Genres: Romance, Drama
Summary: It was the day of the wedding, and Ishizu's luggage was still in Hanover. Kaiba has enough baggage to spare. / Illogicshipping, Ishizu x Seto x Shizuka
A/N: Written for the LJ YGO Rare Pairings Contest, featuring "I" pairings this month. I've chosen to go with Illogicshipping (Ishizu x Seto x Shizuka). This is a post-series AU, centered around a wedding—I'm going off of what I know, so much of this is likely fictionalized and Westernized (I realize things would likely be different in Japan/Domino), so please go along with me on that.
After the numerous flights, delays, lost luggage, and transportation snags along the way, Ishizu wondered if it was still worth it. So what—a few people she knew in practically another lifetime were getting married, and she had agreed to attend without really thinking. Marik was flying with Rishid from Egypt, and her brother's correspondence was short and to-the-point:
You better not leave me here by myself, Ishizu.
Honda said something about looking forward to seeing you…I wasn't sure why, because I didn't think you'd ever exchanged so much as a paragraph of conversation…
I put you down for the chicken, is that okay?
Ishizu leaned her head back against the leather of the taxicab, closing her eyes as she closed her cell-phone. She already had two more messages from Marik, even though he knew full well that her flight the previous day had been cancelled. In retrospect, scheduling herself to attend a conference in London the day before she needed to attend a rehearsal dinner in Domino was not the brightest thing to do.
The cab pulled up in front of the nicest hotel in Domino—Ishizu herself had stayed there while first visiting the city. The cab-driver asked if she needed any help with her luggage. Ishizu shouldered her tote-bag and reminded him that she had none.
Her chin held high, Ishizu entered the hotel, crossed to the concierge desk, and informed them that she was with the Honda-Kawai party. She didn't have long to wait, as an attendant offered to direct her to the ballroom where the wedding and the rehearsal dinner would be taking place.
Inside, she was amazed by the visual extravagance; if love could be measured in money spent, this certainly ranked near the top. True, it had been elegant before, but this went beyond style. This was a transformation, from the lace in white and soft-pink hues had been looped around almost every surface, to a canopy twined with real flowers—roses, she could see, among others—with a few accents of light blue in the table centerpieces and the patches of sky visible through the large windows set at the very tops of the walls.
She saw the others standing off to a side, still recognizable even after so many years apart. Apparently they had all been in closer contact during that time than she, but Ishizu was still touched by the invitation and the sentiment regardless—a formal, public commemoration of love like this was something to be treasured and celebrated, and she had not had many chances to observe something like this in her life. At the front of the group was Shizuka, dressed in a shade of pink that clashed only slightly with her hair, giving directions to the hotel staff, and Jonouchi, who had his arms slung around Honda's shoulders, talking loudly about the groom-to-be's bachelor party.
"Ishizu!" It was her brother who spotted her first, tilting his shoulders and slipping past the small crowd to embrace his sister. As soon as he said it, everyone stopped talking and turned to glance at Ishizu with brief smiles and waves before turning back to their companions in conversation.
"How was the flight?" he asked. "You got in early—I wasn't expecting you for another half-hour!"
"The flight was unremarkable." The answer was delivered quickly and to-the-point. "And while I arrived early, my luggage most certainly did not."
Marik laughed, hiding his grin momentarily behind the back of his hand as he scratched at his chin. "Figures. I bet it'll get here tonight."
Shizuka had finally broken away from the staff and made her way towards Ishizu, giving the other woman an awkward but excited hug. "I'm so glad you could make it!"
Without a gift to present to the bride, Ishizu settled for a compliment. "This place is beautiful. For a weekend in May, how did you manage that?"
Shizuka's beaming smile grew even wider. "I know, isn't it great?" As she spoke, Honda moved behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"We got a great deal on the place," he answered. "And nothing but the best for my girl!"
Ishizu herself was not a part of the wedding party, but she acted as the makeshift audience while the group rehearsed where to stand when, and what to say where.
Everyone regarded them indulgently, like it was nothing for the two of them to be so drawn up in each other's eyes, always with some point in contact; a touch to an elbow, a head resting lightly against a shoulder, fingertips brushing. She watched them almost with a pang of loneliness, the way that they all—even her brothers, who had been conscripted as ushers—interacted together, fussing over flowers and hair, posing for photographs snapped with a series of efficient, frequent clicks.
She glanced at the empty aisle to her right, the edges of the chairs wrapped with cascading ribbons, the floor strewn with flower petals. She bent down, touching one between the pads of her fingertips, the texture soft and even. At the front, Anzu hit Ryuuji with the stems of her bouquet, and Ishizu heard laughter as soft as the rose petals. When Shizuka laughed, the others joined in; she was the bride, after all.
"Tomorrow is going to be perfect," she heard Yugi say, almost cheerfully enough that Ishizu could believe it.
It was the day of the ceremony. Ishizu's luggage was still in Hanover.
Ishizu herself paced the lobby of the Domino hotel, calculating the miles and knowing that yesterday's wrinkled clothes would never be suitable for a wedding. Already she could see friends and family hurrying about, delivering flowers, pinning boutonnieres, and checking watches, even though the ceremony was still hours away. Somewhere, Shizuka was dressed in white, surrounded by her bridesmaids, preparing to lose everything and gain a new life in return.
Somewhere else, likely, Honda was recovering from a mild hangover and cursing Ryuuji, Jonouchi, and the depraved inventor of hard liquor.
She spun, watching Ryuuji enter from the open doors of the hotel's entrance. Only the slightest hint of a dark circle around his already outlined eyes suggested that he hadn't slept much the previous night. "What are you waiting for?" he continued, before stopping to regard her more critically. "Don't tell me you're wearing that?"
"I don't have a choice," she said. "I don't have my luggage."
Ryuuji leaned against the doorframe while he considered her. "I don't think any of the others have anything that would fit you—"
"Otogi, you're in my way," interrupted a voice from behind him, his body absently blocking anyone trying to enter or exit the hotel.
He arched an eyebrow and moved, allowing Seto Kaiba to walk into the lobby. "You're here for the wedding?" he asked.
"Of course," Seto answered.
"You know, you're three hours early." Ryuuji grinned, before turning back to Ishizu. "Now, I'd take you myself, but I've got to help Jonouchi keep it together. Maybe Kaiba could help you?"
"Can't," was the quick, brusque reply. "I'm meeting someone."
"It shouldn't take long," Ishizu said, staring evenly at Seto.
"I don't care, find someone else."
"Would you like to help console the bride's brother?" Ryuuji pulled a white handkerchief from a pocket in his suit jacket and dangled it in the air, offering the surrender.
"I'd rather not," he said.
"Great!" he said, and clapped Seto on the shoulder with his free hand. "Then you'll take Ishizu shopping."
"Shopping," she repeated. From the grim way she said it, it was clear to Seto that this wasn't a chore just for him. "I'll explain."
She did, from the back of a limousine that seemed to appear the moment Seto exited the hotel. He had given directions to his chauffeur, but Ishizu only frowned and leaned forwards in her seat, insisting that it didn't matter to her where she bought her dress, only that it didn't break the bank.
There was no small-talk. There was no talk of any kind; he didn't ask her anything about her life in the years since they'd last seen one another, and she didn't ask trivial questions about his company or his dueling. They passed the time in noncommittal silence, and Ishizu got the impression that, while she'd obviously accidentally interrupted something important to him with her impromptu shopping trip, it was something that Seto didn't really want to do.
So, she asked him: "Who were you meeting at the hotel?"
A shrug, and a glance away at the darkened glass of the window. "I don't see how it's any of your business."
"No," he answered with finality. "You've got a funny way of repaying me for this little trip." He was reminded, somewhat unintentionally, of an earlier time when she held the cards, and gave him one. Cryptic and impassable, that was Ishizu.
"Do you go to weddings often, Seto?"
He didn't turn his head from the window, merely letting his eyes move to glance her way. "I find them depressing."
"Ah, a no, then—"
"Why the interest?" he asked.
"No reason," she said. "Perhaps after today you'll change your mind." It was, after all, as Yugi had said, a perfect day.
The store they visited was smaller than Ishizu was expecting, with tightly crammed racks of dresses and accessories that seemed to read to the ceiling in boxes and zippered garment bags. They were greeted by an unobtrusive clerk and let to wander around the store. Ishizu took her time, flipping past hangers and studying each option, frowning at the offerings. Too many embellishments, too short, too colorful…she avoided the white dresses on principle, but studied a rack of various cuts in a wine color while Seto leaned against the wall, arms crossed, looking terminally bored.
"What do you think?" she asked, taking advantage of the male presence by her side.
She put the dress back, amused. "At least you didn't hold back."
"Of course not. I never do," he said.
She scanned the aisles again, looking for something as close to the dress she had originally packed to wear for the wedding, a simple, colorblocked dress in a chocolate color with a darker skirt. She studied the offerings while Seto wandered the store, and after a few minutes she found a few she liked and plucked them from the racks.
The dressing rooms were set off from the main showroom, booths wrapped in dark red velvet curtains that rose from the ceiling to linger just short of the floor. Seto waited for her, a single hanger balanced on one outstretched finger.
"Try this one, too," he said, and she took it without looking at it, settling the dresses onto wall hooks before closing the curtain around herself. Inside the booth it was darker, but that didn't inhibit her senses; she could hear the faint tapping of boots on the thin slats of wood that made up the floor, she could see the slight dip in the curtain from where he leaned against the wall, one shoulder brushing the velvet.
She didn't care for the first dress, a wrap-style, and as she slipped it from her body she caught a glimpse of the price tag, disbelief and raised eyebrows confirming her decision. The second was better, but after she had pulled it from the wall and saw Seto's selection, she wanted to be able to compare the two and find out if Seto's expertise ran to areas as esoteric as women's fashion.
He obviously knew what would look good on her body; the dress was something she would have never selected for herself, yet it seemed in-line with the style she usually wore. In the darkened booth she couldn't quite make out the exact color, but it looked good. She would need to see it in full light to know for sure.
"Are you finished yet?" He made no attempt to disguise his contempt—perhaps, even, she considered, he had emphasized it instead—and she brushed the curtain aside with a hand.
"Help me zip it up?" There was hardly a hint of a question in the way she phrased it but he complied, moving inside the booth as she dropped the curtain and used the same hand to pull her hair away from her back and over one shoulder, glancing at him in the mirror as he moved to stand behind her.
She watched his face, and the strangely focused look it wore as she felt his fingertips press over the silk to join the two edges of material to cover the exposed skin of her back. There was the briefest contact—a thumb brushing her skin, and light pressure at the base of the zipper before he closed it, slowly bringing the zipper up. She could almost feel his breath against her neck, and the gesture seemed oddly intimate for him, for the location, for the situation. There was contact again—the fingers of both hands as he closed the hook at the zipper's top, before his fingers smoothed out the material almost on their own, and his gaze rose from her back to meet her eyes in the mirror.
"It looks good on you." He sounded proud of the fact, and she allowed her lips to quirk up in the barest of grins.
"I should have come to you from the beginning, then," she said.
"Of course." His words breathed out light as air, and as Ishizu turned back to the mirror to adjust her hair he continued to watch her. "I'll just take these." He reached for the two rejected dresses and slipped from the booth; the curtain flicked behind him with the wake of his motion.
She followed after a moment, moving to stand before the gilded, tri-fold mirror against the far wall, turning to examine the full effect of the dress.
"What if I would have wanted one of those others?" she asked.
Seto had resumed his post against the wall, glancing at her with a tilted head, seemingly staring at both her and her three reflections at once.
"I won't be held responsible for you looking terrible," he said coolly, smirking. "You're getting that one."
She allowed a few moments to pass in silence, studying the dress's asymmetrical neckline, the slight twist to the straps, and the deep blue color of the silk. "I suppose I should be flattered, then, that you haven't taken your eyes off me since I've been standing here," she said dryly.
"Earlier, actually," he said, with a frown of mock disapproval.
"Ah, don't tell me you're one of those wedding crashers, who prey on unattached women and their wedding envy?" she asked with a smile, turning around to face him directly instead of glancing at his reflection in the mirror. The true image was always much better than the reflection; she was sure he would agree.
"Of course not. Unless you call buying you a dress preying."
"—Wait, what? I can—"
He cut her off with a disinterested wave of his hand, before moving forward to lightly grasp her right arm underneath her elbow, pulling her away from the mirror. "Come on. Get your clothes, you can just wear that out. Will you need shoes as well?"
"No," she answered strongly, gathering the blouse and pants she had worn into the store; by the time she exited the booth Seto was already at the counter, swiping a credit card.
"Listen, you don't have to buy me anything," she started, before Seto interrupted her once again.
"I want to. I'm going to. Let me." He spoke the words so simply that although she disagreed, she couldn't refuse him. "Here."
Seto had firmly taken a slim pair of scissors from the hands of the shop clerk and raised them to the tag on the back of the dress.
"Hold still," he said, before clipping it and reaching for the discarded paper and plastic, and once again she felt his fingertips on her skin, lingering a bit longer than before.
Ishizu thanked the shop clerk, but Seto's hand was once again under her elbow and he led her out of the store, where his sleek black limousine was waiting. He opened the door for her, and she slid inside easily, still adjusting to the feel of the silk against her skin and the way that it had felt to have another person's fingertips pressed against it instead. The silk and the leather of the seat was a poor substitute, cool instead of warm, giving where she leaned into it instead of pressing back.
"We still have two hours," he said, and to her it seemed like he was speaking the words to the air instead of to her. "Plenty of time."
Inside the hotel things had gotten no less hectic, although now everyone seemed to be doing more waiting instead of rushing, talking and hugging instead of running from elevators or pinning flowers.
Seto had left her side almost the instant they had entered the lobby, and she hadn't gotten a chance to ask him where he was going. Without a companion she felt oddly alone; nearly everyone else she knew here was a part of the wedding party, and their time would be otherwise engaged until the reception's end that evening. She had been told she would be seated with her brothers for the dinner, but that was all she knew.
As if sensing her discomfort, Anzu approached her with a kind smile. "You look great! Hey, the bridesmaids are helping Shizuka with her hair, would you like to come with us?"
Ishizu nodded, and allowed Anzu to lead her up the elevator to the seventh floor, and through a corridor to a room with two doors leading inside. Anzu fiddled with the key-card, sighing. "I forgot the flowers," she said with a slightly dejected smile. "Oh well, I'll have to go back and get them."
She opened the door, and they were greeted by an elegantly styled and spacious living room, with a closed door at the far end that branched off into what Ishizu assumed was the bedroom.
Anzu headed for it and rapped twice, knocking the door slightly ajar. "Hey, Shizuka? I'm back!"
"Give me a minute!" The voice that answered was rushed and loud. "I need some privacy, please!"
Anzu stepped back and sighed again, crossing her arms over her purple bridesmaids dress. "This'll give me some time to get the flowers. Hey, just take a seat, okay?" she said, and Ishizu noticed that instead of heels, the woman had on simple slippers, probably provided by the hotel. It made sense, she thought, that if she had to run around all morning on Shizuka's request that she would want to do it in comfortable footwear.
As the main door closed with a click, Ishizu could hear the faintest strains of conversation from the next room over.
"—It still doesn't give you the right—"
"—I had every right."
The last voice was clearly male, she could tell, and only deep and bitter enough to belong to one person she knew.
"Should you really be wearing white today?" she heard him ask, followed by silence. Ishizu rose to her feet and made her way to the door, her steps silent over the thick carpet.
Through the small crack in the door she could see the tall shoulders of Seto Kaiba, facing Shizuka Kawai, already dressed in a long gown, gathered at the waist with lace and ribbons in the purest shade of white.
"It's been years since we—since we-" She stopped, glancing at the floor. "Don't deny me my happiness. He makes me happy."
"You'll forgive me if I don't believe you," he replied, "and that's all I've ever wanted for you."
"As long as no one knew, right?"
Ishizu's heart fell with Shizuka's; she could feel the accusation and the criticism in every word. "Today was supposed to be my day, it was supposed to be perfect, nothing was supposed to be missing—"
"Do you not like it?" he asked. "It was all with you in mind."
Ishizu saw the way Shizuka looked at Seto; it was painful and deep and raw, filled with something that could never fill over the grief, that could never match what she had gained and lost. "Leave me. Please."
"Shizuka—" A rustling of fabric as he reached towards her and she pulled back, and Ishizu turned away, moving quickly across the carpeted floor to the main entry, sliding a sweating palm around the doorknob and twisting, slipping out of the room and letting the door close behind her. Before she could think she moved, leaving that floor and taking the stairs, waiting until she reached the ground floor before she cast a glance seven floors up, her heart going out to the two of them and the others, happily awaiting the arrival of the bride with smiles and wishes of congratulations.
In the lobby, she saw Jonouchi standing with her brothers, who were already greeting guests and leading them inside the main ballroom.
With a smile, she asked, "would it be okay if I sat on the bride's side of the room?"
He grinned back, running a hand through his blond hair. "Sure, if you want. You wouldn't be the first to ask; it almost doesn't matter, there probably isn't a single person here who can say that they're friends with Shizuka and not friends with Honda."
His warmth was contagious, but then his grin slipped and turned into a smirk. "Aw, Kaiba, are you wearing your formal trench coat?"
Ishizu spun, trying to find any trace of the conversation she'd overheard in Seto's face or posture, and finding none.
"It's called a suit, Jonouchi, but I'm not surprised you haven't been acquainted with one before today."
Still biting, Jonouchi regarded Seto again, crossing his arms loosely. "So, where's your gift?"
"I didn't bring one," he answered evenly.
"Well, then," he said, "it's only once I get to marry off my sister, and you're lucky I'm feeling generous today."
Ishizu turned to Jonouchi, patted his shoulder, and murmured her congratulations before meeting Marik by the doors and following him inside.
"—Generous? I have an invitation—"
"You look nice, Ishizu," her brother said. "Looks like you found something after all."
"I did," she agreed, marveling again at the absolute splendor around her, at the flowers and decorations in varying shades of white and pink with just the barest hint of blue—
"I heard that Mai's been pressuring Jonouchi, I bet she's rigged the bouquet catch," Marik continued. "Is this row okay?"
Ishizu nodded and slipped inside, moving half-way down and watching the others assembled around her. Many she didn't know, assuming distant relatives or school friends, but many she did, and with a start she realized she was glad to be sitting in the middle of the crowd. In watching those in the first few rows, the ones with the true attachments to the bride and groom, Ishizu realized just how little she actually knew them, and just how little she knew most of the people here.
She spared a glance to the back of the ballroom to catch sight of Seto Kaiba sitting in the last row near the aisle, resting his arms on his knees. Ishizu sat forward in her own chair, waiting as the minutes ticked by and the ballroom became more and more filled, until music finally played and the bride appeared at last on Jonouchi's arm. Ishizu stood with the others, glancing back with a smile that could never match the radiant one that Shizuka wore, but when she had made it to the front of the room and had taken Honda's hand in hers, Ishizu glanced to a chair in the last row by the aisle, and found it empty.
Shizuka and Honda were married, and Ishizu felt happy for them. When it came for her turn to congratulate the couple, she clasped her arms around Shizuka and told her, "I'm happy for you."
She received a beaming smile in return, with no way of knowing just what Ishizu meant by those words.
At the reception, Ishizu leaned back in her chair. Beside her, Marik had taken her favor, a small silver box filled with chocolate, and was eating it piece-by-piece. She noticed, with a grin, that Rishid's box had already been emptied, too, the second that he'd left for the restroom.
On the floor Shizuka danced with Honda, a glass of champagne in one hand and a weary, contented smile on her face. Honda clutched her free hand in his—Ishizu wondered if he'd let go of it since the ceremony—and leaned in closer to kiss his bride.
The empty chair beside Ishizu was pulled out and Seto Kaiba dropped into it. Ishizu had seen his name printed in elegant black script on the place-card beside her own, but until now he hadn't made use of the seat.
"I see you're planning on hiding that dress behind this table for the rest of the night," he said.
Her lips quirked upwards, barely, as she regarded the man who had dressed her in blue. "I think I've decided that I've had just about enough of weddings to last me a long time." She glanced, not with longing, but with reconciliation, towards the group of friends and family dancing together under a canopy of bright lights and loud music. Too loud and too bright, for Ishizu's taste.
It was unspoken, but he said it anyway. "…Depressing?" She didn't need to nod.
"I'm glad you're finally starting to see things my way."
Marik ignored them in favor of moving to an empty table, grabbing up the few remaining favor-boxes littering the place settings, popping the lids off and sorting through the chocolates.
She glanced at Seto again; it was so obvious that he didn't belong here, in this room with a woman he loved once in a white dress with a man who wasn't him, who could never have given her the day that Seto could. Perhaps they had that in common, this not-belonging.
"Let's leave," she said suddenly, standing. He tilted his head to watch her, before joining her on his feet, pushing his chair back with one hand. No one else in the room seemed to notice, so intent on the celebration, so overwhelmed by the perfection they saw in today, and the sharing of that day with the two happiest people in their world.
"Where to?" he asked casually as they entered the lobby; at this hour it was nearly empty, staffed only by a concierge or two and occupied by the occasional roaming guest.
"Doesn't matter," she said, biting back a grin when, the moment Seto's hands touched the door, the black limousine seemed to appear from the street, waiting for them. He opened the door for her, and she slid inside. He joined her, closed the door, and the limousine took off, leaving the hotel behind.
1) The title, "Speak Now," is a reference to the phrase "Speak now or forever hold your peace," when an opportunity is given for someone to oppose the union or give a reason for the two not to be together.
2) There were hints scattered throughout that Seto was the one who had, without most people noticing, paid for the bulk of Shizuka's wedding as his gift to her (the "great deal," the proliferation of blue, Seto's words with Shizuka, etc).
3) At the few weddings I've been to, I'm totally the one who steals all the favors when everyone's busy dancing. xD
4) Thank you for reading! I would appreciate and value your reviews!