Everything You Are
by Tyger

Site: LJ
Word Count: 15,256
Genre: General, Shounen-ai/Yaoi
Pairing: BakuBaku-ish
Summary: [gradual AU]
"...can I really play forever?" The darkness smiles down at him.
"Of course you can. I'll teach you how."

Rating: R
Author's Notes, Etc. Beta'd by Azremodehar, with added advice from Simon/Fluff/Nickname of the Week, and Kiwi Warpole. <3 Also possibly only the A-side, not certain yet.

     Bakura Ryou likes to look after people.
     He is quiet, and shy, and finds it terribly difficult to cope with social situations, but he likes to see people happy, and, even more than that, he likes to be the cause of that happiness. He likes to be relied upon, even if all he can do is bring a smile to someone's face.
     But he's terrible at getting to know people. He can file-away and remember names and dates and favourite things, but he can't hold up a coherent conversation for more than a few minutes at a time, unless he already knows the person involved quite well.
     All his relationships at school are deeply superficial, and that bothers him, a little. But, he has his Amane as soon as he gets home, and all thoughts of school-friends and classes leave his head as soon as he sees her. This bothers his mother greatly, but he's happy. Deliriously happy, he'll later say.
     When Amane dies - it was an accident, he knows it was an accident, he's going to kill that sonnovabitch if he ever saw him again - his life falls apart.
     By the time he returns to school, even his superficial relationships are gone.

     It isn't as if he doesn't try. He does, he tries and tries and tries - he's very trying. But he's so desperate for friends that he tries too hard. He drives people away by caring too much.
     And that, in turn, makes him even more desperate.

     Bakura Ryou has always believed in fate.
     But he's still surprised when he receives proof of it's existence - someone that can never leave him, someone who needs him. Someone who is already dead.

     When he asks who he is, he identifies himself as "...an essence of darkness, I suppose,".
     "Darkness, huh," says Bakura. "You haven't answered my question, you know." But he calls him "Yami" from then on.

     With the Ring on his chest, and Yami in his mind, Bakura changes, a little.
     He's still alone, at school, still quiet, and shy, and socially awkward - even more than he had been, actually - and he still likes to make people smile. But he stops trying to make friends. He loses his desperation. With someone who will never go away, he stops caring about the outside world.
     For the first time since Amane had died, he's happy.

     Eventually, he graduates primary school. He's not sad to leave it; in fact, he barely notices. His world is no longer the one of corporeal things.
     But before long, junior high school changes his life.
     Girls - afterthoughts, really, not him-and-Yami, and not potential friends - start giggling at him. It makes him twitchy. But Yami starts paying more attention to him while he's at school - the girls whisper, too, and Yami hates whispering - so he doesn't suppose it's that bad.
     And, somehow, he manages to make some friends, for the first time in almost as long as he can remember. He doesn't know how it happened, and no matter how much he thinks about it, he can never figure it out. But he has friends. Other than Yami. That, admittedly, makes him a bit nervous - he knows Yami well enough by now to know that he is the exceedingly jealous sort. But, as it turns out, his new friends are geeks, and they play this game called "Monster World". Bakura has never heard of Monster World before, but as soon as he tries it he's hooked. And Yami is very, very interested in Monster World. So everything turns out okay.

     Junior high is three years long. In that time, Bakura manages to beg, borrow, and steal most of the books for Monster World - though he has to end up buying some, that none of his friends have. Yami is very adverse to actually buying things, and, somehow, it's rubbed off on Bakura. He's not quite sure why. He also makes his own board, which he is rather proud of, as it has taken him a very, very long time. You can tell which parts of it he had made first, too, due to his skill-level. He had planned to wait a few months, before starting a new board, but he didn't know what do do with his time once it was done. So he starts to replace the old pieces, and make slight modifications. His friends had call him an obsessive idiot, but Bakura doesn't care. He likes making things. It's just as good as looking after people. And Yami doesn't get jealous while he's working.

     To celebrate their graduation of junior high, he and his friends get together for a game. One of his friends lives within walking distance from the school, so they go straight there after the ceremony. It's a good game; the villain - played by Bakura, this time. He likes it, and is good at it, though Yami is also an inventive co-conspirator - is just evil enough to be challenging, but not so difficult as to be impossible to defeat, the characters are interesting, and the plot one they haven't played to death yet, and Bakura can't help but wish that it'd go on forever.
     Afterwards, he would remember the amused whisper of "As you wish" in the back of his mind, but at the time he is oblivious.
     They play on into the night - they'd known it would be a long game, and had already organised to stay over - and, when his friends start falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning, Bakura is neither surprised or worried. It isn't unusual that he's the last to sleep; he finds it near impossible to relax when a game's on. So he makes notes as to where they're up to, packs everything away, puts everyone properly to bed once there's space, and goes to sleep.
     In the morning, he awakes to the frantic voice of his friend's mother.
     "Oh, Bakura-kun, you're awake," she says, relieved. "I can't seem to wake my son up."
     "Really?" he replies, oblivious. "Well, we were up very late last night, he's probably just tired."
     "Probably," she says, not convinced.
     "Really," he smiles. "Would you like me to make breakfast for them before I leave? That usually wakes them up." Even though he's still only fifteen, his cooking skills are somewhat of a legend among his friends. It's his own special skill - neither of his parents are good cooks - and he's rather proud of it. But she shook her head, and smiled up at him.
     "No, you get going. I know how your mother is." He laughs, somewhat sheepishly.
     "It's nothing as bad as that." And it isn't. His mother is, admittedly, a little over protective, but, seeing as she'd already lost one child, no one really blamed her. So what if she required him to be home by nine if he stayed at a friend's house? Any child should be happy that their mother cared enough about them that they wanted to see them! Any child should...
     Not that it didn't rankle, a bit, and not that he didn't complain about it, from time to time, but... he didn't really mind. Not really.
     Well, maybe a little. He was fifteen all ready!
     In any case, he gathers his things together, and leaves for home. It isn't until several days later that he notices his friend's avatars have somehow made it into his bag.

     This break, he spends a lot of time at the hospital. It isn't the first time he's done such a thing - Amane, oh Amane, couldn't you have at least died painlessly? - but it's the first time he'd been for such an extended period without ever talking to anyone.
     The parents blame him. He doesn't blame them - he's the only one still healthy. The only one somehow still conscious. No matter the fact that there's no way he could have done it, no matter, that even if he could have, there's no proof. No matter. They still blame him. They still hate him.
     But that's okay. It's his fault.

     He fights with Yami, for the first time.
     He refuses to speak with him, refuses to acknowledge his existence. He takes off the Ring, for the first time since he'd got it, and goes about his daily life as if the spirit had never existed.
     Between that, and his friends, he becomes very, very depressed.
     He writes to Amane more than usual, but that doesn't help much. He cooks, he does his homework, he gets ready for the new school year, and every other minute he can spare he's at the hospital.
     But no matter how hard he pushes himself, he can't forget the empty space where Yami had been.
     He cannot ignore it.
     He cannot move on.

     Eventually, he just gives in. More than anything else, he hates being lonely.

     Yami's angry at him. He's angry at Yami, too, he keeps telling himself... but somehow, he still feels bad. He shouldn't have taken off the Ring, he knows that. He knows that.
     But Yami is very very angry, and even though he's just a spirit, an incorporeal thing, he still feels the bruises from when when he grabbed him and shook. Hand-shaped marks on his upper arms... Bakura's glad that it isn't hot enough to wear t-shirts, yet.
     It wasn't until he promises to never, ever take the Ring off again, no matter what, that Yami calms down enough to be coherent. For quite a while, Bakura wonders if Yami is going to lash out and hurt him, or at least - at least - whack him over the back of the head for being such a stupid idiot. Yami is not exactly a nice person. But he never does. Bakura wonders about it, for a while, and decides it's probably because he's already been hurt, though it had been unintentionally.
     Yami rages at him, for what seems like hours. Yells, and screams, and is just so angry. Eventually, he gets sick of screaming, and disappears to the-place-in-the-back-of-his-mind to sulk. He doesn't talk to him again for three days. Bakura is silent throughout.

     When the other finally comes out of his sulk, and sits on the bench behind him - he's cooking - he just watches. Watches, and apparently, thinks rather hard, as it isn't his I-will-kill-you-and-your-children-and-your-children's-children frown, but a more pensive, and somehow softer look. But still angry. Bakura's halfway through thinking 'How can I make it up to him?' when he remembers what he'd done. He then completely ignores him back... or would have if, after about ten minutes of this, Yami hadn't have put his hand on his shoulder. Bakura jumps, shocked, and then hits the damn bastard with all of his rage. Of course, due to the incorporeal state of the other, his hand goes straight through him, and he hits the wall instead, which just isn't fair, damnit. His arms are still bruised, after all.
     He stands there like that, hand throbbing from the force of his own rage, for a long moment, until the tears he'd refused to shed start leaking out his eyes.
     "Why?" he asks.
     Yami looks at him, for a second - less angry, somehow.
     "Because you wanted it."
     "You wanted to play with them forever. And now you can." And then there are fingers, suddenly there, again, in his hair, and he does not turn away.
     "But, I didn't mean..."
     "Of course not. You didn't know it was possible. But if you had, can you truly say you wouldn't have?"
     "What? I..." But he can't lie, and say he wouldn't. Not to Yami.
     And those hands draw him forward, and he welcomes the embrace, such that it is. And he cries, into that shoulder, that shoulder that isn't really there, but still seems more real than the rest of his life. He cries, and it is his last true act of grief.
     "...can I really play forever?" The darkness smiles down at him.
     "Of course you can. I'll teach you how."

     He doesn't go to the hospital any more. When his parents notice him enough to ask about it, he simply says he's too busy with schoolwork to be able to manage the hour trip each-way, along with his hour-and-a-half trip to-and-from his new school. Which is sort of true.
     And even though he knows it's wrong, he doesn't feel bad about sort of lying to them.
     He finds his new school nice enough, though the girls fawn over him more than they had at his old one. He makes a few friends, and slowly introduces them to Monster World. They aren't really gamers, but they're good enough.
     He does his homework on the trip home, so that he has as much time with Yami, and his old friends, as possible.

     It's about two months after school started again that his mother dies.
     It's not as though he's surprised. She'd been sick for a very long time. Almost as long as he can remember. He feels almost as if he should be happy for her. She isn't in pain anymore, and she can be with Amane now.
     But the grief is still overwhelming. He doesn't quite understand Yami's approval.

     It was, he thinks much later, it was the grief that made him do the thing he did.
     He wouldn't have done it while he was in his right state of mind. He wouldn't have. ...Not at school, at least.

     His father is grieving too much to truly understand what his son has been accused of (what his son has done! Oh, what he has done!), and so basically ignores the problem, and buries himself in the past, and his museum.
     Bakura organises everything, and just gets his father to stamp the necessary papers. He isn't surprised when his father announces his sudden joining of an overseas archaeological dig; in fact, he already has the papers to rent an apartment closer to his new school ready. He doesn't want to stay in his mothers house any more, either. Too many memories, and Mother's death had only made it worse.

     He watches the streets of Domino go by, and thinks of how he's made it here.
     He'd never intended to go to Domino - it's nothing like a prestigious school, though not nearly as bad as Rintama, and he's always had very good grades. Studying was easy, when you were trying to ignore other things. But, he supposes, all things considered, it's a good compromise. He could be any number of much worse places now, after all. Jail, for instance.
     Yami finds his guilt amusing. "You wanted to, so you did. What's wrong with that?" he'd said to him, when he'd first realised what he'd done. And he finds himself agreeing with that more and more. He now feels more guilty about not feeling guilty, which everyone finds rather stupid, but, there it is.
     His friends aren't talking to him, though, which makes him sad. Can't they play together now? Isn't that all they've ever wanted? He's sure they'll come around, eventually. He has, after all.
     It's a short train-ride - only twenty minutes to get to school, and he doesn't even have to switch trains! He's impressed that he's managed to get an apartment so close, really; many families would desire such a place, with so much nearby. But apparently the son of this particular family had taken ill - though Bakura was beginning to guess that it wasn't the physical kind of ill - and they'd moved to Tokyo to get him better treatment. Apparently, he'd gone to Domino, too.
     According to the gossip of his landlady, there'd been a recent spate of people talking ill in the area. He'd wondered briefly if there was something in the water - perhaps I should get a filter, Yadonushi? She'd laughed at him, for that, and instructed him to call her Moriyama-san instead. Yami had laughed at him too, afterwards. "Don't worry, I won't let you... take ill. That would be most distressing... yadonushi."
     "What, my name too good for the likes of you, now?" he'd laughed back.
     "Mmm, perhaps. But I doubt it. Naming things is an ancient magic, you know, and I do try and avoid it."
     "I'd noticed," he'd said, a little put out. "You still haven't given me yours."

     Domino High School is pretty much what he'd expected. Not quite as nice as he's used to, but still tolerable. And the location is very good. He's done his research well.
     He stands, for a second, and watches the flow of students as they enter. Nothing particularly unusual, really. A few street-tough types, of course, but that isn't too unexpected. He wonders if he'll make friends again, and how long they'll last, if he does. He wonders how much more attention he'll have to draw to himself before he'll somehow get caught, anyway. He's tempted to find out, but - His current lifestyle is a nice one, and he doesn't really want to damage it, either. A fine balance.
     Who knows, though. Perhaps there won't be anyone interested in the slightest in Monster World.
     That may be the safest bet.

     He knows, almost as soon as he enters it, that this is a strange classroom. Strange things have happened here. Strange people have made this room their own.
     It looks normal, on the surface - girls, giggling, whispering, but Yami is not watching them at all, which is in itself all the proof he needs that something isn't quite right here. There's someone who looks to be a foreigner, though, when he opens his mouth his voice, although crude, has no accent at all. Perhaps only half, then. There's a girl that's not giggling at him - odd, he thinks, but then she looks at this other boy, and all becomes clear. Hair that should never have existed. Short, and cute, but. Bakura can tell that this is where the strangeness is coming from. This boy.
     This boy, that Yami hates, when he's never even spoken to him.
     Bakura feels very left out.

     He's almost unsurprised, when they come and talk to him during break. They're strange, he's strange, it's almost natural that they should be drawn to one another. That they should be friends.
     The strangest one - his name is Yuugi - is a really nice guy. Honestly nice, the sort of guy that would sacrifice himself for anyone he knows. Yami still hates him. Bakura thinks he's kind of an idiot, but he IS a nice guy, AND he knows a lot about games. He hopes they'll be able to become friends.
     They want to play Monster World with him, of course. He's not exactly sure this is a good idea, but... his friends aren't talking to him. One game couldn't hurt, could it? Just one game? But still...
     Instead of deciding, he asks about Yuugi's strange pendant. It looks a bit like the Ring, though decidedly more pyramid-shaped, so he's interested in it. Is this where the strangeness was coming from? Yuugi lets him look, but just looking tells him nothing - magic isn't like that - so he pushes, just a little bit, just to tell, and-

     - he thinks he's going to be sick.
     Luckily - luckily!- some girls come up then, and all but kidnap him. They seem to dislike Jounouchi quite a lot. He wonders if anyone's been grateful to be kidnapped before. Not that the gratitude lasts long - he dislikes girls, if he choses to think about it in such terms - but it is something. And, luckily, he's spared their presence for an extended period of time by the arrival of a... very... unpleasant... teacher? Oh dear. And this teacher has, apparently heard of him. Oh. Damn. 'Don't worry, I'll take care of him,' says Yami, maliciously.
     'I don't know if that's a good...' And then the teacher pulls his hair. His HAIR.
     'You were saying?'
     'Do as you please.' Laughter, then, and he wonders if the teacher will be able to walk, come morning. Yami is not a nice person, at all.
     'I shall,' he whispers, full of malice, and Bakura gets an awful sense of foreboding. But perhaps that's just because he still feels like throwing up.

     They want to play Monster World with him.
     They want to play Monster World with him tomorrow, and...
     They want to play Monster World with him tomorrow, and he finds that he doesn't want bad things to happen to them. And he knows that if they play, something bad will happen. He's feeling awful - what had that thing done? - and he just wants to have some quiet. And Yami's feeling so, so angry and hateful...
     It would be dangerous. Too dangerous.
     So he tells them what happened.

     Sort of.

     Yami's plotting something. He knows Yami's plotting something. He just doesn't know what.
     It has to be something to do with Yuugi. He doesn't know how he knows that, but he does. So much hate. Yami isn't a nice person, he knows that, but what could Yuugi possibly have done to him? They'd never even met before!
     He writes a letter to Amane, but doesn't feel any better. And then Yami starts laughing, and it's not his normal sort of laugh, it's quite insane, and then Bakura is sure he's dreaming, because the Ring's in his chest - IN his chest! - and he can't control his body anymore, and Yami wasn't a nice person, but he wasn't as cracked-out as this, usually, either.
     He has to be dreaming.
     He has to be.
     Even after all he's seen, he can't believe this is real.

     The teacher gets it, though, and he can't help but feel pleased about that.

     They're home again, in this dream, and Yami is whispering to him, in their head, and it's all sugar-sweet and gorgeous, but this is a dream, this is a dream, this is all his stressed-out, guilt-ridden subconscious, and he's not listening, he's not listening, HE'S NOT LISTENING, and he forces himself to wake up, and it feels strangely like going to sleep.

     When he wakes up, it's three in the afternoon, and, for some reason, he's lying on his couch, not his bed. Odd.
     He also has paint on his fingers, and...
     ...oh. He's still dreaming. He has to be; he's never made Monster World figures of Yuugi and his friends - how could he, he'd only met them yesterday.
     Shit, he's missed school. THAT isn't going to go down well with his new teachers; it's only his second day! He'll have to make it up somehow. Though, the back-of-his-mind that isn't Yami says sneakily to him, once they see your grades, they won't care what you do, as long as it's not blatantly illegal, or doesn't reflect badly on the school. Which is pretty much true, he knows, but it's still only his second day. He really should've been there.
     Wait. This is a dream, anyway. It isn't real, it doesn't matter.

     Yuugi and his friends come over after school, wanting to play Monster World, in this dream. Only, it isn't a dream, was it? It isn't.
     Even his subconscious can't've thought up the feelings of pure, evil glee coming from Yami. From someone else, maybe. But not Yami.
     Yami is not a nice person, but... he wouldn't... not for no reason. Not to someone he'd just met. It's too risky, they might be caught, somehow, locked away, and...
     Oh, gods. Yami isn't going to take his soul, is he? Not like before. He's going to kill him. He's going to take his soul and desecrate his body, and put the soul back.
     He's going to kill Yuugi.

     And, twisted though he is - though he knows he is - Bakura Ryou can not forgive murder.

     Afterwards, all he can remember of the game are brief flashes, short bursts of colour and sound, images of his game board from a totally new perspective - and he really did need to fix up the castle, didn't he? The paint work is dreadful, up close. All he can remember is that he'd won, somehow, Zork - and Yami - have been defeated, the game has ended, and nobody has died.
     Nobody except him, anyway.

     Dying is the reason he can't remember much, he's sure. It was a truly unsettling experience.
     It had, he remembers, hurt, though he can't remember the pain. And it had carried with such a sense of finality. That was it, for him. It had really been somewhat of a pitiful life, he supposed, as he looked down over his body, but it had been his, and he was quite sorry that he'd never get to do a lot of the things he'd wanted to do. Like fix the set of trees next to the castle; they'd been knocked about, a bit, with Yami running the game. No sense of gentle touch, in that one. Oh, and fix that roof, too; "bloodstained" hadn't really been the look he was going for. But, too bad. He was dead.
     He had wondered, for a while, if this was it; he'd be stuck watching other people for eternity. That would be fair, though, he thought. But if time didn't somehow speed itself up, a bit, he'd be mad within days. It wasn't even going a half the pace it usually did. Well, he was dead, perhaps that was why. Perhaps he'd get used to it.
     That was when the Shinigami had arrived.

     He never knew what he expected a Shinigami to be like, but it definitely wasn't what he got. Tall and gorgeous, in a girls-manga kind of way, and very aloof. But not in the cold, cynical, detached way you'd expect of a death god. It was really more like he was stoned than anything, though with a lot more coherence than your average stoner.
     Perhaps that was the real reason people looked forward to the afterlife?

     The Shinigami told him that he wasn't going to the afterlife.
     That he was practically immortal, because of the Ring, and Yami. That neither of them were ever going to let him go.

     Most people his age would be over the moon at the prospect of immortality. But Bakura had never been most people, and he'd already lost two of the most important people in his life. He looked forward to dying and going to heaven so he could see them again. Even if he wasn't sure he was going to heaven any more.

     The Shinigami had had him sign something, with ink that looked suspiciously like blood, and then he'd fallen awake again.

     The hours after that were a bit fuzzy, too. Trust him to only properly remember the weird bits. He was in shock, though - and not just from dying. Despite his blood flow having stopped for several minutes, his hand was still bleeding. He'd always bled a lot, he knew, but that was just ridiculous, if you asked him.
     No one did, though. They were more concerned with the fact that it was bleeding. Rather nice of them, he'd vaguely thought, before trying - and failing - to stand up on his own.

     They'd fed him something, he couldn't remember what, only that it was warm, and made him sleepy. He'd been too caught up trying to figure out who had been in his kitchen to take much notice.
     It must have been the girl, Anzu. Because Honda and Jounouchi had been fixing his hand, and Yuugi... Yuugi had kept watching him. Watching him, with those big, purple eyes, and he'd've done anything to get away from that gaze.
     But he couldn't really do anything, so he'd just averted his eyes.

     He wakes around ten, and curses himself out for missing school again. And then he moves, and nearly dies of panic.
     His Ring is gone.
     His Ring is gone, where is his Ring, have they taken his Ring?
     He sits up, ignores the sinking feeling that is anaemia, and checks to make sure he's not dreaming.
     He's not.
     He's up, stumbling, not quite awake and with no sense of balance, but, somehow, he makes it to the Monster World table without falling flat on his face.
     And there's the Ring, there, on the floor.
     Here. Safe.
     The cord is broken - why is that? - but it's there, under his chair, and he suspects, as he knots the break back up, that Yuugi hasn't even seen it.
     That fills him with a lot more relief than he cares to admit, as he puts the Ring back on.

     Yami doesn't immediately start raging at him, for his betrayal, or even for not having the Ring on for so long.
     That worries him. He's had Yami in his mind for so long that he's used to that presence at the back of it, no matter what happens. Yami has never been quiet when he's been mad before, no matter who he was mad at.
     Then again, he hasn't tried to kill anyone before, either.

     He sits on the floor, at the head of the table, for a good long while. He's still not quite awake, still weak from blood loss, still in shock from the events of yesterday. He still clings to the notion that, soon enough, he'll wake up and this will all be just a dream. But he doesn't actually believe that, any more.
     As is usual in these situations, it's his bladder that forces him to get up, and get on with his life.

     He's amazed at how much harder life is without his dominant hand functioning. Everything takes at least twice as long to do, and he can barely write at all. His teachers, he thinks, are just going to have to deal with him not turning up for a few more days; there's no point in him going to school without being able to do any work. He has his textbooks at home, though, so he'll try and complete the bits that he thinks they'll go through in class.
     There's very little else for him to do at home, after all, since if he can't write properly, he's definitely not going to trust himself with his board, or his models.

     It's not until he's falling asleep that he hears Yami's voice again.
     He's being cursed at, which is not a surprise in the least. But the voice - it seems further away than usual, and so... well, he hesitates to use such a word for anything to do with Yami, but the only word he can think of is weak.
     'Take care of your spirit,' the Shinigami had said, and he had agreed. So he puts his anger aside, and goes to the place-in-the-back-of-his-mind to see what he can do.
     It's easier than he'd thought.

     He always starts off in "his" bit of the place. It's a messy sort of place, stuff everywhere, the d�cor a miss-mash of his mother's house and his friend's houses, and hey, that looks a bit like the pot plant he has in his apartment, doesn't it? And his board is here, too, though it's how he envisions it, not how it actually is. Yami is never here, though, so he quickly moves on.
     He squeezes through the narrow passage that leads to the alleyway - he's not quite sure what else to call it - and looks both ways twice before darting over to the ruins-space that's Yami's part of the-space-in-the-back-of-his-mind. Things lurk in alleys, in his experience, and just because it's an ally in the back of his mind doesn't guarantee anything.
     Yami's not in "his" bit, either, though, which makes him rather worried. Yami's bit may look a lot like a natural disaster had just gone through, closely followed by a sandstorm, but he'd always - always - been there before.
     There are dozens, if not hundreds, of hidy-holes, of course, but, just by stepping foot into the room, Bakura somehow knows that the other isn't there.
     He doesn't think too much on how.

     He can still hear the cursing, though, so he can't be too far away. Only, where? Not in his room, not in Yami's room... where else was there?
     ...well, there was the alley, but that wasn't really a proper place. You didn't go there, you went through there. It wouldn't make any sense, for Yami to be there. Then again, very little about his life made sense.
     Cautiously, he pokes his nose out into the alley. He hoped the things wouldn't get him.

     To start off with, he can't even decide which way to look. Both directions look the same, after all, and though Yami's still cursing at him, he can't tell where the voice is coming from. The alley echoes.
     He looks left. He looks right. He has no idea which way to go. In the end, he just closes his eyes, spins around in a circle, and starts walking. He walks straight into the wall on the other side of the alley, but he has a general direction to go in, now.

     The longer he spends looking, the more nervous he gets. The more nervous he gets, the more he clings to the walls. By the time he finds Yami, he's quite sure he's going to have bruises for a week - and he's so tense that he's trembling. So scared.
     He's tempted to curl up in a ball, on the side of the alley, and just hide for a bit. And equally as tempted to run back the way he came, and hide in "his" bit of the place. But he doesn't. He doesn't. Yami's still cursing at him, so that means he's still ...well, perhaps alive isn't the best word, but here, at least. And as scared as he is... he can't help but think that Yami might be even more so. (Most of his mind knows that Yami doesn't get scared - or at least not like he does. But he thinks it anyway.)

     There's blood everywhere. There's blood everywhere. There's blood everywhere. These are his first thoughts.
     He looks a bit closer, however, and sees that, in fact, there's not as much blood as he'd thought - most of it is Yami's battered old coat. Which just so happens to be the same colour as blood.
     Which also means it could be covered in blood, and he wouldn't know. He's suddenly not as reassured anymore.

     Yami's still cursing, unsurprisingly, but his eyes are almost shut, and he doesn't appear to notice Bakura's approach. He is bleeding; his face is bleeding, his scar is bleeding. Yami's hand is bleeding, too. He's half-sitting, half-lying, his back up against the wall and his legs stretched out, and despite the continuous stream of ill-wishes coming out of his mouth, he appears to be comatose. (Not dead. Never dead. That's something different entirely - and even if it wasn't, it was something Bakura simply couldn't comprehend of him.)
     Bakura stops, a few steps away. Hesitates.
     He's still angry, after all, and though a thing hasn't tried to get him yet he's still sure that one will, and, for a second, he wonders if it's - if Yami is - really worth the effort.

     He roughly, awkwardly, manages to get Yami into such a position that he can carry him. He's not strong, and so he drops him twice, before finding something that somehow works, but he manages it, eventually.
     Yami doesn't acknowledge him at all - but he does stop cursing.

     He's almost made it back to where he started, when the things finally appear. He freezes, for a second; despite his fear and his keyed-up state, he's shocked. Despite the knowlege-and-dread in his chest, he'd still hoped.
     He starts to run. He's shut his eyes, he doesn't want to see the things. But he can feel his body brush against them, anyway.

     Suddenly, he's run into something solid, and there's a door handle, just there. So he turns the handle, and pushes.
     He has no idea where he's going, but it has to be better than here. The things have to stay in the alley, after all.

     He's back in the real world.
     He's lying on his bed, exactly the same as he had been before he'd gone to find Yami. Only now, incorporeal though he is, Yami's lying on top of him. Or perhaps "incorporeal" isn't quite the right word. Though he's not a thing made from the real world, Yami's still heavy, on his chest. He's finding it rather hard to breathe, so he shoves him off.
     But that's really all he does, as he's suddenly so exhausted he can't keep his eyes open. So he doesn't even try to.
     Despite his not having done all that much, it's been a long day.

     He's alone when he wakes up. Of course.
     He's feeling a bit better, and his hand has stopped aching quite so much, though it's still intent on reminding him that no, it is still not at all happy with him. But really, apart from that, he's feeling quite good. (The fact that he nearly collapses with dizziness when he stands up doesn't count. That happens every so often even when he's well. Such is anaemia.)
     He doesn't really have any fresh food, but going outside - out into the weather and the public - has pretty much negative appeal for him right now, so he puts some rice on and makes do.

     It's not until after he's eaten that Yami appears. He's usually good like that, Bakura's noticed. He'll interrupt anything - anything - else, but eating seems to be sort of sacred. Judging from his personality, Bakura's quite sure there's a good reason for that.
     "You," says Yami, full of rage. He looks down, and sighs softly. Closes his eyes and breathes. And then looks up at him.
     "You," he says, equally as pissed.

     It's a long fight, long and harsh and bitter. Betrayal of someone close does that to people - no matter which side they were on. It hurts too much to be rational.
     And because they're not rational, they're not coherent, either, so all it amounts to is them swearing at each other. Nothing is resolved.
     But they both feel a bit better afterwards, so perhaps it's a start.

     Bakura lies on the couch, half-comatose. He's equal parts exhausted and bored out of his brain, so this is perhaps understandable. His hand is still practically immobile, so there's very little he can do. And that very little he's done already.
     He doesn't have a tv, yet (they're expensive, and he spends so much time on his game anyway...), so he can't even make the pretext of watching that. He just lies there, with his fuzziest blanket over him. After a while, he starts to doze.

     Yami's there when he wakes up. Sometimes, he wishes Yami would just make up his damn mind, and stop flitting in between here and not-here. At other times, he's just glad that he doesn't have to put up with something akin to a housemate all the time.
     Yami's just looking at him, though, which he always finds mildly disturbing. As well as not being a nice person, Yami is a very intense person and, well. Even after all these years, he still hasn't got used to the full force of that intensity. He doesn't think he ever will.
     "What?" he says eventually, frowning.
     "You're sick," says Yami. Bakura rolls his eyes.
     "Oh, really? Well if someone hadn't stabbed a great big hole in my hand..." he says, and gets ready for another fight. But Yami just frowns, looking slightly more concerned than angry now.
     "It's not that," he says. Pauses. Looks like he's going to disappear in a huff again. Doesn't. "That's not helping, but whatever it is, it's not that."
     "Well," grumps Bakura, "it could be the fact that I fucking died. I mean, it's not like coming back's common or anything, who knows what kind of shit it messes wit - what?" he says, once he notices Yami's slightly startled look. Yami doesn't look startled very easily.
     "You died," he says, as if this is a new fact to him.
     "Yes." Bakura had assumed he'd already known. It looked like he was wrong.
     "You betrayed me, and you died anyway." Oh, dear. Yami's even more pissed off now.
     "Yes," he says, as it's the truth.
     "You idiot!" says Yami. "You idiot." For a second, Bakura's pretty sure he's going to hit him, for his stupidity. But he doesn't. "What was the fucking point, then, if you died anyway?"
     "Well," he snaps, "it's not like I wanted to die! It's not like I did it on purpose!"
     "Yes, yes," snarls Yami, "that's obvious. I've been in your head long enough to know you're not suicidal! But if you were going to get involved, if you were going to fucking betray me, you could have at least made sure you lived!"
     "What do you mean, if I was going to get involved? How could I not be involved!? You were fucking possessing my body, remember?" Bakura sat up. If they were going to fight again, he certainly wasn't going to take it lying down, that was for sure.
     "You didn't have to-"
     "Have to what? Stop you from murdering someone you just met yesterday? Well, no. I didn't have to. But I'm not a fucking doormat, you know! And you know what? I happen to think that murdering people for no reason is wrong! And I'm not about to just let you do it! In my body, no less!"
     "What?" Bakura's eyes narrowed. "You've got a problem with me deciding what's going on with my body?" Yami stands there and seethes for a few seconds, clearly too angry to even speak.
     "There is a good reason!" he finally spits out.
     "Really?" Bakura is entirely sceptical of this.
     "Well, then, what is it?"
     "It's none of your fucking business, that's what!" This time he does disappear in a huff.

     The next few days, they ignore each other.
     Bakura spends most of his time on either the couch or the futon, half-asleep, doing his best to heal quickly. But after a couple of days, he can't even doze, he's that bored, so he starts to make a diorama. Of the game.
     He thinks he'll give it to Yuugi. He's quite sure he doesn't want it. It's not that it's badly done - it's far from his best piece, of course, since his left hand still isn't anywhere near healed (though he can move it a bit now without it hurting too much, which is good), but it's also far from his worst - it's just that it makes him feel a little uneasy. He's not sure why.
     And besides, he needs to give Yuugi a present - he did do his best to save his life, after all.

     The night before the day he's going to go to school again, Yami reappears from his sulk. He's brushing his teeth, so he does his best to ignore him, rather than try and argue while he has his mouth full of toothpaste. Even in theory, that's never going to go well.
     "You're going to school tomorrow," says Yami. It's not a question. They've both calmed down quite a bit over the past few days, but there's still an underlying anger in both of them. But Bakura's doing his best to ignore him, and Yami's not overtly trying to stir things, so perhaps it shall work out. "You, just - look." He snorts in apparent irritation. "I'd tell you not to be friendly with that kid, but seeing as it's you, you wouldn't listen to me anyway. So. Look. Don't go near the puzzle. No. Don't. And don't fucking touch it again." At this point, he made sure he was looking Bakura right in the eyes. "Because if you do, that bastard is going to try to claim you for his own, and I will not let that happen, understand?" He means it, and Bakura knows that. He still has no idea what's going on - but he's beginning to get an inkling that it's really, really bad.
     He goes to bed that night with a heavy heart.

     School the next day isn't much of a surprising event. He gets chewed out by his teachers for being absent so much, only for them to do a backwards turn when they see how much homework he's done in his absence.
     There's probing questions from his classmates as to his whereabouts, of course, but he's got so good at brushing such things off that he barely notices. The girls who all but kidnapped him the last day he was at school are the most persistent, but even they get bored after about an hour.
     He gives his diorama to Yuugi and his friends, who are suitably impressed, but that's about all the interaction he has with them. It's no surprise. They don't know about Yami, after all.
     They probably just think he's crazy.

     The next few weeks are relatively boring. He's managed to somehow scare off his classmates. Word has got around about the unpleasant teacher's coma, and, somehow, people always assume that he's the cause.
     And even though he is, that's not very nice of them, is it?
     Though he does notice people start to give sidelong glances at Yuugi, too, when the subject comes up, which he finds rather interesting. But it's so much easier to assume that the quiet, studious transfer student with the freaky hair and eyes is the culprit than the nice, bright cheerful, and, above all, likeable guy (with equally freaky hair and eyes) who's been here forever.
     Yuugi and his friends are, while not precisely avoiding him, not including him, either. They make polite remarks at each other, and that's about all.
     He's reminded oddly of Primary School.

     Yami touches his shoulder one night, as he's cooking, and it means can we stop fighting now?
     He playfully shoves him out of the way, and it means oh gods yes, please.
     Touch is, to them... well, technically, it doesn't exist. But, in the way that it exists in their own minds, it's important. Very important.
     It's something that they don't usually even notice that they're doing - which is probably why it works - but without it, they start to go a little mad. Nothing obvious, mind (or at least not at this stage), but the sun is a little harsher, the night a little colder, food a little blander; every small irritation magnified - but only by a tiny amount.
     And despite the fact that neither of them have left, they both start to feel lonely. And ultimately, they're too dependant on each other to be able to do without.

     There's a new craze at school - a card game. It's mainly Yuugi and his friends that actually play it at school, but everyone knows about it. He hears people discussing their decks between classes. He also hears that there's a plan to make a club for it in motion, even. He's not sure that that will happen - or that if it does it will last any respectful amount of time - but he's amused at just how fast it's all happened. It was only, what, three days ago that he'd first heard about it. Something like that. Yuugi and his friends have apparently been playing it for some time now, but it's only recently that people have started taking it as something more that the latest thing the game otaku's playing.
     Magic & Wizards, it's called. Bakura's not really that interested - he's a tabletop gamer, mostly, after all, but after seeing a game - a "duel", they call it - in progress, Yami becomes very interested. Even more interested than he had when they first started playing Monster World. And while it's not exactly his thing, Bakura starts paying more attention to it - it doesn't seem all that hard to play, once you got the cards, after all. They start to acquire cards - though it seems not many people like the more interesting ones, so it appears it's going to take them a while to build a deck.
     One day Yuugi has a video camera with him at school. This is unusual enough - but added to the fact that everyone in the group seemed to be depressed (very odd, given their usual personalities), Bakura surmises that something is up. Yami's all but cackling at their obvious distress (he is really quite a sore loser), and Bakura's curious - or possibly just nosy - so he goes over and makes inquiries.
     Yuugi's grandfather's soul is in the tape? It's been put there by an Item? This "Pegasus" guy... sounds very interesting. There's no doubt in either of their minds that Yuugi and his friends are going to go and see him, too - and that they're going to go with them, one way or another.
     They start talking about this "Kingdom" place; it appears that Pegasus has invited them there, more or less. And it's just so easy to show his interest in the Items... so, so easy to convince them to let him come along.
     So easy to convince them his interest is purely academic, too; all he has to do is mention his father and his work, and that he'd found one of the items some years ago.
     And he didn't even have to lie to them. It's the truth, after all.
     Just not exactly the whole truth.

     He feels sorry for Jounouchi.
     His sister - his sister - is going blind, and his family doesn't have the money to stop it.
     Amane... Amane had got the best treatment available. Everything. Anything that could help, even a little.
     But Jounouchi's sister is alive, too.
     So he can't help but feel a bit jealous.

     They leave for Kingdom the next Friday night.
     Despite it's popularity at school, they're rather surprised at the amount of people that show up. Obviously, this Pegasus guy isn't intent on just messing with Yuugi. And they're not just high school kids, either, which, for a craze, is kind of unusual. There's a rather attractive woman that Yuugi and his friends all make themselves fools over - though it's possible that Anzu was acting out of jealousy, not attraction.
     Yami, rather than being amused, is acting more concerned about the amount of people attending - and what that must say about the amount of people that play.
     He obviously knows more than he's telling Bakura, and that's really pissing him off. He'd have thought that after the Monster World game - which he still hadn't got an explanation about, by the way - he might be a bit more open with his plans. Obviously not.
     But that was okay. Bakura was going to make sure he knew what was going on this time.
     He'd make sure.

     Jounouchi Katsuya is either a saint or an idiot, Bakura's decided.
     Jumping off a ship for some cards? Cards that weren't even his? Neither of them can understand that. It's not like they're a person, or anything - they might be rare cards, that's true, but they're not something irreplaceable, either.
     'Though,' says Yami, 'that proves his undying loyalty.'
     Bakura doesn't really care about that, but if what they say about idiots and colds is right, he thinks Jounouchi's just proved his sainthood.

     He learns a lot about Magic & Wizards as Yuugi and Jounouchi make their way though this so-called Duellist's Kingdom. He'd memorised the rules before they'd left, of course, and many of the more common cards in competition - but there was nothing like watching the actual matches to learn how all that was applied in reality. And just how cut-throat this game really was.
     Yami's delight at that baffles him, but it's not really a surprise. Yami is not a nice person, and this, at it's core, is not a nice game. They go together rather well.

     Bakura knows about the Kaiba family by reputation, of course. It's kind of hard not to - particularly when your father is sort of a businessman (or at least was, before he went back to his digs).
     But he's still surprised at how involved Yuugi seems to be with them - and on a personal level. Though as into games as those two brothers were reputed to be, he's more surprised at the fact that he is surprised. Yuugi's just one of those people.
     The duel with the puppet-master raises some sneaking suspicions in his mind - and a whole lot of possibilities in Yami's.

     ...he can't believe they forgot to bring food.
     He just can't believe it. How could they have been so stupid?
     Luckily, the attractive woman - her name is Kujyaku Mai, though everyone calls her by her given name - comes to their rescue. She's obviously done this sort of thing before.
     He offers to cook, and Yuugi decides he's going to help him. He ...dislikes... cooking with other people, but he can't think of a response that, given the circumstances, would be anything other than tactless.
     It comes out delicious anyway.

     He's never slept out in the open before (to Yami's disgust), but it's surprisingly comfortable - so much so that he misses most of Mai's abduction by, loss to, and Yuugi's defeat of, the "player killer" known as Yami. (From the little Bakura sees of him, he's offended on behalf of his Yami - even though that's not his real name, to have someone like that share it is insulting.)
     Still, Jounouchi's antics are amusing, and it adds another dimension to the game, so perhaps it's worth the missed sleep.

     Yami wakes him up once it looks like everyone else has gone to sleep again. He is, of course, irritable about this.
     But Yami's looking more serious than normal, so he complies with his request to take the Ring out. As soon as he touches it, it starts to glow - and one of the points move and point at the castle. He's as fascinated as he is freaked out. He hadn't known that the Ring could be used to find things.
     Yami tells him that it's limited - you can't, for example, ask it to find a lost pair of glasses, or something of the sort. But directions are okay, and people, if you know them - or have something linked to them, if they have enough magic in their soul. But mainly, he says, it can locate the other Items - providing you don't ask it to do something different, it will do that automatically, if one is in range.
     He asks that why, then, isn't it pointing to Yuugi's puzzle. That earns him a gentle cuff 'round the head. Because, says Yami, we already know it's there! That doesn't exactly make sense, to Bakura, but as it's magic, he doesn't argue with it.
     Yami's pleased with this, though - it's proof that Pegasus really does have an Item.
     He's about to ask why it matters so much, when a vine drops on Honda, who, thinking it's a snake, freaks out and wakes everyone up. He uses the opportunity to hide the Ring from them. He doesn't want awkward questions, if he can help it.

     When the helicopter arrives, he about ready to start stealing the soul of whatever idiot had woken him up this time. It was becoming apparent that he was just fated to have a sleepless night - and as he hadn't slept the night before, that made him slightly irritable. Yami thought he was a wimp, of course, but, well. It was annoying.
     It's the other Kaiba brother. After about five minutes he decides he doesn't like him all that much.
     It's only after Jounouchi gets his ass handed to him (attitude aside, he is a good player) that he realises Yami feels the same sort of hatred for him as he does for Yuugi.

     At least, after that he gets to sleep the rest of the night. And despite the all-too-frequent interruptions, he's surprisingly alert.
     Well, they'd slept until half past nine, so that probably had something to do with it.
     Of course, not long after that, Jounouchi goes missing. It looks like it'll be another eventful day.

     He's not quite sure how the day can get worse. They're trapped. Underground. Left to die by that bastard foreigner and his friends!
     They don't have any food or water and the entrance they came in has been blocked and there might not be another exit and...
     Yami pulls him back into the space-in-the-back-of-his-mind. He doesn't do that often; it's a measure of how badly he's freaking out, really.
     He's not all the way back - he can't see anything other than the real world - but he can feel Yami (Yami's soul?) hold him (his soul?) close until he stops shaking.
     "Idiot," says Yami, but it's not an angry word, really. "You'd never have survived back home." Bakura doesn't quite get the true meaning of that until after he stops panicking, some hours hence.
     "I..." he whispers. He's not sure if he's far enough back that he's speaking in the real world, too, so he tries to be quiet.
     "Shut up," says Yami. "I know. Use the Ring." Use the Ring? But they've been trying to keep it hidden from Yuugi... "Your fears aren't entirely unjustified. We could be in here for days before we find an exit, if it's a big enough system. Use the damn Ring."
     He does so.
     There's questions, of course, but he brushes them off as best he can, using the 'my father asked me to look after it for him' excuse. He's not quite sure they buy it - especially not Yuugi - but they at least drop the subject, and let him concentrate.
     Unlike the night before, using the Ring to find the exit takes some work. He has to make sure he's thinking pretty much only of that - not that that's hard, given that, at the moment, that's the only thing he wants in the world.
     His fears aren't at all put to rest when they come across the Maze Brothers - but they can't move forward until they're beaten.

     Of course, with Yuugi as one of the participants on their side, the result is pretty much preordained. He doesn't pay much attention to what's going on, really.
     Anzu does ask him what the matter is, but he brushes it off as best he can. His (now that they've found other live human beings, that actually know their way around, rather irrational) fear isn't exactly something he wants to discuss.
     Yuugi - or, perhaps, more accurately, the other Yuugi - messes with people's heads, a little, and he can feel Yami's amusement. He'll ask what's going on later, once the walls stop looming so much. But whatever the other Yuugi does, it works, and they're moving on again, and then they're free. Sunshine, blessed sunshine. He isn't really a daytime person, but he'll be up dawn 'til dusk every day for the rest of his life if it means he won't get stuck underground again.
     He's shaking again, but this time it's with relief.

     Yuugi loses.
     Yami cackles with sheer delight at the back of his mind.
     And though he does try his best to comfort Yuugi - he can't help but be impressed by Kaiba's manoeuvre. He would, he thinks, make a great DM.

     Bakura recognises what's happened the second the younger Kaiba steps into the room. It's slightly different to what Ya... to what they do, but it's close enough. And even if it wasn't, he's seen enough of soulless bodies to last a lifetime.
     Yami's interested enough to join him in the front -the normal part- of his mind. It's a very odd sensation, and it doesn't happen very often. But it's... not discomforting.
     They watch, as Kaiba - the same Kaiba that just beat Yuugi - gets taken apart.
     The Eye is real, then. Even if the Ring hadn't shown them where it was, they'd know it. The Eye is here, and it is powerful. And it's owner is an absolute bastard.
     Yami wants that Eye, though, that much is obvious, and the only way they'd be able to get it would be to rip it out of his face.
     Bakura's not quite sure about that.

     Roughly about the same time Yuugi - the other Yuugi - calls out in surprise at the painting of an Egyptian man on the wall, Yami does the same in his head.
     'Shada!' says Yami. Shadi, the others says.
     But on all other accounts they seem to agree - holder of the Key, and an all-around bastard.
     He'd be somewhat amused at the fact that they're all agreeing on something, but he's a little too horrified at what the Key does to notice.
     'The things would eat him,' he whispers in his mind. He feels Yami's confusion.
     'What things?'
     'The things.' He shudders even thinking about it. 'In the alley.'
     'There's nothing-'
     'There is. They tried to eat me,' he says. Yami is instantly concerned, which is kind of touching.
     'When was this?'
     'Just after I- when you weren't in my head anymore. I had to go find you. They tried to eat me.' If he can stick to short sentences, maybe he won't remember. Or at least maybe he won't remember so vividly.
     'What the hell are you talking about?' He's spared from having to answer by Honda and Jounouchi fighting.
     And the whole thing slips his mind once they eyeballs come out.

     He's tired. He's really tired. And it's the middle of the night. Why is he not asleep in his bed?
     Oh, that's right. Because he shares a mind with a sadist, that's why!
     'Quit whining,' says Yami. 'You know you want to look around too,' Which is entirely beside the point.
     'I'd rather we didn't skulk around like some sort of criminal to do so!' he snaps back.
     'But we are criminals!' says Yami, somehow gleeful at the prospect. 'So it's only fitting we do this the proper way.'
     '...shut up,' he says. He doesn't want to think about that. And then Yami's standing beside him, instead of in his mind. Running a hand through his hair. Whispering in his ear. 'It's nothing to be ashamed of, Yadonushi-mine. Nothing to be ashamed of at all. We've wanted to, and we have, and who can tell Us what to do? They don't - they can't - understand, so why,' he can feel his breath on his ear - but how? 'worry about what they call us, yes?' He shivers, and it's not because it's cold.

     He'd kind of like to kill Yami right now.
     Really, he would. Getting caught by guards on purpose? What good can that do? (Yami, of course, isn't saying anything - but is also acting incredibly smug, as he does his best to talk his way out of this situation. So aggravating!)
     ...and now Honda's very, very lucky neither of them hurt him very badly just then. What was he thinking, grabbing them like that!
     ...well, it appears that Honda's dead set on getting himself killed anyway, so... It's kind of a petty vengeance, but he goes along with Honda's 'plan'. He has to play the fool again, which is so very embarrassing, but, well. Petty revenge usually is.

     He's let Yami be 'in charge' of his body, for a bit. He hasn't got a sporty bone in his body, after all, but Yami does, and what they're doing rather requires it. Rescuing Princess Honda from his high tower will be the ultimate form of revenge, after all.
     And hey, they might find something else interesting, while they're at it.

     It's not that he's surprised at Yami's violence, really. It's more that he's surprised at the whole lack of new Monster World models.
     But, perhaps that would scare Honda a little more than necessary. They want to scare him, after all, and take him down a few (more) pegs - but they don't want him running off to Yuugi, terrified. That would be... counterproductive.
     And the whole, you know, 'ahahaha how much do you suck' works so much better when you're on an equal footing. (Well, more or less equal, anyway.)
     The look on his face is worth it.

     Honda is suspicious of them, of course. It's not everyday you find a seventeen-year-old gamer-geek that can also knock out three first-class armed guards, after all.
     And Bakura's finding he simply doesn't care if he's looked at like he might explode into a violent rage any second. He's almost feeling like he wouldn't care if he did explode into a violent rage in the not too distant future, even if it's just to mess with Honda's mind a bit more. He feels guilty for not feeling guilty about that. But only a little.

     They rescue the younger Kaiba pretty easily. Yami's acquired the keys to the tower-prison, after all. Honda seems intent on carrying the boy, though, which Bakura finds quite silly. It had been obvious that, even soulless, this boy could walk on his own. A bit like a zombie, perhaps, but it was still walking. He wondered how it was done. His friend's bodies had just gone into comas. No where near as interesting.
     The hard part is finding somewhere to stash him for a while. Honda, despite his obvious distaste for the man, wants to rescue the elder Kaiba's body, too. He isn't in the same tower as his brother, though, so they're left with something of a dilemma. Bakura watches Yami and Honda bicker for a while, but he's gone three days without much in the way of sleep, so he dozes off eventually.

     He's woken to Yami shoving roughly at his mind. He snarls, and does the mental equivalent of rolling over and going back to sleep. He's not ready to get up yet, damnit.
     It happens again, and this time he lashes out, complete with giant fuck off message. The shoving squeaks, and retreats quickly. He's about to roll over again, when his brain catches up. Wait. Waitwaitwait. Yami doesn't squeak. ...doesn't run away, either. What the fuck is going on?
     As he rolls out of bed, he hears Yami - the real Yami - laughing at someone. Not him. Hmm.
     He moves from 'sleeping' to 'awake and in control of his body' in almost an instant. His eyes feel heavy, and, despite his annoyance, it's all he can do not to fall asleep again on the spot. Unlike his mind, his body's obviously not got any sleep. Again.
     "What the fuck," he yawns, "is going on?" This is roughly the point where his vision clears enough for him to be able to see properly. He blinks. Nothing changes.
     "You're Pegasus, aren't you?" he asks the rather shocked looking man.

     He doesn't like Pegasus at all, he's decided. He knows Yami doesn't like him at all either. Of course, this is probably why Yami's going out of his way to pick a fight with the man. Bakura's not stupid, he can tell when someone's picking a fight - even when said person's not living in his head.
     In the end, though, Pegasus justifies everything - everything - he'd done with some lady called 'Cynthia'. As he'd been asleep through that explanation, that goes right over his head - at least until Yami info-dumps him on the subject.
     "She's dead," he yells. He didn't even realise he's moving until after the fact. "She's dead, and you can't bring the dead back!" (No matter how much you want to no matter how much it hurts no matter what you'll sacrifice you can't you can't you can't.)
     "I saw her! I-" He cuts him off.
     "You were delusional! You'd just lost an eye, for fuck's sake! It wasn't real."
     "It was, you foolish little boy! You have no idea..." That was it. He snaps.
     "Play a game with me," he says, and feels the darkness surround them.

     Okay, so maybe a Game of heads-or-tails isn't exactly the most impressive thing out there. He doesn't care. He's won.
     "As punishment," he says, "I think I'll take that eye of yours." And then he smiles.

     He wakes up in his own bed.
     He's not sure how he got there. The last thing he really remembers is - oh, gods. Did he really....
     There's blood still under his fingernails.
     He doesn't quite make it to the toilet before he throws up.

     Despite his own feelings on the matter, however, it's obvious that Yami's pleased with him. He tries not to dwell on the reasons for that too much, though. Because, well. It's kind of nice.

     By the time he wakes up, it's too late to go to school on Monday. But come Tuesday, he goes and... though he knows he shouldn't be, he's surprised at the normality. Other than Yuugi and his friend's happier spirits, it's the same as any other day. He's twitchy, for a while. But he always is, post wierd-things-happening.
     One of the weirdest things does happen at school, though - Yuugi and his group seem to have taken him in. It isn't just a hello, good bye sort of thing, anymore - it's like he actually belongs.
     It's really quite nice.

     Before long, though, exams are upon them. Bakura isn't worried at all about them - not to get into second year! - but everyone else is, it seems. So, he helps them study, as best he could.
     Yuugi is unsurprisingly quite bright, once he puts his mind to it (which it often takes all four of them, plus his other self to get him to do), and Anzu is thorough and organised (she has to be, to juggle ballet, study, a secret part-time job and still have something like a social life). Honda isn't an idiot, but he doesn't care too much about his marks (but will study if everyone else is, at least). Jounouchi is the one he worries about most, actually. It's isn't as if he's anything like stupid, and he's so dedicated to his continuing education Bakura had no doubt he'll at least end up with a degree - or perhaps even a PHD. It's just that he has trouble understanding things that don't directly relate to the real world. Geography, fine, language, fine, applied mathematics... not so good.
     But they get through them in the end, and everyone passes, at the very least. He ends up being second in the year, actually, which he's happy with (apparently the elder Kaiba brother goes to their school. No wonder they had known him so well! And as he is a renowned genius, he really doesn't feel at all bad about losing to him), but impresses Yuugi, Jounouchi and Honda to no end.

     He spends much of the holidays working on his board. Or, at least, that was his intention.
     He does end up working on it quite a bit, but no where near as much as he'd planned - he keeps being asked out to things. And, he goes. They spend a lot of time playing games - either at Yuugi's house, or at arcades.
     He begins to find that he's really enjoying himself, too. It's nice. And though he knew he'd never admit it, he thought Yami was, too. Just a little. (As long as the other Yuugi wasn't around, anyway.) He still doesn't offer to play another Monster World game - and they don't ask, either.

     With his father still away, he has to stand in for him at the Museum, a bit. Nothing big - just meeting some of people putting on the exhibits, and other small things. His father has implied that he'll be inheriting it when he is older, so normally he is more than happy to do such things, and they fit in so well with his normal life he barely notices.
     Only, the nice Egyptian lady who'd come over from Cairo to check the space out before deciding what she'd bring for the upcoming Ancient Egypt exhibit? Has one of the Items.
     He's pretty sure she hasn't noticed him noticing, and even Yami had admits that trying to grab it now - especially when she'll be back in the country for longer than a weekend in a few months - is too risky. But still. It makes him wonder, a bit.
     Something big is coming, he's sure. He has no idea what it is, but he's sure it'll change his life.

     The night before school starts again, Yami appears as he's running around making sure he has everything ready for tomorrow. This in itself isn't particularly unusual - Yami often appears at odd times, after all - but his serious, almost pensive face is.
     "What," he says, not paying all that much attention - he's too busy trying to make sure his uniform is clean, his books are all together, his pencil-case is full, his shoes are clean, he has enough food in the place to make lunch in the morning...
     "...you," says Yami and then pauses. The uncharacteristic hesitance makes Bakura look up and actually pay attention for a second. "You said that there are... things. In our head. That aren't us. That attacked you."
     "Yes," he says, but finds himself otherwise at a loss for words. That had been weeks ago, now. What did it matter anymore? But Yami seems to be serious about it, at least.
     "Tell me." Bakura frowns at him.
     "Tell me why you hate the other Yuugi, then," he says.

     Later, he'd wonder why Yami waited until it was the day before school started again to ask him. At the time, he was too upset to care.

     He's starting to get used to this whole I'm-actually-exhausted-but-I'm-not-going-to-show-it thing. Which he thinks is kind of a bad thing. Particularly as it involves catnapping with his eyes open during class. Well, his understanding of what they're being taught is unchanged, so it probably isn't too bad of him, but still...
     Their new class is almost the same as their old one - there are a couple of changes, but they'd all stuck together, which is kind of nice.
     And most of the girls that had been giggling at him are now fawning over someone else - black hair, not all that bad looking (pretty, in fact, says Yami, and he finds he has to agree). Slightly full of himself, though, it seems. Otogi Ryuuji, says Yuugi.
     Then he humiliates Jounouchi, and Bakura decides he doesn't really like him. The other Yuugi humiliates him back, of course, but that's it, for him. He might like thoroughly trouncing people - but humiliation is something he can't stand.

     Bakura has no idea what DDD is (nor, does it seem, does anyone), but he goes along to the launch anyway. Yuugi's almost exploding with excitement about it (such a game otaku... not that he could really talk), and despite his grandfather's misgivings about the whole thing, they go in and buy some of the ...boosters, he supposes. Yuugi said he was going to buy a rule book, too (and given how expensive they were, Bakura was going to let him. He didn't want to buy one until after he at least knew what the game was).
     But they wait outside the store for nearly an hour, before the guards tell them what had happened. It's obviously a pack of lies; Yuugi's too honest a soul to even consider such a thing. (And the half-dozen boosters that Yami had secreted on his person was proof that they weren't actually all that good at finding thieves, anyway.)
     But still... he has a very bad feeling about this...

     Whatever it actually was, though, DDD was so cool. Dice. It's a game of dice.
     He has no idea what the symbols on the dice meant, but they're still awesome. And then Jounouchi drops one by accident.... and it pops open to reveal a monster! Dice! With monsters inside! So cool!
     They spend a few hours at Yuugi's house with his grandfather, trying to figure out what the game actually is, and pretending not to fret about Yuugi. Eventually, though, he starts worrying a little too much, and makes his excuses. The way home from Yuugi's house is the opposite way to what he wants to go, but it's not too hard to double back. It's late, now; they've closed the store. Well, it is a Sunday, that's hardly surprising. Of course, since it's obvious that Yuugi's still there, the security guards are too.
     Yami takes care of the guards, though. (He's worried about Yuugi, too, not that he'd ever say as much. Because, despite his hatred of the other Yuugi... it was impossible to dislike Yuugi. Not for long, anyway.) They don't have any guards in Monster World yet, anyway. Not real guards, at least.

     They watch, for a bit, before they make themself known. Yuugi's in trouble. And the Puzzle's in pieces again.
     They kind of want to kill Otogi's father for that. Just a lot. Three thousand years since it's been solved... who would break something like that? (Steal it, they can understand, if it stays whole, but break it? It makes no sense.)
     They still don't know how to play the game... but this is Yuugi. And they know that he can win.
     Unfortunately, he seems to be losing faith in himself, rather rapidly. The loss of the puzzle hit him deeply. (Bakura can sort of understand. If someone took his Ring... well, he'd get violent rather than weepy, but it's much the same concept, really.) Yami makes an annoyed noise in their head, but... they know what they have to do.

     Yuugi's surprised to see them, of course. They're expecting that. It's just that they're acting like they're a DM (he does this whenever he's nervous, actually, and it somehow come naturally to Yami, when he's not talking to Bakura), and they can see the slight fear in him, too. That... sort of hurts.
     But they grin (really, they do, and that kind of scares Otogi) and bear it, and they encourage Yuugi along as best they can without actually knowing what's going on in the game. This mostly involves bluffing. But they're good at that.

     And, surprise surprise, Yuugi wins. They have to use a bit more of their inside information about the Puzzle than Yami really wants to to spur him on, but he wins.
     Bakura helps him pick up the pieces of the puzzle. Only, Yami... borrows one. And does something to it, before giving it back.
     'Yami, what...'
     'It's to keep track of him,' he says. 'In case something else like this happens to him.' Bakura can't hear him lying... but he's not so sure that's the whole truth, either. But he lets it slide.

     They think that's it, then. Yuugi's won, and asserted his dominance over Otogi and his father - at least for the moment. They're really not expecting Otogi's father to break all the rules of gaming decency, and grab Yuugi. They're really, really not - and by the time they see what's happening, getting involved could get... messy. (And stealing souls is sort of not the sort of thing you should do when you're going to have witnesses, if at all possible. Particularly when you have a string of comas behind you already.)
     Yuugi's taken into a back room, and after about a minute, smoke starts coming out. Half a second later, the cavalry, otherwise known as Jounouchi, Honda, Anzu and Mutou Sugoroku show up. They appear to already know that he's here, which he finds interesting... but no where near as pressing as the current situation.
     Honda and Jounouchi break the door down... and he can feel Yami go queasy at the flames. He doesn't want to know how that works.
     Yuugi won't leave the puzzle, though. Everyone else thinks he's mad, but Bakura understands. Even though he somehow knows that fire alone won't destroy it... he understands.
     He wouldn't be able to leave the Ring, either.

     He's visiting the hospital every day again.
     But unlike last year... this time, he's filled with hope.

     He knows Yuugi wants to talk to him. He's not at all surprised about that, actually. But while he's in the hospital, there's not really a chance to; there's always people everywhere. There always is, in hospitals - except for perhaps the coma ward (which he has to sort of acknowledge, was created due to him. He tries not to think about that). And Yuugi does have some tact.
     But even though Yuugi's injured worse than Jounouchi is (more time in middle of the fire, plus a smaller frame will do that to you...), it's not all that long before he's back at school, too. It's almost summer, as well, so it's not that hard for Yuugi to get Jounouchi, Honda and Anzu to go and play basketball one lunchtime. It's masterfully done; if he wasn't watching for something like it, he never would have noticed. In fact, given that it's Yuugi, he may not have done it consciously. But it's still ...interesting.

     They try to convince them to play basketball too. But Yuugi's got a new game - an odd 3D maze, today - so they don't push him too hard. They try a bit more with Bakura, despite having seen how awful he is at the sport in class, but they eventually leave him alone. He continues eating his lunch and mentally designing a new dungeon boss model.
     It only takes Yuugi five minutes to finish his maze. He fidgets nervously for a second, glancing up at Bakura.
     "Bakura-kun, I..." He looks down at Yuugi (he's sitting on his desk), and smiles.
     "Shall we go to the roof, then?" Yuugi's look of shocked embarrassment is absolutely priceless.

     The chain-link fence is a little high to lean against, but he tries his best, anyway. He's tempted to jump up and sit on the top of it, like Yami's doing, but he's already a head and a half taller than Yuugi, who's looking nervous enough already, so he doesn't.
     He looks out over the city, and waits for Yuugi to say something. He hasn't actually been up on the roof, before, apart from the bit you have to cross to get to the science labs. It's kind of a nice view, actually.
     "Bakura-kun..." Yuugi starts. Stops. Looks around nervously. He wonders why it's so hard for Yuugi to just say it.
     "The guards, at Otogi-kun's shop, they were... and I..."
     "Were wondering if the Amazing Coma Boy had struck again?" says Yami, and Yuugi jumps in shock.
     "Ba... Bakura-kun... there's someone sitting on the fence behind you..." he says.

     Okay, so not only could Yuugi hear Yami, he could see him, too, once he knew he was there.
     This was... unusual.
     Bakura deliberately ignored any jealousy he may or may not have felt at that.

     "Oh," he says, "yes. There is," so you're not crazy, is implied, though he doesn't say that, as it wouldn't be precisely true. Yuugi calms down at his completely unsurprised tone, which is a very good thing.
     "He's... someone you know?"
     "I am," says Yami, jumping down of the fence and peering at Yuugi over Bakura's shoulder, "the soul sealed into that Ring." He grins, full of scary teeth. "Similar to the other you, an essence of darkness."
     "I call him Yami for short," says Bakura, giving a half-grin.

     Once he gets over his shock, Yuugi's very curious about them, unsurprisingly. They try not to give away too much - neither of them is comfortable with others knowing their secrets - but Yuugi doesn't call out his other self, so it's not a bad time.
     Bakura's never been around anyone else that can see Yami before, so it takes a while for him to get used to; he's so used to not outwardly acknowledging anything Yami says that it's difficult to remember that it's actually a proper conversation between three people, not a two-way one with snide comments in between.
     Yuugi asks about the comas, of course, and while they admit that yes, they had caused them... that's all they say about it. And Yuugi's smart enough not to push them.
     Before long, though, the bell for lunch goes, and they have to hurry back to class. He can tell Yami wants to say something to him... but doesn't. Perhaps it's because of Yuugi, perhaps it's because he worries about being on class on time... but all he does is touch his hair, and disappear back into the place-in-the-back-of-his-mind.

     He's slightly wary, the rest of the day... but Yuugi doesn't say a thing to anyone else about Yami. He's relieved, about that. He doesn't really mind Yuugi knowing (Yuugi, who can, in some small way, understand), but everyone else... he doesn't want them to know. Not if he can help it. Not yet.
     But Yuugi has compassion, as well as smarts, so he's pretty sure he won't tell unless he has to, since he doesn't immediately.

     Yami jumps him, as soon as he gets home. His hands are in his hair and he's pushing him against the wall, and he's kissing him, and... it's pure ownership. With everything he is, Yami is saying mine to him. And for some reason that makes him happy, so, with all his body and soul, he says mine back. If he didn't know better, he wouldn't have even known that Yami wasn't physically there.
     It's not about lust at all... though as he goes off to make dinner, he concedes he wouldn't mind if it was, either.

     The next day at school, everyone's talking about the exhibit opening on the weekend at the museum.
     "Oh," he says, once he figures out just which exhibit they're talking about, "you mean Ms. Ishtal's exhibit. Yes, I think it will be a good one; some stuff that's never been out of Egypt before is supposed to have come over for it." He hasn't seen it himself, yet; he's supposed to go over on Thursday evening, to check that everything's going smoothly (which it is; they'd have called him if it wasn't), and it's still only Tuesday.
     It takes him a moment to notice that they're staring at him. He moves his head in a silent 'what?' gesture.
     "Bakura-kun..." says Anzu, "You know the person putting on the exhibit?" He laughs, short, but not exactly bitter.
     "Not exactly. I met her, a while ago, but...." he pauses. Thinks. What should he say? He decides on the purest truth. Its nothing bad, and Yuugi... and these people deserve that, if he can give it. "My father, he owns the museum. But he's abroad right now, so I occasionally have to look after things for him here." He smiles, and they stare at him a little more.
     "Wow," says Honda, after a second.
     "That's cool!" adds Jounouchi. He smiles at them again.
     "So I can get you in for free, if you want!" And then they laugh, and, like so much that happens to this group... they just accept it for what it is.

     They're so enthusiastic about the exhibit that he invites them to come along on Thursday. It's almost summer, so it's still light out, despite it's being almost eight out. (They'd eaten beforehand, and the museum wasn't exactly close to school in any case, after all)
     Ms. Ishtal is standing at the top of the steps as they're climbing them, arguing with a blond boy (roughly their age?) in Arabic. His Arabic isn't all that good, and they're speaking very fast, so he's not certain what they're arguing about, though.
     He can feel the Ring notice them, though. He wonders if it's just pointing out Ms. Ishtal's Item again, or if the blond boy has one, too. Neither would really surprise him, the way things are going.
     As they get a bit closer, he can tell that something's ...off... about the blond, too.
     'He's given himself to chaos,' says Yami. "Or perhaps only part of himself?' he sounds confused. And Bakura knows enough about the world to know that when Yami's confused about things involving magic... bad things are about to happen.

     As he greets Ms. Ishtal, and vaguely (very vaguely, just in case) introduces his friends, he notices the way the blond eyes the Puzzle, and feels his apprehension return. As Ms. Ishtal introduces the blond as her brother, Malik, the apprehension somehow turns to dread. There will be trouble, from this one, he somehow knows.
     Yami rolls his eyes at him, and calls him a melodramatic twit, of course, and starts to plot on how to best use the boy, which he thinks is rather mean of him. But he's not surprised at all.
     And as he chats to Ms. Ishtal, he notices the way she's eyeing Yuugi, too. And he almost bursts out laughing. She doesn't know he knows about Yuugi and the puzzle, and he's sure that the only reason she hasn't all but jumped him. Because no matter how much you want to talk to the one who solved the Puzzle, you don't do anything that might offend the guy who is, to all intents and purposes, in charge of your exhibit. That's just good sense.

     It's a very interesting exhibit. Yuugi and his friends wonder over the two tablets, of course. Bakura finds them amusing - and slightly unsettling - himself, but what really throws him is some of the newly-unearthed jewellery. It's old and slightly broken, as most discoveries are - time has a way of doing that to things, after all. But it's unmistakably the same things Yami wears, as his spirit-self.
     It obviously disturbs Yami, too; he just stands there, staring, for the longest time. He thinks, privately, that perhaps it's only now - seeing something of his own put on display as the ancient past - that Yami really understands what had happened to him.
     He wants to hold him, to let him know hey, you still have me, I'll be yours forever, but he's quite sure that Yuugi and his friends aren't quite so involved with the tablets as to ignore that. And getting them involved with something so personal would just be awful.

     They don't get home until after midnight. It isn't unusual for him to be up that late, this is true, but it's still quite a weird thing, for them.
     He potters about the kitchen, for a while, washing the morning's dishes, and making sure he'll have enough food ready-to-go for lunch tomorrow. He has the feeling he'll sleep in in the morning. But he does that most Fridays. It isn't a hard thing to guess.
     Yami is quieter than usual, and just curls up on on corner of the couch. It doesn't surprise him, but it still worries him. So after he's finished in the kitchen, he goes over to him. And though it's physically impossible, he sits on his lap, and strokes his hair, and they stay that way until they both fall asleep.
     And it is enough.

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