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Up Among The Trees

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Anzu Mazaki should have known agreeing to go on this trip was a bad idea from the start. In theory, accompanying her best friend and his grandfather on an African Safari should have been a ton of fun. She'd spent the months leading up to it reading about the various plant and wildlife as well as some (quite tedious) survival guides, all so she'd know just what to expect and how to protect herself from it.

The rest of the time was mostly spent listening to Honda and Jonouchi whine about how they didn't get to go, while Yugi tried and failed numerous times to explain that they only had three tickets (Yugi's mother had opted out after buying them) and Anzu was the first person he'd gotten around to asking. It wasn't his fault she said yes.

Now, she was seriously regretting it. If only she'd just said no, she wouldn't be in this mess right now. She wouldn't be running for her life from a horde of rapidly gaining monkeys screeching loud enough to break the sound barrier.

She still wasn't entirely sure how it started, she'd been wandering alone around the outskirts of camp. Yugi and his Grandpa were off looking for some ancient artifacts at the ruins of an old city several miles away. They left early in the morning, too early for her liking, and so she drowsily requested to remain behind. It took some convincing, but Yugi and his Grandpa eventually relented. She'd been given strict instructions not to wander off camp, Lord only knows whether or not she'd make it back if she did. Anzu wasn't stupid, of course. She knew not to go anywhere in this jungle alone. Besides, all she planned on doing for the next few hours was sleep.

When she finally woke up for real, it was 11:30 and her traveling companions were nowhere to be found. Must've been one Hell of an interesting dig site.

She spent the next half hour lounging around on a beach chair, listening to the sounds of nature. Nice and (mostly) peaceful as it may have been, it didn't hold her attention for long. Anzu had never been one for just sitting around after all. The brunette stood back up, stretching her tired muscles. She walked aimlessly over to a large tree, taking a moment to marvel at it's size. They definitely didn't have trees like this in Japan.

She recalled reading in one of those books that trees in the jungle house a vast number of different species from bugs to monkeys.

Anzu heard a branch shifting and turned to the side, pleasantly surprised to see a monkey sitting on a tree branch, watching her just as intently as she watched it.

'Speak of the Devil,' the dancer thought to herself. "Hello."

She obviously got no response, aside from the small creature changing from a sitting position to standing. Must have been a strong branch. While the monkey was actually kind of adorable, it didn't hold Anzu's interest for too long, and when it faded away, she had to figure out something else to do to pass the time before Yugi and Grandpa Mutou came back.

'I guess I'll just practice some of my dance routines,' she inwardly decided. 'That's always fun… I even have a little audience.'

She eyeballed the monkey briefly.

With a relaxed sigh, Anzu got into position, and began a complicated set of dance moves she'd been practicing for almost a year now. The dance was fairly advanced, and required a great deal of movement, even by dancing standards. One of the things Anzu's instructors always praised her on was her ability to get so into her routine like it was second nature. The brunette always prided herself in that ability and felt a warm blush whenever someone gave her such a compliment.

Not today.

Today, that 'ability' of hers was about to get her in a load of trouble. She very quickly got into her dance, so much so that she completely forgot about her surroundings and wound up moving too close to the tree where the monkey sat. She felt her arm hit something solid just before hearing it's shriek. Anzu's eyes snapped open, revealing the now monkeyless tree branch and she realized with slight horror what she'd just done.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Anzu cried.

She could hear the monkey wailing in the bushes in had landed in. She ran straight into them, searching frantically for the small creature until she found it sitting on the ground still wailing in that high pitched voice.

"Please," Anzu held her hands out in an attempt to calm it. "I'm sorry, I didn't mea-"

A new noise interrupted her speech. Several hundred new noises to be specific. Anzu's head jerked up and she could only gasp in horror as she witnessed an entire army of monkey's looking down on her. Their teeth were bared in fury and their eyes appeared to glow red, at least that's what Anzu's terror filled mind registered.

Faced with imminent death, Anzu's 'fight or flight' instinct kicked in, and quickly chose the latter. She took off at a speed she didn't know she was capable of, barely noticing that she was going in the opposite direction of the camp, not that it mattered.

She heard them screeching and the thudding of their footsteps as they gave chase, but refused to look back. Anzu thanked the Lord for her short hair and tight clothing, she didn't want to give them anything to grab onto and drag her back.

Anzu rounded a sharp corner, and gasped a second time when she came face to face with a wall of rock. She ran as far as she could, snapping her head here, there and everywhere for an escape route, but the monkey horde blocked her in every conceivable direction. With no other option, Anzu pressed herself against the wall as far as she could. The monkeys had stopped running. With their prey completely isolated, they seemed to realize they didn't need to. Instead, they closed in slowly, snarling and allowing saliva to drip out their teeth filled mouths. Anzu felt her heart about to rip out of her chest, her breathing became shallow, as thoughts of her friends and family and dreams flashed before her. How would Yugi and Grandpa Mutou react when they came back to the campsite and found her missing? Would they ever locate her body, or would the monkey's have disposed of it somehow? Did it even matter anyway?

Anzu gulped and closed her eyes, tearfully accepting her fate but wishing more than anything that she could avoid it, somehow…

It started out low. Another howling, this one more high-pitched, and more… human like?

Anzu's eyes opened, the first thing she noticed being that the monkeys had ceased their attack and where now staring off in the direction of the voice. It grew louder and louder, until a figure fell from the sky, landing directly in front of Anzu, who slid to the ground as her knees finally gave out.

The brunette stared with wide eyes at her rescuer(?) as he righted himself. She couldn't believe what she was seeing, it was almost like she was dreaming. And yet, it was definitely a human male standing in front of her.

One completely naked save for a loincloth.

In spite of herself, Anzu felt a blush creep onto her cheeks. The man had an incredibly muscular back and legs and from her postion looked taller than a mountain. She imagined that wouldn't change much if she were standing at full height. His hair was brown and messy, going down to his upper back in a weird triangular shape. As if sensing her wandering eyes, the man turned his head a bit, and Anzu felt her insides freeze as she stared into cold, hard, blue eyes.

The monkeys began to growl again, and it took Anzu a moment to register that her savior was doing the same. He crouched down a bit and some of the leading monkeys moved back, much to Anzu's amazement. Was this one man really that intimidating?

The lead monkey let out a roar, and the next thing Anzu knew, the jungle man had grabbed her by the shirt and flung her around onto his back. Anzu immediately wrapped her arms around his front when he began climbing the rock wall faster than a human being should be capable of. The monkeys tore after them, but the man was faster than Anzu and outran them easily. That didn't mean he was invincible against them, and upon realizing they were gaining, he jumped into the air again, grabbing a tree branch and hoisting himself and his 'rider' up.

Anzu started to scream, she couldn't help herself. She always hated those stupid girl characters in action movies whose only purposes were screaming, getting kidnapped, and presumably sleeping with the hero in the background while the end credits rolled. Now here she was, playing the first role (she hoped to God the second and third didn't come into play). The jungle man either didn't hear or didn't care about her screaming, continuing on his way like nothing was happening. When he reached a large gap between trees, Anzu was sure they were done for. Her rescuer proved her wrong by seizing a vine and swinging them between the two trees, landing safely on the next one and giving Anzu her fourth or fifth near heart attack of the day.

The monkey's enraged screams grew fainter little by little as the jungle man continued his run. By the time they finally lost them, Anzu found herself so high up in the trees that she could hardly see the ground below. The jungle man deposited her on a large, sturdy branch and moved away from her, sitting like a gorilla and wathing her, just watching.

Anzu breathed deeply, her adrenaline rush was beginning to wear off, allowing her to think clearly again. Silently, the dancer assessed the situation.

'Okay, I'm in the jungle, alone with a wild man who just saved me from a pack of crazy monkeys. Just great, glad I came on this trip.'

She jumped when the jungle man started to move again, coming closer to her than before. Anzu pushed herself back into the tree bark, but it did little to protect her from the man's piercing blue eyes that seemed stare into her very soul.

His face was set in a frown, she wondered to herself what he was thinking. What did feral people think about anyway?

The man leaned in, coming so close to her face she thought he might kiss her. Instead, he just kept staring, like she was something he'd never seen before and wanted to examine as thoroughly as possible. His eyes dropped from her face to her chest, his lips pursing. He drew up a hand and reached for her chest. By the time Anzu acted, he'd hooked a single finger into her top and was pulling it downwards.

Anzu slapped him.

He shot back immediately while the brunette female wrapped her arms protectively around her chest and glared at him fiercely. Her anger faded a bit to make room for fear when he glared right back. She suddenly understood why those monkeys had been uneasy around him. This man was downright terrifying when he wanted to be.

Even so, she wouldn't let herself be cowed.

"Serves you right," she summoned the strength to say. "Where do you get off doing that?"

He gave no response, but Anzu half-expected that. She had a strong feeling this guy didn't speak Japanese, or any language known to humans for that matter. His anger faded, and he went back to studying her like a scientist, albeit from a safer distance.

Anzu glanced around, wondering if there was a way she could get out of these trees and back on the ground. If she could just get away from this guy, maybe she-

Something roared in the distance, loud and ferocious enough to make her jump and remove all thoughts of getting out of the tree from her mind. Freaky, yet admittedly handsome, jungle men were far preferable to killer animals.

The jungle man was completely still, never blinking once as he continued watching her. She was beginning to feel extremely uncomfortable, worse than the time she'd been fitted for a ballet costume by a pervy old man who definitely felt her up one or five times no matter what the store manager said. Something about this man was just so strange to her, aside from the jungle thing. His eyes, she noted, were almost the exact same color as hers, and yet they were still so different. His looked like that of a man who had never been truly happy. She had no idea what life in the jungle was like, but was it bad enough to make him this way, or perhaps it was just in his nature and he'd act the same way were he a member of civilized society.

His focused eyes were framed by an angular face, and she was struck again by how incredibly handsome he was, before swatting those stupid, fangirl-y thoughts away. Seriously, this was neither the time nor the place to be lovestruck.

His hand reached out slowly, taking hers before she could stop him. Breathing heavily, Anzu allowed him to tentatively raise her hand and place his free one on her own, much smaller, palm. For some reason, this action caused her to relax a bit. She had no idea what he was trying to do, it was as if he wanted to convey something to her that he couldn't with just his eyes. They even softened a little, and his mouth opened just a tiny bit. He seemed much more approachable right now, maybe that's why Anzu didn't mind what he was doing.

His hand dropped, and Anzu wondered whether he'd just go back to staring at her again. Suddenly, his hands shot out, gripping her by the waist and pulling her towards him. Anzu yelped and tried to fight him off, but all this did was cause a low growl to emit from his throat. He pulled harder, his powerful arms easily outmatching hers. The next thing she knew, he was shoving the side of his head into her cleavage. Anzu could only let out a fearful moan, sure that she was about to be raped or molested or worse.

But his hands never moved from her sides. His eyes were closed as he did… whatever it was he was doing. Anzu felt her heart rate increase, she could hear it pounding in her ears now. What the Hell was he doing?

He pulled away seconds later, his face looking soft again, almost childlike. That didn't last long as a moment later, he smiled. It wasn't a particularly warm smile by any stretch. In fact, it could easily be mistaken for evil. His hands finally moved, but rather than to her chest or ass, they stopped at her head and this time he pulled her to him.

"What the-" was all she could get out as her ear connected with his defined chest and he held her there firmly.

Now more confused than ever, Anzu fought off the blush threatening to overtake her face (why was he so damn good looking, he lived in the jungle, surely he must get scratches or scars or something). She was so close, she could hear his heart beating strong in his chest. She blinked and her mind clicked. That's what he was doing before? Listening to her heartbeat?

The awkwardness was close to overflowing as she jerked away. For once, he didn't try to stop her.

"Uh…" Anzu was at a loss. "…Thank you, it's a nice heartbeat. Uh… I appreciate it?"

Okay, that was stupid.

Though a jungle man probably wouldn't know a stupid comment from a smart one, so maybe it didn't matter.

"I appreciate it."

Anzu's insides froze. She stared at him with wide eyes, specifically his mouth. Did he just speak to her?

"Huh?" Anzu muttered. Her new 'friend' was smarter than she thought.

"So, you can talk?" she tried again, just in case it was a fluke or she was hearing things.

His response was to raise a hand and slap in on his chest.


Anzu blinked. That wasn't what she expected and he sensed her confusion. How, she didn't know. Oh yeah, this guy was definitely smarter than she thought.

"Seto," his voice was firmer, with an authorative edge. Where had he learned that? From the animals?

"Seto," Anzu tentatively repeated.

His next move shocked her: He rolled his eyes. Then he smirked a condescending smirk she'd only ever seen on rival dancers. Anzu felt affronted all of a sudden. He seemed to silently say, 'You got it, finally.'

"Seto…" she said again, then it finally clicked in her mind what he was trying to tell her. "Oh… duh."

That last part wasn't directed at the jungle man, Seto. Unfortunately, he didn't realize this.

"Ohduh," he repeated, eyes widening. He pointed to himself again, and then at her, speaking their 'names' consecutively.

"Seto. Ohduh."

A laugh erupted from Anzu's throat. She was amazed at how light hearted this was becoming.

"No, no," she waved her hands to further convey her words, then pointed at herself as well. "I'm Anzu."

He tilted his head to one side, raising his own hands to copy her movements.

"No, no, I'm Anzu."

Now she felt like rolling her own eyes. Smart as he was, it seemed he would need to learn some basic language skills if they were going to get anywhere.

"No," she said more firmly this time, placing a hand fully on her chest. "Anzu, An-zu."

It appeared to register. Seto's hand moved to cup her cheek gently. He made no other move, and so she didn't try to fight him off. For now.

"Anzu," her name sounded strange coming out of his mouth. A good kind of strange, if that made sense.

It made her smile, but she didn't know why. She just really liked the way he said her name.

"That's right," She answered warmly.

She still wasn't quite sure what was happening. A jungle man saving her from crazy monkeys was a crazier story than anything she could have come up with on her own. She doubted even Grandpa Mutou would believe her if she told him about this.

Wait… Grandpa Mutou and Yugi!

"I have to get back!"

Her shout sent Seto backwards again. He growled in annoyance, and she figured he didn't like people screaming in his face like that. At the moment, she was too busy trying to stand up to care. Her task was impossible, and even if it wasn't how would she get down let alone find her way around in this jungle.

Her only way out was her way in, no matter what she wanted.

Anzu turned back around to find Seto still watching her, waiting for her to say something else. The brunette hesitated, unsure of how to make him understand what she was about to ask.

"Can you uh-" Not getting off to a good start. "Can you take me to my camp?"

He raised an eyebrow again. Anzu sighed, he didn't understand, which was just perfect.

"My camp," she repeated. "Uh… how to I explain this?"


Her ears perked up, as did Seto's. The latter jumped onto a high branch, hanging off it and listening for the voice again.

"Anzu, where are you?"

It was distant, she couldn't see them even from this far up, but Anzu could hear both Yugi and Grandpa Mutou calling her name and gave a sigh of relief.

"Anzu?" This was Seto. The wild man looked at her again, his eyes questioning.

The girl nodded happily.

"Yes, that's right," She answered while struggling to get up. "Can you take me there?"

She pointed in the direction of the voices, which were slowly getting louder and prayed that he understood what she meant. Her prayers were answered when he smiled, or rather smirked, again and grabbed her by the waist, pulling her to him and jumping down from the tree, grabbing a vine.

"Wait a minute," Anzu shouted over the rushing air. "Can't we just walk or somethiiiiiAARGH!"

Seto screamed along with her, and she had no idea if he was mocking her fear or just repeating her words again. Either way, she clung to him for dear life, feeling the wind in her face and forcing herself to breathe normally.

With this accomplished, Anzu opened her shut tight eyes, the trees spun around in her vision. Seto grabbed another vine, swinging them further down to the ground. It was like every roller coaster Anzu had ever been on all at once and to be honest-

It was kind of fun.

Anzu closed her eyes again, lest she get bugs in them or something, and relaxed into Seto's hard body as he brought her closer and closer to her friend and his Grandfather. She had no idea how she was going to explain this to them. Seto's presence alone would definitely be a shock.

All Anzu knew for sure was that this trip was beginning to look up, in more ways than one.