Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!

Re-write of the "dance dueling" scene in ep. 53. Just another sweet fluffy short. Hope you like.

Fall From Grace
by Atemusluckygal

Yami realized, after standing in the arcade for the first time for about thirty seconds, that he didn't really care for arcades that much. He wondered why Yugi and the boys loved going there so often. It was annoyingly noisy, and the lighting was terrible and made finding one's way through the large room more difficult than it had to be. Most of the games looked quite pointless and repetitive.

That is – until he and his companion, Téa Gardner, came upon a rather large game machine that occupied its own exclusive back wall of the arcade, and it somehow actually looked more interesting. Two people were hastily stepping on lighted plates on their respective platforms, in tandem with synthesized dance pop music blasting from the tall speakers on either side. A giant screen before them displayed numerous different colored arrows rapidly shooting up the screen. They appeared to be dancing. A rather large crowd was gathered behind the machine to watch and cheer.

"Some sort of… dueling dance game?" questioned the Spirit, feeling uncomfortably ignorant and outdated.

Téa's eyes brightened right away at the sight of it. "Yeah! Sounds like a blast!" she excitedly cheered, eyeing the bright flashing screen with fervent enthusiasm. The match had finished; the eccentric-looking tall man with dark skin, thick brown locks, and a permanent self-satisfied look on his face, stood proud on his platform in victory. The machine's male computer voice proclaimed him the winner. The crowd hollered his name amongst a sea of praises, feeding his apparent ego like fuel to a raging fire. The loser – a teenager roughly Téa's age in a turquoise sweatshirt – whined a bit, then hopped off his platform and joined his friends to venture off somewhere else.

The champion, dubbed "Johnny Steps" by his howling fans, caught his eye on Téa, who was staring at the machine in wonder. He looked her up and down, seeming to like what he saw and made no effort to conceal his crude examination. Yami noticed this right away, and for some reason it shook him violently inside. His heart jerked anxiously and transmitted a displeased frown to his face. He did not like the way this man was looking at the young woman beside him. After all, as far as Johnny was concerned, Téa could've been his girlfriend.

Yami couldn't help but linger on that thought, for a brief moment in stopped time, as Johnny proceeded to smugly invite her to be his next challenger. The Spirit gazed at her, observantly and humanely at the same time. Téa looked lovely today, dressed in a way that wasn't inappropriately revealing, but nevertheless accentuated her healthy and fit figure and allowed her fair skin to glow in the little light the arcade provided. Her short brown hair was perfectly combed and swished elegantly as she moved. And of course, her facial expressions always held brilliant positivity and kindness for others. At the moment, her eyes of azure sparkled at her newest adventure – conquering this dance game.

Did he really just mentally put himself in a hypothetical situation in which he was romantically involved with Téa? Yugi's best friend since they were toddlers? No matter how small and innocent the intention seemed, his mind did go there. And he wondered if it was a product of fondness for her manifesting into something quite inappropriate… he hoped otherwise. But feelings of the heart too often superseded the feelings of the mind…

"Why don't we ignore him and go someplace else?" suggested the Spirit. He had seen enough of Johnny Steps's arrogant and tactless behavior in the presence of himself and Téa, and it was starting to get on his nerves.

Téa excitedly shook her head. "This guy may have some flashy moves, Yugi," she turned her head to fiercely stare down her new opponent, "but they're not flashy enough to scare me away!"

Before the Spirit could even begin his protest, Téa tore off her pink jacket and hopped on the foreign dance machine, the tossed article of clothing falling into his arms as he stammered after her, "What are you doing, Téa?"

She flashed him an assuring smile and a wink, her blue orbs sparking hope within him at their brief direct eye contact. "Just having some fun!" She held a thumbs up at him before turning to face Steps. "Let's go!"

Johnny, put off by Téa's raw confidence, grunted irritably. "We go when I say we go!" He continued with more taunts and teases, interjected by indiscreet comments such as "don't expect me to go easy on you just because you're hot" and other such things, of which disgusted Yami. Téa had worked hard to refine her craft and should be taken seriously, not treated as just a pretty picture to ogle at. Téa, however, remained unfazed and focused, for the game was about to begin. The music started, on "Expert" mode, which Yami assumed to be the absolute highest level. The dancers took their starting stance, and the arrows arrived quickly, zipping up the screen fast as gunshots. However, Yami was completely unprepared for the sight before him.

It would have been an understatement to say that Téa played the game well – she dominated the game, and her opponent, with lightning fast movements that seemed almost physically impossible to execute. And as fast as her feet were moving, the passion in her dancing radiated with each sway of her arms and every arrow she accurately scored. She moved with precision, and yet always graceful and flowing. Her performance rendered Yami stunned, speechless, and frozen in his front row spot, watching her with wide, transfixed violet eyes. Not even the immediate outside world's peril could tear his gaze away.

Téa's current score was at 98.2%, while Johnny's remained at a meager 96.5% without much increase in the seconds that passed. Half the crowd stared in awe at the new challenger taking an early lead, while the other half shouted encouragement for her and a few even whispered to each other that Johnny was actually about to lose!

The said champion must've picked up on comments of that nature; his expression began to change from that of conceit to that of frustration and rage. Using his long arms and legs, he stretched each limb over the line into Téa's platform space, his leg coming very close to tripping her! Again and again he tried, attempting to trip and push her off the platform, sacrificing a few steps in order to win the whole game. Téa deftly dodged each move of sabotage, still somehow landing her feet on the correct spaces.

"Hey, keep it clean, Johnny!" shouted one of the nearby spectators.

With only twenty seconds of the song remaining, and Téa in the lead, Johnny could not allow himself to lose, especially to this girl. When his rage finally peaked, Johnny stepped completely off his platform and roughly shoved Téa by the shoulders, sending her right off the stage. She stumbled backwards, her calf hitting the short side rail before she tumbled off, yelping in surprise along the way.

And Yami ran like hell.

He tore through the crowd, colliding with a couple shoulders along the way, desperately racing to save her. The closer he got to the stage, the taller the platform appeared to him, and he realized that falling from it could result in serious injury. Time seemed to slow dramatically, holding the Earth in eerie slow motion, as Yami kept his focus solely on the girl he had come to develop undeniable affections for, even without knowing virtually anything of himself; the girl who would do anything to help him, and was currently helping him that day; who withstood fear of the unknown and new challenges; the girl who followed her heart, and unknowingly inspired him to do the same.

The girl who landed perfectly in his arms, just as her neck was aimed for the floor.

Téa's eyes were shut tight in fear and anxiety, her head pressed firmly against his chest and her arms tucked over her own. She gasped when she opened her eyes to be staring right back at him, with a mix of surprise and genuine adoration coloring her eyes and face with a stunning ethereal glow. Never had she looked more beautiful to the Spirit than cradled in his sturdy arms, in that stagnant moment, with their eyes locked, the mutual realization of Yami's playing the role of her courageous and noble savior once again settling in their minds.

A faint rosiness warmed her cheeks, giving her face a rather sweet doll-like appearance. Her soft pink lips hung slightly open. She tore her eyes away from his in slight embarrassment, staring at her lap, breaking their trance. The world seemed to creak on its hinges before slowly beginning to turn again, the synthesized dance music entering their ears once more, but rather in the distant background. The computer voice announced Player 1, Johnny Steps, the winner and still undefeated champion. Steps arrogantly held up his hands to quell the applause and cheers from his audience, basking in his new "victory". But as his surroundings swam back into focus, Yami vaguely noticed from the sea of watchful eyes that the crowd's hoots, hollers, and whistles weren't for the dancer on the stage.

They were for him and Téa.

And it was that moment that Yami remembered how much he loathed – or, rather, felt uneasy in the face of – public attention when it had nothing to do with dueling. He stood at the base of the platform, holding a startled brunette dame in his arms, creating a rather adorably innocent image of public display of affection between them. Yami's face and neck grew uncomfortably hot as he dumbly stared at the floor in front of them.

But he couldn't help but tease a small smile. He saved her, after all. They were celebrating his heroism.

And for the record, he decided that he liked Téa much more than he disliked the attention he caused for it. And as far as he and the rest of her supporters were concerned, Téa was the real winner today. She had won the match, and his heart, all at once.