DIS: A few things that I love about Christmas: candy canes, hot chocolate, snow, Christmas movies, and Christmas songs.
Title: Candy Canes
Rating: T for mild language
Summary: Vexshipping. Anzu is invited to Ryou's to help decorate the tree, but there is one thing missing and Bakura is sent out with her to buy candy canes. Only, he sees nothing special about them until he tastes them on Anzu's lips. Holiday One-Shot
Disclaimer: I do not own YuGiOh, nor any trademarked material in this story
Notes/Warnings: Vexshipping; holiday fic; one shot; Christmas
It seemed colder that winter, but it may have been because of how warm spring and summer were. Initially, Anzu Mazaki had not planned on going out the day after a blizzard had swept over Domino City. She had been out the day before finishing Christmas shopping, walking against the wind, and shivering despite all the layers she had been wearing. She vowed she would stay inside until Christmas Eve and although she knew she would have gone out before that, she had not suspected it would be the very next day that she would break her vow of confinement.
She blew out a breath, watching as the gray mist floated in front of her face. Despite the snow coating the roads and the black ice forming on the pavement of the sidewalks, people were out, shopping bags hanging from the crooks of their elbows, scarves whipping in the light breeze and Christmas music playing outside multiple stores. Glancing above the stores Anzu could see Christmas advertisements flashing on the screens above. Domino City had completely thrown itself into the Christmas season.
Smiling to herself, Anzu adjusted her hat and hurried on to her destination. Passing through the center of town and the most industrialized part of it, she moved into the more residential area and found the apartments she was looking for. She headed up the many staircases and knocked on a door that belonged to the home of Ryou Bakura's. He opened the door a moment a later and beamed at her in greeting, ushering her inside.
"Ah, this is better," she said with a sigh as warmth washed over her. She unbuttoned her pea coat and shook her scarf out from its tucked position inside.
"Here, you can hang your things inside the closet." Ryou indicated the closet he was speaking of by opening the doors to it. He handed her a hanger and she hung her scarf and coat inside, tucking her hat and gloves in her purse. "Bakura and I were struggling with the tree earlier. We haven't...quite got it up yet." He sent her a sheepish look and then continued on to the living room. She politely removed her shoes before following.
Anzu's eyes moved to Bakura on their own accord. He was slumped on the ground by a long tree that was held together by twine. He looked as though he were in a worse mood than was usual. Anzu would never have admitted it to anyone, but she had always thought Bakura had a bit of handsomeness. At the moment, that bit of handsomeness was showing itself quite obviously. His hair was mussed up with bits of pine needles stuck in it and he was in a casual outfit of a white, long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans. If it wasn't for his disagreeable personality, she would have tried to connect with him more than she already had.
It was Bakura's sourness, in fact, that made it so difficult for Ryou to interact with other people. He felt uncomfortable leaving his yami alone all the time and so he brought him along wherever he went. In a brief conversation Anzu had with Bakura, he had muttered that he wished Ryou would leave him at home. She had wondered at the time if he had ever told Ryou that and if Ryou took him seriously.
"What are you looking at, Mazaki?" Bakura growled irritably, glaring up at her. She gave a shrug.
"Your hair, mostly," she admitted with a smile. While Bakura's moodiness put everyone else off, she rode with it, just like she did with Kaiba's less-than-welcome personality. Nobody else understand why she did this except for Mai, who wouldn't have cared what anyone thought about her and was quite content to talk to any creepy, evil I-want-to-take-over-the-world psycho if she so desired.
Bakura's mouth twisted and he turned his gaze to Ryou's hair. "Stare at his hair, then, rather than mine. I get enough staring as it is." He turned back to glower at the tree, clearly not in the mood for mindless chatter with his abiou's friend. Anzu glanced at Ryou's hair and noticed that he, too, had pine needles in his hair, though considerably less than in Bakura's.
"Girls like Bakura," Ryou explained to Anzu, approached the Christmas tree. She could see the trunk holder on top of a box labeled 'Tree Decorations.' She heard a derisive snort from behind her. Ryou continued, ignoring his yami, "There are a lot of theories of what he is, although none of them have included him being an Egyptian thief lord." Ryou picked up the trunk holder and drummed his fingers on it thoughtfully. "Let's see...So far, he seems to be a guitarist, singer, poet, actor, part of a motorcycle gang, a gang member period, college student going for a major in medicine – " Here Ryou rolled his eyes to Anzu with a secretive smile. " – a taxi driver, and what was the last one, Bakura?"
"A tennis player," Bakura said in an ominous tone. Anzu blinked and turned her back to them, her shoulders shaking. Bakura saw this and glared menacingly, saying, "I can think of a few things that you come off to men, Mazaki."
"But at least they don't say it to my face," she sputtered, laughing. His mouth thinned agitatedly and he rose to his feet, storming over to Ryou and snatching the trunk holder from him. Shrugging, Ryou left Anzu to laugh and dragged the tree to the corner of the room where Bakura had set the trunk holder. They traded places and Ryou laid on his stomach while Bakura lowered the tree onto the holder while Ryou positioned it and screwed the holder to keep the tree in place.
"Don't see why we needed a stupid tree anyway," Bakura grumbled.
"It isn't Christmas without a tree!" Anzu told him, moving to watch them.
"My ass. This whole holiday is a farce."
"Why do you say that?" Bakura cast her a sarcastic look in which she remembered that he didn't believe in Jesus or any Biblical stories. "Oh..."
"If Moses turned the river into blood," Ryou said, backing from underneath the tree, "then he must have been a dark sorcerer rather than have any Godly powers." Ryou rose to his feet and took a box cutter from the couch, adding as he cut the twine, "Or at least that is Bakura's theory."
"He turned the Nile into blood," Bakura said, releasing the tree and collecting the twine, "he sent locusts, lice, flies, hail, fire, boils, death of livestock, and death of the first born on Egypt. Did I forget one?" Anzu shrugged; she had never read the Bible herself. "That sounds less like a God and more like a dark sorcerer." He tossed the twine on the couch and glanced at her. "From what Ryou had me read, it was a bunch of bull that some very imaginative people came up with."
"You're the most cynical person I've ever known," she said with a shake of her head. "I mean, Christmas is about Jesus and everything, but you have to consider what its about now. Giving gifts to those you love most, spending time with them, and spreading stories through Christmas movies to children." Anzu paused, seeing that Bakura was actually listening to her for once and not holding his all-famous look of sarcasm. "It's about making snowmen, having snowball fights and going inside for hot chocolate afterwards; singing along with Christmas music and sitting in front of a warm fire while its snowing outside; ice skating with friends and eating pumpkin and apple pie. I've never really focused on just the one aspect of Christmas, that being Jesus' birthday. I wasn't even baptized, so I never really cared."
"Shocking," Bakura drawled with a slight smirk. "Obviously you aren't the religious, good-two-shoes that I assumed." Ryou cut the last piece of twine and the tree hit Bakura in the face. He swore and shot a dirty look to Ryou, who grinned nervously and mumbled a feeble apology. Bakura continued to Anzu while glowering at Ryou, "You must not obey that no-sex-before-marriage rule, either."
"Don't be disgusting," Anzu mumbled, blushing. Bakura's mouth curled into an outright leer at her colouring face. "I don't go around sleeping around, thank you very much."
"I'm sure you don't," he returned with a skeptical tone to his voice.
"Ryou, give me that box cutter so I can kill him." Anzu turned to Ryou, thrusting a finger at Bakura, who laughed at her. Ryou glanced at her and then slid the blade down, inching away from her to hide it.
"Um...I think I would prefer him alive rather than dead, Anzu, no offense," Ryou said anxiously. He hastily said to avoid any more conflict between the two, "Shall we get to decorating?" Anzu sighed and nodded, admitting defeat. They moved towards the two boxes of decorations and began to remove coloured bulbs, lights, tinsel, the star, and other decorations that were for around the house.
Bakura had clearly only been contracted by Ryou for putting up the tree. He turned on the television and sat in the recliner, seemingly becoming brain dead from thereon. As Anzu took out the mistletoe, she stared at it for a moment and glanced over at Bakura, who was completely oblivious. She wondered if she should even bother putting it up since it would only be Bakura and Ryou around.
"Put some up," Ryou said from beside her. "Bakura and I aren't going to do anything with it, thank goodness, but it will make it look a little more cheerful. Besides, you never know – Yami could stop by and I could catch him and Bakura underneath the mistletoe. Do you suppose I could force them?" Ryou had such a bright expression on his face that she wondered what diabolical plans he thought of daily to torture Bakura.
"I doubt it. Yami would go ballistic."
"I'd attribute that more to Bakura than anyone else." They nodded thoughtfully and then went to untangle the lights.
While Anzu was given the task of decorating the tree with bulbs and small ornaments of reindeer, Santa Clause, gingerbread houses, and other such things, Ryou took the other things to put up around the house. When Anzu had finished the tree, she surveyed it for a moment and satisfied that it did not look cluttered, plugged the lights in and checked for shorts. Once she had done that, she got a chair and hung the lights from top to bottom with ultimately care. Bakura had turned from the television to watch her with a bored expression. After doing the lights, she knew that the tinsel was not needed. Seeing Bakura watching her, she asked, "How does the tree look?"
"It doesn't look right," he stated flatly.
"Not to you, I suppose," she retorted with a frown.
"No, you idiot." He rose to his feet, elaborating, "In the trees at the stores and on TV, they have these red and white striped things on them." He moved to the boxes, peering inside, while Anzu thought about what he was talking about. Just as he was moving from the boxes to tell her they did not have any, she snapped her fingers and exclaimed, "Candy canes! Of course! How could I forget? Ryou!"
Ryou poked his head from the entering hall, querying, "Is something wrong?" His eyes wandered to the tree and he smiled. "It looks really nice, Anzu."
"But we don't have any candy canes."
Ryou's smile gradually faded, his lips turning down worriedly. "Oh, dear...No, we don't do we? I don't suppose you would mind getting some, would you, Anzu? I could give you some money and you and Bakura could go to the store."
"What?" Bakura's eyes narrowed. "Since when do you volunteer me to go out to the store with Miss Sunshine here?"
"Since now," he cheerfully replied. "It won't take any longer than ten minutes, Bakura. Let me go get you some money, Anzu." Ryou hurried off to his room while Anzu found her purse. Bakura could see that there was no way to get him out of this particular situation, so he stormed off to his room to get some socks. He was right on Ryou's heels when he returned. "It shouldn't cost much more than five dollars," Ryou told Anzu, handing her a ten dollar bill. She was only half listening, watching Bakura shove some socks on and then button the sleeves of his shirt.
"You don't have to come if you don't want to, Bakura," she offered, seeing how reluctant he was.
"No, thanks," he grunted. "I would rather go with you than deal with Ryou going on and on about how ungentlemanly I was." She raised her eyebrows at Ryou, who merely smiled and chuckled in reply as Bakura headed to the entry hall.
"We shouldn't be long, Ryou." She followed Bakura and bundled up to go out in the cold. Bakura put on not only a coat, but a sweat underneath and was wearing fur-trimmed boots. She thought he looked rather fashionable when all was said and done. He had even put on a gray, knitted scarf and hat. When he saw her staring at him, he frowned. "Sorry, you just look really warm."
"Nice of you to notice, now can we go?" He opened the door and ushered her outside, shutting the door behind him as he followed.
The walk into town where the stores would be was without any conversation, the only sounds being that of others around them. It was strange; while around others, Anzu could talk easily with Bakura, but when she was alone with him, it felt like something had lodged in her throat, refusing to allow her to speak. She flattered herself by thinking that the same was with him. He could have teased her like he generally did, but was quiet and did not even bother to look at her when she glanced at him. She knew that he had seen her do it, too, because any other time when she did, he would comment about it.
"What store do you get these things?" Bakura asked when they plunged in a crowd of people.
"Um...anywhere, really. They would have them at a candy store, I suppose." Anzu turned to look across the street to see what stores were on the other side. "There's a candy store over there that we can go to, so – Bakura?" When Anzu turned back to face him, she was surrounded by strangers. Oh, no, I lost him, she thought, horrified. She could not help but think that was quite absurd since they had been moving almost at the same pace and she hadn't stopped, only slowed down. Surely he would have had the sense to slow down with her? But if he wasn't paying any attention –
"Do me a favor," Bakura's voice growled in her ear, "and stay where I can see you." She blinked, feeling his hand on her arm as he propelled her through the crowd. He was much better at finding places to move through than her and they were soon at Domino Square, where it was more airy and not as congested. He removed his hand and nodded to a store, "That's a candy store. Go find what you need, I'm staying here."
"No," she told him, "you're coming with me. I don't trust you to leave without me knowing." He rolled his eyes. "I'm serious, Bakura – that's just the type of person you are."
"Fine, just stop your whining already. I have to hear that from Ryou on a daily basis."
As they moved across the square to the candy shop, Anzu felt a burst of protection for Ryou. "You should be thankful he puts up with your foulness," she snapped. "With the way you talk, it seems like you don't appreciate anything he's done for you at all." She could sense that she might have crossed an invisible line that should never have been crossed. Bakura stopped altogether and gave her an unreadable look. There was a stillness about him that was uncommon and altogether frightening.
"I appreciate him in a way modern-day humans could never understand," he told her in a soft, deceptively calm voice. He could have threatened her or even said something more. Instead, he continued towards the store and she followed him, silent.
The store itself was small and with the handful of people that were present, it made it more crowded than usual. Anzu took a hold of Bakura's sleeve and squeezed between people towards the candy canes. When they got to them, she was appalled at how many different variety's there were. "Do you care what kind they are?" She asked him.
"I'm not going to eat them," he responded, "so no."
"Why aren't you?"
"Why should I?" He returned, meeting her gaze through the corner of his eye. "They're peppermint flavored and shaped weird. I want nothing to do with them. They can stay on the tree and be thrown away for all I care." She sighed and looked back to the candy canes, decided on classical red-and-white, sugary Spangler candy canes. Instead of clinging to his sleeve, Bakura took her hand and pulled her towards the counter. She admitted that she trusted his navigational skills more than her own and the feel of his palm against hers was not unpleasant.
"It's too bad you're such an ass, Bakura," she mused aloud. He glanced behind her, a puzzled frown forming on his lips. Anzu did not attempt to explain herself, smiling at him instead. As soon as they arrived at the counter, the cashier woman took one look at their joined hands and grinned widely at them.
"Crazy Christmas shopping, huh?" She inquired kindly.
"Yeah," Anzu agreed. "It's hard enough getting through these crowds."
"So, have you two got your shopping done yet?" Anzu gave her a blank stare that was mimicked by Bakura. The cashier woman seemed to sense their confusion, so she pointed at their hands, saying, "I assumed you two were a couple – aren't you?" Anzu immediately snatched her hand from Bakura's, embarrassed.
"No, of course not. Um, how much is this?" The cashier raised her eyebrows in disbelief and glanced at Bakura, Anzu's ever-silent companion. He returned her look with a bored stare.
"You certainly are sweet looking," she remarked with a grin. "You look like you're from California, honey. Is the weather getting you?" Bakura's expression turned flat and angry. The cashier turned away from him, not even noticing his change in mood, and gave the price to Anzu, who hastily paid, took the change, and hustled Bakura out of the store with her bag of three boxes of candy canes.
"You're not going to kill anyone on the way back to Ryou's, are you?" Anzu warily questioned.
"No," he answered in an annoyed tone. A moment later, he said, "Just that woman." Anzu winced and gave a tiny smile. When Bakura took her hand again, she tried to tug it away. He let loose a sigh and said, "Unless you would like to take a half hour getting through these crowds and losing each other every five seconds, I suggest you let me guide you."
"Just so long as nobody else mistakes us for being a couple."
"As if I want them to think that," he sneered.
It took a considerably less amount of time returning to Ryou's and by the time they did, the house was cleaned of boxes and the house was completely decorated. While Bakura was unappreciative and poked at things, including the trees, Anzu exclaimed over it. She and Ryou decorated the tree with candy canes, both of whom were sucking on a candy cane.
"Thanks so much for helping me, Anzu," Ryou said sometime after they had finished the tree. "I wouldn't have called you over if I didn't need the help."
"It's fine, I'm glad you did. I had fun." She picked up her purse to leave and frowned. "Where is Bakura?"
"I had him take the garbage downstairs to the dumpster. There was so much wrapping and tiny, unused boxes with the decorations."
"Oh...Well, I was going to tell him thanks for taking me to get the candy canes. I guess I'll probably see him going out."
"Probably – watch the door, though, Anzu. I put mistletoe there."
She nodded and said her final goodbyes, going to the entry while Ryou went to the kitchen. As she was putting her gloves on, Bakura entered, kicked his feet against the wall to shake off the snow. He eyed her. "Leaving finally, are you?"
"Yes..." Anzu hesitated, recalling what Ryou had said about the mistletoe. "I missed one thing about Christmas."
"It seems like you had a list as tall as the apartment building," he remarked dismissively.
"Mistletoe," she said.
"Mistletoe," Bakura repeated with no comprehension of what she was talking about. She gestured up to the chandelier where Ryou had hung the mistletoe. Bakura glanced at it blankly. "What of it?"
"If you're caught under it with anyone, you're supposed to kiss them," she explained and smiled at him. His eyes slid to the door that he had just come from, likely considering escape. She gave him no chance, leaning up and pressing her lips very gently to his. She remained there for longer than she intended and quickly turned towards the door as soon as she was finished. "Have a good Christmas, Bakura."
Once the door shut behind her, Bakura stared dumbly at it. He ran his tongue over his lips and tasted peppermint. He usually hated the taste or smell of peppermint, yet at that moment, he found it was the most delicious taste he had come upon. He removed all of his layers, took off his shoes, and went in the living room and took a candy cane off the tree. When Ryou returned to the living room with two cups of eggnog, Bakura was settled on the couch, staring at the tree with a candy cane in his mouth. "I thought you hated peppermint," Ryou said to him, handing him a cup of eggnog.
DIS: Well, there's my Christmas one-shot. Once again, it is vexshipping. I wanted to do a Kaiba/Anzu one, but I'm so out of them right now...Anyway, please leave a review telling me how you liked it. MERRY CHRISTMAS! :D