A/N: Final chapter. You didn't think it was going to end with them apart, did you?
Stinson beach is a real place, around 35-45 minutes outside of San Francisco, and from the google image searches and maps, it looks like there could be houses. It was the farthest beach from the city that was still considered a San Francisco beach, so it made the most sense for the house in Doom.
The bit quoted from episode 92 is the crappy subs. I won't use the dub, but I don't know much Japanese, and for once, the bootleg subs were half-decent. And yes, Mai really does say "Jou".
Sorry to anyone I review replied to and said that this chapter would be up last week. I had some other stuff going on, (including finishing an AMV) but I made sure I at least posted by the end of the week. Thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed, especially dancers of the night, journey maker, and my good friend RB, who reviewed both chapters. Thanks also to Blaze and Red Archery Girl, fellow polarshipping authors, and Materialgirl, who I believe has reviewed my stuff before? Don't forget to critique and let me know exactly what you liked so I make the next story better!
Beta-read by pyro-crazed gel. Thanks, gel! Don't know what I'd do without you.
"Who I am hates who I've been, but who I am will take the second chance you gave me. Who I am hate who I've been, 'cause who I've been only ever made me."
-"Who I Am Hates Who I've Been" by Relient K, from the album Mmhmm.
Mai stepped out into the blazing California sun, hitching her overnight bag higher up on her shoulder. She was here, now what? She had called Shizuka again from the New York airport--almost losing her nerve and needing reassurance--but Jounouchi had failed to tell her where exactly he was staying. She had called him, trying to get the information from him, but he'd gotten suspicious, despite her (completely untrue) reassurances that she wasn't going to tell Mai because she had no way to get in touch with Mai. She also mentioned that she certainly would tell Mai if she did know where to call, resulting in Jounouchi hanging up the phone, calling back to apologize half an hour later, then hanging up again before Shizuka could ask anything.
So Mai had spent the entire plane ride thinking of how exactly to find Jounouchi. Armed with a photo that she had miraculously found in a magazine on the plane--probably because of the major tournament right now--and no plan other than asking people if they'd seen him, Mai hailed a cab.
"Where to?" the cabby called over his shoulder, starting the engine. Mai slid into the backseat, slamming the door shut behind her.
"Into the city," Mai said in better English than Jounouchi. "I don't care where."
"Can I ask why?" the man asked, curious. They slowly started driving away from the terminal.
"I'm looking for someone," Mai replied truthfully. Well, if she was going to find Jounouchi, she might as well start somewhere. Fishing the magazine clipping out of her pocket, she passed it up to him. "Seen him?"
The cab driver immediately pulled over.
"What--?" Mai started to ask, but the driver cut her off.
"Yeah!" he exclaimed. He spun around, pointing at the picture. "Came in a couple days ago, right?"
Mai nodded, hardly able to believe her luck.
"Yeah, I remember 'cause he didn't say anything," the driver continued. "Got in the cab and just sat there for a few minutes. I asked him where he was going, but he wouldn't say anything. That's real odd--usually the tourists at least start talking in their own language, and the businessmen know how to say where they're going. I finally asked him if he wanted a hotel and he nodded. I kept looking at him in the mirror, that's how I remember his face."
"Do you remember the hotel you took him to?" Mai said, not daring to hope for his answer.
"Sure I do!" He looked up at Mai suddenly. "You his girlfriend?"
Mai wished she wouldn't blush every time someone said anything to that effect. "That's what I'm here to find out."
Jounouchi looked up suddenly. What...? He was in a cab. He blinked a couple of times, realizing that he had dozed off. Jou glanced out the window and saw the ocean. That's right. He wanted to go to the beach. Why the heck did he want to do THAT? His train of thought was interrupted by the cabbie clearing his throat. Jounouchi hastily pulled a few American bills out of his wallet and handed them over. He got a handful of change--no bills--and a funny look from the driver, and exited the car.
His legs were stiff, which might explain the lack of bills in his hand. How long had he been asleep? Jounouchi started towards the beach while he tried to remember. He'd been in the hotel and hadn't been able to sleep because he was still half on Japan time and half on Jersey time. He vaguely recalled going down to catch a cab and telling him to go to the beach, before promptly falling asleep. Changing time zones multiple times in the span of a few days was NOT a good idea. Jounouchi kicked at the sand in general frustration.
Half-hoping the cab was still around; he looked back at the road. It wasn't, of course, which meant he was stuck here, since he had no idea how to get back. He went down closer to the shore. Memories of Mai or not, he still loved the beach. Might as well make the most of it while he was stranded.
"Katsuya Jounouchi," Mai said matter-of-factly.
"Excuse me?" A hotel clerk looked up from behind the desk.
"I'm looking for Katsuya Jounouchi," she demanded again, before she got scared and ran away.
The clerk--not nearly as polite as those they left back in Ocean City--sighed and started typing. Mai waited impatiently.
"Room 220," the clerk said lazily. Mai was halfway to the elevator before he could even look up from the desk.
Mai slammed the second floor button down, and suddenly realized just how close she was. What was she going to say? That thought had scared her to the point that she completely ignored it on the flight over. She'd figured she'd have time to think of that while searching for him. After such a short search... now she was completely unprepared. The elevator suddenly felt very confined, and she was in the unique position of wanting to get off and stay in at the same time. When the doors opened, she ran out into the hallway and stopped.
There was the offending door, staring her in the face. She nervously inched towards it. What did she say? Should she apologize? Biting her lip, she put her hand on the doorknob. He never seemed to think things through, and he did well enough. With a shaking hand, she knocked on the door. It swung open almost immediately. Mai braced herself.
"You looking for someone?"
Completely dumbfounded, Mai stared at the cleaning woman.
Taking his shoes off, Jounouchi made his way to the water. He sat down at the edge of the tide and flopped back, staring up at the clear sky.
Maybe he shouldn't have left. He loved her. The fluttering feeling in his stomach and the burning in his heart told him that. He could make things work. Maybe all she needed was time. They'd been together all of an hour when he'd run off. Maybe...
Then he remembered the look on her face. Grumbling, he sat back up, for no reason other than something to do to get the memory out of his head. Why did he always have to be so STUPID? He couldn't wait another few days? He waited three years!
Jounouchi stood up, and brushing the sand off of him. Maybe a walk would clear his head.
Mai exited the hotel, back where she started. Jounouchi was off somewhere, and she had no way of finding him. He'd apparently instructed the hotel staff not to allow visitors. Once the lazy clerk at the desk remembered this, they'd come to her and politely told her to get out. They would tell him that someone came to see him, and he'd run off again before she could track him down.
A car horn interrupted her thoughts. She looked up to see the taxi she'd arrived in still idling at the curb. She jogged over, eyes wide.
"How'd it go?" he called through the open window.
"He's not there," she admitted. "And they won't let me stick around to wait for him."
"Want me to take you somewhere else to look?"
"I guess," she sighed, reluctantly climbing into the cab. It was nice to have the help, but what did it matter anymore? He was off in the city somewhere, and she had no idea where.
Mai looked up suddenly.
"Can you call other taxi drivers and ask if they've seen him?" Mai asked desperately.
The driver glanced at her in the mirror. "Well, yeah, but there's an awful lot of Asian tourists in the city, and at that hotel. I don't know if they'll know anything."
"What if I know where he went?"
"...maybe," the driver replied after a moment's thought. "It's worth a shot, anyway." He picked up the radio.
He started speaking quickly in English, and Mai couldn't catch all of what he was saying. Other voices came back through the radio, greeting this driver, whose name appeared to be Wayne. He lowered the radio and turned around to look at Mai.
"Okay, where is he?"
His face fell. "There are a lot of beaches around here."
"Well, it's the best I've got."
Wayne sighed and picked the radio back up.
"A blond Japanese guy, 'bout twenty, staying at the Westin, was going to a beach? Anyone?"
The speaker crackled, and a number of voices came back negative. Mai sighed. It figured.
"Wayne? Young guy, you said? Real quiet, doesn't speak English too well?"
"Yeah!" Mai shouted over the driver's shoulder.
"He fell asleep, so I took him to Stinson," the driver chuckled. "Why you looking for him?"
"I got a woman here trying to track him down," Wayne explained.
"Really? Well get her out there, quick, cause he looked pretty upset over something."
"On the way," Wayne chuckled. "Thanks, Eric." He put the radio back, and turned around to look at Mai in the backseat, who couldn't believe her luck.
Jounouchi sighed and skipped a stone on the ocean. He was still at the beach, back where it all started. More literally than he realized. A house stood atop a cliff, at his back. He didn't even notice it.
He threw another stone. It skimmed across the water very briefly before sinking. Skipping stones didn't exactly work when there was a tide. And he wasn't very good at it to begin with. He wasn't good at a lot of things to begin with, as he was painfully learning. He'd botched things beyond repair with Mai. He didn't have much plan now, besides hide out for a week or so. Or maybe he'd go back to Japan--the trip would be faster for him than her, and she still had the rest of tournament to finish. Eventually he'd have to go back to the sponsors and apologize. Probably have to go to some other tournament, or... Jounouchi shuddered... endorse something.
"Idiot!" he yelled, throwing another stone, not even bothering to attempt to skip it. Why did he have to be such an idiot? He didn't have enough sense to stay in touch with Mai after Battle City, after she had been tortured for 20-odd hours by that psycho bastard. He couldn't realize it until it was too late how to help her when she joined Doom. If he had dueled all out in their first duel, maybe things wouldn't have turned out so badly. He might've kept his soul, or at the very least, not passed out in her arms, reduced to having to push her away to keep her safe. She wouldn't have gone off on her own and lost her soul. The gang would've been there. They would've understood. Right?
Well, none of it mattered anyway, because he hadn't done any of that. He had been a stupid jerk and she'd joined Doom, and he'd lost his soul. Mai never liked him to begin with. Obviously. What kind of a girl would fall for a stupid punk like him? He closed his eyes and his arm ripped through the air angrily, throwing another pebble.
Mai took a deep breath. There he was. Hoping her legs wouldn't give out, she slowly started towards Jounouchi. His back was to her, and he was walking away. Occasionally, he'd stop and throw something out towards the ocean. In the back of her mind, she also hoped that he'd run out of whatever he was throwing by the time she got there.
Looking at him was making her more nervous. She turned her head away and gazed at the scenery. Towards the land, the sand faded into scrub and grass. The dunes gradually grew into a hillside, bordering the beach farther down. She imagined the view was gorgeous from up there, and glanced out over the ocean, at the setting sun.
Frowning, despite the beautiful scene, Mai looked back up at the hillside. Why did this look so familiar? She jogged, and a house came into view on the hillside. Stopping short, she looked out at the horizon again.
Oh no. Not that beach. There was no way he could've known that this was the very place she promised herself she'd come back someday. Mai looked up, and sure enough, there was the house she'd woken up in after Doom.
Memories of Varon and the Orichalcos and things she'd much rather forget came rushing into her mind. This was why he left. Why she should just leave him alone and let him get on with his life. She'd tried to kill him, because he had something she didn't. Because she wanted to prove herself. Because Malik tortured her, and a million other reasons that didn't matter. She tried to kill him. There was no excuse for that.
So why was she still walking? She'd insulted him, been cruel, hurt him... but before Ocean City, her last memory of him was when she took... when their duel ended. And he was smiling. He knew what was happening, knew it was her fault, and he smiled at her and said it was a great duel. If he could go through all that, couldn't there be a chance he would forgive her now?
His back was still turned, but if she got any closer, he'd notice. Now was the time.
"Kat..." Mai caught herself before his given name tumbled out of her mouth, and she prayed he wouldn't notice. "Jounouchi?"
Jounouchi lifted his head when he heard his name. Who knew him out here? Who would know that he was here? For that matter, who would come after him in the first place? Mai? Anxiously, he looked behind him. Mai was walking down the beach, waving halfheartedly. Jou turned away again and walked towards the water. Why couldn't she just leave him alone if she didn't... love... him back? She didn't have to come after him and pretend anymore. It had been three years, she didn't think that Jou had already considered that she didn't feel the same? How, despite how horrible he knew it would feel if she shot him down, he went and asked her anyway because he loved her that much? The last thing he wanted was for her to come here and pretend.
"How'd you find me?" he called, annoyed. Mai cringed at his tone.
"S-shizuka-chan," she admitted, trying to keep her voice light. Jounouchi didn't respond, throwing another rock into the water. "She says she loves you. And you're being stupid."
Jounouchi hurled the last stone angrily, and started to walk away. Stupid, huh? Yeah, that pretty much summed up everything he ever did. He was too angry with himself to say anything to Mai, who was following nervously.
"That's Shizuka-chan talking, not me," Mai said quickly. "I... well, I wish you'd said something, but you had every right to leave. I-I understand. But..."
He hates me, Mai thought. Please, Jou, just let me apologize. I know I don't deserve it, but I swear I'll never hurt you again. Mai was so nervous. Jounouchi had every right to snub her now, after Doma. But even if she didn't deserve him, she still... she had to try. Hesitantly, she walked after him.
"Jounouchi, I'm sorry--"
Jounouchi whirled around at her. Sorry?! It took everything he had not to yell at her. Why did you come here? Just to remind me that I made a fool of myself in front of you? He drew a breath to speak, but his mouth just hung open for a few seconds, then he turned away from her again. He didn't trust himself to say anything while looking at her. It wasn't her fault that she didn't love him back. Wasn't her fault that he just lost the love of his life. She didn't deserve his anger.
"Don't..." he mumbled so quietly that Mai wasn't sure if he had even spoken. There was a long pause while Mai waited for him to say something, and Jou tried to think of something to say. "Just go," he finally sighed.
"Go," he repeated sternly. Mai reached out a hand towards his back, as though to put it on his shoulder. It hung it midair as she stood there indecisively. Katsuya... don't you realize... I think... I think I love you. Don't make me leave...
"Jounouchi," Mai said, choking back tears. "Look at me."
There was an eternal pause, then reluctantly, he stepped around to face her. Their eyes met, Mai's pleading, and Jou's... Mai couldn't tell. He shook his head slowly and started to walk away from her. Mai panicked at seeing him leave. Without warning, she roughly grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him towards her.
And kissed him.
Jou was just as surprised as Mai had been when he had kissed her. His mind was blank as he struggled to figure out what the hell was going on. He was about to put his arms around her when she broke off.
Mai could hardly believe what she was doing. She had tried to kill him! He hated her! But she still loved him, and couldn't just leave. Mai held the kiss for as long as she dared, then quickly pulled back.
"Baka," Mai whispered, trying desperately not to cry in front of him. Her vision was blurred as she turned away from him and started to run. If he was going to reject her, fine, that was his choice. He had every right to, after the things they had been through together. But at least, she wanted to kiss him one last time. Goodbye, Katsuya, she thought desolately.
Before she could get more than a few feet away though, something held her back. Mai looked over her shoulder to see Jounouchi grasping her wrist, his mouth frantically trying to form words.
"Mai..." he sputtered, "You... what...?"
Mai stopped and looked at him, surprised. What was going on? He didn't want her there, right? She waited anxiously as he tried to say something.
"Why...? I thought... you didn't want to...?" he said, confused. "You... you don't hate me?"
Mai would have burst out laughing if she hadn't been on the verge of tears. "Hate you?!" she exclaimed. "What... where did that come from? I thought you didn't like me!"
"No! Why...?" Jounouchi trailed off, stunned.
They stared at each other in utter disbelief. Jounouchi had fled a major dueling tournament and Mai had chased him across the country... and neither of them hated the other? Jounouchi grasped for words while Mai kept gaping.
"I thought you hated--" he started. "After I--" He blushed, unable to finish the sentence. "Well, when we... er, I... uh... y'know..."
"Yeah... you were... you didn't... when I looked at you, it was like I did something wrong," he admitted finally. "I didn't know what to do. I thought it was my fault. That you didn't like me."
"Jounouchi!" she exclaimed. "I didn't like you...? Why wouldn't I?"
"I dunno," he said sheepishly. "You're like, ten years older than me--"
"Sorry, eight," he corrected. "You're..." he blushed a bit. "You're beautiful, you're... well I guess I don't know about now, but you said somethin' once about your folks being from wealthy families... you're one of the best duelists in the world... I'm just a poor kid from a little town. I've never been anywhere--unless we were savin' the world--I..."
"Jou," she said sternly. "I never judged you by your past--"
"Well what was I supposed to think?" he said, throwing his hands up. "I don't know, I guess my mind just jumped to the worst... and then when you came back, I thought that you, I dunno, you just were checking up on me--that you didn't really want to stay..."
"Baka!" she exclaimed, surprised. "I thought you were mad at me for Doom! Hell, you came to San Francisco. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to come back here?"
"Doom?" he said equally surprised. "I went and tracked you down at the tournament and you thought I still cared about that? I TOLD you I didn't care about it."
"Jou, I spent the past three years thinking you blamed me for Doom!" she said, pulling her hand off of his for a moment to brush away another tear. Dammit, why did she have to cry in front of him? "I thought you hated me! You should hate me! The last thing I expected was for you to kiss me!" She sighed. Jounouchi cringed, waiting for the rest.
"I always meant to come back." Mai lowered her voice. "I wanted to. I was so happy when you found me, but when you... you kissed me... I didn't know how to react. Even if you wanted me... I still didn't think I deserved you."
Mai bit her lip and looked down, waiting for him to pass judgment on her for Doom. Instead, he laughed.
"What's so funny?" she said defensively.
"Listen to us!" he laughed. "Here we are, thinking the exact opposite... the polar opposite... of each other, and if we had just talked then..."
"Hey, I did chase after you on the beach!"
"What? Why didn't you say anything?!"
"I told you, I thought you were mad about Doom!"
"Well, I thought you never liked me to begin with!"
She trailed off, blushing. He noticed that time. His face, which had been previously confused and upset, quickly lit up and he took a step towards her. Mai lowered her eyes, embarrassed. The tears in her eyes threatened to spill over again. Eager not to make eye contact, she glanced down at their hands. Mai hadn't noticed, but his had moved down from her wrist, and was holding her hand. Seeing it, she could suddenly feel it; the gentle way he held her hand in his, the warmth of skin against hers. Everything about it felt so right. Jou took his other hand up and, after hesitating for a moment, placed it on her cheek.
"Mai! It's me! Jounouchi!"
"Mai?" he said softly. She looked up into his eyes, and just seeing him there, with her... looking at her like that, like he loved her...
"K-katsuya." Her voice quivered as she spoke his given name aloud for the first time. He smiled. A single tear ran down her face as she gasped softly. Jounouchi gently wiped the tear away.
"Hey," he said softly, moving his hand to her shoulder. "It's okay." Mai couldn't help but laugh, still holding back tears, this time of joy. How long she had waited for him to say that! She put her other hand on his and drew ever so slightly closer.
"We're so stupid," she said, sniffling in his shoulder. "We've been thinking the wrong things for three years. If we'd talked to each other all that long time ago, we wouldn't have gone through any of this."
"Yeah," Jounouchi admitted. "But that takes the fun out of it." Mai laughed, and pulled back so she could look in his eyes.
"I love you, Jounouchi Katsuya," she said.
"I'll remember that the next time I think you hate me," he replied, grinning.
"...way to ruin the moment," Mai groaned, pushing him back.
"H-hey," Jou said nervously, jogging after her. "Wait a sec, I was just kidding..."
Mai whirled around, laughing, and kissed him again.
A/N: So I was going to use the phrase "total opposite", and then I though, "hey, I could use POLAR in here!" So I did, and I even managed to get the definition of polarshipping in my fic, AND give it a good ending! Yay for word associations!
There's a few references to polar moments anime in this chapter. See if you can find them! (I dunno, I might be the only one crazy enough to think to link those things, though.)
The first polar multi-chapter I ever finished! Review if you want more!