OO;; Holy shit!! I'm updating!!! XD;; Okie... it's been over a year but I've FINALLY gotten around to this..! I'm soooo sorry for the delay but... o; I'm also afraid this might be one of my last updates in another long stretch of time. I'm moving soon and I'm not going to have my computer with me and I've got a lot to speed up with in classes and blah, blah, blah..!

Whenever I get to my new house and I'm all settled in with my comp and stuff again, though, then you can start looking out for updates! ^^ I'll probably work on my stories on notebook paper or somethin' while we're traveling. I'm afraid to say that I'm not completely satisfied with this chapter and I wish I could've gotten a little further along but I really wanted to get something out to you guys so.... ^^;; Finally, ne?

Thank you all SOOOOOOO much for your support!! I really appreciate it! ^.^ Your reviews make me feel good..!

DISCLAIMER: (see prologue)


Chapter 2: DAWN

Footsteps echoed through the corridor, the noise rising about the soft bustle of the morning slaves preparing for the day. Every footfall seemed to ring as it sounded, instantly alerting servants who moved aside and bowed low to he who those footsteps carried. Robes of the deepest sapphire swished around the royal's ankles, every stride accompanied by a flash of white that was made up by his sandals. The movements radiated the man's determinations and current irritation, even in the gray dawn of not-yet fully blossomed morning. Seto was not happy.

The previous night's events played over and over in his head like a steady beat of festival drums. He had failed and he would not again. He would not allow himself to. And he would spend the morning on prayers. It was not the typical Japanese nature spirits to whom he chanted softly, either, and anyone passing the sacred room he used for such activities knew it. Seto was not Japanese by birth and therefore he found no solace with kami. He prayed to his Gods and Goddesses of foreign land.

From any other, such act would surely bring bad-luck upon the kingdom. But not for him. The slaves, priests, other officials, other gods and other royals all understood and let him be with his rituals. At least, Yami had ensured that for his friend. The emperor did not understand to whom the Prime Minister paid his respects, nor did he understand the steady stream of words pouring past the brunette's lips, but he did not disturb him. Ever.

Now was no exception. As the crimson-eyed man came upon the praying other, he silenced and stood still at the doorway where only a silken cloth separated him from the room. There he waited for Seto to finish. The room had been cleaned on his orders and he'd then passed the minister permission to decorate it as desired to be used for prayers, seeing as there were no temples at which Seto could do so. Yami was understanding of this and had been quite pleased with the normally stoic royal's enthusiasm towards the idea. That, however, had been some time ago and by now everyone was used to the change.

The spiky haired man blinked out of his reverie when the last foreign note silenced and there was a rustling from within the room. He'd never been inside, personally, on Seto's request as not to disturb the Gods, he worshipped but he had seen peeks of the elaborate chamber every so often, now included as the long hanging was pushed aside and Seto stepped out. He momentarily looked surprised to see him but fell to an impassive expression soon after. The milling slaves were relieved, however. The Prime Minister's anger had been bottled once more.

"Ohayo, Seto." Yami greeted, returning the light nod he received.


The emperor's lips quirked. "Bad morning?"

"The morning is good. The night was not." Seto answered in a flat tone.

Yami laughed. "I take it your hunt was less than satisfactory?"

"Abysmal." the brunette deadpanned.

Chuckling, Yami pat one of the other's crossed forearms lightly. "May you be blessed with better nights then." he offered, leading the minister away from the sacred room and towards the dinning hall.

Seto smirked. "What do you think I was praying for?"


"Rise and shine, water-boy!" Bakura chirped -- which, in itself, screamed danger -- just before the branch Katsuya slept on caught fire.

For a moment he was undisturbed, sleeping peacefully on of clear blue eyes. Then his subconscious became aware of the rising temperature. Was it mid-day already..? Surely he wouldn't have overslept so badly. No.. the heat at that time didn't increase as it did now or burn so close it caught his pant leg afire... Pant leg?

The blonde yelped sharply and jerked awake, nearly falling out of the tree as he summoned the lake water to put out the fire. That settled, he sent a sharp glare to the currently cackling pyro next to him. Katsuya took to shutting him up by sending a burst of collected morning dew at his chest and almost succeeding in knocking him off his branch.

He snickered at Bakura's indignant squawk and stuck his tongue out at him childishly.

"Good morning to you too, sleeping psycho." Katsuya greeted, stretching his arms -- not to mention releasing his wings to stretch them as well -- and grinning at the other's snort. This was nothing new really. It seemed almost every other morning one or the other woke their companion as such.

"Good my ass." Bakura grumbled, dropping down out of his tree like a primate of sorts, demon-ish wings already uncurled behind him.

'An evil, flying, fire-obsessed primate.' Katsuya added with a roll of honey brown eyes as he stifled a yawn. The sun was still weak and the surrounding forest still touched with gray but both creatures knew the great sun would orange soon enough. Putting his pondering aside, though, Katsuya climbed down from his own tree and snickered as he watched Bakura grudgingly wash his face off in the lake.

As the white haired other finished up, Katsuya had just sat to splash water over his own face, delighting in the crisp, cool sensation against his skin that jolted him awake. It wasn't even until Bakura spoke that the blonde realized he was still standing there next to him.

"Who was that human snooping around last night?" the sharp eyed being asked and Katsuya shrugged, clambering to his own feet.

"No idea. Almost saw me though.."

Bakura snorted as if he was unsurprised with the answer. And he was. "Figures. Wouldn't have shocked me if you'd gotten snatched again or something."

Katsuya glared angrily at the other for that, none to pleased with the reminder. "Oh, shut up. Don't you have some little animal to hunt or the like?" he retorted and received a fang-toothed grin in reply.

"Now that you mention it.." Bakura drawled not even bothering to finish his sentence. "Well I'll leave you to it then! Gotta find something to eat..." he grumbled before trailing off without even a word of parting. It didn't bother the blonde, however, He was already quite used to such things and figured he might as well find something to fill his stomach as well. Not in any particular mood for berries or anything the forest had to offer, he figured he could risk a little walk through town. Besides, where was life without some risks?

He was more cautious nowadays, of course, but still enjoyed going out and finding something to bring him a rush that came only with the thrill of danger. Katsuya may not have been fond of great fires of destruction, but a little mischievousness went a long way when it came to toying with the mind of humans. Snickering softly to himself at the thought, the creature glowed a soft aqua color before the light dimmed to nothing and his skin was left a healthy, fairly tanned color.

The seemingly delicate wings were retracted once again as well and the golden tinge to his hair had softened to an almost regular-blonde color. But even so, blonde's were rare in this part of the world as was the white hair Bakura's head was topped with. Making a slight noise of approval upon his changed appearance, Katsuya trailed along the lake's edge and into the forest. For a ways he followed a barely-seen path that was gradually being worn by Bakura and himself, that path leading to the mouth of a small cave.

The cave was certainly large enough to accommodate a number of people, but both Katsuya and his companion preferred the trees. They're spirits were connected to nature and thus it was there in the open they felt the most comfortable. Still, the cave made for a wonderful hiding place and storage area for the goods they'd mostly stolen. A green tunic, dark brown slacks and a hooded cloak were extracted from the bag of clothes they had and replaced upon Katsuya's figure, the pants going over the material already wrapped about the strong limbs of his legs.

After jerking the dark hood of his cloak over his head to hide the unusual color of his hair and finding a little pouch of yen within one of the pockets, a grinning Katsuya was on his way through the trees he'd come to know like the back of his hand. He didn't come right out on the edge of town however, instead having chosen a route that led to a road headed into down to avoid suspicion. After last night, that was the last thing he needed then and by the time he'd reached the market place, it was simply a matter of blending in.


Bakura grinned as he licked blood off of his fingers. Silly rabbits. They just don't hop fast enough to get away! Practically humming in his glee -- which was just creepy in itself -- the white haired creature continued on through a random path deeper into the forest. He and Katsuya knew this place like the back of their hands, had discovered every available path within it and had even created some of their own. There was no way they could get lost in here.

There were, however, plenty of ways for some wandering human to get lost. Which was probably what had happened to the one Bakura found curled into a tight ball at the base of one of the larger trees around that area. At first, the demonic being had thought he'd somehow stumbled across some of that reflective glass humans sold. This other figure bore an uncanny resemblance to himself minus the clothing type and his paler skin.

Or at least it did until he (Bakura thought it was a he) shifted slightly and his face was more visible. The features, especially in sleep, were oddly feminine, rounded and soft. It took a few moments for Bakura to decide for certain that it was a male he was looking over. He glared at the sleeping form. He didn't like the idea of some human roaming about in his territory. Oh yeah, and Katsuya's. But judging by the rips in his clothes, the tear stains on his face and the bag he was using as a pillow, the kid was either the worst traveler ever or a runaway.

Bakura voted on the latter.

The kid's cheek was bruised, too, in a shape that resembled a hand. Though he never did like humans, he found this one... intriguing. That interest was probably due in part to a streak of narcissism but he didn't much care about that. Katsuya was the human lover, though, so maybe he had an idea of why this one looked so much like him.

He didn't wanna leave the kid here to continue trampling through their land later but he didn't wanna touch him either. So instead he got a stick, knelt down near the being and poked him. The human groaned. Bakura poked him again. The human mumbled something and curled up tighter. Poking him three times in quick procession seemed to have the desired affect for the 'trespasser' twitched slightly and forced his eyes open with a murmur. Bakura tossed the stick aside and tilted his head slightly at the bleary eyed boy.

"Wh-wha...?" the human mumbled, blinking up at the form looming over him. His eyes widened when his vision cleared and he was able to make out the sinister form of... himself? Yelping, he jumped up from his curled position, scrambling back from Bakura. Well, as far back as he could scramble until his back hit the tree trunk. He regretted the action as soon as he'd done it, resting a hand over his sore stomach. The other, however, seemed amused with this and snickered.

"Wh...who are you..?" the boy asked softly.

"Me?" Bakura snorted, pushing himself back up to his feet and eyeing the frightened looking boy. "YOU should be answering that question. You're trespassing on MY territory." it wasn't completely true, but judging by the way the human's eyes widened and his already light skin paled further -- he didn't know that.

"I-I'm sorry.. I didn't know..! I ne-never would've..i-if I'd known... I-"

Bakura cut off the other's rambling by holding a hand up, silencing the other. "What's your name, kid?"

"Ryou...my name's Ryou Habachiwa." the human replied after taking a breath to calm himself, pulling him bag to him. It took him a minute to remember how he'd gotten here but as soon as he did it took all his strength to keep his eyes from tearing over. Crying wasn't going to help anything now and he had this...being to answer to and -- wait. Were those wings?

Bakura smirked slightly when he noticed the boy's eyes widen once again and his gaze fix on the ruby wings curled behind his back. "What'sa matter? See something interesting?" he taunted, smirking as Ryou just nodded mutely. "What the hell are you doing out here, Ryou?" he asked, stressing the boy's name in a none-too-friendly manner. That seemed to snap his near-twin out of his daze and he fidgeted slightly.

"I...uh.. 'm trying to find t-town... I'm n-not from around here.." he murmured, which was partially true. He wasn't really from around here but he had no desire to go into town. His parents might think to look for him there if they cared to find him. Of course, Bakura didn't by the lie for a second but he didn't say anything on it, reaching over and grabbing the other's forearm to heft him to his feet.

"Do you have any idea where you're going?" he asked in a manner that suggested he already knew the answer. And he did. Those suspicions were only proven completely correct when Ryou shook his head slowly, pulling his backpack on slowly. "Oi... c'me on, kid." he muttered, letting go of the boy's arm and nodding for him to follow as he started back off into the woods.

Ryou blinked. He was hesitant to follow but he really only had two choices. Follow this... creature or risk the forest alone.

He quickly hurried after the other.


Okies! So we got that done with, finally!! WHOO! Hehe... anyway, I'm off for now! But look out for the Katsuya & Seto encounter soon! ^___- That and if you wanna keep an eye out for possible review replies, various other story snippets, etc, etc:

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