Notes: Written for a pairing/location/prompt meme that I posted on LJ. Cypsiman2 asked for Yuugi/Anzu, on the beach, with the prompt of "awkward". Not really set at any specific point in the timeline, but probably works best as post-DM. A rare spoiler-free fic.

This had always been a bad idea and Yuugi had known that from the start.

And yet… he just couldn't bring himself to say no when it came to spending time with Anzu. Or any of his friends, for that matter. So when she'd asked if he'd wanted to come to the beach with her, the thought to refuse never popped into his head.

That didn't make it any less of a bad idea, though.

It was the height of summer and, now that the schools were out, almost every teenager in Domino City would be rushing to the beach so they could have fun, relax or just get out of the house for a while. Even Honda and Jounouchi would be here if it wasn't for the fact that Domino's baseball team was playing a league game today and the two of them had spent weeks saving up the money to go see them. Anzu wasn't really interested in baseball and rarely dipped into her New York funds if she could avoid it, so she hadn't wanted to go with the two sports fans. Admittedly, Yuugi was quietly quite glad of an excuse not to go as well, since being in a testosterone-fuelled stadium could only be ten times worse than being on a crowded beach.

Testosterone was still an issue here, however, as Yuugi was painfully aware that every man for miles was going to be taller and better to look at than he was. You didn't even have to be very tall to be taller than Yuugi, as stunted growth had left him without very much to his name at all.

Usually this didn't bother him all that much. He wasn't the type to hold grudges about something that no one could help and he'd had a whole life's worth of being him to get used to being just that. But when put in a situation where a girl who he really quite fancied was taking him to a place filled with guys who she'd probably much rather look at, it was hard for it not to play on his mind just a little bit.

He shook his head.

Stop thinking about stuff like that, Yuugi, he told himself, Anzu has brought you here because you're her friend and she wants to spend time with you. If she didn't, then she wouldn't have asked.

He took out his beach towel, looking around to see where Anzu had gone. It didn't take long before he caught sight of her stomping over, face twisted into a look of indignant rage.

"Can you believe it?" she asked, and before waiting for him to reply went on, "Those boys over there have completely blocked off the ice cream stand! They say they won't let any girls past unless they submit to a kissing tax! As if I'd ever do something so degrading! So, I'm sorry Yuugi, but I wasn't able to get you any ice cream…"

"It's okay, I'm just sorry to hear you had to go through that," he replied, glancing over towards the stand in disgust. He could hardly even see the ice cream seller through the crowd of people milling around, but there did seem to be some sort of commotion going on.

"As if we don't have to put up with jerks like that at school without them hanging around here as well," Anzu went on, "That poor guy who owns the stall just can't control them or get them to leave. It must be ruining his sales."

On a day as hot as today, Yuugi doubted that anything would stop the luck of someone who sold ice cream for a living. But all the same, it wasn't nice for anyone to have to put up with.

He reached into his bag and took out a bottle of cola, passing it over to Anzu and reasoning, "Here, might as well just relax for a while. It would be a shame to let some guys get in the way of us having a nice day out."

"Thanks," Anzu said, taking the bottle and smiling warmly, "I'm so glad you're not like them, Yuugi. You've always been so kind and considerate towards other people. I really like that about you."

"W-w-well, I, um, just want to get on with my life. No point causing anyone else a-any trouble," he stuttered, hoping his face wasn't going too red. Compliments from Anzu often did that to him.

"More people could do with being like you," she agreed, shooting a pointed glance in the direction of the ice cream stall again, "Though with so many morons in the world it just helps to make you look even better in comparison." She lay back on her beach towel, fishing out a pair of sunglasses from her bag, before getting settled; "I think that just need to blow off some steam for a bit, if that's all right with you."

"B-by all means," said Yuugi, looking away. Anzu was an attractive lady, but he'd never want her to think he was the sort of guy who would just stare at her. He liked everything about Anzu, after all, and her beauty wasn't even the tip of the iceberg. Often he wished that he could be strong and confident like she was. If even Anzu couldn't get by those bullies he wondered what chance anyone would have.

Excusing himself, he got up and wandered over to the crowd by the stall. Being so small had the advantage that people often mistook him for a child and he could slip through crowds easily. Because of that, it was wasn't hard to mix into the throng and hear the abuse these would be taxmen were throwing about.

"It's not as if we're asking for much," one boy, who seemed a little too fond of temporary tattoos, was proclaiming, "Just a little kiss and you can have all the ice cream you want."

"As if any of us are going to do that!" yelled a blonde girl, who looked like she had a temper to match the one Anzu had a few minutes ago.

"Well then, you can't want ice cream that much," backed up one of the fake-tattooed boys friends.

"That isn't fair at all! You don't own the stand, so why should people have to pay you anything if they want to buy from it?"

The crowd parted and to Yuugi's surprise it had been him who had said that. As the boys barged towards him, he wished that the group of bystanders now trying to distance themselves from him could have given us at least a little backup against the gang.

The tallest of the boys loomed over him and said, "A kiss ain't nothing, kid! These prudes could just give us a quick peck and have all the ice cream that they want."

"You're right, a kiss isn't nothing," Yuugi answered, trying to look as confident as he didn't feel, "It is something very special to show a close bond between two people. So why should anyone be forced to throw them around as if they're meaningless?"

"You sound like a rerun of some after school cartoon!" snorted the tall boy, pushing Yuugi. The force was enough to knock him down, causing all of them to burst into hysterical laughter; "Who do you think you are coming and bothering us anyway?"

"He's a better person than any of you!"

The crowd parted again, this time to let Anzu storm through. Yuugi bit his lip, feeling instantly ashamed at himself for getting involved with this and in turn dragging Anzu back into an argument. He should have just let it slide…

"Little Miss Firecracker is back," taunted the boy with the tattoos, "Do you have to protect your tiny boyfriend from real men like us? It must be really embarrassing for you; no wonder you didn't think you were good enough to kiss us!"

The momentary flicker of self-doubt Yuugi had was quickly blown out by the wave of rage that he had after hearing them insult Anzu.

"She's far too good to kiss any of you! And so is everyone else here!" he yelled, getting back to his feet.

He wasn't given much of a chance, however, as the tattooed boy grabbed hold of him, lifting him off the ground with only a slight grunt of effort.

"You want to say that to my face, huh? Think a midget like you has any chance against me?"

Yuugi's throat dried up. He'd even been bullied by better people than this in the past, but the prospect of being punched in the face was never an inviting one.

"Put Yuugi down or I'll-"

"All right, break it up, all of you!"

The crowd broke up for a third time, now to let through a handful of coast guards. The boy dropped Yuugi instantly and backed off.

"We weren't bothering anyone," the tallest of them insisted.

"I should hope not, lest we have to call the police," one of the coast guards warned, "You're lucky that one of these young ladies had the sense to come get us."

Yuugi and Anzu exchanged embarrassed glances, as Anzu helped him back up off the ground again. Really, they should have thought to do that.

"We're going…" muttered the self-proclaimed leader, which was the signal for the entire gang to skulk off.

"Hopefully they won't be causing anymore trouble today," the coast guard said, as she smiled around the gaggle of girls and Yuugi, "You all enjoy your ice cream and come get us if there's anymore commotion."

"D-do you still want one?" Yuugi asked, looking up at Anzu.

"After all that, I think we both deserve three scoops," she chuckled.

They had to queue for a while, but it was worth it when the two of them returned to their towels with ice cream, much messier faces and spirits feeling a lot lighter.

"Yuugi, you have a chocolate chip stuck to your cheek. How did you manage that?" Anzu asked.

Wiping his face, Yuugi replied, "Well at least I don't have strawberry plastered from one side of my face to the other."

The two of them descended into laughter as Anzu cleaned off the ice cream. Even with it, Yuugi still thought she still looked very pretty.

"You were really brave to stand up to them, by the way," she commented.

"Oh, well, n-not really. I was just doing what you do every time someone picks on me," he added, which was something that happened quite often, "We have to look after each other, right?"

"Right," agreed Anzu, "But in my case getting angry seems to come naturally. I don't want you to think you have to fight for me. I, um, don't want you to get hurt."

It was a nice way of saying she was tougher than he was and, even if they both knew this was the case, he appreciated that she tried to spare his feelings by sugar-coating it.

"It was nothing…" he trailed off, not knowing what to say.

"To me, it was something," Anzu assured him, reaching down to kiss him lightly on the cheek. His face definitely did turn red this time. And after he'd just said that a kiss was something that should be used to show caring between two people, as well. Anzu must face caught his wide-eyed surprise, as she pulled back and apologetically said, "You had a bit of ice cream on your face. I just… like that flavour."

Which would have worked better if he hadn't known that chocolate really wasn't her favourite at all.

"Th-thanks," he mumbled, "G-glad that y-you got that for me."

"Wouldn't want you to go home with it on your face," she said.

"Yeah, I've embarrassed myself enough today without looking like an idiot in front of my Grandpa, too," Yuugi replied.

But he had to admit, if acting recklessly to defend what he thought was right made him look good in Anzu's eyes, then by all means he'd gladly be a bit more reckless a bit more often.