any conclusion about it except for the sentiments that I had expressed in your bedroom when the subject was broached." He dropped his hair and pushed his hands in his pockets, tilting his head to look at her and flash an unpleasant grin. "And yet you were the one lecturing me about it and you do not understand it, either."
"I understand what it is to feel it," Anzu responded, "but I'll never understand it as an emotion. Sometimes I don't even recognize it when I feel it."
"I am unsurprised," came his sarcastic reply. "You are perpetually mistaking one emotion for the other – or lying to comfort yourself."
Anzu recognized the jibe, but chose not to say anything. She sat in the cold, wondering why she continued to sit there with her silent partner when he was saying nothing. After nearly ten minutes, she told him, "I'm leaving for Julliard tomorrow morning. Malik promised he would see me off at my house before I go to the airport. My things have already been shipped over to America." He made a low sound to acknowledge her. "I won't see him again after this."
"Pity," he said rather rudely.
She tilted her head and looked at him. "I won't see you again, either," she added, watching his face for any change in expression. His eyes narrowed slightly and he shifted, turning to look at her. She stared back at him. Her throat suddenly constricted, feeling nervous about her next words. Her lips parted and she did not say anything immediately. She licked her lips and then told him in a soft voice, "I...really care for you." He continued to stare at her, as if wondering if she had more to say than that. "I'm, um, going to miss you." His eyes narrowed into slits. She couldn't keep looking at him and dropped her gaze. "I know that even if I stayed, even if you weren't going to Egypt, things wouldn't ever work out and we would never...never - you know - but...I feel like I should really tell you this before I go somewhere else." She stopped, waiting for some kind of response, but only silence met her ears, so she raised her eyes; he wore an unfathomable expression on his face.
"I know," he said to her at last.
Despite how short it was, it was reassuring to Anzu rather than having him stare at her in the manner that he was. She did not stay long after that, feeling entirely embarrassed. She rose to her feet a few minutes later and had intended on going the long way home so that she could simply walk off and not pass him, but an idea occurred to her and she chose to return the way she had come. She paused in front of him and he looked up at her. She tucked her hair behind her ear and then leaned down, tilting her face towards his. She paused a moment, lifting her eyes to his. When he simply met her gaze, she closed the space, their cold lips pressing together. She felt him apply pressure to her lips and after a few more seconds, she pulled away just as her lips had begun to warm. "Goodbye, Marik."
As she turned away, he said, "Farewell, Anzu."
She smiled to herself as she walked away. It was the only time that he had ever used her name. She wanted to turn around, but instead she continued walking forward and after awhile, tears began to spill onto her cheeks. Stupid, she thought, smiling grimly. You're just so stupid.
The next day when Malik saw her off, he hugged her fiercely and whispered in her ear, "We'll both miss you." She gave him a startled look and he just shook his head. "He was moody last night," he explained. "Anzu, promise me that you will e-mail me occasionally and tell me how things are."
He smiled and as her own eyes began to fill with tears, so did his. She tried to control hers, but he hugged her again and she clung to him. "I wish I didn't have to let you go," he told her hoarsely. She just nodded mutely, afraid to talk. He gave her a last, final squeeze and then hastily stepped back to where his sister was waiting with the car. Isis raised a hand in farewell to Anzu, who waved back. Isis's mouth tilted in a small smile and then she took Malik's arm, gently pulling him towards the car. Anzu's parents called for her, as well, and as she got in the car, she pressed herself against the window, feeling strange, like a part of her had been stolen out of her body.
We were practically glued at the hip, she mused, and now we've had to be cut away from each other. She spread her hands on the window. Weird how much it can hurt to lose two of the most important people in your life... She closed her eyes and dropped her hands.
At the airport, her parents hugged her and her mother said, "It'll be a completely different life for you in America, Anzu. Think you can handle it?" She smiled at her daughter to show her that she was only teasing.
Anzu considered the life she had had in Domino and laughed. "Definitely."
DIS: Ahh...Sad panda. :( It's the end. I'm actually pretty satisfied with how I did the relationship with the two guys in the end. I always intended her to be with Marik and with him in the picture, Anzu could never be with Malik and all considering, this had to be the way that it ended. I've had the ending decided for some time, actually. I put a little document on my desktop so I wouldn't forget and would strive towards that end rather than go crazy with some manipulashipping lol. In any case, I really have all my reviewers and readers to thank for this story. I'm sorry that it's been sluggish lately, but at least I did get to finish it and it did not remain forgotten! I'm really rather proud of this story for the mere reason that it may be the only story that I managed to keep Marik in character without altering him too much. In any case, please leave me a last review telling me how you liked the ending and whatnot. Ciao!