Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh! or any of the characters. If I did, Red Eyes Black Dragon would be the most powerful card in the game.

Whoever said "high school is the best four years of your life" was lying. It's sapping all my time.

Yay for the people who review, I love you all! ^_^ Let me just take a moment to talk to a few of you:

Red Roses2 - Wow, you were the first to review on all of my chapters! Thanks, you rock! :)

vampireofthedark - Heh, yeah I know, Kaiba is one of my ultimate favorite characters too. If you can think of a practical way to work him into the story I'd love to hear it.

video vamp - Hey, don't mock the predictability of my fic. :P Heheh, just kiddin'. I know it's all in good fun.

Chikorita-Trainer - Heheh, is that so? Funny, I've never even heard The Lion Kind soundtrack!

JAMO - Yeah, I hear ya. Thing is I'm just no good at depth. I can picture it, I just can't describe it. Every time I write something down it ends up with this fringe of humor, so I've just sort of begun to give into it. It's just my writing style.

Just a couple more notes: The rating is PG now because of incredibly mild swearing. I thought I should raise it just in case. And if you've never seen Joey swear (or should I say Jounouchi), you've obviously never seen the Japanese anime.

Sorry if the point of view of my fic confuses you. It's third person limited omniscient, which means that the story is told in third person but you can hear the thoughts of several characters. Basically it follows Joey unless it suits me to switch over to Mai.

Okay, now on with the show! Oh, and the original idea for this chapter didn't contain anything "fluffy," but I kinda got in this mental state so that's how it turned out.

And for those of you who didn't read the above, FLUFF ALERT! Though it's actually more cheese. Ah, whatever. Just read it.

~~~

Chapter 4: It's Not Too Late

Joey stared blankly at the clock by his bed. 3:15 AM. He lay down and closed his eyes, but it was no use. He kept replaying what had happened over and over in his head, and every time he felt worse.

{What the hell is wrong with me?!} he scolded himself, {Why'd I have to freak out like that?! What if she listens to me? What if... she really doesn't come back? All I know is that she's going to be somewhere in America, and who knows where she'll go after that... If she never comes back, I'll probably never see her again...}

Joey curled up and squeezed his eyes shut, forcing himself not to think about that. It hurt too much.

He knew the only way he could rid himself of his guilt was to talk to her. But there was no way he could...

{...Unless I catch her at the airport. Wait, that's it! I'll just go to the airport and talk to her before she leaves! Yeah, that's what I'll do, but I'll have to get there early just to make sure I find her in time...} With this new idea came a temporary relief from his guilt, and he drifted off to sleep.

***

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Joey reached over and smacked the snooze button on his alarm without even opening his eyes. He then rolled over to face the wall, trying to cling to sleep.

{No... I don't wanna go to school...}

He slowly came back to consciousness, and with it returned his memories of the night before. Suddenly his eyes snapped open and he quickly sat up to look at his clock. 5:30.

"Ah, hell!" he cried as he jumped off his bed and started rummaging through his clothes on the floor for something to wear.

{God, I'm so stupid! I can't believe I fell asleep! Her flight leaves at 6:10! She'll already be on the plane by the time I get there!}

Joey found a shirt and pants that didn't look too dirty and threw them on. He then ran out of his room, put on his shoes without even tying them, grabbed his dad's keys from the table, and dashed out the door. Quickly locating his dad's car in its parking space he jumped in and stuck the key in the ignition. He knew he would get in big trouble later for taking it without permission, but at this point he didn't care. He turned the key. The engine started to rev up, then died.

"Come on... come on..." Joey begged as he tried turning the key several more times, with no luck.

"START YOU STUPID PIECE OF-" The engine lurched and started up, and Joey gave a slight sigh of relief before pulling out of the apartment parking lot, a little faster than would normally be considered safe.

Joey swore every time he had to stop for a red light or a pedestrian, and he was seriously considering running over a man crossing the street who was taking a little too long. Finally he got to the airport. He glanced down at the car clock. 5:45. Not wanting to waste any time parking, he came to a screeching halt in the pick up/drop off section and jumped out of the car, nearly getting run over as he ran in between the other vehicles. As soon as he got in the door, he frantically looked around until he saw a huge light- up board with all of the flights. Scanning the times and destinations, he spotted one that looked promising: San Francisco, 6:10. He quickly memorized the gate number and dashed off in the direction of the gate, ignoring the stares of people as he knocked over a garbage can on his way.

Joey arrived at the gate and stopped, panting. There was a long line of people waiting to board. And at the front of that line was Mai.

"MAI!" Joey called, but it was no use. She had already handed over her ticket and was gone.

Mai walked slowly down the suspended pathway toward the door of the plane, her mind working furiously. She had awoken that morning feeling bitter and distressed, and the feeling had never left her. Events replayed themselves in her head, ones from as far back as Duelist Kingdom and as recent as the night before. She was almost in a trance, scarcely noticing anyone around her or what she was doing. She must have really been out of it; she even thought she had heard Joey call her name a few seconds ago.

Joey. Of course, all the memories she now pictured were about him. {"I hope you never come back!"} The last words he has said to her echoed menacingly in her mind. She frowned and bit her lip. {I'll show him,} she thought determinedly. {I'll make him regret saying that. I won't come back. Ever. I don't need anyone. I lived alone my whole life, I've proved I can do it. I'll be perfectly fine even if I never see him again.}

Never see him again. The full reality of this finally sank in, causing Mai to stumble as she walked. To never see him again, never feel him again, never hear his laugh, see him smile... A sickening feeling crept through Mai, like nothing she had ever felt before. She had the sudden need to cry.

But she wouldn't cry. Not here, not in public. Not where people could see her, judge her. She'd suck it up, hold it in. Like she always had.

"SECURITY!"

Mai's thoughts were broken when someone from the direction she had just come yelled the word. She turned around and could only watch in shock as someone shoved past the ticket lady and came running down the path towards her. The perpetrator of the act spotted her and stopped about ten feet away.

Mai could only stare blankly. It couldn't be him, there was no way... He had told her to leave, he had commanded it... Yet there he was, staring back at her, looking as surprised as she must have. There was a few second's stunned silence, during which time several people boarding the plane stopped to watch in fascination, sensing something interesting would happen.

Finally Mai managed to stutter weakly, "J...Joey?"

Her voice seemed to bring him back to reality, and he shook his head to clear it. "Mai!" He trotted the rest of the way over to her. "Uh..." {Dammit, why can I never think of anything to say? Did I dash all the way here and run past security just to stand here like an idiot?!}

Joey ceased his mental rant to regard Mai, and he blinked in dismay. She was watching him with an expression he had never seen her wear before, one of mingled relief and sorrow, and almost desperate in a way. Her eyes were watering.

Mai's heart raced. She was flooded with a feeling she couldn't describe, and couldn't even tell if she liked or hated it. She had somehow managed to convince herself that she would never see Joey again, but now he was here, and had caught her by surprise. Her emotions ran wild in confusion, not sure how they should feel. In all the internal chaos, she forgot to hold up her emotional defenses. Every horrible feeling she had ever oppressed came crashing back to her, but this time she couldn't stop herself from crying.

Mai looked away from Joey as tears flooded her vision, casting herself into an even greater state of bewilderment. She had never been unable to control herself before, unable to stop the pain. She must have appeared so weak, breaking into a fit at nothing other than his arrival.

But there was nothing she could do. It was too late now. She was crying harder than she ever had, harder than when her parents had died, when she had been left so alone in the world at such a young age. She just wanted to die.

But it all changed in an instant. The horrible thoughts that rang in her mind were immediately numbed by Joey's touch. He gingerly placed his hands on her shoulders, then all at once pulled her forward, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close. She rested her head on his shoulder and clung to him. And even though she sobbed harder, she began to feel better. She felt as if a terrible weight she had been carrying all her life was finally being lifted.

There she was, crying. Right there, in public. Where people could see her, judge her. But for the first time in her life she didn't care. For the first time in over a decade she was allowing herself to experience pain, and oddly enough it felt good.

Joey didn't understand what was going on. All he had done was walk up to her and say her name, and she completely broke down on him. But when he saw her crying he knew he could not just stand there and watch, so he had done the only thing he knew to do. Now, as he stood there holding the quivering Mai, a wave of remorse swept over him. Sensing tears forming in his own eyes, he closed them slowly.

"I'm sorry," he gently whispered in her ear, hearing his voice shake, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it. It didn't want to hurt you. I never wanted to hurt you."

"Awwwwwwwww!" One of the female bystanders apparently couldn't resist squealing at the scene unfolding before her, but neither Joey nor Mai seemed to notice or care that there were now quite a few people surrounding them.

For a brief second, Mai could not understand why Joey was apologizing. What had he ever done but been more kind to her than anyone? Then her frazzled brain managed to recall the events leading up to that moment, and something occurred to her. {Poor Joey... Does he think this is all his fault?}

"N-No, it's not... you haven't... I..." Mai wanted desperately to inform Joey that he had no part in causing her agony, but speaking proved to be too difficult. She choked painfully on every word, and so finally gave up.

Then there was a moment of silence, one of those moments that lasts an eternity. Mai had finally calmed down enough to fully comprehend where she was and what was happening, and she realized how warm and safe she felt so close to Joey.

"Um, e-excuse me sir."

Without so much as loosening his embrace, Joey opened his eyes and turned his head to regard the baffled security guard that had addressed him. Joey wondered idly how long he had been standing there.

"Er, this area is just for boarding the plane, and you need a ticket to board, so I'm going to have to ask you to leave..." The man looked almost guilty for making the request.

Joey nodded and turned back to Mai, releasing his grip but keeping his hands on her shoulders. She had stopped crying and was wiping her eyes on her sleeve.

"Uh, Mai?" Joey asked cautiously.

"...Yeah?"

"You... still going to America?"

Mai laughed weakly. "No." Then she grinned almost mischievously. "Right now I just wanna go home."

"...Uh, where's that?"

"Wherever you're going."

~~~

My goodness, I must be tired if I ended it that cheesy. I'm gonna regret that in the morning. Anyway, so there you go. ^_^ What do you people think? Should I just say "The End" and be done with it, or continue the story, and possibly make something bad happen? You know, just to make things interesting.

Even if you don't have an opinion, please review! ^_^ Remember, I take any kind!

Er, and apparently Joey made it all the way to the gate without having to pass through a metal detector or anything. Eh-heh, I never said it was accurate. Maybe Domino Airport just has really horrible security. Work with me here.