So, this is my first entry for the summer mini-contest on the YGO forums, and my pairing was Polarshipping.
This story is connected to my Conflictshipping fic from the previous contest, Choices, but you don't have to have read it to get this; there are enough hints in here. Anyway, I hope that you enjoy it! Wish me luck!
She couldn't stop the tears.
Crying was never something that came to her as second nature. She was the type who clenched her teeth and bore; the type that suppressed her feelings until she was in the confines of her home. Then she could breakdown and dissect her feelings. Then she could face her demons in the dark—and then she could say that she had dealt with them herself, without help or hindrance. Without interference and without anyone else there to judge her logic, her values, her life.
Mai was in her flat, with nowhere else to go, and they wouldn't stop spilling out. It was no longer home because Jou was there, watching her; those brown eyes not offering the kind of compassion that she wanted, despite the embrace they were sharing. Her body was weak, and she found herself able to do little more than cling to him—she wanted to push him away, tell him that she didn't need him, that the fact that he was breaking up with her didn't make a difference.
Don't touch me. She hugged him tighter.
Her brain was trying to wrap its way around what he had told her; she already couldn't remember. The grief had swept over her before she could think hard about what he said and what he meant so that she could try to find the difference. "I'm sorry," Jou said, and his arms—warm, strong arms that she had grown accustomed to—hugged her closer. "I can't make this any easier. I can't make this better." Mai could feel the invisible grooves his arms had made, and she missed them being there already. This was the last hug.
I hate you. "I love you, Jou," she sobbed, the heavy crying tiring her body. She sniffed against him, tears rubbing into his T-shirt. He deserved those tears. She didn't care about his stupid shirt. "...you can't...there's nothing that can make you..." Stay. Please.
Jounouchi pulled away from her, looking into her eyes, trying his best to be honest. You're a liar. You said you loved me. "Mai, look..." And she was looking, looking for the reason that he was really breaking up with her. It couldn't be something general; it never was. She had done something, and he hadn't said anything about it and now—"Mai, it's like I just said. I can't do this anymore. I'm not happy with how things are. You told me to give it a try, and I did. I did for a long time and it wasn't all bad." His fingers squeezed her shoulders and she wanted to pull away, like they did in the movies, and yell and scream and let him know that it was all his fault, and that he deserved to be alone. But if he was serious, and if this was the last time they were going to touch each other, to talk to each other like this...
She loved him. She loved him so much and he was breaking her heart.
"But I've had enough," he continued. "If anything I've just...I just know that I want you."
She shook her head. Didn't he know? "You already have me! We're together right now and I don't get how you can just talk to me like getting together didn't happen!"
Jounouchi ran a hand through his hair. "Mai, baby..."
Don't you 'baby' me! She waited patiently, doe-eyed, for him to continue. For her answer.
"I can't do this 'arrangement' thing. The threesome thing. I can't do it. I don't want him; I want you. Just you. No baggage. No other people. I'm not cut out for it." He was shaking his head, gesturing with his hands—Mai knew he only did that when he was really trying to get a point across. When he's upset.
And the tears had just started to dry up, too. "You...you want me to leave him for you? Is that what you're asking me to do?" She began to feel a bit of that film-inspired strength, taking a step back.
"Yes," Jou said, and he reached toward her, gripping her right hand. "That's exactly what I want you to do. We used to be together, right? We used to be a couple. Why can't we just go back to that? I didn't have the time back then, with school and work and everything—but I'm closer to graduating now. Close to a permanent gig. Close to a nicer apartment—"
She pulled away. "I love him! You can't just ask me to leave him for you! Do you know how selfish that is?" I would leave him for you but...I care about him. "You're not being fair about this! I thought you liked what we had? You said you were okay with it. You were okay with it! Why is it so hard now?" She wiped her eyes, and tried to stop looking so miserable, but it was difficult. It hurt so much to knew that he was independent of her, that he didn't need her; because that was the only way that he could leave her—if he didn't love her, and didn't need her. "Is there someone else, Jou?"
He threw his hands up in the air. "No! Mai, no. Why'd you ask me that? I'd never do something so stupid!"
"Then why do you want to leave?" Because you hate me. Why do you hate me?
"I don't want to leave you," he said. "I just can't be in a relationship with someone I don't love."
She gasped. So there it was.
"Not you, dammit!" he huffed in frustration—was he sniffling, too? Was Jou going to cry? You should. You should care about me enough to cry. Leaving me should move you to tears. She hoped that he didn't cry. She didn't know what she would do with a blubbering Jounouchi. "I meant Valon. I can't do this with him, Mai. I don't love him. I love you, and I did this for you. Months, Mai. For months. But if anything's become any clearer to me, it's that you're just dragging me along for the ride, and I'm letting you. And I can't."
The she felt the pierce of a knife inside her chest. "You agreed—"
"To try it out. To give you a chance to show me how good this can be. And it can be. You're both very nice. He's not a bad guy. But I don't love him. Isn't the point to be with people you love, regardless of whatever else is going on in your life? I'm not a threesome kind of guy. I thought I would grow into it, but I didn't. And I'm done." His hands were in his hair now, tugging as he began to pace. "I can't take it anymore, Mai. I thought I would be okay with this, but I'm not. Having another guy touch my girl—" His girl? "—and go on dates with her...and stuff. I can't. It's too hard. Look..." He looked nervous. He should look dead.
"You were doing it!" Mai screamed, finally snapping. "Now we're not good enough for you? Valon cares about you! He cares about both of us!" And that's what Mai had needed: someone to care and love her. Where was Jounouchi and his love when she had needed him? Canceling dates and barely coming out to visit her once a week. That's where they were. Valon loved her just as much as Jou, and the two of them shared a bond that she couldn't get anywhere else. She wasn't being selfish; she was intimate with Jou as well—but they were different. And she loved them both.
"But I want you, Mai." She wished her body didn't shiver like that. Not when she was being broken up with. "And I can't settle. What we have is like...it's a big lie, Mai."
"A lie?" Now she didn't understand anything at all. What was he trying to say?
"Look, you love me, don't you?"
"And you love Valon."
"Yes. And that's why I'm... I was so happy."
"I don't love him."
"Jou...!" Mai knew that Jounouchi didn't love him. But that didn't mean that they couldn't enjoy each other. The two of them got along, they all spent time together. They all had sex together. That had to mean something; Jou had to at least trust him for something like that. How can he just throw this away? "You can't do this to me, Jou."
"What else am I supposed to do?" Jou yelled back. "You—you think I'm just supposed to stay here and suffer?" Suffer? Now he was suffering? "I tried it your way. And I learned that I can't do it. This isn't right. Not for me, Mai." He was still pacing. "I want to stay with you, and that's why I did this. You have no clue how long I spent talking myself into this decision! How much advice I asked for!"
"You're just...you're an idiot," she said. Jou was being rational about this, and Mai didn't know how to react to it—how to tell him that he was wrong. This wasn't the same as being cheated on or thinking about someone else or fighting about how they treated each other. Jou wanted to leave because he wasn't happy. What could she say to that? How did she make things right? "I can spend more time with you if you want, Jou. I can...I can...we'll..." There had to be something that she could change. She didn't want either of them to go.
He was across the room now, as though he were afraid of her, shaking his head. "You have to leave him. More time is not enough. I want all of you. Here, with me. And no one else. If I can't get that, we're wasting each other's time."
She spoke before she thought. "So now our time together was a waste of time?"
"That's not what I'm saying and you know it. Stop making me out to be the jerk here. I'm not being a jerk. I'm telling you how I feel and I'm not gonna let you turn this shit back on me, Mai!" All she could do was shake her head back at him, as though their bodies were having their own conversation. "I'm not gonna...waste any more of your time here."
He won't be coming back.
"Jou, please, think about this. I need you." But he doesn't need me.
"I don't want this to be harder than it already is." His voice was choked up, and it cracked just enough for her to know that he was crying.
"Then don't leave, dammit!" But she knew that it would never be the same; even if he took it all back and decided to stay, the conversation would play in a loop in her mind, over and over. It would haunt every moment that they would spend together. She would spend the rest of her life thinking about this single conversation. She could feel the words etching themselves into her bones.
Jou wiped fiercely at his eyes. "I...I gotta get out of here. I just...I had to do it in person. This isn't something you talk about on the phone. I'm sorry. I really wish—"
GET THE FUCK OUT! The voice that screamed those words couldn't have been hers—it was the sobbing, instead, that had hurt her throat. Jou seemed to freeze where he stood long enough to catch her eyes, and Mai couldn't do anything but curse herself because the tears had started again—while she hadn't been looking—and she could barely make out his form as he turned and left.
She stood there, in the middle of her living room, for several minutes, simply staring at the doorway and willing herself to stop.
It was surreal; what had just happened couldn't have. Jounouchi loved her, he had told her dozens upon dozens of times. They had to make this work. It just couldn't be over like that. It had to take more than one conversation. She needed to rest. She wanted Jounouchi to come back. Just come back; I'll do whatever you want. She wouldn't.
Mai wasn't sure how long her feet had taken to journey to her couch, but she curled herself up on it, already experiencing the pangs of withdrawal; home no longer home because Jou wouldn't be there. She didn't know what to think—her mind was still piecing things together, still repeating bits of conversation, repeating the transmissions and analyzing them.
Mai reached for her phone, fingers auto-dialing Jounouchi. She could change his mind. He loved her, after all—if he really loved her, she could change her mind. Answer the phone! She needed to talk to him again, ask him what he wanted again, try to give it to him. Every time she tried to remember his logic it all seemed hazy. He didn't want to share her. But he had been for the longest time, so why did it bother him all of a sudden? Valon wasn't selfish—she could spare more time. All she needed was a little more time...
Valon couldn't help her. Since the beginning, they had agreed that it was alright for Jou to join them, because Mai loved him and Valon knew it. He had been concerned, at first, about how they would get along—but Jou was just shy, and he warmed up to Valon quite nicely. All of this seemed to hit out of nowhere. She wanted so badly to find the cause of it, but her mind wasn't working properly enough to do it. All of the excuses she thought of were lies—Jou wasn't sleeping with someone else; he wasn't thinking of moving away, they weren't growing apart, and he hadn't stopped loving her. But walking away didn't seem like the right answer, either.
Valon would just tell her that everything would be alright. And nothing would be alright. She needed both of them. She had told him that. Told Jou that. It hadn't been enough.
I struggled with this fic; I'm not going to lie. It's difficult to encompass all of the feelings that can be during a breakup. Also, I don't see Jounouchi as someone who would have lasted in this particular arrangement, anyway; the Polarshipping is a bit subtle (aside from when they were talking about the past), but I think it's still visible. The Conflictshipping is so broken in this case, it's been warped almost from the beginning.
I don't want to give too much away, though, as I've been told in the previous contest that I expound on too much and don't give my audience the credit that they deserve.
So tell me what you think, guys (as well as any corrections you may have for me!)