One: Strange Encounters on Stormy Nights

It rained.

Yugi stared out his bedroom window at the few final stragglers who were making desperate dashes to shelter. A gold, Egyptian-eye embossed, inverted pyramid sat on the windowsill near one of his hands, glittering dully in the watery streetlamp glow.

His hand twitched and the pyramid clattered loudly to the floor. He turned and bent low to retrieve it, but a bitter expression flitted across his face, and the reaching hand retreated, leaving the puzzle laying on the carpet.

Listening to the gentle murmur of voices and the occasional moments of laughter that punctuated it, the bitter expression returned, and this time it stayed. Recently, it had seemed to him like his so-called "friends" didn't care much about him anymore. They really only wanted to hang out with Yami these days…and Yugi couldn't blame them. Yami was stronger and more skilled and…and just better than his smaller counterpart. And he too was beginning to drift away from the smaller duelist, now that they didn't need to share a body any longer.

It used to hurt. But over time, the pain had dulled and he really no longer cared about it one way or the other. Most of the time, at least. Unfortunately, tonight hadn't been one of those times. He turned to gaze back out the window. The rain didn't seem ready to stop anytime soon.

A particularly loud burst of laughter from downstairs jarred Yugi from his musings and made him jump. Suddenly he felt restricted, confined. He needed out. Now. He rose and started towards the door, but stopped before his hand had quite reached the knob.

'They'll ask me what I'm up too…might even feel guilty and trail along…don't even want them to know I'm leaving…' Gasping, he began to pace frantically, looking surreal in the streetlamp glow dimly lighting the room with its weakened light. Yugi stopped and stared at the thin trickle of light, slowly raising his face as he followed it to it's source.

His eyes fell upon the window.

With a silent cry of joy, he lunged forward and violently flung the glass pane up, leaning out to see if there was any way her could escape the confinement of his bedroom from there. Within seconds of him first opening the window, all his clothing was soaked through, but he could care less, because a wooden trellis was within easy reach of his rather short legs. He tossed a leg over the windowsill and shimmied along until his sneakered feet touched the ladder-like structure.

He easily and swiftly scrambled down and was soon standing on the wet concrete sidewalk. His raised his face to the sky, closed his eyes and spread his arms wide, relishing the sensation of nature raging around him. His thin white shirt clung to his petite, yet well muscled frame as the wind picked up a bit, coaxing a small shiver out of the small teen. He opened his eyes, picked a direction, and began to walk.

Shortly afterwards, the park came into view. Yugi began jogging, and then running, savoring the feel of the wind and rain lashing against his face. He wasn't paying attention to where he was running and went sprawling on the muddy concrete, badly scraping his arms.

With a laugh, he rose and began sprinting around in a vile mockery of play. Tears and rainwater mixed on his cheeks and blood dribbled lightly on his nearly transparent shirt as her danced around wildly, laughing. He tripped on a nearly invisible rock.

He was rapidly descending towards the ground when strong, warm arms wrapped themselves around his slight waist, catching him. Yugi went limp, too tired to care as he was cradled against a warm, yet extremely damp chest and carried towards a tiny covered picnic shelter.

Once inside, he was sat on the table next to a dark green backpack. His head drooped, but he could still see his…rescuer.

He was wearing a soaking, black hooded sweatshirt, muddy blue-jeans and brown work boots. Yugi felt instant guilt at his own stupidity, which had caused this considerate person to get soaked saving Yugi from himself.

"Yugi…what the hell are you doing out alone, at this time of night, in this weather, without even so much as a jacket?" Yugi recoiled slightly as he recognized that deep, slightly harsh voice, but his spine stiffened and he answered impertinently.

"I was bored. What about you? I don't see an escort with YOU." It was exhilarating, teasing someone who was rumored to have no sense of humor and could kill you with a snap of his fingers, no regrets.

Bakura tossed back his hood and glared at Yugi, who stared right back with a slight, almost-mocking smirk. Then, of all the thing he could have done, and neatly disproving at least one rumor, he let out a snort of amused laughter.

"I'm heading home from work."

Yugi nodded, and realized he was shivering. Bakura noticed too, because he opened his backpack and pulled out another sweater, casually tossing it to Yugi, who stared at it blankly. Bakura, watching him, let out an impatient sigh.

"Just put the damn thing on."

Yugi pulled it over his head. It was far, far too big, but it was warm. The smaller boy turned to the ex-spirit with a mildly puzzled expression, but the other had already turned away and was taking his own sweatshirt off.

Bakura squeezed the piece of clothing, wringing a ridiculously large amount of water out of it. He quickly re-donned the shirt, but the expression of disgust as he wiped the excess water off his hands was so comical that Yugi couldn't quite stifle a giggle. Bakura smiled very slightly, and then turned to lean out from under the roof and tested the air.

"Seems like it's stopped raining, for now at least…You might want to head home before it starts up again…" Bakura snagged his umbrella, which had lain unnoticed on the far side of the table, scooped his pack up and slung it over his shoulder before turning and starting to leave.

"No…I don't want to go back there…" Yugi's words were whispered, and he couldn't suppress a slight shudder. Then he sighed, a tiny trickle of sound, and turned to make himself comfortable. He was careful not to look at Bakura's retreating back, because he knew, even though most people wouldn't consider Bakura to be the best choice of company, he was once more being left behind.

Whether he had heard the words or the sigh, Bakura gave no sign, other than if Yugi had been paying more attention, he would have realized Bakura hadn't left yet. His heart constricted sharply as he watched the young teen ready himself for what was apparently going to be a rather long, cold night. He couldn't just leave him out here…plus he wanted to know why Yugi refused to go home. 'Damn conscience and curiosity…ganging up on me…'

Yugi looked up abruptly, just realizing the taller white-haired teen was still present. Bakura met his eyes.

"You wanna crash at my place?"

Yugi, after a moment of hesitation, rose and stepped out next to Bakura, who put up the umbrella as it started to rain once more.