Chapter 10: Anzu Knows Best
Note: Last chapter! I'm so happy that this story is done and I am so incredibly pleased that you amazing readers/reviewers have stuck with me on this. I do have other stories planned but very little free time; however, suggestions/comments are always welcome. Thank you all again!
"Now I'm really mad at Seto," Mokuba said as he and Rebecca drove back to the Kaiba mansion. "I thought I was angry before, but actually talking with Anzu has made it worse. Even though she says she doesn't care about him, it's pretty clear that he hurt her feelings."
"Obviously. Being dumped like that would hurt anyone's feelings, even if you were expecting it," Rebecca said, staring out the window. "And I bet Anzu wasn't really expecting it. She's an optimist. I bet that, deep down, she was expecting Seto to have fallen for her too. Or at least be considerate of her feelings."
"I'm going to let him have it when we get back," Mokuba said through clenched teeth.
"No," Rebecca said unexpectedly. "I think you should make up with him." When Mokuba turned to her in outrage, she added, "Pay attention to the road. I just think that there's been too much fighting already. Everyone's angry at everyone else. Seto won't feel any better if you continue to scream at him for screwing up, and you know he's too stubborn to apologize if he still feels like you're judging him." Mokuba looked unconvinced. "Also, I'm your girlfriend now, so you have to do what I say."
Mokuba felt his stern glare melting away into a gooey grin, and he was helpless to stop it. "You're more trouble than you're worth," he groused, but with a smile.
"No I'm not, and you love it," Rebecca said smugly, then, with an embarrassed laugh, "Well, you like it a lot."
"No, I love it," Mokuba corrected quietly.
Rebecca smiled to herself, then said, "Just one more thing I want to know."
"What?" Mokuba asked, pulling into his driveway and parking the car.
She faced him directly. "You told Anzu about the plan. You must have told her that I planned it so I could ask Yuugi out. Does he know?"
Mokuba slid down into the seat. He'd sort of forgotten about that.
"Your cringing is answer enough," she said, glaring at him. She got out of the car and stomped away.
"Becky, wait!" Mokuba unbuckled his seatbelt and sprang after her. "Okay, I may have told him, but only because he already knew!"
She stopped walking. "The whole world pretty much knew!" Mokuba exclaimed, realizing after he said it that it was the wrong thing to say.
Rebecca twisted her mouth, then unexpectedly said, "Yeah, I guess the world pretty much did know." She sighed. "I think you're right, and that Yuugi knew for a long time, so that's why I'm forgiving you."
"Also, because I'm charming and you can't live without me, right?" Mokuba said, catching her hand and giving her a wink. Rebecca looked torn between an eye-roll and a grin. "No. It's really because there's too much relationship drama in the Kaiba family at the moment."
"Well, that works for me too. All right," Mokuba said, holding the front door of the mansion open for Rebecca. "Seto's probably locked himself away somewhere. I'm guessing his office. Let's go see." They tiptoed up the stairs together and stood outside Seto's office. The door was tightly closed, but a light was shining under the crack. They exchanged glances and nodded. Mokuba knocked on the door, then stepped back and crossed his arms.
"Don't do that," Rebecca whispered. "You're sending out aggressive body language. You look like you're ready for a fight."
"I am ready for a fight," Mokuba whispered back.
"That's the wrong message!" she hissed. "You and Seto need to have a reasonable conversation, not a pointless shouting match-"
"Why the hell are you bothering me?" Seto roared, throwing the door open so hard that the handle smashed into the opposite wall and left a dent.
Rebecca immediately straightened up and put her hands on her hips. "You're not going to intimidate us!" she yelled. "You're a heartless bastard and we're here to tell you-"
Mokuba quickly dropped his hands to his sides and stepped in front of Rebecca. "Seto, can we just talk?" he asked quietly.
Seto hesitated. "About what?"
"About… everything that's happened in the last week," Mokuba said. "Mostly about you and me. I don't like fighting with you, big brother… so can we talk?"
Seto turned around and went back in his office, but he left the door open. Mokuba and Rebecca exchanged shrugs and went in and sat down on the couch.
"I can't believe you told Anzu about the deal," Seto said, staring at the computer and typing.
Mokuba winced. "Well… okay, I can see how you would be upset that I did that without telling you, but are you really mad that I told her? Because otherwise, she could really have gotten her feelings hurt."
"Her feelings are probably still hurt," Rebecca added. "Just pointing that out."
"She tricked me. She made a fool out of me," Seto said.
Mokuba and Rebecca exchanged exasperated glances. "Seriously? Is that really how you feel, Seto? You two were playing each other, and you started it, so you have no right to be angry at her."
"She never cared for me at all," he said, still staring straight forward.
Mokuba and Rebecca exchanged glances again, this time uncomfortable. "Seto," Rebecca said, leaning forward. "Is this upsetting you because you really did fall for her, and now you think she doesn't feel the same?"
"It would be ridiculous of me to feel that way," Seto said. His evasion of a direct response convinced Mokuba that Rebecca was right. Mokuba just wished that Anzu would admit that she cared for Seto too… he had been so sure that she was really falling for his brother.
"Seto," Mokuba said suddenly, leaning forward as well. "I'm done interfering with you and Anzu. But I have one last piece of advice for you." He glanced at Rebecca and smiled. "Sometimes – even when you don't know for sure how she feels about you – even if you think she could never want you in a million years – you have to be honest with yourself, and you have to go for it."
Seto still didn't respond, which in the world of Kaiba Seto was good news. It meant that he was listening. Rebecca looked skeptical, clearly remembering Anzu's assertion that she didn't care for Seto, but Mokuba ignored her. He really was done interfering, but he wasn't done hoping that his brother would wind up in a happy relationship, and he still thought that Anzu might be the one. And she wasn't that good an actress; she wasn't callous like Seto, and she couldn't just pretend to like someone for that long. There must really have been something there.
"Anyway, I want you and I to be friends again, Seto," Mokuba said. He cleared his throat. "Unfortunately, I have to tell you that our reunion is contingent on you admitting that you were a jackass. Is that okay?"
Finally, Seto made a sound, a dry little laugh. "Agreed."
"That's good enough for me," Rebecca said cheerfully. "Shall I get some snacks while you two talk?"
"Chocolate cake," Seto said, finally prying his gaze away from the computer and giving Mokuba a lopsided grin.
The day after Seto broke up with her, Anzu had been offered a permanent position within the Camp Department, even before her internship ended. It had definitely helped console her. She was in her new office filling out some paperwork when someone came in and quickly shut the door behind them.
"Wh-" she began, glancing up, and the word died on her lips. She cleared her throat and started again. "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to talk," Seto said, staring at her intensely as he pulled up a chair in front of her desk. "I shouldn't have left your apartment in the middle of our conversation yesterday, but you caught me off guard and I needed to think."
"Kaiba Seto caught off guard?" she asked in disdain. "That's not like you."
"Stop being sarcastic. That's not like you," Seto retorted.
Anzu was visibly struck by that, but then she lifted her chin. "Clearly you don't know me as well as you thought you did."
They stared each other down for several long moments. Finally, Seto said, "Anzu, when I first told Mokuba I was going to seduce you-"
"I don't want to hear this," she said furiously, but he ignored her.
"Really, it started as a squabble between Mokuba and I. It was part of Rebecca's crazy plan, and I went along with it because I thought I could manipulate Mokuba. I thought that it wouldn't be a big deal, that I could just use you without much of an effort, and that you weren't important."
"Get out," she said, pointing at her office door. He ignored her.
"I was wrong, Anzu." He held her gaze. "I was very wrong. You are important. You're important to me."
There was a long moment of silence, then Anzu looked down. Seto leaned forward and kept staring into her eyes.
"I made a terrible mistake that night. I'll pay for it the rest of my life, regardless of whether you forgive me now or not. But I'm here today to ask you to forgive me anyway. Because I care for you, a lot." He paused. "I love you." When Anzu remained silent, he pressed, "How do you feel about me?"
Finally, she looked back at him acidly. "Last time I tried telling you how I felt about you, you dumped me and left me in your bedroom. Remember?"
"You were acting," he said.
"You didn't know that!"
"You're right." Seto took a breath. "You're right. And I apologize once more. How many times should I apologize? I'll keep at it for the rest of my life, if that'll make you happy." Anzu fell silent again. "Anzu," he said gently. "Will you go out with me?"
There was a long pause, then she shook her head no.
"No?" Seto asked, for the first time looking away from her.
"No," Anzu whispered.
Seto remained where he was for a moment, then slowly got up to leave. He put his hand on the doorknob, then hesitated and turned around to face her. To his surprise, she was staring at him.
"Seto, come back," she said, putting her hands on her desk and standing up. He willingly came back to her, his heart thumping in his chest – it felt strange, being nervous. Who would have thought that another person could make him feel nervous like this? But this wasn't just any other person, after all. This was Anzu, and she was everything.
"I wasn't saying no to you, I was saying no to myself," she said. For the first time since the bedroom incident, her eyes welled up with tears. "I was giving up. I want to be with you."
The air whooshed out of Seto's lungs, and for a moment he was frozen, unable to do anything but stare at her. Then Anzu smiled at him – it was a tentative smile, a shadow of her brilliant sunshine grin, but it lit him up nonetheless. He was around her desk and by her side in an instant, and his legs went weak from relief and his knees actually buckled. He stumbled a little, and he caught onto her to keep his balance, and then somehow she was clutching onto him too, looking up at him, her blue eyes bright.
"I love you," he said again, pressing his lips into her hair. "And I'll make sure you never have to doubt that again."
"Hmm," Anzu said thoughtfully. "We'll see about that… but I suppose I can tolerate you for a while longer."
He pulled back to look at her, confused, to see her eyes dancing with mirth. Seto smirked back, then cupped the back of her head with one hand and kissed her deeply. She set his heart racing, as always… and, with their bodies pressed so close together, he could feel her heart racing too. With that comforting discovery, Seto temporarily banished all thoughts from his mind, and focused only on showering attention and kisses on the woman in his arms.
ONE DAY EARLIER:
"That's a pretty crazy story," Jounouchi said, stabbing at his chicken. "And I think the craziest part of all is that you still want that Kaiba jerk back."
Anzu shrugged. "Look, I told you, I knew from the start what I was getting myself into. And I knew that there was a very strong possibility – a probability, even – that Seto would follow through with the original plan and dump me. I've gotten to know the guy, and he never wavers from his original goal. It wouldn't even have occurred to him to second-guess the plan."
Yuugi, who had also gone out to dinner with them, sighed. "I still don't like the fact that he treated you like that."
"I don't like it either," Anzu said, stabbing her own chicken particularly viciously. "But I've come to terms with it. When Mokuba first asked me to play along, I never in a million years guessed that I would actually fall for Seto. I mean, Jounouchi's right, he's a jerk." (Jounouchi looked moderately appeased.) "But I love him. For whatever reason." She laughed. "I like that he keeps me on my toes. Anyway, when I realized I was falling for him, I knew that I would have to deal with that stubborn side of him."
"I don't even know if 'stubborn' covers what Kaiba is," Jounouchi said dubiously. "I don't even know if there is a word that describes someone who treats his girlfriend like she doesn't have feelings. I mean, that's a pretty big fault."
"It's a fault that comes with the whole package," Anzu said, pushing her dinner plate away and leaning back with a sigh. "It's something that I'll work on with him, when I get him back."
"You're sure you'll get him back, then?" Yuugi asked with a grin, while Jounouchi snagged the food Anzu had left on her plate.
"I know Kaiba Seto, and he wants me," Anzu said confidently. "I could tell when he came over the other day. True, he stormed out… but he'll be back. I can't wait to hear what he'll say to try to get me to forgive him."
"At least you're not going to make it easy for him, right?" Jounouchi asked with his mouth full of her food.
"Absolutely not," she said immediately, shaking her head. "I'm going to make it as hard as possible for him. He deserves it."
"I guess I'll have to be satisfied with that," Jounouchi said glumly. "Can't believe he'll be part of our circle again."
"I didn't even tell Mokuba that I plan on taking Seto back," Anzu told Yuugi. "He's a great kid, but I didn't want to take a chance that he'd tell Seto. I know Mokuba feels kind of guilty about going behind his back in the first place."
"That's understandable," Yuugi said. "Well, Anzu, this whole thing is too complicated for me to follow anymore. I just want you to know that, if you're happy, I'm happy."
"I'm happy too," Jounouchi muttered into the last of the food.
Anzu laughed. "Thanks, guys."
"Only one more question," Yuugi said, his violet eyes sparkling.
"Oh yeah? What's that?" Anzu asked with a grin.
Yuugi laughed too. "Are you ever going to tell Kaiba that you're always one step ahead of him? That you always know what he's going to do, and that you make your own plans specifically to manipulate him?"
"I definitely am never going to tell him," Anzu declared, tossing her head. "I plan to manipulate him for the rest of my life."
"Hear, hear," Jounouchi said enthusiastically.
"I bet it'll be tomorrow, or the next day," Anzu said thoughtfully. "He won't wait long."
Anzu left work early and headed home with Seto. After his semi-emotional scene in her office, he had reverted to his normal composed self, except that he couldn't stop staring at her and a small, soft smile would creep onto his lips. She smiled back, and it wasn't until they were at Anzu's apartment that he finally noticed the satisfied gleam in her eyes.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked her, reaching out to smooth back her hair from her forehead. "You look… triumphant."
Anzu hurriedly banished all traces of successful manipulation from her face. It wouldn't do to let him know that she had planned, all along, to get back together with him. "I'm just glad that we're back together," she said with sincerity, and reached up to wrap her arms around his neck and kiss him. The distraction technique worked.
It wasn't until they had been married for seven years, and had two children, that Seto ever suspected how Anzu could predict his every move, and made her decisions long before he acted on his. And even then… he never entirely got it.
And that was exactly the way Anzu planned things.