Those Who Love Gracefully

Disclaimer: I do not own Yugioh, nor do I claim rights to any of the affiliated characters.

Warnings/Notes: Just another Pegasus centered story, the man is my muse, in case you haven't already noticed. Anyway, please enjoy and feel free to critique. I wasn't sure if this idea had already been used, but I didn't see this plot for an opticshipping story yet. Anyway, Shizuka is 19 and in her freshman year of college in this story. (Obviously AU and possibly OOC)

The clock beat out the rhythm of his life in flawless measures. Day after day, since the rise and fall of the world war his acquaintance so valiantly fought, his existence went unaltered. The hands moved in a routine motion, the cycle was one he slowly began to build his life around, before he was free-spirited, and dismissed such conformity from his thoughts, but now, now things that fell into place seemed ordinary, almost eerily serene. He saw no sense in lashing out against a lifeless criminal.

The business of his company skyrocketed with the end of the charade and the disappearance of little Yugi. (Though the boy had tried to move on as though Atem was right there in his heart, human nature would not allow him to be subject to such easy acceptance.) He grieved in secrecy.

It was a month into the cruel and unrelenting aftermath that Pegasus's acquired taste for wine left him, for the first time in years he awoke to a glass of water, and it felt good. Part of him knew he couldn't fight the contemporary lifestyle he was falling victim to, and the smaller part of him didn't want to. Employees came and went, cartoons began and ended, for the first time in his life, he thought nothing of simple pleasures. He wanted to mourn such loss like little Yugi, but in his wasted youth, he had done plenty of that. Time went on as it always did and he gradually learned to accept it.

It was only when she came rushing into the fray that things began to change.

The sky was overcast and snow was gently drifting onto the ground in a cliched manor. Through his window he admired the imagery. The pool was glossed over in a thin, sleek sheet of ice, at the thought a smile played on his lips. He hadn't bothered to have someone cover it during the winter months for years now. He paused in his reflection to think for a moment…what day was it? His brows knitted together in thought briefly before it occurred to him, December the 22nd.

His pale hand left the windowsill and he turned away from the glass, in which his troubled reflection awaited him. He swung the door to his master bedroom open and ventured out into the corridors of his less-than-humble-abode, the aroma of gingerbread arousing his senses.

He watched from the stairwell as he walked it. His servants were much more cheerful around the holidays, humming seasonal songs under their breath as they worked. His feet connected with the ground beneath them at the bottom of the flight and he moved to the kitchen, where a cup of cocoa awaited him. He was a child at heart, after all.

"Sleep well?" A maid to his right quietly inquired, glancing out the window behind him.

He nodded through a sip of the steamy beverage, "And yourself?"

She shrugged, "I'm just excited for the holidays." He smiled at the response and sipped once more. It was another ordinary day, no new threat was going to arise, no emergency call from Yugi or Kaiba-boy would be made, it was just…Monday.

Temptation plagued at his mind, part of him longed to find something to occupy his time but what could he really do aside from set himself up for disaster? Stores and streets would be crazy, resorts packed, and dueling tournaments a waste of time. He sighed and rose from the table at the exclamation of his name. Oh joy another modern-day-tragedy. He sarcastically noted to himself as he entered the room adjacent to him.

"What's the matter Croquet?" He asked of the man who stood looking out one of the windows in the sitting room.

"You should've told me sooner Master Pegasus!" He exclaimed, almost apologetically, "I didn't realize you'd invited anyone over!"

"What are you going on about?" The silver hared man demanded of his employee as he moved to stand beside him in front of the window. Confusion filtered into his mind; "There's no one outside." He stated flatly, his heart sinking in disappointment for a moment.

"Then, you weren't expecting anyone?" Croquet questioned as his master moved a comfortable distance away from him.

"No." Pegasus replied, his tones laced subtly with annoyance.

"There was just a phone call for you from a young woman, she said something about wanting to speak with you, I thought that maybe…since she didn't mention business, well that's to say…when I asked her-"

"You're babbling." Pegasus cut in, holding his hand out in a silent demand for the portable phone.

Paling, Croquet handed it to him, "The number should still be listed sir, I'm sorry, I hadn't realized, I mean if I'd have known you were up I'd have-"

"For god sakes man it's nearly Christmas, relax." He chided halfheartedly as he clicked to re-dial the number of his last received call. The person to answer caught him by surprise.

Her soft and clearly flustered voice sang into the phone receiver in between short and stifled breaths, "Hello?"

"Hello, I'm very sorry to have bothered you Ms. Kawaii but I was just returning your phone call." He replied in his usual cheery tone, which had returned to him fairly easily.

"There's no need to be so formal Mr. Crawford, please, call me Shizuka." She responded, a smile in her voice, the man swallowed, he hadn't been able to sense something that vivid since…. He dismissed such thoughts from his mind quickly, it's nearly Christmas, he reminded himself, it's no time to be dwelling on the past.

"Very well." He replied after a moment's pause, "What can I do for you, Shizuka?" He inquired.

"Well you see Mr. Crawford I'm currently working evenings as a reporter for the Osaka Review and I was wondering…" She trailed off, suddenly feeling pushy and imprudent.

"If you could possibly get an interview before the Christmas holiday?" He finished as he moved into the kitchen to search for his previously abandoned cocoa.

"Yes." There was relief in her voice behind the nervousness that was still present; subconsciously Pegasus laughed at her uneasiness, and his ability to read it. Meanwhile, in Japan, Shizuka sat sheepishly at the desk in her living room, tapping her pen against a stack of messily compiled papers.

"I don't personally have a problem with it, as long as you'll be quoting me accurately of course." He replied as he sat down to the beverage and took it in hand.

"Of course Mr. Crawford." She hurriedly assured him as she fought back her excitement. For weeks her co-workers had been trying to get a hold of a Mr. Pegasus Crawford in America and were never able to get through, she was glad she had decided to call from her cell phone instead of her work phone.

"Before we begin-" He paused to sip his cocoa, "I'm curious as to why you're still in your office at half passed midnight."

She blushed slightly in embarrassment before replying, "To be completely honest I'm currently at home." She replied.

"To be that dedicated to your work-" he clicked his tongue half-fondly, "You remind me of your brother."

"Thank you." She replied, smiling softly as she gathered a few things and moved them to a corner of her workspace.

"In any case, we have some business to attend to whenever you're ready." He thought about telling her to call him Pegasus if he was to call her Shizuka, but such seemed informal during an interview from both ends of the spectrum.

For a moment Shizuka, in her confusion, did not reply, "Oh!" She at last proclaimed, "I'm so sorry." She gushed apologetically, "I initially intended to do the interview in person." She informed him, part of her felt, after she had said otherwise, that she should've grabbed her questions and just interviewed him over the phone, as now she was sure to seem arrogant and forceful.

"Well…" Pegasus trailed off, not knowing exactly what to say to the young woman's silence. "I don't have any real plans, however a flight to San Francisco would take you a full day and night. Being that it's the 23rd in Japan you'd be lucky to land here Christmas Eve and I'm sure such would be unacceptable."

"If you'd have me I could make it work." She informed him confidently.

"Ms. Kawaii I fail to comprehend your logic." He replied, smiling at her enthusiasm as memories of her dear brother came to mind, "Your place of employment will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at least, the interview would be worthless to you by then."

"I'll leave a message for my boss to get in the morning, we've been trying to get this story since the beginning of the month and I know four others that'd put in any amount of time over the holiday to get this issue out." She reassured him with a faith instilled in her that he felt guilty dismembering.

"And just how would your family feel about this decision?" He inquired as he rested his head in his free hand.

"My brother supports me in everything I do." She informed him happily.

He laughed audibly, "And what about your parents?"

She sighed, "Mr. Crawford. This interview would mean everything to me; I'll do whatever I have to if it's convenient for you. The last flight to San Francisco leaves at 6:00 am and if you agree to this I intend to be on it."

He smiled, she was young and reckless as he had been when her age. On top of that she was a true journalist at heart, nothing was going to stop her from eventually getting what she wanted, and he knew that. Despite his reservations he opened his mouth to reply.

"And should I agree to this little meeting would you want to bring Jonouchi-boy along in the event that you're kept here until after Christmas day? The snow coming down is bound to cause plane delays."

"No." He sensed guilt rising in her voice, "I'd love to be with Jonouchi on time this Christmas but I want this interview to be as professional as possible with nothing getting in the way of it. Besides, he's spending the 24th through the 27th with his friends and my father, bringing something like this up would only cause chaos." She didn't know why she'd told him half of her current life story, or why it'd been so easy to do so, all that was really clear was the desperation for his confirmation.

If she was this determined he felt guilty not giving her a shot at pulling it off. He knew she'd probably just be setting herself up for disappointment, and in taking part in such, he felt guilty, but life would get her down plenty in years to come, and she had to start preparing some day.

"Well then Mr. Kawaii…." His words hung heavily in the air, "You have yourself an interview."

AN: I'm sorry if this was OOC, since it was AU I really wanted to show Shizuka's implied determination in the series and applying it to journalism worked out fairly well for his story. I know the name of the newspaper is lame, I was drawing a major blank. Please review, feel free to critique.