Disclaimer: Saucily not mine.

A/N: Futurefic. Written for charmpagne as part of ygodrabble's Secret Santa 2012. Jounouchi/Mai. Somewhat saucy.

The Art of Gift Giving

© Scribbler, December 2012.

"Are you okay in there?"

"Fine!" Jounouchi's strangled voice echoed through the apartment at a much higher pitch than usual. "Totally fine! Absolutely fine! Don't come in here!"

Mai narrowed her eyes, put down her shopping bags and crept to the kitchen. She peered around the doorframe and nearly lost it. Giggles bubbled up in her throat until she had to cover her mouth and pinch her nose to stop them exploding out of her.

Jounouchi stood in the middle of chaos. The kitchen counter was a wealth of cooking utensils and open bags of ingredients, many of which had tipped over, spilling their contents on the floor. A large mixing bowl had a wooden spoon sticking straight up in the middle of whatever mixture it contained and everything, including him, was liberally coated in flour. He was frantically trying to turn on the extractor fan to suck out the smoke from the tray he had pulled from the oven. On it were little black disks and probably his own fingerprints, since he had neglected to use oven gloves in his haste to get them out.

"Shit!" he hissed. "Shit! Shit! Shit!"

Mai couldn't help it: laughter snorted down her nose and past her fingers. Jounouchi's head whipped around.

"I thought I told you not to come in here!"

"I heard you yell in pain the moment I stepped through the door. Plus, this is my apartment. You don't get to tell me which rooms I can and can't go into."

He looked down disconsolately at the burned discs. "This was supposed to be a surprise."

"It sure is that." He hadn't been here when she left this morning. She supposed he had used the key she gave him. It had taken more than he probably knew for her to give him that key: all her trust and vulnerability in one shiny bit of metal.H He could get into her apartment, her bolthole, her hideaway with that key. The old Mai – the Mai of five years ago, who had taken off into the sunset without even leaving a note in case he tried to follow her – would never have handed that kind of power to someone else. Luckily she wasn't that Mai anymore. "What were they supposed to be?"

Jounouchi tossed the tray into the sink. "Christmas cookies."

Mai blinked at him. "You wanted to bake me surprise Christmas cookies?"

"Yeah." He shrugged, though his shoulders were so full of tension they could barely raise any higher. "I know you spent a lot of time in Europe when you won the European Duel Monsters Championship, and I figured they really like Christmas over there, so maybe you really liked it too, so I figured … ah, it doesn't matter what I figured. I didn't figure on being the worst cook on the freaking planet." He untied the pink frilly apron he had borrowed from the back of the kitchen door and pulled it over his head. It sent up a cloud of flour. He sneezed, stepped backwards onto a tube of red icing and skidded. His foot flew from under him and he landed on the floor with a thump and a yell. "Ow, my ass!"

Mai chuckled. "Big baby."

"I think I broke my ass!"

"You have the mouth of a sailor, Jounouchi." On impulse she crouched next to him, cupped his face in her hands and pressed a kiss to his lips. Before he could respond she rested her forehead against his. "But a heart of gold."

"Mrrrfll." He said intelligently. "Graha?"

"Don't worry; gold can't cook either." She licked her lips. "You taste like cookie dough. Were you sneaking some from the bowl?"

He avoided the question by asking one of his own. "You ain't mad I wrecked your kitchen?"


"Why not?"

She grinned. "Because your other Christmas gift to me is going to be cleaning up this mess."

He groaned. "No fair!"

"Very fair." She rose and hurried to where she had left her shopping bags, extracting a long beribboned box that she took back to him. She hadn't meant to give this to him yet, but what the hell: it was Christmas. "Since this is the first half of my Christmas gift to you."

"It's very, uh, pink," he said, accepting the box cautiously. "I had enough of pink after wearing that apron."

"Open it, idiot."

He did so. It was full of crackly tissue paper that he lifted aside so he could hold up the actual contents: a red lace brassiere with white fur around the cups and hemline. For a moment he looked confused. "This is for me?"

"Mm-hmm." She plucked it from his grasp and sauntered towards her room, glancing coyly over her shoulder. "Come and unwrap the second half of your gift when you're done cleaning up."

His eyes gleamed and he got to his feet with a mock salute. "Yes, ma'am!"