1. Letters by Azurite
A Yu-Gi-Oh 30kisses fic
By: Azurite - anzu DOT kaiba AT gmail DOT com
Site: seventh-star DOT net
For the LiveJournal community 30kisses #2 theme (news, letter).
What is 30kisses? It's a community on LiveJournal-- a fanfiction challenge community. People choose a pairing from a fandom (in my case, I chose Seto x Anzu from Yu-Gi-Oh) and then write ~30 fics or a combination of fics and art to fit 30 different themes. The requirement is that each piece of work also has to have a "kiss" in it! But whether a kiss is literal/physical or metaphorical, it's up to the writer...
Feel free to join us if you have a LiveJournal account-- tons of pairings are free, and we have alternative lists for you to try in case the original 30 kisses don't interest you!
By the way, I will NOT be posting the other oneshots as chapters to this; they are oneshots, and I intend to post them standalone, as such. It might take a bit longer for me to post them on my site and major archives because of this (as they were originally written for LiveJournal only), but they WILL make their way there.
Read and review! Let me know what you think about this fic...
Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi owns it all. Oh, and my soul too.
I don't even know why I'm writing this. To you, of all people. But something compelled me to, so here I am, pen to paper, writing down what you might already know from first-hand experience.
I suppose you're at least a little bit surprised to be getting a letter from me at all, right? After all, we were rivals for-- how many years now? But there are some things in life that you simply can't duel over.
Anzu's one of them.
All of this started a little over a year ago, when Anzu got accepted to Juilliard. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for her --we all were-- but I didn't want to let her go. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to you why.
I loved her. More than anything, more than anyone. And... even after all that we've been through, I could never tell her. Everyone else simply said I was shy, but you-- well, if you'd even cared to listen to me talk about it, you would have said "You're a coward."
There's just no question in my mind. You can disagree with me now, if you want to (and it's in your nature, isn't it? Kidding) but back then, that was who you were and what you would have said. No doubt about it.
And that thought kept running around in my head, eating away at me. I kept wishing that I could tell her whenever she called, or whenever we exchanged letters. I wanted to bring myself to be the one to call her, but I could never do it.
The year stretched on.
Everyone went their separate ways that year, you remember? Anzu was off pursuing her dream in New York, Otogi was back in San Francisco working with Pegasus to market a new version of Dungeon Dice Monsters... Jounouchi and Shizuka were off spending the summer together on some cruise Mai hooked them up with... Honda was busy at cram school, desperately trying to get into a university.
Me? Well, I was working at the game shop, what else? The university life never appealed to me much-- after all, what would I study? Egyptology? No, I'd had enough of that for one --no, TWO-- lifetimes, thank you very much. And let's face it, Kaiba-kun-- there are more differences between us than even you and I think about... for one, you've had your future plotted out for you since you entered high school. A successful businessman, a champion gamer, a renowned genius... I was only one of those things, and it was an unwanted championship at that.
There's only one thing that you don't know about me, you with all your resources and knowledge. The one thing only I could have told you, but I simply didn't see the reason to. That thing is... I never wished to be a champion. I never wanted it.
Eight years I spent working on the Millennium Puzzle, eight years on something my own grandfather said I could never do. But when I did, I broke some cosmic rule and unlocked much more than I ever could have imagined or been ready for at the time. I had to GET ready for the adventures that puzzle would bring me, because I had no choice but to face them head on.
You were one of those challenges.
I thank the Puzzle --the memory of the Pharaoh, whether you believe in it now or not-- for the good times and the bad. But what I really wanted and got out of the whole experience was friendship.
I know, you're probably reading this and thinking "How foolish" or "How silly," but at the time, I was lonely. I know you've felt that before too. All I wanted was a true friend. I got the spirit of a reincarnated Pharaoh within me-- someone who was everything I'd always wanted to be, and then some.
But I also got a friend with the spirit of a vengeful thief within HIM, friends who I unwittingly exposed to things they never should have faced... things like death. What kind of a friend was I, to put my best friends --and the girl I loved-- in danger like that? But I didn't have a choice, did I?
I didn't have a choice in letting Anzu go. I had to, because the moment had come. But part of me still hoped for a happier ending, just as I did in Egypt, after that duel. I knew from the moment we found out the spirit of the Puzzle was a Pharaoh that it would end the way it did...
I knew even before we dueled at Duelist Castle that the person Anzu loved wasn't me at all. That feeling was just confirmed when she tried to go after him in Egypt. You noticed, didn't you? If Jounouchi hadn't grabbed her...
She might have been lost to us both, and then where would we be?
So I let her go, with the hope that somehow, someway, fate would have it set up for me that she would come back.
And come back she did, but she wasn't the girl I remembered. Over the months, fewer and fewer letters came from New York... and when they did, the tone in them was decidedly NOT Anzu. In her place was a sad girl with an obvious piece of herself missing.
I often wondered why, but as you would say, the coward in me couldn't be so cruel to ask straight-out.
But if there's one thing I'm known for, it's solving puzzles. I put together the pieces, and I solved this new puzzle, this riddle of Anzu's sadness. I discovered that her time volunteering as a candy striper at a hospital had something to do with it.
Have the alarms in your head gone off yet? I know they will soon, if they haven't already.
You see, Kaiba-kun, I know the truth.
I know that she saw something horrible one night at the hospital, something like she'd never seen before. She stopped calling, and she stopped writing. And when she did write, she only skimmed the details, never mentioning names or places or dates and times.
A horrible accident very nearly claimed the life of a child. I suppose that sort of thing is routine in New York City, but then again, I'm not the one who's lived there. But Anzu has. And you have, too.
Up until recently, I never made that connection. I never even though it remotely possible you two would meet again. But when I realized there was a possibility --a startlingly strong one-- I tried to figure out how you would react around her.
Like it or not, Kaiba-kun, you've changed since we first met. I'm sure even Anzu's impression of you has changed, and nothing you say can convince me otherwise.
Perhaps the accident wouldn't have jarred Anzu so much if she hadn't known the boy in question. You kept it out of the press, so I have to congratulate you on that... but I'm the riddle-solver, remember? One doesn't have to think very hard to realize who it is that is most important to you-- who is always by your side, and your constant source of motivation and strength.
Of course he was with you in New York. Of course he's inherited the same qualities you're so well-known for, but he's got a streak of independence and desire in him like I've never seen in you. I suppose that might have had something to do with the accident, right? But you don't have to spare me the details.
In Anzu's letters, she told me the little boy was comatose, and had a very small chance of waking up. I didn't know what to tell her back, and soon, the space between her letters and my own grew wider and wider. I'd like to blame it on other things-- the store being busy, or an emergency here at home... but there was nothing like that. Everything's been still and quiet since we got back from Egypt, since we graduated from high school, and since people stopped caring about champions and duelists.
Duel Monsters will always be big here in Japan... big to me, big to you. Important to so many people in our lives that we're connected to, one way or another. But at some point, something else has to take its place. For me, it was going after the one thing Duel Monsters could never bring me-- Anzu's love. For you, it was keeping Kaiba Corp. alive, a global superpower in business. You never stop at anything, do you?
Nothing ever holds you back. No one can accuse you of being a coward. So if it's a victory you want over me... well, you've won the most important one. You know that, right?
There was nothing else to say in reply to Anzu but "I'm sorry," and "I hope he gets well." I didn't even know the boy, but part of me knew what it was like to lose someone you cared for deeply. But is it really the same when that person didn't physically exist? Or is it really the same when the "loss" is your own fault, because you couldn't be honest with your feelings when the time was right?
I lost the Pharaoh-- Atemu. I lost Anzu.
Anzu told me that the boy only had one family member, and he was our age.
All a great coincidence, I thought. I didn't even think of you.
But then the pieces started falling together, one by one... Anzu stopped mentioning the little boy and his older brother. Her letters grew shorter and shorter, her handwriting forceful and cramped, as though a great pressure were pushing down on her arms when she wrote. Just a bit deeper and there'd be holes in the paper.
Juilliard was becoming too much for her. It wasn't that the dance routines were too much-- she could do them all perfectly, and was even invited to participate in shows normally reserved for the more advanced students. It wasn't that she strained her muscles or broke her leg. But it was just too much weighing down on her spirit.
That much came through in her writing.
The hospital mixed with school work mixed with her other part-time job, mixed with dance...
And finally, one day, a letter came simply saying, "I'm coming home."
And that was it. I wondered what had driven Anzu to that point of quitting, of giving up. She'd never done that before- never.
Something truly must have hurt her, and I wanted to know what it was, so I could protect her from it and comfort her, and be there for her... but I was too cowardly to ask. I was too cowardly to say that I was HAPPY she was home, that I had wished for it all along, and that I...
I was close. One day, I came close to telling her everything.
But she stopped me before I could, and out came the truth. She started crying about not wanting to have left New York, but she had no choice. Money was tight, living there was the most difficult adjustment she made, and she was having an even harder time making friends. How horrible was she, she said, to find solace in a hospital room?
She felt horrible for being glad that the young boy was comatose, because, she told me, she'd fallen in love with his older brother. She'd kissed him, she'd said, her first kiss, her last kiss, her only kiss. It was a love unlike anything she'd ever experienced before, different from when she'd crushed on the Pharaoh (this didn't come as a shock to me), and different from what she'd imagined.
And all I could do was sit there and listen. Because I was her FRIEND.
So she cried, and cried, and finally fell asleep on my couch.
I couldn't sleep. My heart was too heavy to let me.
So I gathered the clues. I assembled the puzzle. I found out the truth.
It was you, Kaiba-kun. No question, no doubt. Mokuba in an accident... you, the older brother she'd fallen in love with. Silly, hmm? But no, you're everything I always wanted to be, but you didn't get that way because of any Millennium Item. You've always been bold and courageous, maybe even to the point of being stupid (Anzu would agree with me). But you're also intelligent and cunning, and I suppose Anzu even saw a bit of "charm" in you.
Once before, she thought you were the most egotistical, stuck-up maniac she'd ever come across. Those were her words, really! But don't be insulted, because now you hold her heart in your hands, and that's more precious than any number of IQ or however millions of yen you might have.
But there's just one piece of the puzzle that doesn't fit.
Mokuba's awake now. It was big headline news-- he woke from the coma, but he didn't remember anything. Was that it? Was that the thing that drove Anzu away? She's the type that loves almost everyone she comes across, even those that are needlessly cruel to her. She doesn't HATE. She probably can't; it's not in her nature to hate.
She's the type that would think you wouldn't ask her to stay --you couldn't, even if you wanted to. She's the type who would purposefully walk away from something she desperately wanted, something that could fulfill her in every way possible... if she thought it would make someone else happy. She knew that above all else, Mokuba was your guiding light. And even if Mokuba and Anzu had been close friends once upon a time, now she was nothing more than a candy striper to him.
And that meant you had to devote all your time and energy to helping Mokuba again. And that meant Anzu not "getting in your way," and her giving up her heart to you so you could find love again-- with your brother. Family always comes before true love, doesn't it? Even Anzu, Anzu the orphan, Anzu the one who's always done everything on her own... she would always put others before herself.
That's it, isn't it? That's the only explanation that makes sense to me.
Except... she's here. And you're still there.
Well. These are just letters-- words on paper. This is just a 'letter' to you, one that you can crinkle up or shred and throw away. Maybe you'll forget about it in an hour or a day.
Or maybe... maybe you'll read them and realize that I'm not trying to defeat you anymore. This isn't a battle or a duel, Kaiba-kun. This is real life, and even if you've lived it longer than I have, I think I might understand it a bit more.
And in my understanding, there's a girl here who loves you very much-- a girl who has it in her heart to care for you AND Mokuba, and to help you both.
So tell me-- what's the answer to the riddle? I can't figure it out for the life of me. I suppose that means I'm not the King of Games anymore. Life is just a game after all, isn't it?
Why are you there, and she's here? Why, Kaiba-kun? Why?