AN: Written one night from some hour to now, which happens to be four AM. Which means at the moment, I'm not sure how coherent this is, because I'm not quite coherent enough to check for coherency. I think I just proved my point. O_o;

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh!. *sighs and scrolls down* Or anything I make refrence to, like the book 'I Never Promised You a Rose Garden'; the quote from Cowboy Bebop; the quote from some Indiana Jones movie; the refrence to the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' series; the lyrics from the song 'Blue', which was performed by the Seatbelts; or the quote from 'See You Space Cowboy', by the same group. *blinks* Wow. Now that's eclectic.But heavy on the Cowboy Bebop. I think I'm just crazy. Take two steps into the fic and call me in the morning. O_O; Okaaaay. I think I'd better go to bed. Oyasumi-nasai...

Ryou slowly stirred.

Oh. He was awake. Darn.

He turned his head and gasped at the sight of Mokuba's wide sightless eyes. He wanted to scream but he couldn't... Somehow, he couldn't. Oh. Shock. All too familiar. Yes, this was exactly what had happened when he'd had the presence of mind to try to mail the Ring to Korea. That hadn't lasted long. He noticed--he always noticed. And through whatever dark magic...

The balcony. This was the balcony. He was alone on the balcony with poor soulless Mokuba Kaiba. Had they thought the same thing had happened to him? Was _that_ why they'd been dumped here so haphazardly?

He turned his head to look at the arena below. Oh, of course. They'd had more important things to worry about. Be scared nearly to the point of their lives over. That was exaggeration...

Of course, he thought. It was Yugi. It was always Yugi. In the short, short time he'd known him and the shorter time he'd known him _well_, he'd learned that much. Eternally, it was Yugi; Yugi as innocent, Yugi as victim, Yugi as hero, Yugi as peaceful conquerer. He knew how to tell the main character of the piece when he saw one. Somehow it was never him.

He searched for the allusion he knew he'd made somewhere in there. His mind had a way of doing that to him when he was tired; making connections and never bothering to tell him wuite how. Or _why_.

Oh, there it was. That book in his backpack.

Oh dear, I hope it's not overdue, he thought inanely.

He'd had a thing recently about books with insanity. Probably very understandable. The trouble was so many of them were about women--or more accurately, as he virtously stuck with the 'Young Adult' section, older teenage girls. But it was all the same. A lot of people called him a woman anyway. Insanity was insanity.

And this book was good.

'It was Debby. It was always Debby. For a moment she wondered if, were she far away and sick, _she_ could make them suffer so palapably. She realized suddenly that she would be afraid to try--she would lose, almost certainly.'

Far too familiar, as usual, he thought with a small sigh. Of course that hadn't been about the main character. It had been her sister--one who got some screen time, so to speak, but not much at all. Who figured some, but not prominently. Who was slightly important to the plot...

But not nearly the main character, or even a secondary one...

The Glouchester subplot. His mind flicked to some educational program he'd seen fleetingly while flipping through the channels. It was about King Lear, so he'd stopped for a moment--he was the sort of person who read ahead in textbooks for sheer boredom, the sort with a passionate love of learning that surfaced occasionally in the most annoying ways.

The Glouchester subplot. The parallel of the main plot, the parallel of the main character. It got less attention (though it did affect the plot quite a bit). It was shorter, the hero was far less noble, and it was both far more and less tragic.

And it was only there to compare to King Lear's troubles.

Of course. Eternally. It kind of figured. While Yugi was being a hero... He was just lying there... Waiting... For _him_.

Always. Some things never changed. He would never be like Yugi, and _he_ would always come back. He couldn't quite say he'd never change, though. Maybe, someday...

'All he could do was dream...'

He sighed. His mind had done it again. He let himself finish it.

'But then the dreams turned dark...'

You know, he thought, it wouldn't be that difficult. The ones down there were all busy staring at the black dome, trying to get through--no, more like in. No one would notice if he just sat up a little... leaned against the rail-beams... Then moved just a little to the side... So high up...

Who on earth did he think he was kidding?

He glanced again at the zombie beside him. Maybe he was kidding Mokuba, but that was about it. No, it would take far worse to get him to do _that_. He simply didn't have the courage--or the cowardice.

And so he'd become one of those people who just lived, but had forgotten the reason, he thought half-bitterly to himself.

There was a _reason_?

He would have laughed, except he couldn't at the moment. Of course there was a reason. It just escaped him at the moment. It was just that it was an instinct, mainly. They said you only live once...

Unless of course you were an evil spirit from ancient Egypt.

He smiled, liking this sardonic vein. But really, he thought, there had to be a reason. Must be more than instinct.

Oh heck, he thought. Why _not_?

That was it. Well, that would do, at least. Maybe it _wasn't_ a profound universal truth, but--



Abruptly he felt a presence, a combination of something tugging at the bottom of his mind and the metaphysical ground suddenly going solid and wide. As if somehow he was safer, being pulled deep into danger. Paradoxes. You had to love them.

Unless they were two annoying, riddle-spewing bald twins.

He knew he only had a few seconds before the spirit would come barging in--

--destroying my nice peace and quiet, tsk-tsk, kids these days, this used to be a _nice_ neighborhood--

--whether he liked it or not.

--'I'm like a bad penny; I _always_ turn up'--

So now the question was--

--The answer to THE Question was forty-two--

--should he fight it?

Why bother? He'd just take over anyway. And what harm would he do? He'd never _killed_ anyone that he was aware of--or even done worse. He'd wreak some havoc and act evil and work on his plans for world domination, but what harm would it do?

For god's sake, Yugi was there. He'd never win.

But didn't he have a duty to _try_?

I already tried, he reminded himself. It did no good. It's in the script; the hero has to be the one to defeat the villain. It can't be a supporting character. That wouldn't be right. I can't, I couldn't...

And I _won't_...

He shivered as he realized that some part of him _wanted_ this to happen, cheered every time the spirit caused chaos. Yet another rebellious part of his mind to take note of. Like the one that wanted to be the hero, and like the one that was certain the spirit would be with him forever. Which wouldn't be so bad, except it took an active role in assuring that this would be the case.

The spirit was getting closer. It was now or never, whatever he did.

With a jolt of horror he realized that he was closing his eyes. He _wasn't_ going to fight. How on earth could he do this? If someone died or something, how would he forgive himself?

Inevitability, some almost evilly detached part of his mind told him. And besides, it continued, who are you to stop the plot from moving? Who are you to usurp the hero's job? What makes you think you could do something if you tried? What makes you think that he's irredeemable? Where did you get the _audacity_ to think that you know a jot more about the plot than you have to?

What makes you think it could happen any other way?

He opened his eyes to find himself _there_.

'There' was what he called it. He had no other words, and didn't really need any in the end. It was There. It was Here. It meant that he was Nowhere, and certainly ten worlds away from any way to help. It consisted of a rather nice bed, an overhead projector of all things that only showed his memories, and a rather nice bookshelf.

He was all too used to Nowhere. There was even a cup of tea there waiting for him, a feeble comfort but the best that he could do. He wasn't in the mood for comfort at the moment, though. He was in the mood for wondering what in heck had gone wrong in his small mind.

Then again, it was too late _now_, he thought bitterly. The spirit had taken over again, without so much as a 'by-your-leave', and half of him at least didn't even mind.

That's the way it is...

He was caught in another mood swing, a wistful resignation. He supposed he couldn't change the way he was. If part of him was a masochist, it just was. If part of him was a doormat, it was really too bad, but he'd known that for ages, and it was part of him.

Like that spirit, it reprimanded gently. He's part of you too, Ryou. Maybe that's good and maybe that's bad, but it _is_, and that is that. How do you _think_ he keeps coming back? Is there any other explanation for the way you can't stop it and don't completely want to?

No, it said, more strongly than it had, you are what you are and you can't stop that. And shouldn't.

--Then why should I change the part of me that says I've got to change me?

He leaned back onto the bed, laughing helplessly. The universe was a big, fat, crazy mess. And there wasn't a darn thing he could do about it. Given _his_ track record, he probably wouldn't if he could.

Yeah, it was always like this. He looked up at the dirfts of color that served as walls and ceiling. Blue... Deep blue. 'Never seen a bluer sky'...

He stared up into the blue, with a slight inqusitiveness in his eyes. 'Yeah, I can feel it reaching out and moving closer / There's something 'bout blue'...

He spoke. "Asked myself what it's all for / You know the funny thing about it / I couldn't answer..."

You could lose yourself in that blue...

He wanted to... Lord, did he want to...

He sighed. He knew he wouldn't. He never did and he never would. Whether that was a virtue or a sin he had yet to decide. But it was okay. There were far worse things. He was fine.

"Yume wa yami ni kakuretemo..." he murmured.

/Even when the dream hides in the darkness.../

He sighed. Nothing to do now but wait.

...Hadn't he done this last time?!

He laughed. Familiar, too familiar... Stuck in the same rut... Those limitations just keep gnawing at you, don't they... He distinctly recalled thinking something exceedingly like this the last time he'd been forced in here...

Always, eternally... Would it be like this forever?


The hero would save them.

He let out a bitter laugh. That was the way it was. Yugi and his spirit were the heroes. He was a supporting character. No--he got to be a parallel. More prestige but a lot less fun.

He wondered what the heck he was talking about. Then he wondered why he'd been thinking about it so _long_. He did that far too often.

But it would be okay. That was all that mattered. He should be happy just for that. And he was. It was just that... He was so tired of being what everyone thought he was... But that he couldn't do much about... Maybe someday...

He was _tired_ of being what everyone else _thought_ he was... Of fufilling all expectations...

Or maybe that was just a coincidence...

More than that, he realized, he was tired of being tired of himself.

Well, that was okay. It would all come out in the end.

He put his head down on the pillow, staring up into the blue as his eyes started to close. It didn't matter. A nice sleep and all this mess would be cleared away. It _would_.

Well, he thought drowsily, at least we _do_ have a hero.

'Cause there was always someone who needed saving...