So I got sick of trying to justify Yami Bakura's actions to myself, and decided to write an irredeemable Yami Bakura.

Then I gave Ryou a nickname that only Malik uses. Because I can. ^_^

Shounen ai: Ryou+YamiBakura (one-sided), Ryou+Malik (very slight)

Set after a possible ending to the series. Mentioned character death. Use of Gundam Wing characters. Stockholm syndrome! Yay!

There is no special font for lyrics, and if you don't know the lyrics to "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, you suck. If you do know the lyrics, you'll know that I picked and chose which ones I use.

Knock yourselves out.

Try To Break Me With Goodbye

"Until death do you part," was the only thing Ryou remembered from the wedding ceremony. He couldn't have told a person what it was like to stand waiting at the altar with the groom and other groomsmen, he wouldn't have been able to agree with his father that his mother-to-be, Catherine, had looked absolutely stunning walking down the aisle in her glimmering white dress, and he didn't recall if he'd "aw"ed at the little toddling ring bearer. All he knew was that the preacher had said a line about death, and shortly after that the wedding had ended.

After that there had been the receiving line, and if any family members had spoken with Ryou and shaken his hand, his recollection of it was vague, if at all. He was smiling – or at least, he hoped he was – for the photographer, and he exchanged pleasant words with Uncle Quatre (who constantly threatened to send Ryou to the hairdressers to get his hair styled), and he drank the little glass of champagne that they handed him in the limo. But through it all he wasn't aware, only moving along in the indicated direction with his eyes open and a slightly blank expression on his face.

His father had gotten over his mother's death, and was finally moving on. And good for him, Ryou said, because his father needed a companion; he was horribly lost and alone without a wife. Ryou didn't mind Catherine, either; she was a lovely woman with curly auburn hair and sparkling pale lavender eyes. She was friendly and cooked a wonderful chicken soup, and she and his father would be settling down and buying an actual house, instead of that tiny apartment Ryou had been living in. A family, they'd said to him, and Ryou had smiled, because Catherine and his father deserved a smile.

Then the whole previous week had been a rush, to get the rented tuxedos and the payments on the house, to finalize the hotel arrangements (and Catherine had been pissed when the hotel had somehow lost the records of the reservation), and all the other little last-minute mess-ups that invariably preceded a wedding.

Of that whole week, Ryou remembered nothing.

He would have liked to remember things, and to actively participate instead of drifting along as though in the twilight zone. But after the first few sleepless nights, things had started to just be, with no emotion or form. Soon figures had no faces, colours had no gradations, and shapes had no curves, turning Ryou's world into a harsh, jagged thing that existed but did nothing else. Malik could have dressed him in drag and taken him as a prom date without Ryou being the wiser; his younger sister could have died all over again and he wouldn't have realized what had happened.

One of his father's friends clapped the man on the back, laughing, and Ryou automatically smiled when they looked his way.

~~~

Crying. Night of crying, hacking, tears rolling on the side of his face and into his ears when he laid on his back, pathetic throat sobs. Malik, yelling at him, then sighing and bringing him a cup of water so he wouldn't dehydrate. Choking, trembling, staggered gulps of water, interrupted by coughing, and then Malik held him.

He'd known that his other half was an asshole. He'd known that Yami Bakura wanted nothing more than power for him, and him alone. Power to rule the world, and absolute control. One might have though Malik to be the control freak, but he had nothing on the dark Bakura.

Even knowing this, knowing that the thief was a heartless bastard who would hurt Ryou and laugh while his landlord bled, his death hurt Ryou. It reached into his chest and squeezed his ribs around his lungs until breathing was only possible in large desperate gasps, pulled the tears out of his eyes in big dripping gobs, and made him shiver in Malik's arms.

And it hadn't stopped. His love – if it could even be termed as such – was not going to die any time soon, unlike the subject of that adoration. 

He knew it was stupid, as he knew his dark half had been undeniably, well, evil. His dark half had always hurt him, and yet, when the logical half of his mind pointed that out to him, he'd argued that Yami Bakura had never gone so far as to kill him. And Ryou had taken that, and seen it as mercy… and, he hoped, some sort of returning of that strange affinity he held for the Ring Spirit.

~~~

The reception, which Ryou would have dreaded if he'd been able to remember what it would entail, arrived.

"And now, the best man will make a toast, and then we'll have dinner!" The DJ announced. A microphone was pressing into Ryou's hands, and he found himself standing in the middle of the dance floor, staring at the full tables of guests. There were his father and Catherine at the head table, smiling at him (but mostly at each other), the other bridesmaids and groomsmen, the large centerpieces of the blue, star-shaped Forget-Me-Nots and lilies, and the little flower girl who was staring not at him, but grinning at her little basket of flower petals.

He stared at them, figured that he should speak so that he didn't worry his father, and then said a few words that he lost as soon as they left his mouth, before raising the glass of white wine that he hadn't known was in his hand. All the people raised their glasses with him, and he heard the clink of glass as he downed his in one go.

The DJ took his microphone back.

~~~

"Baku, look," Malik started, dropping his backpack to the floor and leaning against the doorframe of Ryou's room. "He was irredeemable. He hated everybody, and his final act of malice was to make you dependent on him. And gods-damn, it worked really fucking well."

Ryou looked up from his damp pillow and grabbed a few Kleenexes. He moved over on the bed, and the tan boy sat down next to him.

"That's… harsh," Ryou said, before loudly blowing his nose and wiping the snot off his upper lip. His usually soft voice was deeper and thicker from the tears.

"Yeah, life's harsh," Malik's voice was flat and annoyed. "I'm not going to say a bunch of sugar-coated shit for you, Baku, because I actually care about you. So you're going to just have to deal with it, or I'll leave and there'll be nobody to fill up your water glass." He jerked his head toward the bedside table, where the currently empty water cup rested.

Ryou sniffled and rubbed one of his eyes. Were he younger it would have been cute, but as Malik saw it, it was pathetic to see his friend in that state.

"But…" Ryou paused and rubbed the other eye. The skin beneath his eyes was already red and irritated, and Malik could see the blue bags under the raw, puffy redness. Taking note of that and Ryou's current lethargic motions, he knew that the white-haired boy hadn't gotten any sleep again the last night. "He never killed me," Ryou pleaded. "That means something… right?"

"No." Malik glared. "Or, if you want, yes. It means that he needed your body alive." He plunged on, not wanting to tell the truth but ultimately deciding it needed to be said, "He'd killed lots of people before; what the Hell made you think you were so special? You weren't." Ryou bit his lip, but Malik hadn't finished. "Look, Baku, it's been almost a week already. If you're this weak, that you can't go on now that he's not here to hold you back and fuck up your life, you don't deserve this freedom. But you've got it, and you're just sitting here waiting for somebody to come kick you around – you're pathetic."

Ryou's shoulders and lips trembled, and the dark boy knew that he was resisting the urge to bury his head back in the pillows and cry for the Ring Spirit to come back.

Malik stood then, and took the glass from the nightstand. By the time he returned, Ryou was lying loosely curled on his side, facing the wall away from Malik, and clutching a pillow against his chest. The blond set the glass back on its coaster and reached a hand out to run it through Ryou's hair. He stopped himself before his fingers met their target, though, and pulled his arm back.

"Are you coming to school tomorrow? You don't know how difficult this is to go to school with people I was trying to kill a month ago."

"No," Ryou answered, shifting to get a better grip on his pillow.

Malik stared at his back only a moment longer, then turned and walked from the room. At the door he stopped and looked back over his shoulder. The pale boy on the bed was shaking again, but silent since he hadn't heard Malik leave yet.

"Ryou…" Malik hesitated an instant at realizing he'd used to boy's first name, "I could help you. If you want. But that's the thing… I can't do a thing for you if you don't want it."

The white-haired boy's response was in a whisper. "Thank you, Malik. But maybe … later …"

Malik retrieved his backpack and tried his best not to slam the door.

~~~

"I Will Survive"

~~~

He sat at the head table, not realizing he was the only one there, and played with his fork. His picked-at dinner sat in front of him, the gorgeously appetizing salmon fillet only missing one bite. Though he had been drinking, and the caterer had just brought him a new glass of that delicious, burning wine. Unfortunately, he had to drink more each time to get that same warm sensation in his chest, but consequently smiles were getting easier. Truly, he was feeling better than he had all week, and his plate was slowly becoming more of an organic form instead of its previous jagged straight-edged shape.

A piano scale reached his ears, and a voice came out over the speakers. What shocked Ryou into awareness was that the words were words in his ears, rather than the unintelligible sounds he'd been hearing for so long he'd almost forgotten what he was missing.

At first I was afraid; I was petrified. I kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.

Ryou downed his new glass of alcohol. Even the DJ was against him, he thought bitterly, before realizing it was his first coherent thought in days. Wavering, he stood up, and looked around, finally absorbing the beauty of the reception location. The guests, dressed in their finery and in a circle on the dance floor; the dim candle light (and the ceiling lights, but they'd been toned down for the atmosphere); the beautiful cake with its little ceramic bride and groom figurines on its top.

But then I spent so many nights just thinking how you done me wrong, and I grew strong. I learned how to get along.

Still a little unsure but gaining in steadiness, Ryou made his way to the dance floor. It was filled with the women guests, as they'd seized control of the area as soon as the song had come on. Their boyfriends and husbands stood off to the side, joking about how they should never get their respective girls angry with them, while the girls all sang the words and didn't care that their voices were completely overpowered by the music. They'd formed a circle, where one girl would dominate the center for a time, while the ones on the edge sang and bobbed to the music.

'But they don't know,' Ryou thought to himself, leaning against a column. 'It's hard… it hurts so much.'

He thought this until the lyrics reached him again, and he actually looked at the women, some of whom were easily twice his age. To think that he was feeling more misery than they'd ever felt was awfully conceited, he realized. Some of those women had probably gone through many violent break-ups – wouldn't the singer of the song have been writing from experience? What made Ryou think he was so special, so uniquely depressed?

Malik had been right; he was acting pathetic.

He should probably prove Malik wrong sometime soon.

~~~

Weren't you the one who tried to break me with goodbye – did you think I'd crumble; did you think I'd lay down and die?

"He was a hypocritical bastard, Bakura!"

"It wasn't his fault!" The white-haired boy sobbed back, refusing to let go of the Ring. He held the gold medallion tightly, pressing it against his chest and curling around it. It had occurred to him that he looked sad and pathetic, kneeling on the ground, bent over some hunk of jewelry and screaming. He decided not to focus on that thought, sacrificed his meager dignity, and continued to scream and cry. "Bring him back! Bring him back!!"

Yami Yuugi looked down at the boy, realizing that yelling wasn't going to do anything. It didn't matter how accurate his words were; Ryou was beyond hearing them. He was throwing a childish tantrum… It was sad, Yami Yuugi reflected, to see a person, very nearly a grown man, who'd been so badly manipulated and weakened. In truth, the fact that Ryou's mentality had grown completely dependent on the Spirit of the Ring, who cared nothing for his host, came rather close to frightening the Pharaoh.

Ryou continued to whimper, rocking slightly. "Bring him back," he begged, voice turning into a whine on the last word. "Please. … It wasn't his fault…"

~~~

Ryou joined the circle of dancers, still a little wobbly in his legs, and tentatively moved to the beat with the women. The ones to his side grinned and laughed, delighted that such a cute young man was joining them, and Ryou found that he was enjoying himself.

Oh, no, not I, I will survive!

The pair of girls in the center of the group spun and shifted quickly, their feet moving in patterns that amazed Ryou, and still would have dazzled him have even if he were completely awake. Both wore large grins and had eyes only for each other, as the taller one dramatically leaned her partner back and earned the pair claps and catcalls. Then the two separated but stayed connected at their hands, still dancing and shaking their hips, circled around, let go of each other and spun back into the edge of the circle.

As long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive.

Then the calling started up, "Best man! Best man!" and the girls waved their arms at him and pointed to the open space in the circle. Ryou held his arms up and shook his head, and perhaps would have escaped had the woman to his right not given him a shove forward. Thus he found himself the center of attention for the second time that night, and again at a loss as to what to do. He wouldn't have been able to handle it half an hour ago, but then again he wouldn't have been in the mess half an hour ago.

It took all the strength I had just not to fall apart. I'm trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart. And I spent oh so many nights just feeling sorry for myself; I used to cry.

And although Ryou could do no more than hold one hand at his hip and move the other to pointing at the ceiling, then down to point to the floor, in a mock-imitation of some disco move, the women cheered him on and he grinned foolishly back at them. He exited the center quickly after, but found that he preferred bouncing in the circle to returning to his seat. Another couple, this one a man and a woman, swing danced for the crowd, earning claps and cheers, and the thought of dancing with Malik bobbed through Ryou's mind.

Then again, he wondered if the Egyptian danced.

I'm not that stupid little person so in love with you.

~~~

Malik stared, then smiled and ran his fingers through the sleeping boy's hair before he could stop himself.

"I'll be there for you at school tomorrow," He whispered.

I will survive!

Fin