Fuck. I hate it when the blinds are left open. The
sunlight's streaming in, hitting me right in the eye. Good thing
I'm not a vamp, is all I'm saying, as often as I forget to close the
drapes; I'd be a crispy critter by now, like I think Seto was wanting
to do to the last assassin. Not the one last night, but the one
before it, the vampire mercenary dumb enough to take Oyaji's
money. I never did find out what happened to that guy...
Still, the drapes are open and the light is blinding me. I don't think I'm getting up to deal with it any time soon though. For one, the window in my bedroom doesn't exactly face east. If the sun's streaming in like this, then it's well past noon. Guess that's what I get for hanging out with vampires. And well, for another, Yami's apparently still asleep and his arms are wrapped around me securely but not too tightly. We had another aborted bit of - as Kitty likes to call it - 'couple time' last night, which led to another night of just sleeping next to each other, both of us too tired for much more, but neither of us can get too mad at Mokuba for worrying about us. It looks like the half-pint and Jounouchi-kitty are perhaps the first to realize Yami and I aren't going to be living forever also.
No, Seth and Noa probably know too and just aren't saying anything. I forget sometimes how old those two are: that Noa's around eighty and Seth is pushing four hundred. They're probably more aware of our mortality than we are. Not that I really want Seto to figure it out any time soon. I've seen how overprotective the man can get watching him with Mokuba these past few months.
Still Mokuba was so damned concerned last night that someone was going to shoot me right there in the mansion, in the den with its front-facing windows. It took till nearly two in the morning to get him calmed down, and by then we were both ready to drop. We almost crashed in our separate rooms, but we got as far as mine and the discovery that my roommate of late - Kitty - was gone. I seem to vaguely recall reading a note from him also, something about sleeping in the room where his stuff is, Seto, Malik, and... space iguanas in penguin suits? Maybe I dreamed that last part, though. It's either that or what happened with Marik shook Jounouchi up more than he's admitting.
The warm weight behind me stirs as Yami starts to yawn himself awake. It's not that he's a deep sleeper, I don't think, compared to what I've seen of 'normal' people. It's more that, I've been in Domino about two and half years now, and I'm still jumpy. It's gotten worse since Oyaji's started sending goons after me. I don't know if even Kitty's noticed I rarely sleep more than four or five hours anymore; rather, it's an hour or so here, twenty minutes there. If there's anything I learned in those ten years with Oyaji, it was to hide whether I'm awake or not.
It's strange though. I sleep better like this, when Yami's with me, than I do any other time. Maybe it's not too strange. Maybe it just seems strange to me because all of this is still so new to me, this being in a relationship, caring for and worrying about another person who's not family. In a lot of ways, I'm used to only worrying about Ryou; Jounouchi can take care of himself. I guess Yami can too, and...
He's making a rather disgusted noise, one arm letting go of me to try and block the light. A morning person Yami is not, not by any stretch of the imagination. I like mornings better than Yami, and that's saying a lot. "Can I shoot the light?" he grumbles.
"It'd probably just make it worse," I return. Knowing our luck, after all. I roll so that I'm laying over him, supported on my elbows, and lean down to kiss him. "Good morning."
I can feel his hands move to the small of my back, just above my boxers. "It is now." He does say some of the sappiest things sometimes, but that's all right in my book, mainly because all of this is really new to me. I think I've mentioned that before though. I move my hand through his hair, quietly amazed that it's so soft but move it and it springs right back into place. "Kura..."
And there's a banging on the door, loud enough to make us both jump. "Bakura? Yami? You guys still in there?"
I smack my head down on the pillow next to Yami's head with a sighed "God damn it". Really, I love Mai to pieces, but her timing is abysmal. To be fair, it could have been worse; she could have waited a few more minutes. Still... "Can I kill her?"
"Magnum would be pissed," he returns softly. All the same, I can hear the same frustration that I feel in his voice. This just seems to keep happening to us. It's like the gods are against us or something. If that's the case, though, give me a couple more of these starts and stops and I'll be finding a way to put those interfering bastards in their place. Anyway, moving on...
She knocks on the door again, hard enough that I can hear it rattle, and I have to resist the urge to try to brain myself with this pillow. "I can hear you in there. Get up. You've got to be in twenty minutes."
Huh? I lift my head and look at the door, so I'm not yelling directly in Yami's ear, and call back, "What're you talking about?"
"Cynthia-san just called. She's in Domino to see you two." She turns the door knob till I hear the lock catch then crunch before she pushes it the rest of the way open. The surprised expression on her face is almost - almost! - worth it, before it gives way to a smirk. "Am I interrupting something?"
Yami shifts beneath me, and something goes flying at her, which of course she dodges. At least it wasn't my alarm clock this time. "Out, Mai," he orders.
"We'll be down in a few," I finish.
She gives us a critical look at that but nod. "I'll have Akito bring the car around. Be ready in ten, you guys." She pulls the door closed behind her. For now, I'll pretend not to notice I'm going to need a new lock on that door now. This is getting a little old, though to be fair, it was Mokuba the time before this and Kitty the first time, both when I was still sleeping off the meds from the hospital. I think Seto's starting to tired of replacing it, and I know I'm tired of that overdramatic sigh he does every time I ask.
"What do you think she wants?" Yami asks.
"No time like the present to find out."
I hope Cynthia isn't expecting me to eat a lot, since I think my stomach got left at the last stoplight. But hey, we left five minutes later than we'd intended and we're still three minutes early to meet the human servant of the Master of Tokyo at a restaurant I'd have never been able to justify going to to before. After all, a glass of soda here is probably equal to or more than what I paid for Ryou's school uniforms. I am so not picking up the tab for today's little excursion. My brother and I are currently living on Seto's good graces - and I'm not sure how far those extend. It's not like I've had a job in over two months also. Hmm, I wonder if -
"Bakura-kun! Yami-kun!" And right on cue, there's Cynthia. She even witchied down for this meeting, so that she looks like your average, everyday rich gaijin. If one ignores the fact there's still something otherworldly about her. We bypass the maitre'd completely and head over to her table, Mai trailing behind us. I can't even see anyone guarding her; surely, the tigers are supposed to watch her. I mean, yeah, she can't die till Pegasus does, but I'd imagine getting shot still hurts like hell. At least, that's my understanding of the whole master-human servant thing. I've been known to make mistakes from time to time.
And Yami's putting on his charming best. "It's good to see you again, Cynthia-san. You look very nice today," he compliments as he takes a seat at her table next to her. If I didn't know where his tastes lie, I'd almost swear he's flirting and I should be jealous. Almost.
"Thank you. And how're you doing, Bakura-kun?" I swear she's beaming as I sink down in a chair as well. "You're looking a lot better."
"I am a lot better," I respond. Last time I saw her was right after I got out of the hospital though, so most anything's better than I was then. "They're letting me out of the house now," I pointedly glance over at Yami, "though I can't say for how much longer if people keep taking potshots at me."
He has the good grace to look a little ashamed. We had a bit of a row about me going outside after the first attempt. "I don't want anyone taking you away from me like that, Kura."
Cynthia's got that look in her eyes, like she's about to do the chick thing and start going 'aww'. Thankfully, she restrains herself and instead turns her next question to Yami. "How's your training going? Mahaado-kun isn't too hard a taskmaster, is he?"
I have bite back a snicker. Yami's got Mahaado wrapped around his finger, I swear. I think he gets out of training more than he goes. As far as I know, the only problem they have is Mahaado insists on calling him 'Atemu' and it drives Yami nuts. "Not too bad," he qualifies.
She smiles broadly. "He's driving you crazy, isn't he?"
"Out of my mind," he agrees.
She turns an easy smile to encompass me as well. "I ordered for you both. I hope you don't mind. The owner is a friend of Pegasus'."
Of course Tokyo gets the friendly, charismatic Master, and we end up with the one vampire who still has a tree up his ass. Though, seriously, I guess it could have been a lot worse than Seto. I mean, after all, he did take the brat and me in after I got out of the hospital; and as long as he likes us, we'll probably never have to to pay for anything again; and he has at least been making the effort to be more social around the house, though of late something seems to be holding his efforts back, if not completely reversing them. Hmm... I wonder if Varon's ever treated cranky, antisocial master vampires before. Oh well, it'd be a good exercise for him, to try out new insults on us if nothing else. Yeah, Varon's cool in my book, even if he is an annoying little shit sometimes. I'd have liked to have had running with us back in my Tokyo days, if only to keep us patched up and in line. Maybe I'll mention that next time he's around. Probably won't be too long anyway. We're a danger-prone bunch.
"That's wonderful, Cynthia-san. Thank you." Yami's definitely the one with any manners whatsoever in this relationship. "How are things in Tokyo?" Small talk, how I hate it.
Her smile slips a little, and my interest is suddenly perked. Trouble in paradise? "We still think someone is passing on information to your father for these attempts on your life, Bakura-kun, but we've yet to find out who it is. Pegasus is... quite unhappy with the lack of progress."
If anything, I think Yami's frowning harder than I've ever seen, but something about it also tells me he's thinking a bit too hard. "Cynthia-san," he finally asks, "do you think it would help at all if we have Kaiba pass on some misinformation?"
"It's possible, but I can't see where that will help us track down the leak." She sighs, rubbing her forehead. Is it too odd for me to be wondering how long she's been using that gesture? I mean, she looks just about the same age or a little younger than my stepmother, but she's at least a hundred years old... and she's still human. "It has to be one of the vampires but not any of the ones Pegasus himself turned. I'd sooner suspect Yami-kun here of passing on the information than one of our tigers, and the vampires Pegasus made have sworn a blood oath to be loyal to him."
I wonder if Treeboy know to do that, not that he's turned anybody or shows any intention of doing so. Then again he never showed any indication he was going to move Ryou, Kitty, and me into his house either, so who knows. And I'm sure Seth will tell him all about it when the time comes, if the time ever comes. So long as he doesn't ever get it in that thick vampire skull of his to even think of practicing on me. Otherwise I might feel inclined to yank the tree out of his ass and stake him with it. I happen to enjoy my billing as one of the few humans in this little menagerie, even if I'm not completely 'normal'. See, I can admit it.
We are momentarily save from having to continue this conversation as the waitress arrives. Well, at least it's just drinks and some kind of soup. It can't be too bad, can it? It's not miso and it's not chicken noodle, and that's the extent of my knowledge on the matter because those are the only two kinds of soup the brat and Kitty ever care to make, and I'm still not allowed in the kitchen. According to one of Mokuba's caffeine-induced ramblings, the brat pass on word of the Toaster Incident. Also according to Mokuba, my Toaster Incident puts me even with Treeboy and the Popcorn Accident. Don't ask me; until that conversation, I never realized the potential of popcorn as a weapon or as suctioning materials. Now, granted, this was prior to Seto being turned, but there are still little black lumps attached to the ceiling!
Cynthia takes a small sip of her soup and returns to the small talk. "How's your brother, Bakura?"
I follow her lead and try a little. Not too bad indeed. "He's okay. Usually somewhere between worried sick and oblivious, thanks to his brother," I answer, nodding at Yami.
"And how is Yuugi-kun these days, Yami-kun?"
An honest-to-God grin breaks out over his face. Yuugi's always one of his favorite subjects of conversation. "He's enjoying all the attention. Kura can see him, Jounouchi-kun can scent him, and Ryou-kun hangs out with him."
So that's what they told him they're doing? Hanging out? Man, but are they keeping him in the dark. The brat did his best mile-a-minute babble at me, once I was home and coherent, and told me all about him and the Ghost Mini-Me. The logistics of it still confuses me, but as long as I don't get any details and they keep clearing their little 'conversations' off my laptop, I'm trying to be cool with it. I keep waiting on them to start asking to borrow Treeboy's laptop, though, because that thing has a battery life measured in days instead of hours. I'd love to know what he did to it to make it like that, as long as I don't have to sit through a techno-babble explanation. That's why I try to avoid asking Seto too many questions; the explanations end up going way over my head. And whoops, damn, I went way off track there, didn't I?
"And Seto-kun?" she's asking. I swear, every time we talk, even just on the phone, she asks about him. I think she is asking either because Pegasus is the one who turned him up as Domino's Master and they want to keep track of him (he is the next closest Master to them) or because she wants to mother him. If it's the latter, she might have to employ the 'swift kick in the pants' method of making him listen. But I again digress. "How is he adjusting? Is he taking care of himself?"
I can't resist snickering. "He doesn't have much of a choice. If he tries missing a meal, he gets held down and force-fed."
I don't have to look at Yami to know he's smirking around his food. He got quality blackmail pictures during one of those times. I know he's happy about that because he and Treeboy still don't get along worth a shit. I keep waiting for them to go from veiled threats and blackmail to outright warfare, because when they get to that point, I'm finding another place to be. Although with how Seto's been lately...
"I don't think he's been doing so great other than that though," I continue. Suddenly, both of their attention is focused on me, and I have to resist the urge to squirm in my seat and continue talking, covering my nervousness by twirling my soup spoon between my fingers. "I don't know. He seems really out of it sometimes. Most of the time, he's okay and acting like his normal prickly self, but from time to time-" I make myself stop. Cynthia's a nice woman and all that, but sometimes I forget she's Pegasus' human servant. I don't want to tell her what I think in case she carries it back to the freaky, freaky man. Who knows what he'd do with it?
"'From time to time'?" she prompts.
"It's probably not my place to say."
She smiles faintly. "I won't be repeating any of this back to my husband without your permission. You have my word on that." Damn, did she read my mind or something? And she is a witch; her word is bonding.
I give her a dirty look and set my spoon down to take a sip of my drink before answering. "From time to time, I don't think he knows who we are. I caught him talk in... I don't know. It sounded like English, but at the same time it didn't. And he looked through Mokuba like he wasn't even there!" I have to stop and take a deep breath before I start shrieking and get us thrown out, owner being a friend of Pegasus' or not. "It's not like that all the same time, though, just sometimes."
Cynthia takes a deep breath as well and releases it, a smile going over her face again. I'm so very damn confused. This is a good thing? "You had me worried there for a moment. Seto-kun will be fine in a few days. Give him a week - a month, tops - and he'll be back to normal."
"Cynthia-san," Yami interrupts, "you just lost me. Kaiba acting like a fruitcake is a... good thing?" My thoughts exactly.
"He's starting to get the memories of the previous Master." And this is a good thing?! Kaiba Gouzaburou was an asshole, a pervert, a bastard, and quite likely a pedophile. Seto might not be the nicest guy on the planet, but I wouldn't wish any of that on my worst enemy. "It happens to every Master. Don't worry about it."
"'Don't worry about it'? Cynthia, you knew Gouzaburou, right?" Deep breaths, Bakura. Don't scream at her.
The smile turns into a grimace. "Well enough to despise him. This won't turn Seto-kun into him."
I lean back in my chair and cross my arms over my stomach. "I'm not sure I like him having to see that." I don't like Seto very much sometimes, but like damn near everyone else in that house, he's mine. I've laid claim on him, as some kind of older brother who needs near-constant supervision for his own good.
"There's not anything-"
I'm already sitting up to retort when the glass behind her makes a quiet 'plink' sound, then I've got all of a second to realize the spiderwebbing crack in the window is from a bullet, before Mai has shoved Yami and me down. I hear Cynthia cry out before a stockish man that I only now recognize as one of the tigers drags her down to the ground as well. There's blood everywhere and I think most of it's Cynthia's, but if she's still screaming, I can't hear it over half the restaurant turning into really fucking huge tigers, the other half running in sheer blind terror, and the shrieking-buzzing in my own head.
/Kill maim torture destroy.../ the voice I hear loudest demands. It sounds so familiar, but last time I heard it, it was just a whisper. How has it gotten so loud in the last two months, especially so far from Tokyo? /Destroy feed kill kill kill KILL!/
"Shut up!" I clamp my hands over my ears in a vain attempt to stop the voice.
/Destroy death release kill kill killkillkillKILL-!/
"Stop!" Much more of this and I'm going to paint a bull's eye on myself and stand up. Maybe a big fucking sign on my head that says 'Shoot here, please'! Fucking hell, my brain's going to explode at this rate. It's so loud and it's all through my head and I can barely hear myself think and...
And someone's shaking me by the shoulders. "Kura!" That's me, right? I'm still in here, aren't I? Someone's screaming wordlessly and I can just barely hear it over the voice in my head. One more particularly hard shake breaks the spell for a moment, and wow, that's Yami in front of me. "Kura?"
I duck my head against his chest, fingers grabbing what I can of his shirt. "Make it stop, Yami!" Hey, at this point, I'm not ashamed to beg. Yami made it stop last time, back in Tokyo. He can make it stop this time.
I can feel his arms wrap around me as he pulls me closer. I feel close to doing something I don't think I've ever done before: sob my eyes out in pain. "Make what stop?"
"The voice in my head!" I choke out. "Make it stop! It's driving me crazy! I'll do anything - just make it stop!"
I feel warm liquid on my own cheeks as Yami lifts my head so we are face to face. I almost want to say he's trying to pull the voice out through my eyes, he's staring at me so intently. Unfortunately, the volume just raises like it's attempting to run from Yami or drive him away. I hear a whimper - and I think it came from me.
"Come back to me, Kura." The words whisper through my head, and whatever it is in me recedes till I'm left in silence. Once more I slump forward, this time in relief, burying my face against his shoulder. "Kura?!" Whoops, guess I scared him.
"I'm here," I answer. Damn, I think I must have screamed enough to do something to my throat. "I just fucking hurt."
"Get him out of here." I tilt my head slightly and glance at Mai through one eye. "Take him to Kaiba Corp, and I'll take care of things here. I'll let you know when it's safe to come home."
"Why Kaiba Corp?"
Mai shakes her head. "One, it's closer than Kame Games. Two, the security is tighter than Kame. And three, I have security clearance at Kaiba Corp. Now get your asses over there before I feel inclined to kick them.
Yami pulls me to my feet, which is just as well because I'm not too sure I still have solid kneecaps. A hand touches my arm, and I glance down. Okay, I have always known on a purely mental level that there had to be some benefit to tying oneself to a vampire, aside from a drastically increased lifespan; healing almost as fast as a vamp never occurred to me, though. There's a hole in the stomach area of her dress, blood liberally soaking the area around it, but the flesh revealed by the hole is solid, if a little reddened and raised. It's like watching a video of a wound healing on fast-forward; you won't see anything if you just stare, but look a way for a moment and it's a little better. "Cynthia." I cut myself off as one of the tigers growl. I hope that wasn't one of the ones I Know.
She smacks the gigantic Were on the nose like it's nothing more than a common housecat. "Stop that." It almost immediately silences, save some feline grumblings. She looks back up to us. "Our friend is getting desperate. He shouldn't have been willing to try this around us, so that says something, though what I'm not sure. We are going to find out who the leak is, I promise."
I glance down at the cat that growled at me (that had better not be Headband Boy or Kitty'll knock his teeth) then back to her before I say, albeit a little hoarse, "I'm sorry this happened, Cynthia."
"It's not your fault, Bakura-kun." It's odd, but those words make me feel like some weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Weird. See, this is why I like Cynthia. "Now, you and Yami-kun get out of here. Find a place to hide out till dark."
"We're on our way out right now," answers Yami softly. He gives me a small squeeze with the arm he still has around my waist.
"Do you want me to send one of the tigers with you?"
I glance down again at the tiger that growled at me. Now that I look, there's a faint auburn tint to its fur. Definitely not Kajiki, but someone I've seen before. Maybe the only one that survived the 'four on one' incident in one piece? What was his name? It was something odd, like Amelia or Amelda or A Melted Patty or something. I shake my head. "Jounouchi has new cats, and I'm not sure how the wolves would take it." And the only one I'd be willing to take is Headband Boy, but we need a cat on the inside we can contact, so no go, but I'm not saying that.
She nods and leans back against a stockier tiger with darker tinted fur. Now that's Kajiki, I'm almost willing to bet. "Get out of here, you two. Be careful till dark."
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Yami nod. "We're gone, Cynthia-san."
You know, anywhere else in the world, it'd probably be a lot less safe after dark. What does it say about our lives that we're safer after dark? Besides that we have the most overprotective vampire in the world as our landlord?
"You know, I really need to tell Treeboy's secretary not to let just anyone in his office." I'm being good and not sitting in Seto's chair. On his desk is a whole other thing though. "We could have been anyone."
Yami shakes his head. "She was discreet about it, but she checked some kind of list. Obviously, Kaiba has given us high enough security clearance to get in here."
"Without me having to break in, too. Neat." You know, I think I like Seto's office. The desk is comfy, and the room itself is about the size of the apartment Ryou and I used to share. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.
Now, Yami, on the other hand, has apparently laid full claim to not only Seto's chair but also the corner of his desk where he now has his feet propped. You know, if I remember correctly, he was posed like this the first time I saw him, only in the Old Man's chair. That's where I got the impression of him being a cocky little bastard - and he is - but now it's a lot more endearing than it was back then.
"How's your shoulder feeling?"
Oh yeah. When we got in the cab, we discovered a slice going through the shoulder of my shirt. Apparently, I sat up right when the bullet was about to hit my chest. There's a little scrape that bled just a tiny bit. We found a first-aide kit hidden away in the office, and Yami got to go overboard packing and dressing the wound. I think I'm going to just let the brat double-check it when we get home and skip out on visiting Varon today.
"Not too bad. It barely even hurts. It'd be nice to have it just close up like Cynthia's though."
A thought strikes me suddenly, and I have to to grin. Hell, I might have slipped into snickering or even one of my more maniacal expressions because he looks a little concerned. "What?"
I tap my foot against the chair he's sitting in. "I had a fun thought. Get over here."
He's moving hesitantly, but he stands and comes to stand between my legs. "What're you up to, Kura?" His tone may be suspicious, but the phrasing is too good to resist.
"I just realized we're all alone in Seto's office, it's barely three o'clock, and no one is supposed to disturb us till dark. No Mokuba, no Mai... no interruptions at all."
About halfway through that, he starts developing this huge smirk. "And as long as we don't hit the page button or anything like that..." I'd hate to see us now. I bet we're both wearing the same 'this is too good to be true but I'm damn sure going to take advantage of it' expression. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Damn straight. Now get over here."
1 August 2005
Sorry for the long delay; I'm working on too many stories at once: Blood and Sacrifice, Apotheosis, No Day but Today, Metal Heart, a novel, and several currently untitled stories. You see, I've lost my mind.
Avarice and Silver Blue are both also coming along nicely, so please give them a read as well.