By Amphitrite II
Studying dance in New York City, Anzu runs into an old friend with whom she ignites a new flame.
Disclaimer: This story is based on Yu-Gi-Oh! and its characters and situations, all created and owned by Kazuki Takahashi.
Pairing: Danceshipping (Kujaku Mai/Mazaki Anzu)
Notes: This story is the product of a random little bunny that attacked me a while ago. I wanted to post it in time for Valentine's Day, but I missed it by a few hours. Ah, well. Hope you enjoy! Hurrah for some girl lovin'. As always, feedback is awesome. Thanks for reading!
When Anzu woke up Sunday morning, she knew that it would be no ordinary day. She could feel it in her bones as she lay in her modest bed in her modest apartment, looking out the modest bedroom window at the modest New York sun. After lounging under the covers for five minutes, she leapt out of bed and began her morning routine of using the toilet, brushing her teeth, and making breakfast.
By eleven o' clock, Anzu had checked her e-mail (a reply from Honda!), picked out an outfit that pleased her (pink jacket, dark jeans, white platforms), and decided to go to the market to purchase some ingredients for making lunch. Strolling down the sidewalk and glancing at the various clothing and jewelry displayed prominently in the store windows, she gloried in the fair weather and the busy streets.
She was checking out a silver watch in a small storefront when something in the reflection of the glass caught her eye. A mane of luxurious blonde hair stood out from the passersby, and Anzu whirled around, a familiar but long unuttered name upon her lips.
The woman stopped in her tracks and turned around, smartly sidestepping the crowd to get to the owner of the unmistakable voice. "Mazaki Anzu?" she exclaimed in disbelief, peering curiously at her before grabbing her in a tight embrace.
Anzu hugged her back happily, feeling Mai's long gold tresses brush her fingers and her heavy breasts press warmly against her collarbone. When they pulled away from each other, both girls wore expressions of great delight.
"You're not busy, are you, darling?" Mai asked. "We must catch up; it's been so long. Let me get a look at you!"
Squeezing past the throngs of people, she pulled Anzu into an alley and gave her a once-over while Anzu examined Mai herself, who looked stunning – as usual – in a half-unbuttoned purple Oxford shirt, a cropped white jacket, and an obscenely short white skirt paired with sky high purple pumps. Now that Anzu was looking at her up close, she saw that her lemon-yellow hair had been dyed a darker shade of honey blonde, which brought out her lively purple eyes.
"You look lovely," Mai declared. "I love the bag."
Anzu glanced at her large yellow tote and smiled fondly. "It was a gift from everyone back home. I have a feeling Shizuka-chan helped them choose it," she laughed, realizing with bewilderment that those two sentences embodied the most Japanese she had spoken to someone in person in months.
"Everyone…" Mai repeated, looking thoughtful as she led Anzu down the street. "How are those guys doing, anyway?"
"Well… Yuugi is in college, studying to get a degree in History. Jounouchi is working multiple jobs to support himself and his father. Honda's dad got him a job with the city, but he's thinking about saving up for college. Here, I need to stop at the market."
They browsed the stalls, and Anzu filled her basket up with various vegetables and herbs. She decided to buy some fresh fish, too; there was a new dish she wanted to try to make.
"You cook?" Mai asked curiously as Anzu picked out the prettiest mushrooms and paid the merchant, who thanked her enthusiastically.
"Yeah, I love cooking. Do you?"
Mai laughed, and Anzu felt warmed by the sound. "I'm a terrible cook," she admitted. "I survive solely on takeout. I can make a mean custard pudding, though," she added proudly. Anzu laughed.
"Would you like to join me for lunch? I was going to make myself a nice meal, but you're welcome to come over. I hardly ever get to have any guests."
"That sounds wonderful," Mai agreed. "If you show me where to get the ingredients, I'll make some of my pudding for us, too." She grinned and winked at Anzu.
Anzu grinned and clasped her hands together. "All right, let's go!"
"This is such a cute place," Mai commented as she followed Anzu into the kitchen of the small apartment.
"It's not much, really," Anzu said, "but it's comfortable. Sorry if it's a little messy."
Mai waved her off. "I don't see any mess," she replied, refrigerating the eggs and milk she had purchased.
Soon, they began cooking, Anzu humming happily under her breath as she washed and cut vegetables.
"What are you doing here, anyway, Anzu?" Mai said suddenly as she examined a box of sugar.
"Studying dance," Anzu said, "at the School of American Ballet. I've dreamt of doing this for so long. Sometimes, I still can't believe that I'm really here."
"I didn't know you danced," Mai said, looking at Anzu in a new light. "That's really cool. I guess that despite all that we went through together all those years ago, I don't really know you guys all that well."
Anzu smiled. "It's not too late to fix that."
Mai smiled back at her. "I suppose not."
"And you, Mai-san? What are you doing here?"
Mai told her about the Japanese cosmetics company she worked for and how currently her job was to all over the world to promote a new perfume. As Mai told her about the quirks and downsides of her job, Anzu began panfrying the vegetables, loving the sizzling sound they made in the pan, like percussion accompaniment to Mai's pleasant voice.
"So tell me more about the guys. How's Jounouchi doing?"
Anzu wasn't surprised that Jounouchi was the first person that came to Mai's mind. Those two had always had some strange sort of chemistry that she had never been able to understand. They didn't quite like each other, but there was some mysterious connection/attraction between them.
"He's working… two jobs? Three jobs? And picking up odd jobs here and there. He wants to go to trade school but he has to finish paying off his father's debts. He doesn't talk about it, but I think he's paying for part of Shizuka's college education, too."
"Wow," Mai said, sounding impressed. "Sounds like the kid needs a break."
"Yeah," Anzu agreed, "but he seems pretty happy. I'm sure Kaiba is keeping him busy."
"Oh," Anzu said nervously. She hadn't meant for that to slip up. "Yeah, Jounouchi and Kaiba are together."
Mai dropped the whisk into the mixture in shock. Together?! She exclaimed in shock. "As in… Romantically?"
"Yeah," Aznu said, sneaking a look at the other woman. She was tense, her violet eyes wide in shock.
"Bisexual," Anzu corrected, sliding the vegetables onto a cheerful green plate before starting on the fish.
"Wow," Mai murmured, "I never would've pinged him as the type."
"We didn't either," Anzu admitted, "but you just never know."
"Kaiba, on the other hand…" Mai mused. "Yeah, he's always been suspicious."
"Does it… Does it bother you?" Anzu asked carefully.
"What? That they're gay? Honey, who do you think I am? I'm bisexual myself, you know."
It was Anzu's turn to be startled: "You are?"
"Mmhmm. I can appreciate a cute butt and a curvy body when I see one. I am rather…disappointed, though. I always thought that Jounouchi and I might…"
"Get together someday," Anzu finished for her, understanding. "I think that he waited for you," she confessed, "but nobody knew where you had gone, and he and Kaiba hit it off, so…"
"Hmm, that's just too bad," Mai said, adding sugar to the mixture. "Oh, well. Mmm, that fish sure smells good."
Watching Mai cover the bowl with saran wrap and curse when her long French-manicured fingernails caught on the thin material, Anzu wondered if her indifference was genuine or merely a mask to shield herself from the world. They had always seen Mai as a strong, fierce, rebellious spirit – a female form of Jounouchi, in a way – who never let anything get her down – until Malik's dark personality had damaged her. But even then, she had woken up and stood on her own two feet. It hadn't been until she had joined DOMA that they had seen through her iron shield and witnessed the insecurity and ambition that plagued her.
Anzu set the dishes out on the small breakfast table, still thinking about Mai. She said she was bisexual. It wasn't that surprising, Anzu supposed. What with the way she dressed, the love she had for her motorcycle, and the sharp, fierce way she spoke… She fit in with what Anzu saw as lesbionic traits, even if she had never thought about Mai in that light before.
Mai was definitely the type of woman that anyone would fall for, too. Her golden hair was voluminous and long, her makeup was always flawless, her body curved at all the right places, and she was never afraid of showing off her best assets. She was a skilled duelist and a good friend, and –
"Earth to Anzu! Hello, is anyone in there?"
She blinked and realized that Mai was waving a manicured hand in front of her face.
"Sorry!" she exclaimed, flustered. "Let me grab some drinks and then we can eat."
As she scrounged around the fridge, the cold air made her realize the blush on her cheeks at being caught staring. She pressed one of the bottles of green tea to her cheek and willed the color to go away.
After she grabbed utensils and set the drinks down, she announced, "Dig in!"
"Copper pumps or purple slingbacks?"
Anzu squinted at the shoes and pointed at the copper-colored ones. "Do you like these on me?" She posed in white flats, turning to admire them in the nearby mirror. Mai rolled her eyes and tsk'ed.
"Stop trying to act the part of the good girl, sweetheart. Try these."
Anzu took the strappy black heels with the tiny rhinestones and slipped them onto her feet, raised four inches instantly.
"You don't think they're too much?" she asked nervously, although she had to admit that she liked the way they made the rest of her look.
"Hardly!" Mai laughed. "Seriously, hon, they're cute on you."
Anzu turned around and admired her reflection some more before glancing at the price sticker, which elicited a little gasp. She instantly slipped out of the shoes and shoved them back into the box Mai had handed her.
"I like them, but there is no way I'm paying that much for a pair of shoes," she cried.
Without another word, Mai grabbed the box from her hands, piled it on top of the shoe box she was already holding, and marched up to the cashier.
"I got them for 25% off. Put them to good use, darling," she announced when she came back with two separate bags.
"Mai-san!" Anzu exclaimed. "I can't accept this."
"Oh shush," Mai replied, putting an arm around her and giving her a one-armed hug. "It's just a gift from an old friend who is very pleased to see you after all this time."
Anzu sighed, although part of her was excited at both the prospect of the fancy new shoes and the fact that Mai had been willing to dish out money to get her something that she liked for no reason other than the fact that she was happy to be reunited with her.
"You'd better let me pay for dinner, then," she bargained. Mai grinned at her.
For dinner, Anzu took Mai to a little Mediterranean restaurant down the block. They shared pita bread and lamb and laughed at the blatant way that the waiters flirted with Mai and stared at her chest. Anzu felt a pang of jealousy every time their waiter came by, but she didn't know if it was of Mai – or of the waiter. Mostly, though, she just felt happy, especially when Mai smiled at her and laughed at her jokes, and when Mai's pretty violet eyes turned a warm fuchsia in the candlelight.
When she announced that she was picking up the tab, Mai grinned and reached over to squeeze her fingers lightly. Anzu shivered at the warm contact.
"Thank you, Anzu," Mai said and winked. Anzu smiled nervously, feeling her heart quicken a pace. "It's my pleasure, Mai-san."
"So what now?"
Anzu slipped out of her jacket and turned around to find Mai perched enticingly on the arm of Anzu's green armchair. Mai stretched, exposing her cream, smooth stomach, which caught Anzu's eye mysteriously. She cleared her throat to focus.
"I don't know, what do you feel like doing? We could go to a movie, or rent something, or go out…"
"Let's go dancing!" Mai interrupted, tossing her hair back.
"Really?" Anzu considered the idea and checked the time. "I guess I could call up some friends and see if anyone's interested…"
"Oh no, honey, don't worry about that. I just want to go with you," Mai said, winking teasingly. "You can show me your moves!"
"I do ballet," Anzu pointed out, laughing, as she realized that she would love going clubbing with Mai alone.
"Oh pish posh," Mai scoffed. "Dancers are dancers." She slumped down on to the seat of the couch. "So do you have any clothes that I can borrow?"
Mai had the alcohol tolerance of a seasoned drinker; Anzu tried to keep up but found her face quickly flushed and the rest of her feeling like it was floating. The more drinks she had, the more she found herself distracted by Mai's gold hair, her shiny lips, her mascara-coated eyelashes, the way that her teal silk top pushed her breasts together, the way that her white skirt kept riding up and exposing extra leg.
"I wish I were beautiful like you," she blurted out, watching Mai tuck a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. Her sliver earrings glimmered in the flashing lights.
Mai looked at her, surprised. A smile rose lazily across her face; her eyes had grown warmer.
"This is all just put on," she replied without a trace of shame in her tone. "You're the one with the real beauty, hon."
Anzu flushed, feeling giddier than she should at the unexpected compliment.
"You're too nice to me, Mai-san," she replied. Mai laughed, tossing her hair behind her shoulder.
"That's a new one. C'mon, girl, let's crash the dance floor."
Grabbing her hand – Anzu shivered at the touch of the older woman's soft yet strong fingers – Mai led her into the crowd, squeezing past young people grinding and gyrating their hips drunkenly. Without warning, Mai halted in the middle of the crowd, and Anzu stumbled into her. Eager to dance, Mai grinded against her dress, eliciting a dark blush from Anzu (along with an exciting electric current that traveled from somewhere between her legs all the way to her pale fingertips).
Turning her head around to smile at Anzu, she laughed at Anzu's embarrassment, and reached an arm behind her to guide her down in sync with her. "Dance, ballerina!" she shouts over the music typical of American clubs. Too inebriated to argue, Anzu pressed against Mai, loving the smell of her hair, which brushed against her cheek due to Mai's superior height. Mai spun around, twirling Anzu in a circle as well. When the world stopped spinning, Anzu continued laughing and barely registered when Mai pressed against her back, firm arms wrapping around Anzu's abdomen. Anzu could feel her manicured nails brushing lightly against the fabric of her dress through the thin, tight-fitting material.
Some men approached them to ask them to dance or jeer at them, but Anzu hardly noticed them. She felt like all of the nerves in her body had gravitated to any spot where she and Mai were in contact. When Mai leant down to press her lips to Anzu's already burning cheeks, Anzu felt like a caged part of her had been released. When Mai pulled away, Anzu could still feel the glossy remnants of Mai's lipcolor on her heated skin.
"Why are you smiling, darling?" Mai said in her ear. Anzu wished that her lips would move a centimeter closer to close on her earlobe. She hadn't even realized that a grin had risen on her face. She was about to voice this when her mouth decided to race against her mind and she said instead:
"Will you kiss me?" she blurted out.
Laughing, Mai turned her around so that they were face to face, swaying to the music.
"Why didn't you say so sooner?" she said, tucking a strand of Anzu's waved hair behind her ear. Anzu could see the colored lights reflected in Mai's dark eyes. She found herself fixated by Mai's eye makeup – part of her eyeliner had smeared off, creating an asymmetrical look – a small flaw that Anzu found fascinating. She was still staring at in when suddenly Mai's face was in her personal space, and her lips –
Anzu closed her eyes and opened her mouth, allowing the taste of Mai's to slide over her tongue. She could detect the alcohol on her breath, overlaying more subtle notes of jasmine and vanilla. Kissing Mai was unlike any other kissing Anzu had ever done in her life – it was hot, it was soft, it was moist, and it kept Anzu hungering for more and more. She wanted to hold Mai closer, she wanted to be consumed whole by this sexy, intelligent, vivacious woman, this old friend and role model from her younger years. They kissed over and over again, their breasts pressed hotly against each other, Anzu's fingernails digging into her back, Mai's hands gripping Anzu's head.
"Do you know how long I've wanted to do that?" Mai panted when they finally pulled apart. Anzu's muddled brain didn't know whether this meant that Mai had lusted after her a long time or something altogether much more serious, but it wasn't her concern at the time. All she was aware of was the hot, slightly swollen feeling of her lips and the way that Mai's eyes seemed to glitter.
"Mai-san…" Anzu started, but she didn't know what she was trying to say.
Mai dropped her arms over Anzu's shoulders.
"Do you want to go back to your place?" she asked boldly. Anzu found herself caught between the hope that there would be more kissing and the fear that the magic between them would dissipate the moment that they inhaled the outside air. This was a dream from which she did not want to wake up. She looked into Mai's eyes for a signal to help her make a decision. She felt as if she were standing under the arch of a doorway, with one foot inside the room and another outside.
Mai leant down to kiss her again, and Anzu realized that she didn't care where they went, as long as Mai kept surprising her and kissing her like that.
"Okay," she said, and stepped through the door.
In the back of the cab, Mai kept her pale hand on Anzu's leg. They stumbled into the apartment, shedding their coats and bags and shoes and tumbled into bed. Within moments, Mai convinced a shy Anzu to remove her dress, and Anzu decided that the feeling of Mai's sweaty but sweet-smelling skin against hers was one of the greatest wonders of the world.
They touched and kissed and murmured and moaned and for the first time in her life, Anzu felt beautiful and free.
The morning greeted Anzu with a sliver of sunshine through the pink curtains, the smell of food, and a throbbing headache. Mumbling to herself, she rolled over in her bed, burying her face in her yellow pillows. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed an unfamiliar purple hairbrush on her nightstand.
In a flurry, Anzu jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen, ignoring her head's protests. There, at the refrigerator, bent down and barely covered by Anzu's frilly pink apron.
"Mai-san," she said, suddenly feeling very shy.
Mai removed herself from the refrigerator with a Tupperware container filled with leftover rice and the bowl of custard pudding she had made the day before. When she swiveled around to look at Anzu, she was wearing a wide smile. The little apron just barely covered her hips.
"Good morning, beautiful," she answered. "You look so good that I want to take you back to bed." She tossed Anzu one of her trademark winks. Anzu realized that this was the first time she had ever seen Mai without her makeup, but Anzu felt more attracted to her than ever. She didn't say anything for a moment, just gazing at Mai and her voluptuous body. She thought about last night – blurred memories she was trying to piece together – and about how kindly Mai had been treating her. She wondered about the proper behavior and etiquette one was to adopt on the morning after. She briefly wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship with a woman. Well, not just any woman, but this woman, who sparked some desire within her that she had never before experienced.
She smiled nervously.
Mai didn't falter, instead turning around to pour two cups of tea.
"Come and sit, darling," she said, setting the table.
"Mai-san, about last night…" she started, but she found her words scrambled in her mouth. She hid her incoherency by taking a bite of the custard, which was soft and sweet.
"Don't worry about it. We had a good time, that's what's important. We can just forget it if it makes you uncomfortable."
"What if I don't want to forget it?"
Surprised, Mai dropped her chopsticks. "What are you saying, Anzu?"
With downcast eyes, Anzu shrugged. "I don't know, I'm just being whimsical. You're going to go back to Japan, I'm going to be here for who-knows-how-many more years… I don't even know what I'm thinking."
"Are you truly interested in being a relationship with me?"
Anzu couldn't read her tone, but she took a chance.
"I like you, Mai-san. I've admired you for a long time."
Mai smiled good-naturedly. "Not when you first met me, no."
Anzu's cheeks turned pink, and she picked at her food. "I was jealous," she said. "Guys everywhere become speechless around you."
Mai picked at her nails. "It's not them that I was trying to impress, darling."
They didn't say anything for a long time, eating quietly and glancing at each other uncertainly.
"I'm leaving America for France in a week," Mai announced. "When next will you be in Japan?"
"Winter," Anzu said. "We get a month off."
"Give me a call when you arrive. I'll meet you in Domino. Maybe we can go dancing."
Anzu's heart stuttered. Even though there was so much not being said, she thought she understood. Mai didn't settle down; she didn't commit to anyone or anything other than herself and her goals. She had forsworn friends until Anzu and the gang had taught her otherwise. She wasn't one to promise anyone anything, especially a part of herself. She wasn't one to admit that she needed anyone else to fulfill her life. She wouldn't be monogamous; she wouldn't expect anyone to hold back for her.
But the hesitancy in Mai's eyes told it all. There was more to whatever sparked between them than just another one of Mai's games. Last night, Anzu had been so overwhelmed by sexual desire and the discovery of a new part of herself that she hadn't minded playing Mai's game, but this morning, seeing Mai in her home, hesitant and kind – she had realized that somewhere between the Duel Monsters battles, the life-or-death situations, and the sweaty, grinding bodies at the club, she had developed a special fondness for the sassy, confident woman, eight years her senior but always still so eager to connect with Anzu.
Anzu smiled. She would say what Mai refused to:
"I like you, Mai-san. I like your confidence, I like the way you dress, I like that there's a lot more to you than meets the eye. I would like to get to know you better. I would like to feel your arms around me. I would like to take out to dinner. I would like to spend a lot more time kissing you."
Mai didn't say anything, but Anzu took her hands and entwined their fingers together.
"I would like to do all of this and more when I see you in December," Anzu said, warmed by the affection in Mai's eyes.
"I can't wait," Mai said softly, squeezing her hand.
Smiling, Anzu stood up to put her arms around Mai's shoulders and kissed her cheek.
"Kiss me again," Mai demanded.
And Anzu did.
Again, and again, and again.