Chapter Twelve: Twelve Drummers Drumming

December 24th

Mai didn't sleep very well that night. She tossed and turned, unable to get to sleep. When she did manage to drift off, she had bad dreams. Mostly, they were about meeting her gift-giver. Sometimes, it was Joey, but when she went to kiss him, he started screaming at her for betraying him and taking his soul. Other times, he turned into a monster and tried to eat her. Sometimes, the gift-giver wasn't Joey at all, but Pegasus or Marik or a ghastly clown. Either way, Mai awoke in the night countless times, shuddering and sweating.

By the time morning came, she felt horrible, and she probably looked worse. There were dark circles under her eyes and her expression was haggard. Mai had mostly eschewed makeup this week; she had hardly left the room. There wasn't any point in painting up for the pool, the gym, or the roomservice people. But today, she carefully applied concealer to hide the effects of her sleepless night, then did the rest—eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick, blush, the works. She had dressed in a slinky little dress—a violet a few shades on the light side of black.

See you tomorrow. The words echoed in her head the entire time. Well, it was tomorrow. All she had to do was wait.

And wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Mai had been waiting all day, without one sign of, well, anything. In one hand, she held the tickets to Swan Lake that had come on Day Seven. The showtime was 6:30. She figured the last gift—along with its giver—had to show up by then.

The clock on the nightstand said 5:19.

Should she eat dinner? She didn't want to leave, but she could order room service. Only she had been hoping for a dinner date. Restlessly, she rose, and walked across the room to the mirror. She still looked great—although maybe she could use a fresh coat of lipstick. She started to re-apply it, when there was a knock at the door.

Mai was so startled, she dropped her lipstick in the sink. Hastily, she blotted her lips and ran to the door.

It was Téa, beating on a toy drum, and grinning brightly. She marched inside the door, followed by Yugi, then Rebecca, then Duke…In a matter of minutes, Bakura, Mokuba, Vivian, Mako, Tristan, Serenity, Yugi's grandpa, and some other old guy Mai didn't recognize had followed them inside. Mai mentally counted them as they walked in. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven…

Téa gave her toy drum two loud raps, and everyone started drumming a drumroll. Then, a familiar figure walked through the doorway. He was pounding on a drum of his own, and he was singing.

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

He wailed on his drum as if he were playing the drum solo in a heavy metal band, tossing his head wildly. Mai's shoulders shook, and she wasn't sure if she was laughing or crying. All she knew was that Joey was here, and that he loved her and that she—she knew it deep, deep, within her, as clear as the sun bursting through the clouds—she was in love with him.

He was still playing the drum when she threw her arms around him. The drum clattered to the floor. For just a second, Joey looked up at her, warm brown eyes wide, a huge grin lighting his face. Then Mai's eyes closed as his arms pulled her tight and his lips slanted over hers.

There might not have been any mistletoe involved, but it was still the best Christmas kiss Mai had ever had.

When they broke apart, Mai was aware of everyone staring at her and Joey. They were all smiling, but still…Mai's ears went pink.

Joey threw his arm around her shoulder. She realized suddenly that he was all dressed up. "Show's over, folks," he said. "I'm taking this lovely lady away with me—that is, if she'll have me." He threw Mai a questioning glance.

"Don't be stupid." Mai grinned. "Of course I'll come with you." She leaned over and gave him a peck on the check. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."

There was a collective sigh as Mai and Joey strolled out the door, arm in arm. Mai felt like it was the end of one of those sappy Hallmark Christmas movies. Any minute now, everything would turn fuzzy and fake snow would start falling from the sky.

Only it wasn't the end at all. It was the beginning. A very good beginning.

A/N: In just before Christmas! Merry Christmas all!