Shadow:Round two for Compy's contest – Revolutionshipping; Yami no Yugi x Anzu Mazaki. This isn't fluff exactly, but it's…warm, at points. Beware of girls with crushes.
Notes: A kotatsu is, for those who don't know, basically 'a table with an electric heater attached to the underside of the table. The kotatsu is usually set on a thin futon, like a throw rug. A second, thicker futon is placed over the kotatsu table, above which the tabletop is placed. The electric heater attached to the underside of the table heats the space under the comforter.' (Taken from wikipedia.)
Boys and Girls
It was official. Absolutely official. Mazaki Anzu was frazzled, her nerves burned to a proverbial crisp, and all her mother could do was laugh knowingly, somewhere between amusement and exasperation, uselessness and nostalgia.
"Anzu, dear…please stop pacing around so?" A turn of the page in the book the elder Mazaki woman was reading, to all angst-filled, heart-glimmering-in teenage eyes completely impervious to her daughter's pain. Mazaki-san knew better herself, of course, having gone through the exact same woes as her only child herself when she had been younger, but she wasn't going to tell Anzu that. "You're wearing out a circle in the middle of the new carpet."
"Sorry." Anzu hastily sat down in the chair opposite her mother, her hands fiddling in her lap.
Said woman raised an eyebrow at the younger's fidgeting. "What's got into you today? I know Mouto-kun is coming over, but that's nothing new…"
Had Anzu been aware of the real reason for the amusement lurking in her mother's words she would've flung the cushion she was lying against at her but, as it was, Anzu was oblivious, and so quietly mortified and unsure of what to say to explain her irrational behaviour. Somehow, just somehow, Anzu thought it might just be a little odd to explain to her mother that this was the first study-date she'd have with her best friend after discovering said best friend had a – frankly hot – ancient spirit who lived in the Egyptian pendant around his neck. Not including the fact, of course, that said ancient spirit had a) used to be a pharaoh, and b) probably saved the world more times than Anzu herself had broken a fingernail.
And did I mention the 'hot' thing? Anzu's crush on the Other Yuugi wasn't going away anytime soon. She'd tried to squash it down a little after Duelist Kingdom so she wasn't fawning over Yuugi at every minute of every day, but Yuugi's idea of sending her and the Other Yuugi out together on a 'friends' outing' – it had been a date, damn it – had only poked the drowsing dragon, so to speak, and brought Anzu's feelings back into hormonal, blushing, flaring life.
The Other Yuugi was just so – the Nameless Pharaoh –
She could still remember the look on the spirit's face when he'd looked up at Kaiba in the helicopter above the Main Square. The wind from the blades had whipping back his golden fringe, the lights in the darkness causing his unusual-coloured eyes to glow, cut his finely-boned face into a glorious mix of shadows and warmth. He'd looked…he'd looked old there, ancient and wise and beautiful, and it had sent tremblings of want scudding down Anzu's spine, an ache curling in the pit of her stomach as words bubbled in her throat, lips pressed tightly together so she wouldn't blurt out –
She was back on her feet again Anzu realised, pacing, facing down her mother's exasperated gaze.
"Is it something you've eaten?"
It felt like she'd swallowed a whole flock of butterflies. Do butterflies even fly in flocks…?
The doorbell rang.
Anzu flew as if her heels were winged, quite missing her mother's fond chuckle as she ran to the front door, flinging it open to the world outside and the beautiful, beautiful boy on her doorstep.
The Other Yuugi looked up from where he'd idly been scuffing his boots to clear them of mud or dirt or – or – or something, pinning Anzu quite unwittingly with his heart-stopping cerise eyes, and rarely-seen half-smile in greeting. "Anzu-chan."
Oh. Oh. OH. Anzu was going to melt on her hallway carpet, she could feel it.
"Anzu-chan?" The hint of a question in the Other Yuugi's voice, tone tinged by the curiosity as to why Anzu was standing staring at him on her doorstep and not doing the very logical thing that was moving aside and letting the poor male inside.
But he'd said her name so perfectly, and he'd used honorifics (which he didn't for anyone else but Yuugi, and Yuugi was special) -
"Anzu?" Mazaki-san appeared in the hallway behind her daughter, glancing with some (feigned) confusion at the little scene at the home's entrance. "Anzu, let Mouto-kun inside, already! It's cold out there."
Right, thus explaining why Other Yuugi is wearing that pretty black jacket and –
- Moving aside. Anzu flushed as she stepped out of the way, letting the Other Yuugi past her and into the house, the spirit giving her a quick piercing glance before half-bowing to her mother by means of greeting, removing his coat and shoes and leaving both in the hall.
Anzu shut the door, taking a moment to rest her heated face against the wood in an effort to rid herself of the fierce blush she knew was painting her cheeks. Behind her, her mother was making idle conversation with the Other Yuugi, the usual stuff mothers of best-friends-since-middle-school asked and talked about.
Anzu felt impending doom drop on her head the moment those two ill-fated words left her mother's mouth, Mazaki-san going cheerily back into the lounge from whence she'd came, returning to her beloved book and shutting the door behind her. She left Anzu and the Other Yuugi standing in the hallway, the former having turned around by that point, so they were…well, they were staring at one another, to put it bluntly.
"Um…" Mazaki Anzu, ever the Queen of eloquence.
"Are you feeling quite well, Anzu-chan?" The Other Yuugi looked vaguely concerned, standing with his book-bag slung lazily over one shoulder, expression thoughtful as he looked at her. "You seem flushed."
Anzu promptly went a darker shade of red. Ah. So she hadn't quite gotten rid of her blush… "I'm fine, Pharaoh, thank you."
"Is Yuugi alright?" Anzu hastily cut in, changing the topic before the Other Yuugi could get over his naivety. She hadn't been expecting the Other Yuugi on her doorstep, no, not at all – she'd just expected Yuugi, sweet little Yuugi, and now she had to blush and stammer and – and –
"He's asleep." The reply was simple, the Pharaoh content to let Anzu direct the conversation or perhaps she was lucky and hadn't noticed – oh, how do I think I'm kidding? If he'd noticed he would've noticed, and storedher response away neatly in his shadowy, labyrinthine mind to dissect and puzzle over later. "Grandpa had to pop out last night to fetch something, and so Yuugi and I were attending the shop later than usual, and it somewhat tired him. I asked him if he wished to rest now while I took over…" a slight pause, "he sent his apologies for not being here right now, though he will try to come along later." He made it sound like Yuugi was indisposed on the other end of Domino City, and not curled up asleep inside the golden Puzzle around the Other Yuugi's neck.
"Okay…" she realised she was trailing off, still motionless, still staring, and that prompted her into sudden movement, practically leaping forward for the stairs, "follow me?"
Obediently the Other Yuugi did as he was told, and once more Anzu had to crush her embarrassment – the spirit had been a Pharaoh, a living God, and here she was telling him to go left, right and centre and –
"Anzu-chan?" The Other Yuugi's voice behind her, hand lightly touching her in the small of the back. "You've stopped."
…Oh… So she had. Face now a deep, dark and damning scarlet Anzu kick-started her reluctant legs once more, nigh stomping up the stairs to her bedroom where she'd agonised over bringing Yuugi, pondered and paced and worried because the Other Yuugi would've been able to see it too, only now –
Well, it was quite the wrong way around, and now the Other Yuugi would see it anyway.
Anzu sighed internally, wondering why she bothered wondering, and pushed open the door to her bedroom, ushering the form of her best friend and the mind of her crush inside and trying to ignore how those apparently all-seeing eyes skimmed the room, trying to convince herself that she hadn't left anything embarrassingly girly out – like my diary, or some underwear (please God say I haven't left out some underwear) - that would forever kill the Other Yuugi's respect for her.
"You have a nice room," the Other Yuugi's comment went some way to easing Anzu's troubled mind, the brunette crossing the floor to the kotatsu she'd deliberately set up there for them to work on. Her books were already neatly laid out and so she took her place in front of them, tucking her legs under the table and quilt to get warm, patiently waiting while the Other Yuugi took a seat next to her, pulling out some own his own – and Yuugi's – work and getting comfortable. His foot brushed against her calf under the table in all the shifting, but she managed not to blush. She'd made an idiot of herself enough already that day.
"So…what was it that you had trouble with?" Anzu leaned over, trying desperately to ignore the fact it was Other Yuugi she was so close to, and concentrate on the strings of numbers on the page before her.
The spirit drew a rather defeated, idle circle around the whole page with one fingertip. "If we've covered it, we can't do it." The look of mild disgust on his face really said it all.
Mathematics was the course of the day, the seemingly useless branch of trigonometric identities as well as their integration and differentiation what was causing a whole hell of a lot of difficulty for one Mouto Yuugi, the Other Yuugi apparently picking up the same problem by close association. For help Yuugi could've really gone to anyone relatively decent at the subject, but in their small group there was only Kaiba, Bakura and Anzu herself who knew what they were talking about. Yuugi's reasons for not asking Kaiba for aid were rather obvious – if the CEO even spared the less lanky duelist the time of day Yuugi felt he should consider himself honoured -; Bakura was a general no-go-area due to a certain psychotic spirit closely linked with him who lurked in a shiny golden Ring, and so…that left Anzu. Poor, woebegone Anzu, head-over-heels in love with an oblivious dead boy who inhabited the body of her best friend.
They settled down to work, Anzu carefully going through examples the teacher had given them in class, reinforcing them and explaining with her own notes and additions in an attempt to make the questions given more understandable. The Other Yuugi was a quick learner, and it was an actual delight for Anzu to see her assistance achieving such results, especially when compared with the last time she'd attempted to tutor Jounouchi. And that's an experience I never want to repeat in my life… Anzu tried to do her best to be a good friend, but there were times Jounouchi pushed at dangerous boundaries liable to explode in his face with some good all-round hair-pulling and eye-gouging should his motor mouth keep going on as it usually did.
Anzu tried her very best to be a good friend, even though she was really the only female in a group of boys – who are boys, however sweet they can be sometimes, so ninety percent of the time they're either so stupid it's almost admirable, or just ridiculously immature to the point of disbelief. Anzu tried her best to be a good friend, and that was why she hadn't – Yuugi –
…She didn't want to be like the girls in their class (and more than a few of the boys) who formed a fan club to 'pay homage' to their crushes, the kind who had squealed when Bakura had transferred to Domino High and immediately dubbed him their number one interest. Anzu didn't want to be like that, didn't want to be so shallow that she chased someone simply because he, like Bakura, was cute, and pretty, and foreign.
Although now I think about it, Anzu's mind quietly supplied, as she gently corrected a mistake the Other Yuugi had made in one of his questions, it's not as if the Pharaoh isn't cute. Quite the opposite in fact, the spirit in her best friend's body looking positively adorable with his head tilted to one side, the bridge of his nose all wrinkled up as he pouted over the work before him, pen tapping against his lower lip.
And he's definitely pretty… Wonderful to look at, and he had…that voice that Anzu had fallen for, first of all, the slight hesitance as his lips shaped the strange syllables that came to him through his host.
And as for foreign… a vague feeling of helplessness washed over Anzu as she found herself unable to stop looking at the other's frankly exquisitely-shaped eyes outlined in dark kohl, the golden eye gleaming up at her from the side of the Millennium Puzzle, it's not as if Ancient Egypt's just down the street. She was in so far over her head…
It was about two hours later - two more hours of nigh-impossible maths and soft explanations - she realised the Other Yuugi was drooping slightly, raising his empty hand (the other held his pen) to rub at his collar-less throat. Anzu really couldn't call the gesture absent-minded, because nothing the spirit seemed to do was absent of mind, but it was done with a vaguely tired air, quiet and respectful. (Again, Jounouchi's tutoring session came to mind: "Are we done yet?")
"Would you like something to drink?" Anzu herself was feeling a little thirsty and strongly felt like a mug of hot chocolate - she could practically hear the mixture plaintively calling to her from downstairs in the kitchen.
"I would appreciate that, thank you." The Other Yuugi was always so formal, so – just so –
"I'll be right back." Anzu presented her ever-handy friendly smile for the spirit's inspection, slipping her legs out from under the kotatsu and padding out of the room. She left the Pharaoh with a few more questions to work through, her own mind preoccupied with thoughts remarkably lacking in any connection to trigonometric identities save for the one busy puzzling over them upstairs in her bedroom. It was just…
Anzu's mother was still occupied with her book, and when her daughter stuck her head around the door and offered to make her something she declined, caught up in some stereotypically trashy romance she only really read to amuse herself with. So Anzu left, and made cups of hot chocolate for herself and the Other Yuugi, and took both back upstairs.
The spirit was asleep. Anzu didn't notice at first, breezing back into her bedroom with her usual bright cheerfulness and setting down the drinks on the tabletop, but when she looked over –
The Other Yuugi was curled over the table, his head tilted sideways and resting on his bent arm. His other, pen-holding hand was lax in his lap, the pen apparently having long since dropped to the floor and rolled a little way away. He was perfectly still, motionless save for the slow rise and fall of his chest that spelled a deep sleep.
It appears Yuugi isn't the only one who's tired… Anzu smiled to herself, savouring this small, rare sight she had the honour to glimpse. It was so, so easy to forget sometimes that the Other Yuugi was human, had been human, his mortality lost in the mystery and magic surrounding both himself and the Millennium Items. It was scenes like this…odd comments that came forth when the Other Yuugi ventured forth from his other half outside of duels, when the spirit undertook to attempt Yuugi's homework and got utterly lost staring at various graphs and wondering what on earth mathematics had to do with something like a savoury pastry. ("Pharaoh, it's pi.")
…She let him sleep; aware the other probably needed it if he'd drifted off in the middle of doing something. It was unlike the Other Yuugi to be swerved from his path once he decided upon what he was to do, so he must've been exceptionally tired to fall asleep over Yuugi's homework.
Anzu admired him for his dedication, for his steadfast beliefs. Loved him for them, as well as for so many other things. Stayed silent for them, aware of Yuugi's feelings, because she couldn't pain either of them by offering them that sort of decision.
She fetched the spirit's fallen pen before she left; placing it on the table beside the books she carefully removed from under the sleeping boy's arm and closed neatly, so the pages wouldn't crumple. From her bed she took her blanket, draping this around the Other Yuugi's shoulders to keep his upper body warm, smile growing softer when the other slumbered on, dreaming sweetly even as she gently brushed back the golden fringe that shadowed his closed eyes. If she could, she would've wished to follow him into those dreams, but for now, the chance to look after this beautiful, bewildering boy who'd laid such a spell on her…that was precious enough.
Anzu switched the light off in her room and shut the door behind her as she went downstairs, and took the hot chocolates with her. Her mother could have one, whether she wanted it or not.
"Anzu?" It's a quiet call that sounds from upstairs later but Anzu heard it, leaving the room where she'd been watching television with her mother to go to the foot of the stairs, looking up at the slim figure standing at the top.
The Other Yuugi had actually taken the blanket with him when he left her room, the cloth still draped around his shoulders as he leans against the wall, slightly off balance due to tiredness and obviously having just woken up. His hair was sleep-mussed and his lashes lowered, and Anzu could feel his drowsy warmth when she climbed the stairs to escort him back to her room, the spirit swaying slightly as he walked, body soft against her shoulder when he bumped into her accidentally. She would've loved to have offered him her arm to help his balance but knew the Pharaoh would've rejected it, in-built pride in his very bones denying the assistance however kindly it was offered.
"I'd best be heading back to the Game Shop…" Even the spirit's voice was laced with slumber – Anzu quietly began to worry when she heard it, laying a hand on the other's arm as he began to pack up his things to go.
"Wait a little while? I'll ask 'kaa-san if she'll drive you over there; it's a bit late for you to be wandering about alone." She knew it sounded vaguely ridiculous even as she was saying it – she was speaking to an ancient spirit who could crush minds with a flick of his wrist, after all -, but on some level she was right – it was late, and he was tired -, and both of them knew it.
He nodded slightly, acquiescing to her worry, to her silent demand.
Anzu disappeared to ask her mother about the lift home, and when she returned the Other Yuugi was waiting for her, his things neatly packed away, her blanket neatly folded up and placed carefully at the foot of her bed once more. "It's all arranged."
"Thank you, Anzu-chan." He sounded more awake then, clearly more awake when he walked towards her in a straight line. "I am sorry for infringing upon you -"
"Don't be silly." She brushed off the apology quickly, feeling her cheeks tinge with pink once more. The Other Yuugi was close to her again, but this time he was concentrated solely on her, and not at some mismatched jumble of numbers and identities. "You were no trouble."
"Still…" he leaned forwards and Anzu's heart literally jumped for her throat, butterflies of before exploding in a torrent inside of her when soft lips brushed her cheek, gentle as a feather's edge. The spirit pulled back, crimson eyes flickering with sincerity. "Thank you."
I – I – he – did he just-? Anzu's face was bright red, close to hyperventilating. "You – you -" Words failed her. Oxygen failed her, pretty coloured spots dancing and bursting and twirling and-
"Anzu-chan?" His concern was back, one of his hands raised to touch her shoulder. "Is something wrong?"
"You – you – you just -" She raised a hand to her cheek, feeling the gentle kiss there burning, searing, as she wondered if it were physically possible to never wash that particular cheek again –
The Other Yuugi seemed to get what she was trying to say, but an expression of vague bewilderment touched his features. "Is that not what friends do?"
…He had no right to look so innocent; he had absolutely no right to look so perfectly guileless when asking that question. He was male, his species should've damned him and rendered that question useless to him as an honest question; this should be trickery but –
Why, oh why was he actually sincere? The spirit had Yuugi in his head to talk to, to ask about these sorts of things. Yuugi could tell him; Yuugi could explain…if…only he weren't as clueless as the Other Yuugi in these things, drat it. Probably even more clueless –
Argh. Life just wasn't fair.
Anzu couldn't find the words to speak aloud what she was feeling, but nor could she find the authenticity within herself to offers words that were an outright lie. So, instead, she took the Other Yuugi's hand that lay on her shoulder, raised the upturned palm to her lips and kissed his wrist gently, feeling the blood beneath his skin, the steady heart's drum patterning against the percussion she felt inside her own chest. One kissed the hands of royalty, one kissed the lips of dates, and one kissed the neck and shoulder of lovers but –
Anzu didn't have a category she comfortably fit into, didn't have a category she could comfortably fit the Other Yuugi into without breaking someone else's heart.
"Anzu…?" The spirit's question was slow, unsure; his one hand still clasped between her two. "Anzu, why are you crying?"
She smiled at him, loving the glow in his eyes, the honest confusion she saw in his face, even as silver tears slowly tricked down her cheeks. I really do love you, her mind whispered even as she let the spirit's hand go, brushing off her tears with an awkward laugh, her usual sunny smile.
"I'm happy I could help you."
The Other Yuugi didn't quite look convinced, but he smiled back, clearly unused to this sort of smiling, a blush matching Anzu's actually rising in his cheeks when the girl actually stepped forward and hugged him tightly. "Anzu?"
"I'm happy," she repeated, pleased when her mother called downstairs for Mouto-kun to come along now if he wanted to get home before eleven, and Anzu had the excuse to gently shove the other out of her room, and towards the stairs. "I'll see you tomorrow, alright?"
The Other Yuugi gave her one last look, and then nodded, leaving. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Anzu watched him go. She saw him put his shoes and jacket back on, saw him and her mother leave through the front door. Saw and heard the front door close, and then knew she was alone.
Yuugi never had woken up.