A/N: This was originally a gift to KagomeMiroku for catching my 3000th pageview on Devart. She requested a fic inspired by David Archuleta's "Crush". This fic has very little in common with the song, but instead, is somewhat related to a personal experience I thought of when I listened to the song. For being so unintended, I've grown rather fond of this fic.
Manga-verse because I don't feel like dealing with Doom. And because manga is so much cooler for having flesh-eating scarab bugs. (though it unfortunately lacks Jean-Claude Magnum's crazy stunt man.) So no awkward, "hey, I tried to kill you last month what's up?" They never had a falling out. It's post-Battle City. I'm also going with the idea that they've been seeing each other around at tournaments and such.
Disclaimer: If I owned Yuugiou, the age gap between Mai and Jou would be lessened by at least 4 years so I don't have to keep setting my fics three years after the series ends! (though, ironically, this fic does not involve such a timeskip)
He looked so handsome in the tuxedo.
Not that he didn't always look good. How did boys manage to pull off jeans and just-got-out-of bed hair so well? Mai spent more time than she'd ever admit to him getting as close to perfect as possible, but he could just throw on a t-shirt and run out the door. Maybe it was just easier to spot flaws in women. Guys always looked good.
It had absolutely nothing to do with how she felt about this particular guy. Nope. Nu-uh. He was just barely an adult. For the love of ra, her liking him would be like him being attracted to a 14-year old.
...okay, so Honda and Otogi fought over Shizuka like rabid dogs. That didn't count. He'd just barely entered manhood, and she was almost 8 long years older. 5 if he asked.
Though he did carry himself like someone older. She'd only asked about his life for the sake of small talk, and he'd answered as such. Other than that, his past was unknown to her. Used to be a punk, he'd said. Ran with the wrong crowd. Boy, that could be anything from a yankee to Visual Kei. She almost giggled at the thought of him all done up in chains and leather. It wasn't so bad, actually. But right now, she definitely preferred the tux.
Jounouchi glanced over his shoulder, then snapped his head back before Mai could see him blush. She looked good. He'd had similar reactions to her appearance before, but... damn. He would've whistled if he wasn't supposed to be paying attention to Kaiba Corp's head of Research and Development. It was just like Kaiba to throw a party for his new duel disk. He couldn't just release it like a normal CEO. No, he had to drag all of Japan's top duelists and then some to the building so they could be forced to socialize. Jounouchi adjusted his tie. Socialize in formal wear no less, since this was the biggest shindig Kaiba had thrown since Battle City.
Jounouchi hated socializing. Even right now was torture, and all he had to do was pretend to pay attention. He'd give half his deck for someone to talk to. Yuugi was on his left, starting raptly at their esteemed speaker. Of course Yuugi would find the long-winded lecture interesting--or have the decency to pretend to find it interestind. Ra only knew where Bakura went off to, and between awe of the King of Games and not wanting to risk insulting Jounouchi, rest of the crowd was steering clear of them. Clear being about 4 feet, which was considerable with the number of people.
Jounouchi sighed and tried to make the words coming out of the guy's mouth seem interesting. He was talking about dueling!
The most boring dueling Jounouchi had heard in his life. It was one long stream of technical specifications, stutters, and awkward pauses. Resigning himself to his fate, Jounouchi stared at the unfortunately dull man on stage.
Jounouchi glanced around again. Mai imagined how bored he was. Heck, she was bored, and she was willing to come ALONE. What on earth ever possessed her to show up at one of these stupid social things without a date, she would never know. It was just a release of a duel disk. ...at Kaiba's mansion. With an invitation that specifically told her she could bring a guest. A year ago, she wouldn't have been caught dead at one something like this without a man on her arm. ...of course, a year ago, she wouldn't have been invited in the first place, having just got out of dealing on cruise ships. But it was the principle of the thing.
She shook her head. Her mind was wandering again. But, geez, how hard was it to make a card game based on ancient magical games INTERESTING? Or at least tolerable! Mai wondered how horrible his punishment would be when Kaiba got wind of this. This man was not meant to be a public speaker. What Mai wouldn't give for someone to talk to right now.
And, on cue, Jounouchi fidgeted again. Mai glanced around. No one was paying attention to anyone in the crowd. In fact, most of them were staring at the speaker. Huh. Mai took a couple steps forward, but no one noticed, let alone cared. She wove through the crowd to the small space around the two young duelists. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she wondered what was possessing her to do this, but then she looked up at Jounouchi and the voice shut up.
She touched his arm lightly. He didn't jump, but he twitched and spun around too quickly to pretend not to have been startled.
"Hey," he said, his bored expression changing to a grin when he saw who it was. "You're stuck here, too?"
She smirked back. "You looked like you could use someone to talk to. Hey, Yuugi!" She whispered a quick greeting to the king of games, who had raised his head her way. He nodded, smiling, and turned his attention back to the speaker. Jounouchi scoffed and nodded at the stage.
"I don't know about talking. I'm pretty entertained as it is." Jounouchi tried to make himself look interested, and failed miserably. He sighed. "Ah, damn, this is so boring. You think Kaiba'd at least let us sit for it."
"Probably wants to make sure we don't fall asleep," Mai joked. Jounouchi nearly laughed out loud, which, while entertaining, would not have been the wisest descision.
"So what're you doing here?" Jounouchi asked eventually when their silent laughter died down.
"Why wouldn't I be here?" she shrugged. Jounouchi gauged her expression, and tried to figure out which 'here' she meant. She noticed him staring at her, and he jumped.
"H-here at the party or here with me?" he gave in and asked flat out. She looked at him coyly, but he turned so she wouldn't catch him blushing.
"Both," she smiled, amused by his reaction, and honestly wanting to be with him. He nodded, looking into the distance. If she didn't know him better, she'd think he was lost in thought. He didn't say anything after that, so she focused back on the prototype duel disk and contented herself with at least being in someone else's company.
"You look nice, by the way," Jounouchi whispered. Mai was caught between accepting the compliment or playing with him some more. The latter was more fun. She leaned close to him so she could whisper back.
"You said something to the same effect when we met on the boat to Duelist Kingdom." Where, in contrast to the floor-length evening gown, she'd been wearing a corset and a mini-skirt.
"Erm," he stammered. "Really? I don't remember that..." Mai shot him a dark glare.
"I mean, not that you didn't!" he rushed, raising his hands as though to block her angry look. "You..." his shoulders slumped, and he lowered his hands. "Ah... you, you're just messing with me, aren't you?" he accused as the corners of her mouth twitched.
"Oh, come on," she laughed. "It was funny."
"Hmph," he scoffed, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Last time I pay you a compliment."
"Oh, alright, I'm sorry," she conceded, taking hold of his arm, coaxing it out of the pocket, as though it had something to do with his mood.
"You mean it, or do you just want me to keep saying nice stuff?" he raised an eyebrow. That was interesting. She'd never seen him do that before. It was quite charming.
"I mean it," she promised. He grinned, and let her take his arm.
"You really do look nice," he tried again.
"You're one to talk," she came back. "I didn't know you cleaned up so well." He stood straighter, taking pride in the compliment.
"Really?" he asked, glancing--and he was amazed to realize this--DOWN at her. She was standing right next to him--literally; she was holding his arm--He was taller than her by at least a couple inches, and she was certainly wearing heels.
"Would I lie to you?"
"..." Jounouchi wasn't about to answer that. Mai rolled her eyes.
"Okay, would I lie to make you feel better?"
"There we go," she laughed, looking back up at the guy on stage to see if things had gotten any better. The man was pulling an actual duel disk out of a case now, instead of reading off of his never-ending list of technical specs. "Ooh, hey, they're actually going to do something."
"...works just like a normal duel disk!" They managed to catch, now that they were actually paying attention. "But, if I take this..." He pulled a cord out of the bottom of the duel disk The man had stopped stuttering so much--or maybe now that they were with each other, they were less distracted.
There was a small square piece attached to the end of the cord, and this he stuck to the back of his neck. The cord wound behind his head, down his left arm, and into the duel disk. He activated it, and summoned a monster. The crowd laughed when a Kaibaman stepped onto the stage. Jounouchi let out a particularly smug chuckle.
"Ladies and gentlemen, when you entered, you were each given a number to remember." He turned the duel disk on and fiddled with the lifepoint counter. Mai remember hearing something about the counters being able to project random numbers for things like coin tosses and dice rolls now. "With the new randomizer feature, I'm going to select the duelist who will get to test the new disk."
"Oh great," Jounouchi muttered, sliding his arm out of Mai's grip and digging through his pockets. Her arm stayed curled in the same position for a moment, not wanting to let go of his.
"Number 23!" The man called dramatically. Jounouchi sighed.
"Aw, I was fifty-something." He looked at Mai, who was staring blankly at the paper in her hand.
"Don't tell me," Jounouchi guessed, looking at her paper and seeing the exact number. "Lucky! Go on, get up there!"
"I don't want to..." she started lamely, but Jounouchi gave her a gentle push, and she went ahead.
A/N: ... yankee to Visual Kei. She almost giggled at the thought of him all done up in chains and leather... - That's an inside joke that I couldn't resist. Yankee was roughly was Jounouchi actually was--a gang member. Visual Kei/J-Rock is a reference to a cosplay I did of Jounouchi.
I suppose it could have used more work... but... I don't think it'll help it as a fic. Just provide you with useless details of how incredibly boring the party is.
Two more chapters, both written, so updates will be quick. I'd love to hear guesses as to what will happen, since for once, I've got the whole thing done already.