Disclaimer: I own nothing involved in this story unless I invented it myself. This is written for fun, not for profit.
Title: Catch Me If You Can
Romance: Mai x Jounouchi x Valon
Word Count: 3,161
Genre: Romance||Rated: PG-13
Feedback: All forms eagerly accepted. Concrit is loved the most, but everything is welcome.
Notes: This takes place a few years after the Ceremonial Duel. This fic is dedicated to SilvorMoon, who helped in immeasurable ways.
Summary: Mai, Jounouchi, and Valon are caught up in the thrill of speed and the thrill of each other. Winner takes all.
Mai adjusted the fit of her jacket and tossed a quick glance to her former opponents, both of whom stared at her in disbelief. She rolled her eyes and stalked over to swat each of them on the head. "Jounouchi! Valon! Wake up! The duel's over."
Valon moved his head a moment before she made contact with it. "You won again."
"Quit stating the obvious and let's get ready." Mai set her hands on her hips and stared at the two of them, ready to swat still if she needed to. After the last five years, she thought perhaps they'd get used to her occasional victories.
Jounouchi shook his head, a grin breaking out across his face as he did. "That was an awesome win, Mai. You get better every time."
"Like I couldn't have told you that." She headed into the living room and picked up two of the helmets waiting on the table. "Are you two coming or do I have to do this on my own?" In a technical sense, she probably couldn't, but she said it anyway, in the hopes they would get moving.
As soon as they entered the room she tossed the helmets to them and picked up her own before she marched toward the door. "Remember, since I won, I get the two minute lead."
"We know, we know." Jounouchi rolled his eyes as he followed her, Valon a step or two behind him. "We've done this before, Mai."
"Then why do you still get so shocked when I beat you?" Mai retorted, her heels clicking on the steps. Being three of the best duelists in the world gave them the money to do a lot, such as have a private home in one of the better districts of Domino City. They also had private homes in two or three other cities around the world, which came in handy when they were on the dueling circuit. Jounouchi loved his hometown too much to move away from it on a permanent basis and they loved him too much to ask him to.
Neither of them considered answering her question. Not when there was something much better to deal with right now. Mai wheeled her motorcycle out from the garage and down closer to the side of the road before she walked back up to the garage to get one last item. Three leather belts hung from three different nails hammered into the wall, and she plucked the long, slender baton from one of those, then picked out one of the other belts.
By the time she had it strapped around her waist and walked back to her bike, Jounouchi and Valon had their bikes ready to go and went to get their belts. She settled the baton into hers and went for her bike. Her helmet was the last thing she put on as she swung one of her long legs over the bike and shot yet another glance towards the other two.
"Remember the rules?" Said rules were simple enough to follow. Whoever had the baton when they made it back to the house won. Anyone could take the baton from anyone else. Two on one was fair, as was all three against each other. Don't take shortcuts.
"As if we could forget." Valon snorted as he mounted his own bike and fastened his helmet on. He tilted his head back enough to scan the skies; this was perfect weather for racing in. The autumn blue sky arched overhead, a few puffy clouds blowing here and there, the air warmed to the perfect temperature, and hardly anyone on the road today.
Jounouchi got his own helmet on and settled onto his bike. "We remember, we remember." He started his cycle, the familiar roar of the engine filling the air. Mai and Valon both started theirs as well, Mai moving a little ahead of the other two.
"See you at the finish line, then!" Moments later, she surged out onto the road, the wind of her making pushing at her from before while the wind of nature wrapped around her from behind. She accelerated, enjoying the kiss of the breeze as she headed into the first turn that would take her out of sight of the house.
They would be coming after her soon. Who knew how they would team up. That was part of the fun of the game. Despite how often they played, no one could ever be certain of how it would end.
She tilted her way around another corner, one that gave her a view of the ground she'd already covered, and saw both of them coming up. This is going to be fun. Perhaps she'd even make the first alliance. Assuming they hadn't beaten her to it.
Even if they had, there would be nothing against breaking it to ally with her. It wouldn't be the first time that had happened. She stepped on the brake a little, slowing down a fraction as she waited for them to catch up with her. Whichever one came up on her left would be the one most likely to try to seize the baton, since that was where it rode now. Left for theft, right for alliance. That had been Anzu's idea when they'd all worked together to sketch out this game.
Valon slid up closer on her right and she cast him a quick grin. "Enjoying yourself?" He called out once he was close enough. She wasn't going to believe he was on her side just because of where he was, though.
"Always! You?" There was Jounouchi, sneaking up on her other side. Really, his luck might be in when it came to duels, but when they were riding, he would've been better off being her ally instead of Valon's. At least while she had the baton.
Just as his hand reached toward her, she hit the brakes harder and let both of them go on ahead of her. Jounouchi's hand struck Valon's side instead and the other biker seized onto it, making certain Jounouchi stayed steady. Some might have missed just how tightly their hands folded around one another. Mai wasn't one of those.
She stayed behind only long enough to be certain that both of them were still capable of being in the game, then sped up, moving around to pass them both. She kept her right side to them; if one of them wanted to take the chance to get around behind her, then she wasn't going to make it easy for him.
Valon dropped Jounouchi's hand as she drew up closer and lifted his head to catch her eye. "We're not even close to being done!"
"I know!" She didn't speed up too much; there would be time for more games later. Jounouchi just kept riding, flicking his gaze over to the two of them now and then as they barreled down the road. Valon dropped his speed, and at that, Jounouchi moved closer, once there was space enough to do so.
"Still in one piece?" She raised one eyebrow once they were close enough to talk. She knew the answer, but some questions just needed asking nevertheless.
"You didn't think something like that could stop me, did you?" Jounouchi snorted and picked up the pace. She matched him and could feel Valon doing the same thing on her left side. He wasn't that close, so she paid more attention to Jounouchi for the moment.
"Of course not. I just wanted to be sure." She worried about the idiot. About both of her idiots. Just like they worried about her. She probably didn't have to, but she'd done it for so long that it was a comfortable line of thought. Besides, if she didn't worry about them, they'd be certain to run off and do something stupid, just to make her worry all over again.
She opened her mouth to say something else before she felt fingers brushing on her left side. She glanced over for a moment, all she needed to see that Valon had the baton held in his hand, and glowered. A quick look back at Jounouchi and his grin told her everything else she needed to know. They'd set her up. Probably everything from Jounouchi's failed attempt to this very moment.
She couldn't have been prouder of them if she'd tried.
But she was still going to get it back and win the race.
Valon and Jounouchi both sped up, keeping just out of her reach, with Jounouchi hanging a scant five or so feet back, just enough to keep her from getting close enough to Valon. How long had they worked that out, she wondered? It couldn't have been long enough.
She had a plan made in a single moment and moved up onto Jounouchi's right side. Valon was out of her reach, but that was all right. For now. She leaned closer to Jounouchi, the wind making it a little hard to talk, but both of them had experience with this.
"You two are getting good at this!" A little flattery wouldn't hurt. She knew how men thought, especially her men. Whether or not Jounouchi agreed to her offer would be a moot point. She just needed him to listen to her.
He grinned at her, amber eyes sparkling with delight. "Gotta keep up with you, you know." He tilted his head back and watched her. "So, you want to team up against him, don't you?"
He wouldn't have made it this far in dueling or with either of them if he were an idiot. Mai had known that for quite a long time. Not to mention, she wasn't attracted to idiots.
"It wouldn't be the first time." She couldn't count how many times they'd all teamed up against each other in various combinations after all. Jounouchi nodded a quick agreement and the two of them sped up in Valon's wake. He wasn't that far ahead of them and kept looking back to see when they drew close enough for him to even have to worry about potential baton theft.
"What took you so long?" He called back before he began to speed up once more. "You two weren't going to start before the game's over with, are you?"
"Perish the thought." Mai snorted and rolled her eyes. There was no fun to starting before they knew how the game was going to end. "Ready to lose?" She didn't quite say 'both of you', but she didn't need to. They knew.
Jounouchi pulled up closer to Valon than she was, coming up on the right while she kept their third engaged on the left. He said nothing and Mai didn't even look at him. If Valon didn't figure the tactic out, it was his fault. Especially since it was the common one used by a team against a single rider. She did tilt her head back just enough to catch Jounouchi's eye and flashed a momentary smile and wink. Since scheming so close to their current adversary wasn't a wise move, gestures had to take the place of words.
That particular movement told Jounouchi to pass her the baton once he had it. The question now would just be if he'd listen to her.
She glanced back at Valon; she couldn't be sure if he'd noticed her quick signal to Jounouchi or not. If he had, he didn't seem to care about it. Well, her part of the plan was to keep him distracted.
"You two don't really think you can beat me, do you? I've got more experience doing this than both of you put together." Valon asked, light gleaming off his goggles.
"Which is why you've only won twice in all the times we've played this, right?" Mai retorted, leaning into an upcoming turn. She kept her attention on her driving and Valon; Jounouchi would have to deal with his part of the job by himself. He was good enough at it, though.
If he'd had something else to say, the words didn't come, as Jounouchi leaned forward just then to snatch the baton from Valon's side and floor his accelerator, going past both of them: keeping the baton as he did.
"Jounouchi!" The wind tore the word from Mai's lips, but when he glanced back, the blond could see the way those lips moved, forming his name. He just grinned at her, tossing the baton in one hand. "I thought you were supposed to be on my side!"
He shrugged and raced onwards, tucking the baton into the sling on his jeans. "Changed my mind." He shot ahead of her with a cocky grin that both made her want to smack him and kiss him. Or both.
After the game, she reminded herself. The game would decide everything. And it really wasn't that surprising that he'd broken the alliance. All for one, one for all, everyone for themselves.
"You're not falling behind, are you?" She shot Valon an irritated look as he drew closer to her, showing no more surprise than she did over Jounouchi's actions.
"I don't ever fall behind." She gunned her motorcycle and zoomed ahead, attention on Jounouchi as she drew closer to him. There was no alliance between any of them now; when she took the baton back, it would be all hers, until she reached the finish line. Or until one of them took it from her.
"Neither do I!" Valon declared, laughing as he pulled in between the two of them, pushing her off to the side. She growled; damn it, had Jounouchi really gone independent or was this a larger scheme between him and Valon?
Independent. It had to be, with how Valon revved past Jounouchi and snatched the baton from his sling with deft fingers. He waved it in front of the luck duelist just enough so the other knew it was gone, then zoomed ahead, leaning into the curve and vanishing from sight for a few moments.
Jounouchi stopped his bike and stared after Valon for a few moments. Mai pulled up next to him, trying hard not to laugh and for the most part failing. The look on his face made it impossible to do otherwise.
"Something wrong, Jounouchi?" Mai asked, an arch gleam in her eyes.
"Yeah. Someone else has the baton." Jounouchi started his cycle up again and shot forward. Mai followed him by only a few seconds, still grinning. She lived for this kind of game.
Valon wasn't that far ahead of them; this part of the course was full of tricky twists and turns that kept him from getting the kind of head start that he would've wanted. Mai and Jounouchi took the turns with both speed and care; even after five years of playing this game together, it was better to be careful than sorry. No one wanted a repeat of the incident that had put Jounouchi in the hospital for two months.
Jounouchi gunned his engine a little faster as he took one of the trickier turns. Of the three of them, he was the one with the least experience at riding at these speeds, but he was still good at it. That didn't stop Mai from watching with a hint of concern in her eyes, however, and she caught Valon glancing over his shoulder for a moment as well.
Neither of them needed to have worried. Jounouchi's bike wavered only for a few seconds, but he came out of the turn without a single problem. Mai grinned; teaching him how to drive like that was well worth it.
Not that he's as good as I am, though. The student hadn't passed the teacher. Not yet, anyway. She passed through the turn herself, noting that he noticed her coming and sped up. He could try, but he wasn't going to get away from her. Her bike was just a smidgen better than his was anyway.
She could hear Valon almost on her rear and smirked to herself. Let Jounouchi think they were going to play the same trick. The quick glance he gave to his left side showed that he did. She was close enough now…
And snatch! Once again, the baton was in her hands. She flashed a grin of triumph to both of her boys and sped down the road. They came after her, one on each side, and she just kept going, weaving here and there to keep out of their reach.
Try as she might, though, they were catching up to her. She glanced ahead; she was almost to the finish line. If she could keep out of their reach for just another few seconds, then it was over.
"Mai!" Jounouchi wasn't quite pouting, since it wasn't possible to pout at the speeds they were going, but he gave it his best anyway. "You already beat us once today!"
"So I'm going to make it twice!" Mai declared just as she caught sight of the house rising ahead of them. Within reach!
Even as she thought that, she could see their shadows stretching up in front of her. She ground her teeth and added on more speed. Not going to lose this!
Losing didn't hurt the way it had once upon a time. But she just didn't want to do it. Granted, they didn't either. It all depended on who could get close enough to her first.
From the shadows she could tell that one of them was reaching for the baton. No way. She slammed on her brakes, grinning as both of them kept on going, and Valon's fingers sped right by her hip, brushing it in that failed attempt to get to the baton-sling.
"Foreplay later, race now!" She snapped before revving up once again and passing them both. Given that they were staring at her with jaws dropped and only paying enough attention to their cycles so they didn't fall over or stall, finishing the race was a snap. She pulled up at the end of the driveway and stopped, removed her helmet, and waited for them.
"That was sneaky, Mai." Valon's approving tone sent warm waves all through her. "I'm going to have to remember that next time."
Jounouchi snorted a little, but she saw the way he grinned nevertheless. "Guess this means you're the boss tonight."
"You got it." She swung off her cycle and pushed it up to the garage, the other two following her. Once they put the machines away and hung the belts back up, she turned to face them, her heart beating faster and faster. Then, one at a time, but with great attention to detail, she kissed them. "Come on, guys. We've got a lot to do."
Arm in arm, the three of them headed inside. Mai enjoyed the warm embrace as they walked every bit as much as she knew they would all enjoy the night to come.