AN: You guys, Woah. This is the last chapter! Thank you for sticking with me through the whole dang thing ;)
The air inside the dance was close, suffocating, and compared to outside the room felt like a sauna. The smell of sweat and adrenaline floated on the air like a fog. They had shut off all of the main lights, and bright colored strobe lights lit the floor in sporadic bursts of psychedelic hues.
Anzu's eyes roamed the crowd, knowing that Yuugi couldn't have gone far. But it was so hard to see in this room with the crowd a mass of close-pressed human flesh. It was nearly impossible to distinguish one person from another. She gritted her teeth, making a frustrated sound.
Suddenly she spotted, at the back of the room, walking away from the crowd towards the exit, a short teen with dark, tri-colored hair. Yuugi, she thought, and immediately started after him, going as fast as her heels would allow. She squeezed around the edges of the room, bumping past groups of students who snapped at her, telling her to watch it.
"Sorry, excuse me, I just need to—Oh, I am so sorry," She apologized as she went. One girl gasped in pain as Anzu's heel dug into her foot. She spun around, "I am So sorry," She called as she backed away, which caused her to run into someone behind her. She flipped around, another apology already on her lips.
"Anzu, what's going on?" Atem asked, steadying her with his hands on her shoulders.
Anzu flushed, a sudden wave of guilt gnawing at her. "Um, nothing." She said quickly, "Just looking for Yuugi. Gotta go!" She pulled away from him, rushing as fast as she could in the direction Yuugi had gone. She could hear Atem following behind her, but her main concern at that moment was not him. It was her best friend. Whose faith in her was probably all but gone. She had to fix this.
Finally she caught up with him, just before he walked out the door. "Yuugi!" She cried, and he stopped stiffly, not turning to face her.
"Please wait." Anzu pleaded, "You have to listen to me," She stood behind him, staring at his back. "That wasn't what it looked like," she said.
Now he turned around. "Really?" He asked incredulously, "Well then I'd like to know what exactly it was, Anzu."
Anzu flushed. Of course it had been exactly what it looked like. "Bakura and I, we-" She stammered, hardly able to think, "I don't know what I was doing, I just… I screwed up, okay?"
Yuugi folded his arms, his eyes averted, refusing to even look at her. "I told you that this was a bad idea." He said heatedly, "I told you, and Ryou told you, and you didn't listen to either of us!"
"I know," Anzu said, but Yuugi pressed forward, putting a hand to his forehead as though he had a headache.
"You thought that I was worrying too much, I get that, but I thought you'd listen to Ryou at the very least, and—and—now this… You said you could handle it!" He looked up at her then, his eyes revealing his confusion.
"I know what I said—" Anzu began, her voice weak. But what more could she say? No matter what her or Yuugi's or Ryou's logic said, she couldn't change the way her heart ached as she thought of Bakura standing out on the roof alone.
"You told me this whole thing was just to get back at Atem." Yuugi accused her.
"It was!" Anzu insisted.
"Yeah? Well that's not what it looked like!"
Anzu ran a hand through her hair—the carefully pinned curls falling out after the events of the evening—in frustration, "It didn't start out like that. It just happened—"
"That doesn't just happen, Anzu." Yuugi snapped, pointing at the stairway leading to the roof.
"What do you want me to say, Yuugi?" Anzu begged him.
"Tell the truth," Yuugi said, "Was 'getting back at Atem' just an excuse to let you go out with Bakura?"
"No, it wasn't! I swear it!" Anzu said, grabbing his hands in hers. "You have to believe that,"
There was a long silence between them. Yuugi looked at her skeptically, and finally sighed, shaking his head again. "Okay. So... You and Bakura. What about now then?" He asked coldly, pulling his hands back and stuffing them in his jacket pockets.
Anzu looked at him seriously, wrapping her arms around herself as she weighed the question in her mind. What would happen now? She'd very deliberately kissed the white haired teen, confirming to both him and herself the extent of her blossoming feelings for him. And he'd very unashamedly kissed her back, making it clear that she wasn't imagining it, that he felt it too.
But could she let herself act on those feelings any more than she already had?
The facts hadn't changed.
Bakura was dangerous, and Anzu realized that, though she felt as though she knew him so well, she really didn't know him at all. He had dangerous friends, and he did dangerous things. He didn't care about school, or rules, or people. For all she knew he didn't really care about her.
How could she ignore all of that? The thought made her heart sink even further.
Her dismal thoughts were disrupted by a curious, "What's going on?"
Anzu looked over her shoulder. Atem had found them. He came and stood beside her, his eyes seeking answers that she did not want to give.
"What is it?" He asked again when neither Yuugi nor Anzu made to answer his question.
"Why don't you ask her?" Yuugi finally said, his voice cold.
Atem looked between the two of them, waiting expectantly. But Anzu's voice had frozen. She couldn't tell Atem, she couldn't do it.
"Well?" Atem prompted her.
When she still didn't answer Yuugi let out a huff of breath, and it seemed that, despite his height, he was looking down on her. "She kissed Bakura. That's what's going on," He snapped.
Atem's eyes widened in the same disbelief Yuugi had exhibited on the roof. "Wait, Anzu, is that true?" He asked incredulously.
Anzu lifted a hand to her temple, rubbing it in frustration, thinking that this really couldn't get any worse. She couldn't erase the past, and to deny it would be a lie. "Yes," She said, not looking at him, "I kissed Bakura."
Atem clenched his jaw, his lips tight. "When?" He asked, his voice clipped.
"Just now, on the roof." Yuugi answered for her.
Atem took a deep breath, letting it out in a slow hiss. "Where is Bakura?"
Anzu looked at him, eyes widening at the ice in his voice. "No, Atem." She said, and he looked at her, eyes dark. "Don't blame Bakura" She pleaded, "I'm the one who kissed him."
"It's not like he tried to stop you," Yuugi said quietly.
Anzu clenched her fists, "That's not the point!" She suddenly yelled, her voice losing some of its pleading tone. A few students at the edge of the dance glanced in their direction curiously. Anzu forced herself to relax. "This isn't his fault." She said again.
"Why are you defending him?" Atem growled, "If that bastard took advantage of you—"
"It's not like that, Atem. I told you. I kissed him… Would you rather I lie to you?" Anzu retorted. There was a heavy pause. She continued imploringly, "Listen, for all of his flaws… I can't help how I feel."
Atem seemed to choke on whatever he was about to say."...Do you even hear yourself, Anzu?" Atem finally asked her harshly. "Do you actually think that he cares? He doesn't!"
"How do you know that?" Anzu asked, her voice pained, desperate, unwilling to accept the possibility of her own fears. "How can you know he doesn't care?" She asked "He's as human as you and I are. He's capable of feeling. How can you know that this isn't real?" She paused, searching his face, "And if it is real… Would that really be so terrible?"
Atem just glowered at her, as though her question were so obvious is didn't even warrant an answer. "Anzu, he doesn't care." He snapped. "He's Bakura. He's never cared about anything, or anyone. And he's just doing this to get to me. You should know that better than anyone since you're the one who came up with this in the first place."
Something seemed to snap in Anzu then. The barely controlled gates of built up emotion burst open, releasing a wave of fierce anger. "When are you going to realize that everything doesn't always have to be about you!" She yelled, her voice so sharp that Atem actually stepped back. She stabbed a finger at him fiercely, "I wasted so much time loving you, and did you ever even notice? No! It didn't matter what I did, you never even gave me a chance. Well now I have a chance now to be happy with someone who did notice, and the least you could do after causing me so much pain would be to try and be happy for me!" She stopped, breathing heavily. Atem and Yuugi were looking at her, their faces shocked. Atem still stood tall, but his eyes couldn't hide the pain her words caused him.
She suddenly felt as if the world was falling apart around her. Atem's downcast eyes were like daggers in her heart. Yuugi was looking at her with such profound disappointment she could hardly bear it. Large groups of students near the edges of the dance were now watching them, curious about her sudden outburst. Among them were Jounouchi, Honda, Miho, and Ryou. She met Ryou's gaze, but his expression was like stone. In that moment, he and his brother looked more alike than she had ever seen them.
The school's principal was coming over now to see what the disruption was. "What's going on over here?" he asked as he approached.
And there. Her heart jumped. Not far behind the principal, Bakura was moving fluidly through the crowd. He captured her gaze, and Anzu shook her head ever so slightly. Atem followed her gaze, and his face darkened.
Anzu shuddered. Her mouth tasted sour and her skin was crawling. So many eyes on her, and her face on fire. How had this happened? How had it all gone so wrong? The tears that she had been holding back pricked and stung, leaking onto her eyelashes. She furiously wiped them away, not caring if she smeared her makeup. It's not like she was trying to impress anyone now.
Without another word she turned and walked out the door. No one called after her. No one followed. And at that moment she thought she had never felt more alone in her life.
Bakura watched Anzu rush out the doors, and immediately shoved forward to follow her.
"Get out of my way," He growled at the students in his path who, the second they realized just who was trying to get around them, fell back as though confronted by a venomous snake. Their eyes followed him, their voices a dull murmur under the music. And though Bakura moved quickly, he didn't miss the whispers.
"Guess it's true, him and Mazaki..."
"She kissed him? No way-"
"She must be nuts."
He ground his teeth, fighting the urge to whip around and bear down on the pathetic pack of gossipers behind him. But every moment he wasted on these imbeciles was another moment that Anzu was alone on the streets. He clenched his fists and finally slipped through the last of the main crowd of students who were slowly returning to the dance, forgetting quickly about the unexpected excitement as they returned to the music.
Reaching the door, he yanked it open hard. It was hard to explain the strange sense of anxiety twisting within him, but he hated it. It made him feel weak, vulnerable. How one silly girl could have such an effect on him was a mystery. And yet...right then it didn't seem to matter.
"Bakura!" A voice called behind him, and there was no mistaking the arrogance, the regality of the voice's owner.
Without turning he snarled, "I don't have time for you or your pathetic arguments, Mutuo."
"Leave her alone," Atem ordered him.
"Excuse me?" Bakura asked, looking sharply over his shoulder.
Atem stood tall, crossing his arms. "You will stay away from her."
Bakura shook his head, and laughed coldly. He turned to face the king of games, stepping forward. He towered over the shorter teen, the difference in their height apparent. "Who's going to stop me?" He asked, his voice like ice. He curled his lip in distaste, "You?"
"Anzu is my best friend," Atem immediately said. "You think that she's going to accept you, but you won't be able to fool her forever. But until you show your true colors, yes. I'll protect her from you."
"Heh," Bakura scoffed, and turned back to the exit. He didn't have time for this. But suddenly he turned back, and hissed, "You know you really are something Mutuo." He stepped forward, "You think she needs protecting? That she doesn't know what she's doing? No. The reality is that you just can't stand to lose."
Atem glared furiously after Bakura, mouth open to protest, but the silver-haired teen was already out the door and headed down the steps, disappearing into the night.
It was just after 10:00. It hadn't felt like Anzu had spent two hours at the dance, but then time flew fast when your life was being torn up by the roots and thrown upside down. She sighed, walking past all of the cars in the parking lot and out onto the street. It was a long walk back to her house 6 miles away, at least an hour if she walked fast, and she was in no mood to powerwalk in her heels and dress.
It was good though. The time alone would let her think.
Another sigh built up in her chest. She tried to hold it back, but it tore out of her throat in a quiet sob. The tears started falling slowly, leaking down her cheeks in cool, salty trails.
"What am I supposed to do?" She asked no one in a broken cry, hugging herself tightly as though doing so could hold together the fragmented pieces of her life. And what was she to do? There was no happy way out of this, at least not that she could see. If she embraced her blossoming feelings for Ryou's brother then she was essentially forsaking her friends. Atem and Yuugi would not speak with her, would never look at her the same. But if she rejected her feelings for Bakura, apologized to her friends, enfolded herself in the safe haven of their acceptance and friendship, accepting that she and Bakura could never be together, and cut off all contact with him—the very thought of it made her heart ache in pain.
How had it come to this? She was faced with a crossroads, a choice between her friends and her heart, and she couldn't have them both. And to think it had all started with a silly attempt to get the attention of someone who clearly had not been interested. But that wasn't even the worst part. True friends supposed to support your decisions, she thought. That that was the worst part. Yuugi's disappointment. Atem's disgust. Was their revulsion and fear, their prejudiced hate against Bakura really so strong?
It was wrong. It was all wrong to hate someone so much when you didn't even know them. Only a week ago she had been guilty of the same sort of ignorance. But then she'd given Bakura a chance. And yes, her reasons had been selfish and immature. But it had allowed her to let down her walls, to cross her boundaries, to get to know him, to actually talk to him; to see the person behind the rumors and the biased, foundationless opinions. And what she'd found there was someone real. Someone who challenged her, who tested her limits; someone who she could laugh with, who made her smile when she didn't want to.
Someone that she could care about.
Why couldn't it have been anyone else, anyone besides Bakura? Why couldn't she have fallen for Ryou? No one would have looked down on that. She bowed her head in dismay. For the longest time she had loved Atem, the one who never noticed, who never saw her as more than a friend. Now she felt as though she was falling headlong for his arch rival, someone who was the polar opposite of everything she had ever looked for in any relationship.
Why did her heart always seem to yearn for the wrong person?
Somewhere behind her she heard the distinct hum of an engine. She glanced back over her shoulder, wiping her tears with one hand. Bright headlights were just visible far down the road. She turned back forward, walking faster. The engine's hum rumbled louder until it was a full growl behind her. She looked over her shoulder again just as a familiar sleek black sports car roared to a stop beside her. She took a step back as the window rolled down.
"Get in," Bakura snapped at her from the driver's side.
Anzu shook her head, looking down, "Just go, Bakura. I want to be alone" She said harshly, trying to hide the way her voice broke, turning away from the car and continuing towards her home.
Behind her the engine of Bakura's car revved angrily and he shot forward, following beside her, passing her, and stopping again. His door opened, and he got out of his car, leaving it idling on the curb as he stalked over to her, confronting her.
"Get. In." He said again, folding his arms over his chest.
"I need time to think, okay?" Anzu snapped at him, making to go around him. She let herself be angry with him, though he didn't deserve it. It was easier to be angry than to give in to the despair threatening to crush her.
"I'm not asking, Mazaki." Bakura growled, stepping to the side to block her as she attempted to duck around him. She threw up her hands, turning a tight circle as her thoughts scattered and her heart hammered away, betraying her anger.
"I don't get it!" She cried, looking up at the dark night sky. "You're supposed to hate me," She said. Then she looked at him, accusation in her eyes. "You're supposed to hate me." She said again, louder.
"Oh? And why is that?" Bakura snapped.
"Because, you're Bakura." Anzu explained heatedly.
"Very enlightening," Bakura quipped sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
Anzu clenched her fists, feeling her face flush angrily. "You have wrong friends," She hissed, "You do wrong things." He raised an eyebrow at her, as if to say now-we're-getting-somewhere.
"We run in totally different circles, don't you get that?" Anzu yelled at him, gesticulating widely. "And everyone knows that you don't care about anything or anyone. Especially not girls like me; the good girls, the ones who care about school and go to church; girls who are best friends with your worst enemy." She was aware that she was ranting, that her arguments were getting increasingly erratic, that she sounded crazy, but she couldn't seem to stop herself. "You're dangerous and, and risky, and—"
Bakura stepped closer, a sneer on his face, "And what?"
Anzu clenched her fists, every emotion she had building up in her chest, pressing outward, fighting to escape, until finally she cried, "And I'm not supposed to love you!"
With no hesitation Bakura stepped forward and pulled her in, and Anzu didn't stop him. The space between them disappeared and the flames seared to life in her veins. They collided like pieces of a puzzle, fitting together as though they were made for one another. Bakura's mouth burned on her skin, his tongue teasing at her lips. She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, her fingers tangling in his hair as though she would never let him go. Strong fingers pressed into her back, holding her close. They moved back until she felt the car against her. The cold metal on her bare skin jolted her back into reality.
With every shred of will power she possessed she put her hands on Bakura's chest and pressed him back. He resisted for only a moment before she felt him pull away, though his hands stayed on her hips. She shook her head, eyes squeezed shut tightly.
"Bakura, we can't do this." She whispered, biting her lip against the emotional torrent raging inside of her.
Bakura let out a short breath, a sound that was exasperated, impatient. He pulled her back to him, his lips tracing up her jaw to her ear. "Why the hell not, Mazaki?" he growled.
"I…" Anzu began, looking down, trying to focus her scattered thoughts, "Atem and Yuugi, they don't think—"
"Damn it, Anzu," Bakura pulled back, his face dark. "You have a choice to make, and you need to make it now… I can leave, we can forget this ever happened."
"No!" Anzu said.
Bakura spoke before she could continue, "Then stop worrying about what your friends think, and think about what you want for once." He brushed her hair back, then ran his hands over her bare shoulders. She closed her eyes, feeling the texture of his skin on hers. When he spoke, his voice was a rough whisper. "Can you tell me that you don't want this?" He asked her.
"What if I'm wrong," She said in a low voice. "What if this is a mistake?"
"A mistake?" Bakura asked, frowning.
Anzu pursed her lips and looked at him flatly, "How do I know that you're not just…using me…," She asked in a resigned voice, remembering Ryou's warnings to her, that Bakura always had his own agenda.
Bakura narrowed his eyes. Gripping her chin in his fingers, he used just enough force to bring her gaze up. "This," he murmured "is not nothing."
"How can I know that?" Anzu whispered.
His lips lifted ever so slightly, a crooked smile that made Anzu's heart race. "I guess you'll just have to trust me," He smirked.
"I—" Anzu paused, then she shook her head, "Trust takes time…"
"I can wait." Bakura countered.
She looked at him pointedly, "You have to earn it."
"And I will." He said.
"And your other 'extracurricular' activities—" Anzu started, but Bakura interrupted her, his expression cynical.
"I won't pretend to be a saint, Anzu," Bakura said.
Opening her mouth to protest, Bakura caught her hand in his and lifted it to his lips, kissing her fingertips and silencing her protest. "Let it go, love." He murmured, looking at her intently. Then the smirk returned to his face. "What you don't know can't hurt you…" He laughed softly at the blush that colored her cheeks, even in the dark. And, unable to help herself, a shy smile found its way to her face.
"Now will you allow me to drive you home?" Bakura asked, raising an eyebrow.
Anzu absently brushed a hand through the unruly silver resting on Bakura's shoulders. "I guess it wouldn't be very polite of me to deny you the chance to be a proper gentleman at least once in your life." She joked.
"Not very polite, indeed." Bakura chuckled. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers, before pulling the car door open. Waiting for her to get in, he closed her door and came around to his side, peeling away from the sidewalk. The drive was short, but just sitting there beside Bakura, she could feel that something had changed. There was comfortable silence between them, but a mixture of apprehension and anticipation whirled within her. She was drawing a line between her and her friends by choosing to follow her heart and see where it led…
But maybe, she thought hopefully, given enough time, they would be able to see Bakura as she did.
Eyes never leaving the road, he reached over and took one of her hands in his, lacing their fingers together, and Anzu couldn't help smiling, looking out the window, feeling his hand in hers.
Crazier things have happened, she thought to herself, replaying the last week in her mind. Would she have ever thought this was where she would be? Not in a million years. So...maybe, if she could change, then maybe Atem and Yuugi could too.
Given time maybe they could all be friends. She looked at Bakura and smiled. She could only hope.
"Love is Like Wildflowers. It is often found in the most unlikely of places." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
AN: The End. Hope you enjoyed! Thank you to everyone who has favorited, followed, and reviewed this story, I really appreciate it! Although this is the end of this story, I may write future one-shots or short multi-chapter fics like this featuring this Universe. I have a lot of ideas for, well, I guess you could consider them...follow-up stories. Unrelated to this plot specifically, but taking place in the near future with the same characters. Anyways, if you're interested (and you haven't already) Follow me!
Please don't forget to leave a REVIEW :)