Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters presented here and am not making any profit off of this whatsoever.
Title: Sweet Taste of Your Lips
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 2,510
Romance: Yuuki Juudai x Marufuji Ryou
Notes: This takes place a few years after the end of Yu-Gi-Oh GX. I have this strange affection for writing Juudai into romances that include food or sweets somehow. First doughnuts, then chocolate milk, and now this, with pudding. Comments and criticism gratefully accepted.
Summary: When Juudai wants to make pudding, even the might of Hell Kaiser cannot stand up to that desire.

"You want to make pudding." Ryou raised one eyebrow slightly, looking down at his guest. Juudai only grinned at him, that cheerful warm grin that Hell Kaiser found could wear away his defenses in nothing flat. He had known Juudai for years now, and never before had the other smiled at him like that. For that matter, he'd never come to visit for a week before either. They'd never spent that much time in close proximity, and Ryou had begun to look forward to waking up knowing that Juudai would be there somewhere.

"Sure." Juudai finally spoke when it looked as if Ryou wasn't going to say anything else. "What's wrong with pudding? I was thinking butterscotch. Or maybe chocolate. Or vanilla." He frowned for a few seconds. "Maybe we could mix them all together and try it like that."

No matter how much Juudai matured, there would always be that careless boy inside there somewhere. Someone to whom the thought of mixing four or five different flavors of pudding was not only natural but normal. Ryou closed his eyes for a moment and tried very hard not to smile. It was almost impossible, given the situation, but he tried anyway.

"I don't think I have enough milk for all of that," he said, trying to dissuade Juudai just a little. One bowl of pudding would be plenty. He didn't believe in 'sugar highs' himself, but he had heard from Shou once or twice on what Juudai could be like once he'd had a few sweets in him. He wasn't certain if he wanted to find out if it were true first-hand or not.

Juudai opened the refrigerator door and peered inside at once, eyeing the contents thoughtfully before turning back to look at Ryou. "Then we need to go to the store. You should have more milk anyway. And more food. What do you do, order in?"

"Yes." Ryou was not ashamed to admit it. His cooking skills were all but non-existent, and he had a wide selection of places that would deliver to him in order to make up for that.

"You still need more food. What if you wake up at three a.m. craving sushi or something?" Juudai asked, in a tone that clearly said he'd done so himself, and quite probably more times than could be conveniently counted.

Ryou wanted to simply answer that he'd simply have to call one of the all night delivery places. But he didn't think that Juudai was going to take that for an answer, not right now. "All right. There's a store down the street."

"Good. We can go right now. And don't forget the milk." Juudai grinned at him, and that grin went straight into Ryou's heart. He couldn't help but smile back, just a little. While cooking held absolutely no interest for him, the prospect of just a little fun with Juudai that had nothing to do with dueling for a change was more than a little appealing. Everyone needed variety in their lives, even him.

Getting ready to go to the store didn't take very long at all. Ryou didn't bother with his usual black leather outfit, which he generally wore these days only when he was actually going to duel. He still wore dark colors, mainly because he preferred them over anything else, and chose a dark blue sweater and black slacks, with finely made black boots that had been a birthday gift from Fujiwara back in January.

Juudai, of course, still wore his usual Osiris Red outfit. He'd worn that for as long as Ryou could remember, even after he'd left the school. It wasn't exactly the same, with the coat being slightly longer in the back and the pants being dark blue instead of white. Ryou approved of the change; Juudai looked more like someone who really was the incarnation of the good darkness and justice.

Both of them were impressive enough so no one got in their way, not even to ask for an autograph, as they strode side by side down the street. Juudai had shot up a few inches over the three years since he'd graduated from the Academy, putting him nearly on a par with Ryou himself. For that matter, Ryou found that he liked being able to look Juudai in the eyes instead of having to bend down a little. There were reasons for that, but he chose not to pay any attention to them at the moment. It wasn't something that he needed to think about, so he didn't.

Shopping with Juudai was something of a unique experience. When Ryou shopped, which was incredibly infrequently, he knew roughly what he wanted to get and where it was, and wasted very little time wandering around to get to it. Juudai, on the other hand, flitted here and there, picking up items without regard to if they were on the list they had made before leaving or not. There was no use in even trying to say something about it. Juudai was Juudai and Juudai listened to one person for the most part when it came to anything that wasn't saving the world: Juudai.

"There we go." Juudai dropped a bag of oranges into the cart and then pointed ahead of them. "We should be able to get the milk over there." Yes, he had not forgotten that. Ryou had not exactly hoped that he would. This was Juudai after all.

So that was where he pushed the cart, trying not to smile as Juudai darted ahead and stared intently at the rows and rows of milk in every size, brand, and type available. When he bought milk, he simply grabbed whatever came first to his hand. The varying tastes meant very little to him, as long as it was milk and would thus perform the necessary actions of milk. Again, Juudai was different where this was concerned.

"I think this one will be the best for the pudding," Juudai declared at last, yanking the door open and reaching for a container. Ryou did not object; at least he hadn't been subjugated to a lecture on why it was the best. He was perfectly willing to get it and get out of here. He thought he'd seen at least two people he recognized as being fans of his from some of his duels, and he was not in the mood to be that sociable

"Let's go, then. That's everything." Or so it might have been, if Juudai hadn't decided to pick up a few more items as they coasted towards the registers. The expression on Ryou's face was apparently enough to keep the fans away as he started to unload the cart, for which he was profoundly grateful.

He tried not to look too hard at the four containers of milk Juudai had very unceremoniously plopped into the cart. Was Juudai even going to be there long enough to drink all of that? He knew that he probably wouldn't. His milk needs were few. If he had to, he could probably share some with Shou. That would be the most likely fate of this milk.

The trip back to the apartment, with the two of them carrying the supplies, didn't take all that long. Juudai chattered happily all the way about how good pudding was, how much he'd missed not having any while he'd been on the road, and maybe before he left he'd pick up some to take with him. The thought of Juudai leaving was more than a little disturbing to Ryou. He knew it would happen; that was what Juudai did. He wandered here, there, and everywhere. The longest that he'd ever stayed with anyone was a month and that had been with Johan. He'd already been staying at Ryou's for four days, and if he stayed another three, Ryou would consider himself lucky.

The fact he was going to miss Juudai when he left was sharply carved on the inside of his mind. He'd become used to someone being there when he woke up in the morning, even though it had only been for those four days. He was used to that cheerful voice chatting about anything and everything. He really didn't want it to stop.

At least he wasn't going to have to think about it at the moment. Juudai was here and they were going to make pudding together. The more he thought about it, the more he started to really want some, really. Being around Juudai had that effect on people, making them want what he wanted. It wasn't something he did. It was just something he was.

Unpacking everything and putting it away took only a little more time than getting back to the apartment, and soon they were ready to get down to the serious business of desserts. Given Juudai's impatience when he was hungry, and at many other times, Ryou was not surprised that he'd picked out instant pudding instead of something they would have to cook.

"Which flavor did you want to make first?" he asked, glancing at the small piles of boxes that Juudai had tossed so cheerfully into the cart. Indeed, there was chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch there, though Ryou intended to put up some sort of resistance at the thought of mixing them all. He wanted pudding, not some sort of unholy conglomeration of them all.

"This one." Juudai did not choose by looking at them, of course. He closed his eyes, reached to the pile, and pulled one out. "Butterscotch."

That was fairly tasty, if not his absolute favorite, so Ryou didn't protest. It appeared to him that he wasn't protesting a great deal, but when he considered it, what would be the sense? It was pudding, not a duel. And he was enjoying himself. As far as he could tell, they both were. That was all that was necessary at the moment.

Making the pudding took virtually no effort at all. A bowl, a measuring cup, a spoon, and the pudding mix was all it took. Juudai whipped the mixture together quickly, his eyes dancing with anticipation, and Ryou watched, his own attention focused on Juudai himself and not necessarily what he was doing.

"There we go!" Juudai declared happily, running his finger on the inside of the mixing bowl before he stuck it in his mouth and licked it happily. Ryou mentally swallowed at the sight, not entirely certain of why, but enjoying it on a much more visceral level than many other things he'd ever seen. "It should be ready to eat in about an hour or so. It just has to set."

Once the bowl was set back into the refrigerator and the mess cleaned up, both Ryou and Juudai settled in the living room to wait for it to be ready to eat. Ryou sipped at a can of green tea he'd bought for himself and considered what had been going on. Juudai had simply shown up and slipped into his life as if he'd always been there, and Ryou hadn't objected. For that matter, Juudai had seldom left his thoughts in the last four days. Whatever else he thought of, whatever else managed to be going on, Juudai was in there, somewhere, just waiting for Ryou to notice him.

He glanced briefly over to where Juudai sat now. The other had taken out his deck and was going through it in the timeless fashion of duelists with nothing else to do, murmuring to himself. Well, he was probably actually talking to the cards themselves. Ryou had never had the ability to speak to his cards, though once in a while, ever since his sojourn in the Dark World and his death and rebirth, he'd thought he caught a glimpse of something hovering near him once in a while.

I wonder if he's speaking to Yubel. Ryou thought he might be from some of what he could hear. Ryou had no grudge against Yubel for their duel. Indeed, he was very grateful to her. She had, using Johan's body and Johan's cards, given him exactly what he wanted at the time. Of all people, he could understand obsession with something or someone, and the bond she and Juudai shared was one that he could never be jealous of.

Suddenly, Juudai popped up and headed towards the kitchen. "Pudding's probably ready. I'll get you yours."

Ryou only blinked slightly, then relaxed back into his chair and took out his own deck to sort through it. He had built this one slowly and surely over several months, testing it out against as many strong duelists as he could. It was probably the best deck he'd ever played with. It would be able to evolve with him, to grow stronger as he did, and while he hadn't won every duel with it, he didn't mind. They were growing together, exactly what he needed and wanted.

"Here!" Juudai stuck a bowl of yellow pudding with a spoon sticking out of the side into his face. "Pudding!"

"Yes, I'm aware of what pudding is," Ryou replied, a faint grin teasing at his features as he took the bowl. With his other hand he gathered his deck and put it away, not wanting to risk any pudding-related damage to his cards. Then he started to eat it carefully, his tongue curling around the spoon to get all of it into his mouth.

Really, this was delicious. It was worth the trip to the store. Getting out into the fresh air had been enjoyable as well. He suspected that Juudai had known that all along. From the faintly smug tilt to the other's lips, he was even more certain of it. He could also see a little pudding on Juudai's lips, and he wondered if he should go and wipe it off. It was oddly attractive, though that was a thought which had almost never crossed his mind about anyone before.

"You've got pudding on your lips." Ryou was taken briefly aback; he'd just been thinking that about Juudai in the first place. Then the younger man was standing in front of him and leaning closer. Ryou could predict many events in a duel, but Juudai was someone he'd never been able to predict. That was part of why he respected him as much as he did.

And that was why he did not predict the kiss that landed on his lips, nor the way Juudai's tongue darted out, cleaning off not only the small trace of pudding, but moved slightly into his mouth as his lips parted in surprise. He found his own tongue moving forward, caressing lightly across Juudai's lips to find those traces of pudding there as well.

Ryou decided he would have to have pudding far, far more often, as long as Juudai was there.

The End