Yu-Gi-Oh!
The Shadow of Myself
By Lucky_Ladybug


Notes: Eh, the usual. XD. **Dances with Yami Bakura for a change of pace, but he pulls away and makes threats against me, of course! Heh heh.** The characters aren't mine and this isn't yaoi ^_~ Thanx to JP and Sarah for their plot help! ^^ Oh, and this is a hurt/comfort fic, pure and simple. It isn't supposed to make complete sense, but I *have* tried to keep everyone in character! Sit back and enjoy! X3 Yes.



It was quite by accident that Bakura encountered the blood-thirsty gangsters that night. He had simply been walking down the street, innocently on his way to the supermarket in the rain when it happened.

[You know,] Yami Bakura said through their mental bond, [I could just steal the items we need.]

{Yami!} Bakura scolded in reply, staying under the awnings of the buildings in order to be shielded from the rain.

Yami Bakura grunted and then emerged from the Ring with a burst of light. "It would be so much simpler," he remarked.

"This isn't ancient Egypt, Yami," Bakura retorted. "No one walks into a grocery store and just . . ."

He was abruptly interrupted by the sound of gunshots coming from a nearby building. When the boy looked up, he saw a silhouetted figure against the closed blind fall over.

"Oh my!" Bakura gasped. "He must have gotten hurt!"

"Get out of the way, you dolt!" Yami Bakura growled, trying to push the boy aside as a mob of gunmen ran out the front door of the building. If he could only reach his deck . . .

"Hey! Who are those punks?!" a voice yelled, noticing them in spite of the shadows and the rain.

"They're witnesses!" another angry voice cried.

"Shoot them both," their leader hissed.

Instantly guns were aimed at the two and bullets flew through the air. Yami Bakura knew there was no time to get his deck—not if he wanted to protect Bakura.

"Get in here, you fool!" the thief screamed suddenly, shoving Bakura forward and into a nearby car just as another bullet ripped through the air and hit the side mirror only a half-inch away from Bakura's shoulder. The boy gave a cry of surprise and shielded his eyes from the flying glass.

Yami Bakura leaped into the driver's seat and started the engine, ducking as a bullet clipped the windshield and stuck in place.

"Yami!" Bakura cried. "You can't steal this car!!"

"Would you rather I simply left you there to be killed?!" the tomb raider growled. "There was no way I could have gotten my deck out under the circumstances. I did the only thing I could to save your pathetic life!" He whipped around a corner, rolling over the curb. He knew the villains chasing them were not about to give up, but hopefully being in the car would give him and Bakura the advantage. And once those fools had run out of bullets, he would show them that he wasn't someone to mess with.

A rapid fire burst of gunshots interrupted his thoughts once more. Glancing in the rear view mirror, he discovered that the mobsters were following in their own car and shooting their machine guns out the window. Yami Bakura gave an Egyptian curse and drove up onto the sidewalk.

"YAMI!!" Bakura screamed in terror, watching as the thief uprooted a fire hydrant and created a spouting geyser. The water shot up onto the car, along with the still steadily-pouring rain.

"This is all your fault, you idiot!" Yami Bakura growled, trying desperately to peer through the splashed windshield. "Stop annoying me and perhaps I can still get us out of here alive!!"

Bakura blinked, momentarily stunned by his Yami's harsh words. "Yami, use the windshield wipers!!" the boy cried then, knowing that the gangsters were gaining on them and that his Yami would undoubtedly cause more destruction if he couldn't see where they were going.

Muttering to himself, Yami Bakura reached over and flipped a switch. Instead of activating the windshield wipers, he wound up turning on the air conditioner full blast. Not having the time to fiddle around with the controls, the thief continued driving anyway, ignoring the way his hair was blowing wildly in all directions.

Bakura let out a scream as another round of gunfire took out the windshield entirely and sent glass flying everywhere. One stray piece left a gash on his forehead and another cut him sharply on the cheek. "Yami, they're not going to give up until we're both dead!!" he cried.

Yami Bakura gritted his teeth and paid no attention to the screaming boy next to him. At least now he could see clearly where they were going.

"Yami!!" Bakura yelled now, seeing a fence looming up ahead dangerously. "Yami, we're going to crash!!"

"SHUT UP!!!" the thief growled just as the mobsters' car slammed into the side of their own, spinning them out of control and right through the fence. Bakura cried in terror as his Yami managed to straighten out the steering and swerve wildly to the right, their pursuers still following closely.

"Do you suppose they're out of ammunition?" Bakura wondered nervously as he tried to remove the piece of fence from off the car by reaching out through the hole where the windshield used to be.

Yami Bakura didn't even answer, and as it turned out, he didn't need to. The driver of the other car opened fire again, shooting out the taillights and then embedding a bullet in the back of the passenger seat. Bakura jerked forward sharply at the impact and then looked over at his Yami again—but he wished he hadn't. The thief abruptly cut through someone's backyard, scraping a tree and then driving through another fence. The busy highway was suddenly approaching rapidly and Yami Bakura drove right toward it, intending to shift into the left lane.

Before he could, a bullet ripped through one of the tires and sent them spiraling out of control once more. Cars honked and stopped short, trying desperately to avoid a collision with the wild car, but their best efforts didn't work. Bakura felt their car slam into first one car, then another. He snapped forward, feeling himself grow dizzy before the darkness closed in.
****
Sirens. He heard loud, long, mournful sirens. People were screaming.

Bakura opened his eyes slowly, feeling a thick liquid trail down his face. He was bleeding, he realized groggily.

The memories rushed back. Running from the gangsters. The car chase. The crash. His Yami had been driving a car . . .

Bakura blinked, trying to focus. "Yami?" he choked out barely above a whisper, trying to get the blood out of his eyes. "Yami, where are you?"

When the boy's vision finally cleared a bit, he discovered to his horror that the thief was slumped lifelessly over the steering wheel. "Yami? YAMI!!!" Bakura screamed as loud as he could, shakily leaning forward and laying a hand on the thief's shoulder. He could feel blood dripping down onto his hand from a wound in his Yami's neck and felt utterly horrified. "Wake up, Yami," the boy sobbed. "Please!!"

There was no response, and the dizziness soon overwhelmed him again. Colors swirled in front of his eyes and he slumped over against Yami Bakura's still body, letting the cloud of oblivion cover him once more.
****
"Bakura?"

"Hey, pal, are you okay?"

"Bakura?"

Bakura slowly opened his eyes, hearing the familiar voices. He seemed to be laying in a soft bed and Yugi and the others were standing around him worriedly. "Where am I?" the silver-haired boy asked softly.

"You're in the hospital, buddy," Tristan replied, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder.

"It's a miracle you weren't hurt worse than you were," Yugi declared.

"'Hurt?'" Bakura repeated, confused. What on earth had happened? And why couldn't he sense his Yami's presence?!

"Yeah, man," Joey said, nodding. "You got cut pretty bad from that glass and you wound up with a heck of a bump in the crash."

Crash?

Again the memories came flooding back. Bakura rose up, his eyes wide. "Where's my Yami?" he demanded.

The others exchanged looks, making Bakura feel very uncomfortable. He knew all too well what it meant when people looked at each other in that way. His father had looked that same way at the police officers before telling Bakura that his little sister Amane had been gravely injured in a car accident.

"Where is he?!" the poor boy wailed now. "He's hurt bad, isn't he?!" Tears filled his eyes. "I can't even sense him! But . . . but how is that possible?! He . . . he can't . . . he can't be . . . gone," Bakura choked out.

Again there was a long silence. Finally Yami Yugi spoke up.

"Bakura . . . your Yami was seriously injured," he admitted. "In addition to being hurt during the crash, he also took a bullet in his neck and another in his chest."

Bakura fell back, stunned. "NO!!!" he screamed. "He's . . . he's not mortal!! He's not supposed to get hurt!! He's not!!!" The tears spilled over his cheeks. Tea laid a hand on his shoulder comfortingly.

Yami Yugi shook his head. "I'm afraid that your Yami has been slightly exaggerating about that.As a matter of fact, he *can* be hurt . . . sometimes even extremely."

"Where is he? Please let me go to him!" Bakura wailed.

"He's in the next room," Yugi said slowly. "But, Bakura, you just woke up. I don't know if you should . . ."

Bakura was already leaping out of bed. "I have to see him!" he cried, the crystalline streaks glistening on his face. "He . . . he was trying so hard to protect me!" the boy sobbed, running to the door and stumbling out.

After a brief silence, Joey remarked, "Man, it's a good thing he wasn't wearing a hospital gown."
****
Blindly Bakura tore into the next room and then stopped short in horror at the sight of his Yami laying supine and still on the bed. The thief had been stripped to his waist, and blood-soaked bandages covered his chest, neck, and arms. Another piece of gauze had been carefully wound around his forehead, and Yami Bakura's bangs fell limply over it. The heart monitor was flatlining loudly, but since the tomb raider was a spirit and probably didn't have a heartbeat, that didn't mean he was . . . dead, did it? Hadn't he already died millennia ago? Bakura was too distressed to think.

"Yami!!!" he wailed, running forward and gently embracing the thief's body. "Yami, please wake up!!! Please say something!!!" The boy's tears overflowed, splashing against Yami Bakura's pale skin. "I'm so sorry, Yami! I'm so sorry! . . ."

Now Bakura looked into the thief's unresponsive face. "Yami, please don't leave me!!" he sobbed. "First my mother died. Then I lost Amane. And then my father started traveling so much, so I sort of lost him as well," he said softly. "Yami, you're like a brother to me! Please, Yami . . . please don't you leave me as well!"

The color drained from the poor boy's face as he recalled Yami Bakura's words from earlier, when he was replying to Bakura's exclamation that he couldn't steal the car.

"I did the only thing I could to save your pathetic life," the tomb raider had told him angrily.

Bakura couldn't stop the tears from falling. "You were trying to save me, weren't you, Yami?" he wailed. "If you'd been alone, you never would have gotten into that car and driven off. Instead you would have stood up to those gangsters. But because I was there, you were trying to keep me from being shot!" He stared in horror at the blood seeping from under the bandage around the thief's neck. "Yami, you were hurt because you wanted to save me!" the boy cried.

"Bakura?"

The boy looked up to see Yugi and the others in the doorway.

"Hey man," Joey said worriedly, "are you gonna be okay?"

Bakura held on to his Yami's body, his heart pounding. "Not unless he will be," he whispered hoarsely.

"He'll be okay," Tristan reassured him. "I mean, he's already . . ." He lowered his voice so that the nurses wouldn't hear and think he was crazy. ". . . He's already dead, so what more could happen to him?"

"I don't know!!" Bakura wailed. "We didn't think he could be seriously hurt except by another spirit, but it certainly seems that he has been!" He paused. "And . . . and even though I'm right here with him, I still can't mentally sense his presence!" the boy cried in confusion.

Yami Yugi looked concerned at that. "Perhaps I can reach him, since we are both spirits," he suggested.

"You would do that, man?" Joey said in surprise. "I thought you couldn't stand the guy. Not that I could blame you, of course," he added quickly.

"I don't like him," Yami Yugi replied softly, "but to Bakura he means as much as a brother." With that he closed his eyes and concentrated hard, searching for any sign of the tomb raider's presence. "Yami Bakura?" he called, not knowing how else to address the thief. "Yami Bakura, where are you? Bakura is worried sick about you. Can you not answer his pleas?" There was no response.

After a long moment the ancient Pharaoh opened his eyes once more and then shook his head grimly at those watching him. "I cannot sense him either," he said. "Not only is his body unconscious, but his mind seems to be as well."

Bakura couldn't believe what was happening. "What does it mean?" he cried. "Yami? Yami, please wake up!!!" he begged in vain. He looked up at Yami Yugi in despair. "What if he's . . . he's dead?!" the boy wailed.

"He can't be," Yami Yugi replied, shaking his head. "It's impossible."

Bakura turned to look at the flatlining heart monitor. "Are . . . are we sure?" he sobbed.

"He's alive, Bakura," Yami Yugi tried to reassure him. "He's alive, but his mind is unreachable for some reason." But even as the ancient Pharaoh said this, he had to wonder himself if it was true. He, of course, didn't know all the mysteries of the universe. What if . . . what if somehow Yami Bakura actually was dead?

Bakura caught sight of Yami Yugi's doubtful expression and turned away, tears in his eyes. "Yami!!" he wailed. "Yami, please wake up!!"

"Don't delude yourselves."

Everyone looked up at the doctor in the doorway.

"Your friend—what was it you called him? Yami?—is dead," the man said coldly. "We need this room for a living patient."

Bakura threw himself across Yami Bakura's body protectively. "You can't take him!" he wailed.

"He doesn't have a heartbeat," the man retorted.

"Eh, maybe your machine's just busted," Joey suggested, trying to stall for time.

The doctor stared at him in irritation and then came over to examine the machine. "Everything seems to be in order," he grunted.

"Well, the guy's not dead, so something must be wrong with it," Tristan chimed in.

"I'll be the judge of whether he's dead or not," the doctor retorted, leaning over to look at Yami Bakura's body. Bakura could only watch, his brown eyes shining with worry. Soon the man straightened up, shaking his head. "His heart isn't beating and he's not breathing," he stated matter-of-factly.

Bakura knew that even though his Yami was a spirit, he still breathed, so this unnerved him quite a bit. "Please don't take him away," he beseeched.

The doctor gave him a hard look.

Yami Yugi stepped forward, the third eye glowing on his forehead. "Leave him be for now," he said firmly. "I promise you that this room will be free for you to use, if you will just not disturb this person." He glanced at Bakura. "This boy, Bakura, was also injured, and it will upset him greatly if you simply, unmercifully take his friend away."

"At least let him say his goodbyes," Tea added, trying to look pleading and sad.

The doctor stared. "Fine," he snapped. Muttering to himself, he turned around and left the room.

"Man, he sure was a cheery guy," Joey remarked sarcastically.

Bakura didn't seem to hear. He looked up at his friends and smiled weakly. "Thank you for what you all did," he said softly.

"Hey, we know how much he means to you, even though we might not know exactly why he does," Tristan replied good-humoredly. He stared at Bakura in concern. "You're looking kinda pale, buddy," he commented worriedly.

Bakura blinked in surprise. "I . . . I feel fine," he replied, feeling the dizziness begin to overwhelm him even as he said this. "Really. . . ."

"Maybe you should lay down," Yugi exclaimed.

"No," Bakura said, shaking his head. "I must stay with my Yami . . ." He trailed off, slumping forward across the old thief's body.

The others gasped, running forward.

"Bakura!" Marik cried, shaking the silver-haired boy gently. "He has passed into unconsciousness!"

"He must've been hurt worse than he thought," Tea said worriedly, her blue eyes shining.

"I'll get the doctor," Yugi volunteered, hurrying out of the room. He encountered the same doctor who they had spoken with only several minutes before.

"What is it now?" the man grumped, recognizing Yugi.

"Please come quick!" Yugi replied frantically. "Bakura's fainted!"

That got the doctor's attention. "What?!" He stood up and followed Yugi down the hall. "I knew the stress would be too much for him. He shouldn't have to see his friend dead. No one should have to go through that."

When they got back to the room, Yami Yugi and the others were trying to revive Bakura without much success.

"What could be wrong?" Tea fretted, wringing her hands.

The doctor pushed past them all and carefully began examining the boy. "He's under far too much stress," he said, shaking his head. "He fainted from sheer exhaustion."

"Well, that's understandable," Tristan retorted. "He cares about this guy like a brother. Seeing him all laid up like this was bound to cause Bakura to feel stressed."

"He's dead," the doctor said coldly. "And this boy will be dead as well if he can't get some proper rest." Gently he took Bakura into his arms and carried him to the doorway, Yugi and those with him following closely. "Watch him carefully and keep him calm when he wakes up," the man ordered as he laid the innocent boy down in his own bed.

"Will he be okay?" Yugi asked worriedly.

"If you do what I say, he will be," the physician responded grouchily. "Don't talk to him about his friend. It will only stress him more. Don't even mention his friend's name." And with that he left.

"So whaddya think?" Joey asked, blinking.

"I think," Yami Yugi said slowly, "that for now we should follow the doctor's advice."
****
The doctor, in the meantime, had gone back into Yami Bakura's room and was examining the thief's mangled body. "Still no signs of life," the man muttered regretfully, touching Yami Bakura's skin and finding it cold. He had known that Bakura's friend was dead the first time he had come into the room, but he had eventually humored those kids and let Bakura stay with the guy's body anyway. That, he decided now, had most certainly been a mistake.

He turned away, unplugging the heart monitor.

"Nurse," he said quietly to a woman just outside the door, "this one's a goner. I'm taking him to the morgue."

"Yes, doctor," the nurse replied, stepping out of the way.
****
"Man, poor Bakura," Tristan said, shaking his head sadly. "Can't he ever catch a break?"

"It is the innocent who go through the worst trials," Marik proclaimed solemnly, speaking from personal experience. As a child he had always been sweet and innocent, until his Yami had come into the picture and Marik had become convinced that Yami Yugi had killed his father. The poor boy had been bent on revenge for years afterward, until only recently he had discovered his error and repented—but he knew that his past would always scar his heart and memories.

Bakura groaned, slowly beginning to awaken. "Yami?" he whispered.

Tea laid a hand on his shoulder. "Bakura?" she said softly.

The silver-haired boy looked up at her with panicked eyes. "Where is my Yami?" he wailed.

"Hey, he's okay, pal," Joey bluffed. "You just go back to sleep."

Bakura shook his head adamantly. "He's not in his room. I have to find him!" he sobbed, leaping out of the bed before anyone could stop him.

"Bakura!" Yami Yugi said commandingly. "You must stay resting if you expect to recover."

"I can't rest knowing my Yami's hurt!" Bakura replied, fleeing out the door.

"There's no stoppin' him," Joey realized. "He'll only settle down if he either finds his Yami or if he passes out again!"

Yami Yugi nodded grimly. "And we can't let it be the latter." He gestured to the door. "We must go after him." He received no arguments, and soon the group was dashing down the hospital corridors in search of their friend.
****
The pathologist slowly cleaned her instruments, preparing to examine the poor, unfortunate creature who had been brought in a while ago. Since she had seen so many countless dead bodies over the years, it had become completely routine by now. When she had first begun her career, she couldn't even look at one of the victims without fainting or screaming bloody murder—but now it didn't faze her one bit.

After applying a fresh pair of Latex gloves and the other necessary sanitation equipment, she purposefully walked up to the still form and gently began to remove the bandages covering the deadly wounds. "And what happened to you?" she mused softly. It had become a habit of hers to sometimes quietly speak to her patients, even though they couldn't hear her. "Are you the one who was escaping the mobsters? I know that poor kid was really worried about you. He's gonna take this hard."

Without warning, the silvery-haired thief's eyes snapped open.

For a split-second, the pathologist and Yami Bakura stared into each other's eyes—each in complete shock of the other—and then the woman let out a horrified, piercing shriek, dropping all her instruments and running into the corner.

Groaning softly and muttering to himself in Egyptian, the tomb raider started to sit up on the slab, rubbing at his head and wondering why it ached so. "For the love of Heaven, woman, what is wrong with you?!" he demanded, blinking at the cowering form of the pathologist. "Haven't you ever seen an Egyptian spirit before?!"

She pointed a finger at him shakily, ignoring that last comment. "You're . . . you're DEAD!!!" she screamed. "Stone cold!!!"

Yami Bakura grunted. "I've been dead for millennia," he retorted, stumbling to his feet and over to the door, ignoring the blood pouring from his wounds.

Clapping a hand to her heart, the pathologist began to feel dizzy and soon slumped to the floor in a dead faint.
****
Yami Bakura staggered down the corridors, scaring everyone he came in contact with; but that didn't bother him. His mind was a blank. How in the blazes had he wound up in a *morgue* of all places?! Of the all ridiculous. . . . Now his only thought was to leave this blasted hospital before anything else happened. And to find Bakura, as well. Where was that absurd boy?!

As he turned another corner, the thief abruptly received an answer to his question.

"Yami!!" the boy cried in sheer joy and delight from the opposite end of the long hallway. Instantly he was running forward and embracing Yami Bakura, happy tears flying from his eyes. "Oh Yami, you're alive!!!"

Yami Bakura pried Bakura away from him and stared into the boy's innocent brown eyes. "What are you babbling about?!" the tomb raider screamed in irritation.

Bakura didn't look fazed at all. "Yami, I was so worried about you!" he wailed, brushing the tears away. "You . . . you were laying so still, and . . . and I couldn't even sense your presence! Yami, I was afraid you were . . ."

"Oh hush," Yami Bakura growled. "You know I can't die. I'm already dead!"

"But Yami, why couldn't I sense you?" Bakura wanted to know.

Yami Bakura just shook his head. He had no clue. He only knew that he had been completely out of it for he didn't know how long.

"Oh Yami, you're still bleeding!" Bakura now cried in horror.

The tomb robber just looked at the boy in frustration. "Don't fuss over me, fool! I'm fine!" he insisted.

Bakura knew there was no point in arguing, so he smiled softly instead, an underlying sadness in his eyes. "Yami, I know you were trying to save me when you took that car. I'm so sorry I didn't seem to show any appreciation for your selflessness at the time. I . . . I was just so panic-stricken . . ."

"You don't need to explain yourself, dolt," Yami Bakura snapped. "Just forget that any of this ever happened."

Bakura shook his head. "I never could, Yami," he said quietly.

Yami Bakura growled and turned away, exploring the abrasion on his neck with his fingers.

"Bakura! Bakura!"

The boy turned to see Yugi and the others hurrying toward him.

"You shouldn't have run off like that, man," Joey scolded.

"I'm sorry, but I had to find Yami," Bakura replied softly. "And as you can see, now I have." He smiled and laid his hand on the thief's shoulder. "He's alright!" the boy said joyously.

Yami Bakura grunted and shrugged Bakura's hand away. "Now," he said gruffly, still not facing his descendant, "were you injured?"

Before Bakura had a chance to reply, Tristan spoke up instead. "He sure was, and now he needs to rest!" the hazel-eyed boy said firmly.

Bakura went beet-red. "I'm fine, really," he protested, and the other teens did have to admit that he looked much calmer and more at peace than he had before. "But I know I would have been shot if you hadn't strived so hard to protect me, Yami," the boy added now, looking serious. Yami Bakura still didn't answer, but Bakura wasn't upset. He was just relieved and overjoyed that the old thief was alive.