I really didn't expect to make it to the second round of this thing. But this time at least one of the characters is one I care a bit more about. Yep, this round is Hostshipping, so I get to write for Ryou! But let me just say, I actually did research for this thing, mostly on the school. So I'll try to keep it accurate.
What a strange building. This was Anzu's first thought as she approached the Juilliard School of Dance. Or, as she would be calling it from now on, "school." It really was strange, though. It had the shape of a triangle on an angle, and the sides were all covered with windows. It was nothing like the buildings she had seen while living in Japan. She smiled to herself. To think that I really made it here…
It hadn't been an easy task. The path she had chosen was not an uncommon one for aspiring dancers such as her, and Juilliard clearly took advantage of this by only letting in the best of the best. Anzu still remembered the day that she had first received her acceptance letter in the mail. Everyone in their group of friends had celebrated with a party at the game shop. The memory of this, however, was bittersweet. While it had been a fun time, it also held the honor of being one of the last times before their high school graduation for them to be together, as a group of friends.
Anzu quickly shook her head back and forth. Now was not the time to be thinking of things like this. It was time to focus on the present, on the future. She had accomplished her dream. She was dancing at one of the finest performing arts schools in New York. And everyone would keep in touch, anyways. She knew it, especially after everything they had been through together.
All of you, I hope you will continue to support me. And with that fleeting thought, she took her first graceful step into a brand new world.
The next few steps weren't nearly as exciting, although they were still wonderful things to experience. She was led to her new room in the Residence Hall, where she was left to unpack her things (not that there were many). Her clothes went in the dresser; pictures went on top of it… it was a normal girl's college dorm room, maybe a bit bigger. It was an expensive school, and it showed.
It took close to an hour for everything to be unpacked and for her to be settled in. By the time she was finished, the sky was dyed in shades of yellow, pink, and orange, fading slowly into darkness. Anzu fell onto the bed, completely exhausted from everything that had happened that day. She shut her eyes, and, before she knew it, had fallen into her dreams.
Since Anzu's classes didn't officially start until the next day, she had a lot of free time on her hands. For a single moment she debated between exploring the school or the city it was located in, but decided that exploring the campus would be far more beneficial.
But there was nothing she could do on an empty stomach, which was why she headed toward the dining hall for breakfast. As it was her first day there, she didn't know how good the food would be, but if it was like everything else in this place, it was going to be good.
It was early enough in the day for there to be very few people lingering in the dining hall, so there was no line to speak of. Anzu was able to go up to the counter, order her food, and head to a table in a matter of minutes.
It was then that she crashed into him.
Upon collision, the two of them fell, rather clumsily, into a tangled heap of food and people.
"I'm so sorry," the other person said, as Anzu was still attempting to regain the ability to breathe. "Um, are you alright?" The voice, Anzu realized after only a few moments, was extremely familiar. It was one she had, quite honestly, not expected to hear for quite some time.
"…Bakura." It wasn't posed as a question, but as a statement. She knew this voice, and was 100% sure that she was correct. But just for the sake of confirmation, she glanced upwards, only to see the face of, as she had suspected, Ryou Bakura staring down at her. It hadn't been very long since they had seen each other, but Anzu already noticed some changes. For instance, he had cut off his long hair, so that, while it was still a bit girlish, he still had that air of femininity to him. But his clumsy, shy personality obviously hadn't changed a single bit, as he was blushing ear to ear and apologizing up and down.
It took a moment for Ryou to recognize the situation for what it was. But the more he stared into the girl's eyes, the more it clicked with him.
"Anzu?" he said quietly, his face flushing to a deep red Anzu had never thought possible on a human being. "What… why… how…"
"I'm here to learn about dance," she said, with just as much surprise in her voice. "But what are you-"
"Theater," he replied before she even got the rest of her words out. "I… I wanted to be an actor." He laughed with the same small chuckle he had always had. "It's a little weird, I guess. But really, I never expected to see anyone here from our high school. Now I'm a bit embarrassed."
"It's not weird," Anzu said gently. "But what is weird is the way we're talking on the ground. Let's get a table." Ryou looked around, possibly noticing his situation for the first time, and quickly agreed. They picked up their spilled food to dump in the trash, and headed to one of the tables.
"So, Ryou, I never knew that you were into this sort of thing," Anzu said, deciding to start up a simple conversation as soon as they were situated. "Have you always had an interest in theater?" Ryou's face lit up instantly as he began to speak.
"I have. When I was a child, my mother would take my sister and I to go see plays all the time." His smile faded the slightest bit, to the point where it became a bit more wistful and melancholy. "Of course, I couldn't go nearly as often after the accident- my father was never willing to take me- but even then, I still watched them every chance I got. I love the way they can whisk you away from reality, especially when reality is…" his voice trailed off. "…not so great." He chuckled again.
"So anyways, what about you, Anzu? I knew you were coming to the city after the party we had, but I had no idea that you had been accepted here as well. It really is a strange coincidence, don't you think?"
Anzu nodded in agreement. "It really is. But I suppose it's a good thing, right? I was just thinking about how lonely it would be without everyone here, but if even one of the others from the original group is here, then it might be a little bit better." She smiled widely for what must have been the millionth time since her arrival to the city several days ago, and Ryou quickly returned it.
"As long as we can still talk to everyone else, I'm sure we'll be fine. It's not like we're in the middle ages, we have Internet," Ryou said, as though either one of them needed convincing. Anzu held back her laughter. She had never seen this side of Ryou Bakura before today, and she got the feeling that she would be getting to know him even more in the days, weeks, and years to come.
The two of them ended up spending most of the day together, only parting when the sun outside began to set as they toured the campus. They explored the dance studios, the large auditoriums where performances took place, and even some of the music rooms, just for a sense of completion. When they finally left each other's presence for the night, they promised each other one simple thing with three little words. Three words that cemented their budding relationship.
See you tomorrow.
Anzu waited at the same table as the day before, unconsciously holding her breath until her friend showed up. He grinned sheepishly.
"I'm sorry about the wait," he said. "I hope you weren't here too long."
"Not at all. But I can't stay very long today- I have my first dance class at ten o' clock."
"Lucky. I don't get to start until Friday. 2 days from now."
Anzu laughed, but gave a sympathetic grin. "I don't know if I would be able to wait that long. I'm here, so I want to take advantage of it!"
Ryou couldn't help but smile in return. "I agree. But it's only a couple of days, so it should be alright."
"Yeah." She nodded in agreement, and they quieted down a bit to eat their breakfast.
"So," Ryou said, attempting to break the minute-long silence. "Whatever happened to you and Yugi? Weren't you two going out? The separation must have been rough." Ryou could tell right away by the way Anzu visibly tensed up that he had struck a nerve somewhere.
"…We broke up about two weeks before I came here," she said quietly, staring down at the polished wooden table.
"…Oh." Ryou shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Um, do you mind if I ask what happened?"
"It was mutual," she muttered. She finally looked up and smiled a bit.
"I'm sorry, but that's really all I can say about it. Now, I have to head off to class." Before Ryou could get a single word in, she had taken off, grabbing her bag and running, leaving an extremely confused Ryou in her wake.
For the next several days after that particular incident, the air between the two held an awkwardness that neither knew how to break. They refused- in their own minds, anyway- to bring up what had happened that day, thus eliminating any chance of reconciliation. And it was difficult, but they managed to do it. Anzu focused on her dancing, while Ryou threw himself into his acting classes. Although Anzu still found that little spark of excitement whenever she found something new, it was just the tiniest bit duller than it had been when she first arrived. At least, it had seemed that way, ever since her and Ryou Bakura had drifted apart.
Just go talk to him. You'll be fine.
But does he want that? He seemed pretty upset after you brushed off his question like that.
Come on, don't worry about it.
…Why ARE you worrying about it, anyways?
"I don't know," Anzu whispered, gripping her pillow tightly as she attempted to fall asleep. "Why do I care so much whether or not he knows about my love life? He's a friend; he has the right to know."
Just a "friend?"
Anzu's grip on her pillow tightened, to a point where her knuckles turned white. "Yes," she hissed. "A friend."
Well, either way, you should tell him the truth.
"It's not a big deal," Anzu whispered again, sleep finally beginning to overtake her. Her last thought before she closed herself off from the world completely was, "I'll tell him tomorrow. Because it's not a big deal. At all."
Ryou laid on his bed as well, sleep evading him at the same time as Anzu.
Anzu. He had wanted to talk to her, but there had been something about the air around her that day that told him, "This girl is keeping secrets from you. She doesn't trust you nearly as much as you trust her."
No one ever trusts me, though, he thought, smiling bitterly. And yet, this time it's not even because of the ring. He should be used to this feeling by now.
So, why did it hurt so much more than usual?
Ryou rolled over, entangling himself in his blankets. "I have to be brave," he murmured. "Tomorrow. I'll ask her again tomorrow." Finally satisfied with his own thoughts, Ryou allowed himself to curl up into a tight ball and fall into the land of his dreams.
In the end, neither one of them got much sleep at all. They both thought they were prepared for the conversation that would take place, but every time they thought about it, they were awake in their thoughts yet again. So when they both sat down at their usual table, bags under their eyes and coffee mugs in their hands, the words didn't start flowing right away. In fact, they spent several awkward minutes staring down at the table and sipping their coffees.
Finally, Anzu was the one who broke the silence. "Um, Bakura, about the other day-"
"What was that?" Ryou asked, eagerly grasping his chance to possibly hear the story that had evaded him previously.
"I decided that I should let you know what I had been thinking about, that's all. A-about Yugi and me." Anzu didn't know why she stuttered. There's no point in being nervous.
"Ah." Ryou set his mug down and looked Anzu in the eye for the first time in days. "I'm sorry if I seemed a bit too pushy. I never intended to upset you."
"No, that's not the case at all. I don't know why I felt like I needed to hide it from you." Anzu stared back into Ryou's eyes. "Now, are you going to apologize any more, or can I start?"
"Oh, no, by all means, go ahead." With Ryou's approval, Anzu took a deep breath and prepared herself to tell her story.
"As you probably remember, Yugi and I were going out. I know this is a bit before I met you, but I had liked him for a long time, probably since we entered high school. Well, that is, until I met him. The pharaoh, that is. I was shallow back then, and I saw no problem with switching men so easily, especially after he saved my life. I spent most of our time with him trying to get his attention, when all along I knew it was pointless. I knew Yugi liked me, but I didn't care at the time. All that mattered to me was his darker half.
Well, you know that he eventually went on to the afterlife. And of course, like everyone else, I was heartbroken as soon as he left, mostly because I never got the chance to tell him about how I felt. I admit I spent a few days locked up in my room, skipping school to cry alone. But, like everyone else, I moved on. I went back to my everyday life, and expected everything to go back to normal. And it was, really. That is, until Yugi decided to finally ask me out.
Maybe I was just desperate, I don't know. But either way, I decided to accept him, and that's when we started dating. But even from the start, it didn't feel quite right. He wasn't the same person I had known before, the one who needed to be protected all the time. He could fight his own battles now, which got rid of most of what kept us together. Of course we could still talk about old times, but in the end it always led back to one of us mentioning the pharaoh. And even Yugi knew how difficult it was for me to remember, so we could never talk for very long. Over time it built up, the tension between us, and finally, we decided to go our own separate ways- him taking over the game shop, and me, coming here to achieve my dream. All because I couldn't let go of a crush that could never have been fulfilled in the first place."
Anzu felt the prick of tears at the corners of her eyes as she finished talking. Ryou stared at her, completely speechless.
"I don't why I was so hesitant to tell you all this," she said, laughing a laugh that was obviously fake. "Maybe I just didn't want you to think I was shallow. Because that's what it is. In the end, I completely disregarded the feelings that someone held for me."
"I don't want you to think any lower of me just because of this though. I mean, we do have to live together-"
"Anzu." Ryou reached over and lightly placed his hand on the girl's shoulder. "If it was something as small as that, you should have just told me in the first place."
Now it was Anzu's turn to be speechless. At the girl's shocked reaction, Ryou grinned and gave a single chuckle. "But really, what is there to be ashamed of? I almost think it's romantic."
"How could you possibly think that?"
"It's simple." Ryou's stare turned to one that gazed far off into the distance. "It shows how much you care for that single person. That you don't want to forget about them."
"You can call me Ryou, you know. I don't mind."
"Ryou, then. Thank you." Anzu smiled. "I think… I think that's what I needed to hear."
Ryou smiled right back at her. "I'm glad. Well, I hate to ruin the moment, but I think if we stay here any longer, we're going to miss our classes. We're already starting to talk about our first play, so I have to be there."
"Alright, then," Anzu said. "Let's go."
And they, did, Ryou to his drama classes, and Anzu to her dance classes. But as Anzu did her jumps and turns for the day, she couldn't seem to get the face of a certain Ryou Bakura out of her mind.
And she rather liked it that way.
It's finally done. This is literally the longest thing I have ever written, so you can tell I really pushed myself to my limit. Hope you liked it, and to all the other contest participants reading this, good luck!