How the Tomb Thief Stole Christmas

By The Mad Fangirl

* * *

The revelation crept upon him, appropriately enough, like a thief in the night. He'd realized, first, that he hadn't tortured Ryou, his host body and light half, in months. He'd further found that this followed directly upon the quiet boy's fairly newfound confidence. This in turn grew out of the fact that the kid was able, at least half the time, lately, to confront him and win, be the contest magical or physical. Either the kid was actually maturing, or the brat's fragile little mind had finally snapped. Whichever the cause, Yami Bakura discovered its effect within himself and didn't much like it.

Yami Bakura was mellowing.

//Mellowing.// He snorted. //Gone soft, more like. I should give him a sound thrashing, just on general principles.// But the thought lacked venom, and the dark one knew it. Gods forefend, it was just barely possible that he was beginning to *like* the kid.

He pulled himself up out of the ring, forming a false body for the express purpose of banging his head against the wall. He was, as mentioned, out of the habit of torturing Ryou, and banging one's head against the wall isn't nearly as satisfying if it isn't one's own head making contact.

The rhythmic ka-thunking woke Ryou, who opened his eyes, stared a moment, closed them again, and pulled the covers up over his head.

Unfortunately, as usually happened, his conscience got the better of him inside of a minute. Sighing, he pulled the covers off, and asked, "What's wrong?" while thinking, //I'm going to regret this.// Being as they had a mind link, his yami heard both.

The ka-thunking stopped, and the tomb-thief's spirit turned to face his host. "Ryou," he asked, in a voice like Ryou's might have been had he gargled with Pop-Rocks and cola, "Have you noticed anything different about me lately?"

"Well, you're not as mean as you used to be."

"I knew it!"

"And you haven't done anything malevolent with your shadow powers lately. Well, unless you count turning that mime into a bobble-head doll. But I don't think that ought to count. He was creepy." Ryou glanced at the doll on the windowsill, its black and white face bobbing gently in the breeze. He shuddered. "He's still creepy."

This comforted Yami Bakura not at all. "It's worse than I thought!" He turned again and assumed the position, hands flat against the wall, head pulled back, ready for another ka-thunk.

"Wait, wait," Ryou said, "there must be a better solution than banging your head against the wall." //I'm not so sure I'm not going to feel that when you get back here,// he added, most likely to himself, not that it mattered.

"Well? I'm listening. But I doubt you've got any idea what it's like to be losing touch with your inner total bastard."

"I wish I did, though," Ryou said, looking pointedly at his yami, who returned a poisonous glare. "I don't know. When I'm out of sorts, shopping tends to make me feel better. And it's Christmas Eve - I'm sure there are places open."

"*Shopping?* You mean, actually *paying* for something? No, oh, no. I'm a thief and proud of it. And *that's* how I'm going to get it back! I'm going to steal something!" The dangerous gleam was back in his eye, and it was Ryou's hopeful sympathy, more than anything else, that made him such an easy target this time. He'd lost control of his body and been shunted into his soul room before he knew what hit him.

Ryou sighed, and sat down at the Playstation 2 in front of him - he had many diversions in his soul room, as he spent a great deal of time there. From the real world drifted snatches of sound and thought.

In particular, his yami's gleefully sinister murmur, "Merry Christmas to me..."

* * *

Yami Bakura hugged the shadows outside the largest electronics shop in Domino City. His almond gaze narrowed as it fixed upon its goal.

"Kaiba's new Duel Disk Ultra." The slim machine held pride of place at the center of a large store display. "I think this will do nicely."

//You mean they actually *have* one?// Ryou commented. //Seto said Kaibacorp wasn't releasing any until after the holidays, to avoid a panic. They're selling vouchers to give as presents instead.//

Sure enough, there were no boxes housing duplicate devices. The display model was alone.

"One of a kind...even better! All your little friends will be drooling with envy..."

//Seto won't be, obviously,// Ryou pointed out. //Anyway, I'm sure the security is insane...//

"Nothing I can't handle. I've been doing this for a very long time."

//That's my point. Things have advanced a bit beyond booby-trapped pyramids.//

"The more things change, the more they stay the same. Watch and learn, weakling."

* * *

Ryou was forced to eat his unvoiced words, as less than ten minutes later, his yami exited the store, display model concealed on his person. In its place rested a small placard reading "Removed for Maintenance."

//It actually worked!// Ryou felt no little guilt for sharing, even the tiniest bit, in his yami's flush of triumph.

"That one's an evergreen," Yami Bakura said. "Worked then, works now."

//But why would you ... tombs were sealed by the time you got to them...did you even have paper!?//

"Dear me, I haven't broken your feeble brain, have I?"

Whatever Ryou's indignant response might have been, it was cut short as his yami nearly collided with a little girl, who gasped and jumped back.

//Ooh, stealthy.//

"Shut up," Yami Bakura murmured, looking at the child. She was thin, too thin. Her eyes were soulful and brown.

"Hey mister, d'you know why they took down the Duel Disk?"

"I suppose they're cleaning it," he growled, attempting to push by her but finding no convenient route.

"I dunno. Maybe. I hope they put it back soon. I like to look at it." She sighed.

"Maybe they sold it," he continued.

The girl sniffled.

"Oh, I so hope not. My mommy was going to buy it for me. She knows the manager, and she was gonna get it after Christmas, and since it's used, she can get it for less. It's been awfully hard with daddy gone. We're hungry a lot."

The skinny little brat even had white hair, damn it.

* * *

The next morning, Ryou woke to find himself in control of his body, a new Duel Disk Ultra by his head.

//You're unbelievable,// he thought, and his Yami, already awake, bothered to separate himself and sit at Ryou's desk.


"You kept it."

"I was making a point! It's not like I accomplished what I set out to do, after all. I committed an," he shuddered, "*unselfish* act."

Yami Bakura had indeed kept the Duel Disk Ultra. He had also given the little girl a wad of cash and a note for her mother that read 'Buy your child food, not games, you moron.'

"I don't see what you're so put out about," Ryou replied. "It was *my* money."

"You'd have done it. That's the problem!"

"Oh, face it. You're mellowing in your old age." Yawning, Ryou finger- combed his long white locks. "Anyway, we owed her."

"I disagree."

"You would, but then you tuned her out before she got to the part about what her absent father did for a living."

"And that makes a difference how?"

"He was a street mime."

As one, their gazes traveled to the doll on Ryou's windowsill. Its head bobbed ever-so-slightly in the breeze.

* * *

Later that morning, Ryou came downstairs to his father cooking breakfast. The grey-haired man smiled and handed the boy a package.

"This came for you by messenger this morning. Exciting, huh?"

Ryou read the card, and felt stunned disbelief welling up from somewhere very near a certain circlet on his chest.

'Dear Bakura, You and the rest of Mutoh's little club get to beta-test these beauties for me. Seeing you lot with them should help create some buzz. Once you see what I mean, I'm sure you won't mind. Thank me later, Kaiba'

He shredded the paper, and sure enough, within was a brand new Duel Disk Ultra.

Ryou grinned, while his father wondered why it seemed like a steady stream of cursing was coming from his son's room. The boy must have left the radio on, he decided.

* * *



* * *