Character/Pairing: Bakura Amane/Bakura Ryou/Yami no Bakura
Disclaimer: Yuugiou is the property of Kazuke Takahashi.
The only thing Bakura Ryou had ever learned, amid the tangles of mathematical formulas and sentence diagrams and recipes, was that the only thing that would ever last was the strength of a dead girl.
It took him years to return home, to the only place he would ever attach sentimental feeling. He was used to moving. He was used to rationalizing away change, he was used to making insanity appear calm. But the house--a small, white clapboard bungalow with faded red shutters--was where he had loved her, it was where he had last seen his parents smile at one another, and it was the only place he had ever bothered to peer into the future.
He remembered late nights, watching the stars glitter through the curtains as she lit candles and spoke to him, her voice already a soft alto even though she was only fourteen. He remembered her climbing under the covers with him, her toes as cold as the icicles dripping off of the rain gutters, and he remembered her shoving her chilled fingers under his shirt to warm them even when he yelped. She had such a hot temper for such a cold body...wasn't that what he had thought? It was hard to recall his own thoughts; his memory strained only to remember her, every detail of her--her soft tongue, her deceptively strong grip, the way she had gasped, smothered a curse in the pillow.
He remembered her first boyfriend. He wasn't sure, in later years, if he made up more details of the poor boy than had actually been there--a red shirt? Maybe it was blue. Knowing Amane, maybe he hadn't even been wearing a shirt when Bakura met him. He remembered the jealousy most, the way it bit through him and stuck in his throat like a bitter crab apple. He remembered Amane's smile as she ordered them to stop fighting. He remembered feeling that he hadn't been fighting, because he hadn't said anything except "hello"; the other boy had been snide, had been asking Bakura what he was staring at.
He remembered when the boy disappeared.
He remembered that they all disappeared.
Even the one who had insisted, condescendingly, that he would never leave; that he liked it there, with--in--Bakura. That he was taking over.
Bakura had been glad to relinquish the control. He had been glad not to have to think, after the first few defeats. He thought sometimes that those battles, those efforts to protect his friends, had been subconscious tests, a way to give in without feeling utterly pathetic.
Except that, with her, he hadn't wanted to give in. The cruelest thing the spirit ever did to him (really, when he compared all of it, it had sunk deep enough as to feel like it was the only cruel thing he'd done) was when he told Bakura that he could find the girl, if he tried hard enough. Of course he'd believed. He'd always felt that she was just away, in that vague sense people used when their loved ones were out of town on business. She would come back, and things would make sense again. More than anything, except her company, he craved things making sense again. Something simple; he could be happy with that.
Instead he had an empty apartment, a mind that was one presence too full (and in a sick way he suspected that he was the obsolete one, even in his own body), and a sister who had loved him so desperately that she had to test him, to make sure that they both knew that he--weak as he was--could be worthy of her if he tried. That was the only reason he held on; she had asked him to.
When she was gone, and he grew tired, the intruder didn't give him a choice but to keep going. His life moved on in slow spurts with chunks of time ripped out of it, which he didn't mind not remembering because when he tried, all he saw was blood, and all he heard were screams. It made sense that he didn't know when things were winding to an end, that he tried not to acknowledge something truly different was coming when he was handed (or given control while holding) a paintbrush and ordered to create something ancient.
As he spread thin amounts of tan paint over tiny wooden houses, he saw fragile lives that weren't there. It didn't seem to bother the spirit, so he didn't try to stop imagining them. Not even when the entity laughed at him for naming a few of them.
There was no laughter when Bakura mused to himself, in the relative peace of their shared mind, that every avatar on the board was going to die. ...All except one, he amended belatedly, and made himself believe it.
When it was over, it also made sense that once his mind was finally quiet and even the letters he sent off returned to him in a spray of ashes, he didn't know what to do anymore. He couldn't exist without the holes.
It was 4 p.m. when the fire started--likely a few minutes past, but close enough that he found the punctuality amusing. That was probably because he was late to everything; at least he managed to start the fire on the hour. It engulfed the house in choking, crimson and charcoal-colored smoke, in crackling, hungry flames.
He sat and watched, imagining the bed in what had been his bedroom going up in sparks like an old firecracker.