Disclaimer: I don't own Yugioh GX.
To Give a Kiss
Maybe it's an accident, maybe it's Fate (but god, she hopes it isn't because then Fate has a twisted sense of humour and a distinct lack of taste and refinement), or maybe it's just two kids with enough sparks flying between them to ignite a bomb.
All she knows is that one second she's shouting and the next, Chazz has got her pinned down with his hands and his legs and his mouth, and that should freak her out, it should make her want to push him off and throw up, but it doesn't, and somehow, that's even more disturbing.
But Lia doesn't like to get beat (she's got something in her that can't stand to throw in the towel when there's still a chance, no matter how slim; maybe that's why she gets along so well with Jaden), not at anything, and certainly not at kissing. So she pulls Chazz down and rolls them over, and pins him with her body (not so mocking now, is he?) and her movements (god, don't let that have been a moan, and if it was, let it have come from him. Or is that even worse?), and her tongue (because the kiss is named after her country and it's only fair that the word for 'tongue' in French is also the word for 'language'), and somehow, it's good.
She didn't really mean to do it.
(But that sounds like an omission of regret, and saying something like that to someone like Syrus is such a bad idea that Lia almost hits herself for even thinking it.)
It's just...he's so small, and so sweet and so very raw at the moment, like everything inside of him just burst from his chest and lies, naked and bloody, on the rug in front of them. It's an ugly metaphor, Lia thinks, but then, it's also an ugly truth.
(And Lia's used to ugly. The world is ugly, from where she stands, no amount of Jaden's smiling face or Alexis' welcome hand is going to make it any less so. The most it can do is produce more people like that, produce more people like sweet, tender Syrus here, in order to make up for how goddamn ugly it is.)
Syrus whimpers against her and pulls back. His lips are a little red and his face is even redder, but despite the fact that his eyes match them both, he isn't crying anymore. Lia forces herself to take pride in this, because she really doesn't want to start blushing either.
" Thanks." Syrus whispers and his voice is rough, but not raw.
Lia nods, and Syrus smiles, and it's a relief.
" You are the cutest thing ever!"
Lia flinches as Mindy hits octaves no one past the age of five has any business hitting. She doesn't even know why she's in Mindy's room at 8:30 at night, dressed in some frilly creation Mindy has forced on her. It's too short (it doesn't hit the knees), and it dips too low (the tender curve of her collarbone peeks out of the lace, and Lia bites her lip nervously), and it's too girly and fluffy and pretty to be Lia's style (give her jeans, give her sweatshirts; give her things that cover and things that hang loose and things that hide. Don't put her in princess gowns with big bows and flouncing skirts. They don't suit her at all.)
(she looks good and she knows it and that scares her far more than it should.)
" I wish I had your hair." Mindy whispers in admiration, plucking at a stray curl. It straightens in her grip and then bounces back the second she lets go, and Mindy sighs.
" You look so good in dramatic colours." The older girl leans over and tugs at one of the sleeves, trying to fix it. Her body stretches across Lia's, and she finds herself half annoyed and half flattered, and all confused. Mindy pulls back, and brushes the hair out of Lia's face.
" You're prettier than any doll I ever had." Mindy says, and Lia wonders if she should be offended (because it's Mindy, and she's never said anything to hurt anybody ever), but the soft brush of lips across hers startles her out of her musings. Mindy pulls back and smiles like nothing happened, and now, Lia's half confused and half annoyed and all flattered.
" I'm gonna put your hair up!" The designer announces, and for some reason, Lia can't help but return her smile. Maybe, because it's Mindy, it's okay.
Truth or dare is juvenile, and stupid, and Lia doesn't want to do it. She wants to get up, and run away, and lock herself in her room, because this is not how it's supposed to happen. Maybe she never dreamed of candlelight and music and fireworks like other girls, but she's still thought about it, and this is not what she thought about.
Hassleberry leans forward.
" Sorry in advance, Miss Lia ma'am." He whispers, and his breath fans over her face. Lia scoffs and rolls her eyes and strives to look as indifferent as possible. On some level, she knows she's being stupid, and this could've been so much worse, and it's not like Hassleberry is entirely unattractive, or anything it's just...
He kisses her like he's trying to be soft, but doesn't quite know how. There's no tongue (and thank god, because she might've bitten it off in shock), but his lips are firm against hers and there's no give in them.
Lia stubbornly keeps her eyes open, because maybe, if she does, then this isn't a real kiss and nothing's been ruined and why, oh god why, is any of this such a big deal? It shouldn't be, she's smarter than that and stronger and a hundred times more cynical than a silly little girl daydreaming about her first kiss, so this shouldn't matter, it doesn't matter, but it does and why does it-
" That's 15 seconds!" Atticus announces and Hassleberry pulls back. It isn't in a rush, like he wants to get away, but he doesn't linger, doesn't do anything to suggest that he wants to keep going. He's respectful to the last, and while Lia notes that her lips aren't tingling, she admits to being a little warm on the inside.
She smiles when he shoots her a worried look.
" Who's next?" Lia grins as Hassleberry selects a victim. It wasn't something to be put into songs, but it's not like it was terrible either. She doesn't touch her lips, but reaches for her water bottle, and thinks, it's not bad.
Jaden pulls back, and Lia bites her lip.
" That was..." Words fail him, and he frowns. It makes his lips turn down, and Lia forces herself not stare, because the air is hanging heavy around them, and she doesn't want to make it anymore awkward than it already is.
" That...was..." Jaden hasn't removed his hand from her cheek. It's warm, and a little sweaty (and that doesn't gross her out as much as she thought it would. Somehow, it's comforting that he's just as nervous and shook up as she is). He isn't looking at her, but his thumb twitches a little, and then it strokes over her cheek. Lia doesn't know what to do.
"...Weird." He finished finally. He doesn't take his hand away, though, and she really has no answer for him.
" Weird?" She repeats, and suddenly, he's animated.
" Not like, bad weird, or anything! Just like...weird! Like, I don't know if I wanna do it again! Wait, that sounds bad!" He's panicking, and his hands and flailing about, and thank god, he's her Jaden again.
" Jay," she says, and her voice isn't as shaky as she thought it would be, " it's okay."
Jaden laughs, and Jaden smiles, and Jaden doesn't put a hand on her for over a week. It's a weird feelings, being so close and yet so isolated, but Lia deals with as best she can (Aster listens to her rant and maybe, he looks a little jealous that all she can think about is Jaden; in her most secret heart of hearts, she blushes.).
Then Jaden grabs her wrist and pulls her along on some damn fool quest, and Lia smiles. And it's normal.
When Brier falls into her, it hurts.
His teeth catch her lip and he bites down on instinct. Lia's left with blood on her face, and Brier's left with blood on his face, and it's whole big mess.
Someone's yelling, and it isn't Lia, who's holding a tissue to her lip, and wincing at the sting, but it might be Brier and it might be Alexis, who's been on edge for days and is itching for a fight. Mindy and Jasmine flock around her like worried mother birds, and as much as Lia would like to tell them to buzz off, she can't. Mindy's hands are soft as they tilt Lia's face up, and Jasmine's arms are steady around her as Lia is hauled to her feet.
" Apologize!" Alexis snarls, and she looks less like a queen and more like a scorned goddess. Hera, Lia thinks, or maybe a really pissed off Athena. Then she flushes, because she really knew next to nothing about Greek gods before her second year. (Before Aster Phoenix, her mind whispers, but she ignores it.)
" I'm sorry, alright?" Brier is red in the face from blood besides her own, and he looks offended. (Maybe at the insinuation that he wouldn't say sorry on his own. It speaks well for him.)
" Doesn't sound like it." Jasmine taunts. She's all cool fury and flashing eyes and glossy, tossing red hair. If Alexis is Hera, then this is surely Eris, spiteful and ready to cause some mischief.
" Jazz, don't push him." Mindy whispers, but Brier is moving and there's a hand at the back of her head, and then...and then...
Lia stares wide-eyed at him as he pulls back. He looks satisfied, but Lia can't register much more than fuzzy half-formed sentences exploding in the depths of her brain.
" There." He says proudly. " I kissed it better. Happy now?"
Lia doesn't think so. Her lip is tender and a little swollen for a week, but then, so is Brier's after Jasmine finished with him. She grumbles about it when she thinks no one is close enough to hear, and Lia lets herself laugh because biting her lip to stop the sound would be painful, and it's funny.
" You've never kissed anyone before?"
Lia wonders why Jasmine sounds so scandalized. She wonders why being fifteen and having not kissed anybody seems like such a crime. She wonders why she wonders this. After all, this is Jasmine Makita she's talking to. And in Jasmine's world, men fall at the feet of women and beg to just be looked at, grovel on their hands and knees for the honour of being considered. Jasmine has never been the outsider looking in, the girl that will have to settle when the time comes, because beggars can't be choosers, and Lia knows she'll never have to beat off suitors with a stick.
(She underestimates herself; everyone in their group knows this. Lia doesn't have to try very hard to get attention. Her very presence commands respect and admiration. She walks like a queen, holds her head like a goddess, and smiles like a girl discovering fairies for the first time. Where Alexis is gorgeous-pretty and Mindy is soft-pretty and Jasmine herself is glamorous-pretty, Lia is natural-pretty, a kind of quiet attractiveness that isn't always visible at first glance. Sometimes, Jasmine is envious.)
" Nope." Lia shrugs, and turns back to her book, but Jasmine is aghast. Her arms are around Lia before the girl knows what to do and then comes the hugging, and the head-patting and the consoling.
" What is the big deal?" Lia asks, almost kicking Jasmine in her bid for freedom. " So I've never kissed anyone."
" But you're so cute! You need to have been kissed! It's just cosmically right!"
" Stop being so overdramatic."
" No, this isn't right!" And then Jasmine pulls Lia to her and all that exists is lips soft against her own and skilled hands at the back of her hand and neck, tilting her body at just the right angle. It's neat and clean and with just enough pressure to stop Lia's mind from working.
Jasmine pulls back with a little 'smack' sound that only barely registers in Lia's suddenly fuzzy head, and grins.
" There! Now you've been kissed!" She announces and goes back to selecting a movie. Lia reaches up and touches her lips, because they tingle, and she doesn't know why. But it's not unpleasant, she supposed with a very small smile. It's not unpleasant.
Zane's fingers are hard in her hair, yanking her up towards his face. Everything about him is hard, from the tough black coat he has on to the way his body angles against her unwilling one, hard as rock and just as unfeeling.
But his lips are hardest of all as they crush against hers. There is nothing gentle about Zane, least of all his kiss. It's rough, and it's unpleasant, and it's so cruel that Lia would cry if either of them were anyone else. But they're not. They're Zane and Lia, and neither of them can stand the thought of showing the other weakness. So Lia endures the harsh lips on her own, the cold fingers twisting in her hair, and the sickening look of triumph in his eyes.
(Because just behind her, Aster is frozen and furious, and Zane only glances into her eyes when he makes his move. This isn't about her, this was never about her, and it will never be about her. Zane wants to hurt Aster, and if Lia could give a name to the reason Zane grabbed her, she'd have to rethink everything she knows.)
Then his tongue spears between her lips and Lia snaps.
Zane stumbles back and hisses at her.
" Bitch." And the word is coloured with his blood.
Lia wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and spits on the ground (there's red there, and she feels grim satisfaction mixed in with deep revulsion) and all but tears her lips off in an attempt to erase Zane from her mouth.
Aster's arm is at her back and she lets herself lean into it.
" You're no Casanova, Zane." Zane growls, and Lia tries to smirk, but her head is abuzz with ugly thoughts.
I think I was just defiled, a voice in her head that she wishes would be quiet murmurs. It's disgusting.
If there's one tradition Lia hates, it's mistletoe.
She huffs in anger, but Jesse just rubs the back of his neck and doesn't meet her eyes. He's sweet, in a boyish way, but Lia's whole world consists of boys and girls who are being forced to grow up and shoulder the weight of the world in a matter of months. Lia's used to people who can stare into the eyes of gods, and not back down.
" This is kahnda...awkward..." Jesse murmurs. His drawl is a little different than Hassleberry's, and Lia can't decide which one she likes better.
When she says nothing, Jesse tries again.
" Maybe we should just-"
" Oh, come here!" Lia snaps impatiently, because she's used to split second decisions, to life or death situations riding on the luck of the draw. She's used to having three seconds to decide whether or not she's going back inside to do her homework, or racing out into the night with the rest of the Slacker Club, chasing adventure, and expecting to find a nightmare.
It's the briefest kiss custom and politeness will allow, and no fireworks go off in her head. Jesse's lips are warm from the hot chocolate in his hand, and he's very stiff against her, like he doesn't quite know what to do. Lia doesn't really know either, but she'll be damned before she gives Chazz something else to work with.
She pulls back and Jesse just stands there, his eyes wide open and his mouth moving a little. Lia rolls her eyes.
" Don't hurt yourself." She pats him on the back. " Now hurry up and go talk to Jaden before he gets jealous."
She leaves Jesse red-faced and stuttering, and walks over to the table to get a mug of hot chocolate herself. Her lips feel a little different, but the world didn't stop moving under her feet, and so she's content to go on as though nothing happened. It's just Jesse, and that means it's no big deal.
It's a long time coming, because it's more than just the Shadow Riders and imminent doom that's been weighing down on her shoulders. Her mother and Gauvin are getting closer every day, Estelle is the apple of her mother's eye even though she's brat, her grandmother has started breathing down her neck again, she hasn't talked to Maggie all year, no one understands, her father is dead and she never knew him, her mother doesn't care, her grandparents don't care, there's no one in the goddamn world who cares and-
" It's you." Lia says, and it's easy. It's so easy and it shouldn't be. It should be hard. There should be a beach and a breeze swept in from the ocean. There should be a moon hanging over them and stars glittering and she should be radiant and beautiful and everything she's ever dreamed of being. It should be the happiest day of her life.
(There's a blank stare and an empty hallway and a glaring sun. There are grey cloud rolling in, and fear hanging on her every word, and she can hardly breathe because she feels like she's going to cry and nothing, not one single thing, is every going to be okay again. Lia is young, and scared, and very, very aware of her own mortality. She's seen enough death in her life to understand that she is in no way immortal. But she's also so very young, in body and soul, and doesn't see the crossroads placed before her.)
" Lia..." Bastian says, and the pity in his tone makes her cringe. Lia knows pity. (did you hear? shanner's dad was killed down on the reservation. poor thing, she looks heartbroken.) Lia hates pity.
" Shut up." And what she means is help me.
She kisses him before she knows what she's doing. She's all fierce pressure and trembling hands and the taste of tears as hers break free of her eyes. Bastian is very still, not encouraging her but not stopping her either. She makes a sound, a soft, wet plea of desperation, and his hands fall heavy against her shoulders as he pushes her away.
" Lia..." He tries to look at her, meets her eyes, and maybe she's too ugly or too emotional (too sad, too sweet, too good, bastian remarks to the others later. it destroys him to hurt her just as it destroys her to be hurt by him.), so he looks away. " ...I'm sorry."
Lia smiles grimly. It's a horrible realization to come to as she thinks that maybe, she expected this. Lia's used to disappointment. She almost anticipates it now. Hope is a fragile and foreign idea to her, but it's slowly burrowing its way into her heart. She wishes it wouldn't.
(her foot moves one step down the path marked 'Despair'. the other path, 'Absolution', waits patiently.)
" That's better than not being sorry, I guess." And Bastian walks past her, feeling ashamed but looking embarrassed. Lia hangs her head.
(It should be magic, it should be wonderful, it should be everything she's ever dreamed it will be and more. Instead...)
" Jasmine kissed you?"
If she was talking to anyone else, Lia thinks that she would never have brought up Jasmine's actions. But this is Atticus, and for some reason, that makes it okay. He is the sexual guru of their group, open about his preferences, and not shy in announcing his bedroom exploits as long as the company is willing to listen. In a few months, Lia has learned more about sex and sexual orientations than she ever did in any classroom. It's as enlightening as it is embarrassing, but it's Atticus, and that makes everything okay. He is at once the most dramatic and subtlest person she has ever met.
" Yes, Jasmine kissed me. Now keep your voice down." The last remark is little more than a habit. Somehow, Atticus always knows what secrets are alright to bellow loudly about and which ones are truly secrets to be taken to the grave.
" Easy, Kitten. You just surprised me, that's all." He flops down (only Atticus, Lia notes, can get away with 'flopping' and still manage to look downright appetizing.), looking pensive. This never bodes well, and maybe Lia should proceed with caution, but it's Atticus and she trusts him completely (and she doesn't know why or if she even should. She has never met Nightshroud, but sometimes, in the darker shadows, Atticus' eyes look almost wicked.).
" You coulda done worse for your first girl kiss." He says at length, and Lia snorts.
" You say that like there'll be more." Sexuality is less of a taboo and more of a necessary component when carrying on conversations with Atticus Rhodes. There's little in the way of high school sex that he hasn't done and even more in the way of more adult sex that he can't wait to try. Lesser minded people call him a slut. Lia thinks of him as being the only person she knows who is completely comfortable in their own skin. Few things can shake Atticus' confidence, in himself or in his sex-life, and Lia envies it as much as she admires it. Alexis takes after her brother in more ways than she realizes, and Lia can only hope that something of his sense of self-worth will rub off on her.
" Innate bisexuality, darling." He purrs, and Lia raises her book to hide a smile. All people are bisexual, Atticus insists, they just swing a little more in one direction depending on the person. Lia thinks Atticus would probably be sitting right in the middle of the scale, smiling taunting up at the labels, because he likes pretty girls, but every time she thinks he's gone hetero on her, there's a boy on his arm and probably in his bed, and Lia is left to wonder if he's right.
" Speak for yourself, chéri. I'm attracted to men."
" You sure?"
" Didn't feel anything when Jasmine kissed me." A lie, but it's not a big one, and the weird warmth that spread through her wasn't what Lia associates with kisses. If there aren't fireworks, then it doesn't count.
" Maybe you need to kiss more girls." Atticus pauses. " And guys. You should kiss guys too. I thought I was just into girls, not matter how much I stared at the boys in the locker room, and then I kissed my first boyfriend, and it was like-poof!" He makes a hand gesture and Lia rolls her eyes because he looks like a kid. " My whole world flew apart and then reconstructed itself. Girls and guys kiss differently you know. Not like, when you're in the middle of something, because at that point, you're not really thinking about much besides getting naked and touching each other. But for the first few kisses, there's a difference."
" Of course there is." Lia wants to say, but can't. Atticus has got her around the waist and bending her backwards and looming over her with a look that pure seduction. The sun beams overhead, and Atticus' skin looks tawny and smooth and very, very touchable under it. Lia's mouth is dry, and when she sticks her tongue out of wet her lips, Atticus' eyes (dark, but not in a Nightshroud way and why does that make her feel weak?) follow the movement like a hawk.
" Girls are socially taught not to be aggressive. It wears off as time goes by, but little girls aren't supposed to come on to little boys. Guys on the other hand..." He grins, but it's a very dangerous grin, and his voice is dark chocolate melting over black velvet and silk sheets and every romance cliché she's ever read is rushing through her head.
" Guys don't have that handicap."
And when he kisses her, it's hot, slow, and completely soul stealing. He knows exactly what he's doing, how turn her into a puddle of mush even though he's never touched her like this before. He's a master at his craft, Beethoven writing a symphony with her body, Picasso painting abstract and foreign ideas into her mind with a touch of his hands. He manipulates her just as surely as he encourages her, and something warm drips down her body from where his tongue touches hers to somewhere just below her stomach.
When he pulls away, she's breathless, and he doesn't even look winded. It's unfair, but he looks so pleased with himself that she can only get about half as angry as she should.
" Don't do that again." She rasps, and she means it. Kissing like that...it's dangerous.
Lia doesn't realize it until she goes to Duel Academy and grows up in ways she never thought she could, but she's been dealing with grief very differently than the other people she meets.
For Jaden, it is a drive, a chance to better himself and overcome his grief; for Syrus, it's a crutch, something he leans on in order to appease his low-self esteem and the demands of a brother he can never impress (only, that's not the truth now, is it?); For Atticus, it's redemption, a quiet, intense force that moves his body to become a shield before he even understands what's happening.
Lia sees grief as her own personal scar. It's there, it's ugly, and no one has any business seeing it but her. She dresses in long pants and high-collared shirts to hide her body; she dressed these in a stand-offish attitude and inaccessibility. Her airs are those of a queen looking down from her throne, though she's never felt less like a queen than when she pretends she is one. Her tone is sharp, her tongue is wicked, and her words are acid. Lia's grief twists up inside of her until it is an entity on its own, alive and sentient and hell-bent on tearing down all the good things in Lia's life.
(Growing up means learning to share her grief with someone she loves, because even if they don't understand, they want to, and they want to use that knowledge to help. That idea is the single most beautiful thing Lia has ever encountered in her fourteen years of life.)
For Alexis, grief is touch. So when Lia whispers those fatal words ("My father died when I was eight years old." The sting hasn't quite gone out of them. It hurts, and Lia can't understand why.), Alexis moves and then she's kissing Lia, she's kissing her and it feels like both of them are drowning in pain that they can't give a name to. Alexis scrambles for purchase, for something to touch, some way to connect, and Lia tries to push her away, because she' s still young and she hasn't grown up enough for this, and while Alexis' kiss isn't painful, it still hurts worse than anything Lia's every experienced.
Alexis darts back with a gasp and starts apologizing, but Lia doesn't hear it. There are tears on her cheeks that aren't hers, but Lia wipes them off like they are. She walks to Alexis' bed and sits down without asking because she's earned a favour with that stunt. Alexis says nothing. Lia tries to smile, but her face hurts from Alexis' grief. So she pats the seat beside her.
Alexis murmurs about Atticus and Lia listens, and by the end of the night, they've forgotten anything but words and antiseptic every happened. It's better this way.
It's fire, and that's all there is to say about it.
Only, it's not, because there's more, so much more, so much more than she ever thought there could be. It's fear and confusion and laughter and joy and maybe, just maybe, hope, but most of all, it's fire. In her veins and in her head and in every pore of her body because being around him lights a fuse in her brain and her body can't refuse the call.
Aster makes her strong as he makes her weak. She's articulate and tongue-tied around him. He validates her beliefs while turning her world upside down. He's not what she pictured and she doesn't think he's what she needs (but what she needs is diverse and hard to pin down. She needs Alexis to make her a girl and Jasmine to make her blush and Atticus to make her feel safe and Syrus to make her protective and most of all she needs Jaden to make her into a hero, but that's neither here nor there.), but, deep down in the place where she won't let her mind go, she thinks he might be what she wants, because he challenges her every notion even as he rallies for her cause in the same breath.
His kisses are rough with inexperience and searching with enthusiasm. He has no idea where to touch her to he touches her everywhere, his hands flying over her body, lingering when they produce a sound from her that he takes to mean something good. He's almost got her pinned, but he doesn't pin her, because he knows she doesn't like feeling controlled. He has no idea what he's doing, but he's doing it better than anyone she's ever met. He has no idea what he's doing, but that's okay, because neither does she.
She's pressing herself into him on instinct because he's so warm, and the rain around them is so cold, but that's not true, not completely, because Aster just feels good against her. They don't fit like puzzle pieces, but the hard lines of his body contrast the softer ones of hers, and his arms hold her like she's his rock when really, he's all that's keeping her from flying apart. There's this beautiful give and take between them, and each time he makes her moan, her fingers find some little part of him that have him saying her name in a way she could spend the rest of her life listening to.
It's fire because it's always fire with him, hot, and frantic, crackling and spreading, burning high and low and intense and hypnotic. She can't look away from him, not when he's like this, not when he grabs her like he just did and asks with his eyes like no one's ever done before. Not when his touches leave lines of heat on her skin that reach right down inside and melt her grief away until the scars are just faded memories. He touches her like she's something precious, not holy or out of his reach, but right where she should be, beside him and touching him back.
Aster pulls back, all gasping and red lips and a having chest, and looks at her with eyes that are dark with passion and bright with joy and maybe, just maybe, a little distant with hope.
" Should we...go inside?" He whispers, and he knows that she'll hear him over the rain, and this makes her so happy she could burst.
" No." She says firmly, and hauls him back down. She's going to burn the rain from him like he's burning the scars from her, and for once, for the first time in her life, it's going to be right. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (she's soaked through and there's a chill in the air and they're both going to have horrible colds by the end of the week, but somehow, it doesn't matter. It should, but it doesn't, and then she can't think anymore, because she's living up to her heritage and using her tongue and Aster sounds like he could die happy and that's enough for her.), but goddamn it all to hell, it's right.
It's right and it's enough.
Because I'm a shipping whore as well as a review whore. I really hope you liked it.