Nyo. Here it is. Sorry about the wait. It was sitting about a page short of completion for about a month and a half. This is proof positive that I am a Bad Person.
::in which seto has a good idea for once::
"How did you get in here?" Seto demanded, whirling on Bakura.
Bakura grinned unrepentantly. "You're supposed to be smart."
"My lock scans my eyes," Seto said angrily. "Not only are you not tall enough, but everyone has different eyes. They're like fingerprints."
Bakura shrugged. "I'm in, yes?"
Seto went to the door and looked at his lock. Or, er, what was left of his lock. It had been prised loose from the wall and set on fire, and all the wires behind it ripped out.
"I really should kill you for this," Seto remarked.
"Heh. Try it," Bakura mocked. "So listen, priest-boy. Ryou's father wants to take him to Egypt to go hang out and dig up my life. If I go home, it ain't to watch some idiots make fun of me. I mean, hell, I did some crazy stuff in my life, but they're doing it for 'science'."
"I don't see your complaint. I also don't see why you're telling me," Seto said coolly. "You looted tombs, you desecrated bodies, you're completely illiterate, and you're completely psychotic."
Bakura glowered at him. "Wasn't my fault I had to live like that. I mean, okay, they're mostly digging up stuff that belonged to the pharaohs," he said with a shrug. "But hell, I only really had it in for the ones that ruled while I was alive. Besides, I've been screwed over badly enough. I don't want to piss off the gods any more than I have to."
Seto said, "Fair enough, but why do I care?"
"If you don't talk to the yadonushi about what you want, we're going to Egypt and running away to Memphis," Bakura pointed out.
"Why not Cairo?" Seto asked.
Bakura blinked. "Why should we go to Cairo? They have politicians."
"There are politicians everywhere," Seto said dryly.
"Eeep!" Bakura looked thoroughly afraid. "Where? Where?!"
Seto started wondering if Yuugi'd had a point, what with the continual amusement thing. "Never mind that. You haven't even been able to get off the grounds. How do you expect to go to Egypt?"
"The pharaoh knows where we are," Bakura pointed out. "He can be used to get us out of here."
Seto gave this some thought. "Damn."
"Aaaand last time, I was being nice." Bakura looked thoughtful. "What I did to that guard? I could do it to everyone. I could burn this place to the ground, raze everything for fifty miles...I could do anything."
"Why aren't you, then?" Seto asked, his eyes gleaming.
"Well, for one, it won't get me laid. Why are you looking at me like that?"
"That's fascinating," Seto mused, completely deserting the topic at hand. "You can do all that? Are we talking you setting large amounts of bombs, or...?"
"This thing," Bakura answered, holding the Ring up. "Which is so not the point."
"What is, then?" Seto demanded. "Do you want to leave, or do you want to stay?"
"This is your ultimatum," Bakura announced. "You have twenty-four hours to prove to Ryou that he should stay here, or we go...and we may not come back."
"And his little friends?" Seto challenged.
"Since when have you been one of them?"
"Yes, well, I could very well pull another stunt like this."
Bakura smiled. "But you won't."
Seto was forced to internally concede that he had a point. "Twenty-four hours?"
"You want me to finish what I've been trying to do for the past week or so in a day?" Seto demanded.
"Hey, most of that time, we were unconscious," Bakura pointed out. "Ta, now."
"But..." Seto trailed off as Bakura sauntered out the door and vanished into the darkness. He blinked, then pelted to the door and yelled down the hallway. "What are the terms?"
"Twenty-four hours," Bakura said distantly, followed by the sound of a door slamming.
Seto considered this, then smiled rather evilly. "Those are the only restrictions? I really will have to teach you some business sense."
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the sinking sensation of an 'oh crap' moment being introduced.
Anzu scrabbled through her handbag, grabbed her cell phone, and flipped it open. "'lo?"
"It's me. Yuugi," the aforementioned boy added belatedly.
"Oh, hey!" Anzu blinked. "What's up so late?"
"Well, we hadn't heard from you since you dropped Bakura off, so we were kind of wondering if you were still intact and had your soul in place and everything. Oh, and we have some weird news. We went to see Seto Kaiba this afternoon."
Anzu rolled her eyes. "Uh huh."
The afternoon in question was poured forth.
There was a long moment of silence on the girl's end of the conversation.
"I'd ask what you were smoking, but this is crazy enough to be true." Anzu sat on her bed discontentedly. "What are we going to do?"
"Well, I was kind of hoping you'd have an answer for that one."
"Anyone consider asking Ryou what to do?" Anzu pointed out.
"Yes, actually," Yuugi retorted. "He told us, very gently, to push off and stall his father until tomorrow night, at which point he'd try and talk to us again."
"So they're planning something," Anzu said.
"Oh Lord," Anzu concluded as the implications of this hit her. "This is one of those not-good situations, isn't it?"
"Yes. Yes, it is," Yuugi agreed. "And, see, the real reason I called is...well..."
"Ryou's father is coming tomorrow. Here. And, um, we need to be suspiciously absent for a while in order to stall him."
"And that's where you need me to be a vapid airhead running the shop with no knowledge of any of you?" Anzu inquired.
"Excellent! I'll see if I can grab Honda or someone to help me out." Anzu sighed happily. "This is so wrong of me, but I can catch up on my girliness quota for the month."
"Erm...all right. I'll see you tomorrow at eleven or so. We need to be well out of there before he shows up at twelve," Yuugi explained.
Anzu grinned. "Right. I'll call for some backup."
"I have the nasty feeling I'm going to regret this," Yuugi muttered as he hung up.
Anzu tossed the phone onto the bed, bounced over to the mirror, and started ransacking her closet and her mental address book simultaneously. Honda...Shizuka...Jounouchi...Mai...
Back at the Kaiba mansions the next morning, Seto was up bright and early with a whole machine of Mr. Coffee ready at his side.
Yes, he also had Mr. Radar there too.
"Niisama?" Mokuba poked his head in the door. "You're plotting evil things, aren't you?"
"I have good reason," Seto replied. "I was given an ultimatum at six last night. I have twenty-four hours from that time – now closer to twelve – to figure out how to convince Ryou to stay here."
Mokuba very deliberately stepped into the room. "And you didn't tell me?"
"It didn't occur to me that you needed to know," Seto replied. "Do you?"
"Need to know? Yes!"
"What's your interest in Ryou?" Seto inquired curiously.
"Not him, the other one!"
"The one that's kidnapped you, tried to kill me, tried to destroy the world, and generally is on a vendetta to blow things up?"
"My faith in your judgement has just dropped pretty drastically."
"What about my faith in your judgement?" Mokuba wailed. "I've been realistic about myself all along! I'm not going to get this! This is not going to happen! But no, you have to go and be stubborn and willing to get Ryou at all costs and get my hopes up!"
"And this is bad why?"
"I've fucking fallen for his sadistic Mr. Hyde personality, that's why!" Mokuba proclaimed to the heavens. "And the world knows it!"
Seto blinked several times. "I didn't know it."
"Yes, you...er...meep," Mokuba squeaked. "Eheh. Heh. Bye."
"Wait a second!" Seto shot out of his chair, grabbed Mokuba, and hauled him back into the room. "We're having a talk about this now."
"We are not!" Mokuba decided, squirming in Seto's grasp. "We're going to let them go, dammit!"
"And why would we do that?" Seto inquired arrogantly.
"They're not ours!" Mokuba said, finally wrenching out of Seto's grip. "They're not our pawns! These are just two kids in love to whom we're nothing but background noise!"
Seto pressed a button that slammed the door shut in Mokuba's face. "I can come up with a reason –"
Mokuba's fist slammed into the door. Hard. "Let me out."
"Mokuba, I can fix this," Seto continued. "The only restriction the darker one gave me was the time. I can fix this..."
"Overnight seduction?" Mokuba asked. "I won't help you."
"Isn't it what you want too?" Seto asked.
Mokuba went very quiet.
Seto sucked in a deep breath.
"No, that is not what I want!" Mokuba screeched, whirling on Seto. "How can you say that? These people are much more like my friends and I'm not in it for a quick fuck! Once you get him to sleep with you, then what?" Mokuba demanded, fists clenched. "Well? Then what?"
"I could run tests – "
"Do you ever listen to yourself? God!" Mokuba backhanded the door with a fist angrily. "Maybe you just want friends too!"
"I gave up on that a long time ago, you know," Seto said gently.
"It won't work," Mokuba continued. "It won't. You'll hurt them and you'll hurt yourself. If you like him that much, let him have the time – "
"We don't have the time," Seto pressed. "I won't force him to stay just for shags and kicks. I want to see...I want to know what these people are like."
Mokuba drew in a ragged breath, then thumped the door again. "Open it."
Seto's finger hovered over the button. "Will you help me?"
Mokuba turned away and glared at the door. "You'll find out by six tonight, won't you?"
Seto decided that maybe he'd better let his brother out before he lost another lock. Mokuba stalked from the room, radiating offended dignity.
What Seto didn't see was that Mokuba made it about ten paces thus before he stormed straight into Ryou.
"Your brother is that unhappy with us going to Egypt?" Ryou asked mildly.
"Just go," Mokuba snapped. "You know, you're a nice person, but I wish to everything I can think of that you'd never come."
"I'm with you," Ryou told Mokuba's back as the younger boy sulked off down the hallway. "This is turning out awfully," he added to a patch of shadow to his left.
"What were you expecting?"
"Well, I was hoping it wouldn't suck so much. Did you tell him my father's trying to sell our house?"
"No. I like that house. I'd rather not leave it. Can't we just leave?" Bakura finally demanded. "Not go Home, not stay here, not...I mean, you're still in school! You can't just leave! I don't want to leave."
"The law likes to look askance at that sort of behavior," Ryou said severely. "But I don't know how we're going to get out of this one..."
"I'm feeling a desperate need to get drunk."
"We've been up all night. That's the only reason we're awake. Remember?"
"Oh, right." Bakura grabbed Ryou's wrist and began dragging him down the hallway. "Sleep. I remember what that's like. Sort of."
"You're such a ditz."
"I am not. I'm evil."
"You're an evil ditz. You have the mental processes of a magpie and all the catchphrase ingenuity of a five-year-old. And you dress funny."
"And your insults go rapidly downhill after five AM."
"Shut up. Ack! Get your hands out of there! I said I wanted sleep, not sex! Yamiiiiii!"
Some things never change.
Some several hours later and across town, Anzu and Mai were both dressed in the girliest clothes they could find. Both of them were sitting on the counter of the Kame Game shop with Jounouchi and Honda quietly lounging in the background. Shizuka was filing papers in one of the back rooms, Otogi was standing by the door and looking thoroughly bewildered as to what he was doing there, and no one with the name even faintly resembling Mutou was in sight.
"Why am I here?" Otogi finally demanded.
"I don't know," Mai answered, examining her makeup in a small compact.
"Honda insisted," Anzu pitched in. "I don't know why."
There was a long pause while everyone looked suspiciously at Honda.
"How long is it until he's supposed to be here?" Shizuka asked, poking her head around the stockroom door.
Anzu checked her watch. "Half an hour."
"Do you think he likes to show up to things early?"
"I don't know, but Yuugi and his omote were certainly in a hurry to bail out," Anzu replied frankly.
Everyone pondered this for a second. "Do we even know what he looks like?" Mai asked.
"Um," Anzu began. "No?"
"I...see," Mai conceded. "Well then."
"We just act ditzy for everyone who comes in then!" Anzu said brightly.
"Customer," Otogi announced languidly as the door swung open.
"I'm looking for Mutou," said the man who walked in.
Anzu smiled automatically as Shizuka squeaked and vanished into the storeroom. He doesn't look anything like Ryou, but who knows? "He's out," she finally said. "Can we interest you in our newest arrivals?"
"You see, my son's vanished," the man continued. "And Mutou knows where he is. So if you could call him up...?"
"No," Anzu said firmly.
"My cell phone's dead," she said mournfully. "And I don't know the number because I saved it on here."
"Well, where is he?" the man demanded.
"I just work here," Anzu said defensively.
"Lovely Harpie's Older Brothers we've got," Mai pitched in. "First edition."
It was as well for the man that he couldn't see Otogi's silent fit of laughter from behind him. "No, thank you. I really don't think my son needs any more cards."
"He duels? Any duelist always needs more cards," Mai said cheerfully. "We've got a holographic Harpie Lady."
Otogi staggered to the door, pushed it open, and collapsed in a fit of hysterics on the sidewalk.
Everyone in the shop stared.
"Do you know him?" the man finally asked.
"No," Anzu replied. "Never seen him before in my life."
"Anyway, I really want to find my son. I haven't seen him in over six months," the man continued.
Anzu widened her eyes. "He's been gone that long? Oh my."
"Oh, no, no, I work abroad. He was going to the university for a while, but I'd like to bring him backto where I'm working with me," the man said. "He just seems to have gone somewhere for a bit and not left any indication of where."
"Harpie's Pet Dragon makes an excellent homecoming gift," Mai said persuasively. "They come in pretty wrappers if you buy them special."
Jounouchi quietly edged into the storeroom. There was the sound of a resounding crash and Shizuka yelling at her brother, which effectively covered the fact that Jounouchi was laughing nonstop.
Anzu devoutly hoped that she could keep up the innocent look long enough before Mai sent them all into hysterics. "Perhaps you could check some of the scenic areas around here?"
"How good is he?" Mai asked.
Everyone blinked. "Excuse me?" the man finally rejoined.
"At dueling," Mai clarified. "How good?"
"I, uh, don't know...?" the man trailed off.
"There's a tournament in Hiroshima," Mai said. "It's by invitation. Not exactly high-class, but a lot of university students go because it's summer and there's not much else to do. It's pretty well-known. Week-long sort of thing. It'll end in two days."
"Oh, I see," the man said. "Oh, good. That helps a lot. You know, I'll go there and leave you my number, and you have Mutou call me when he gets back. Does that work?"
Anzu blinked at how easy this had been. "Ah...yes. Yes. That works."
"We have Increase Luck cards. Vewy vewy cheap," Mai added with a smattering of batted eyelashes.
Five minutes later, she and Anzu had successfully rung up a handful of Increase Luck and packed the man who had to be Ryou's father out the door and past a still-laughing Otogi.
"Increase Luck?" Anzu finally asked.
"Ryou will like it," Mai said firmly.
"'Vewy vewy cheap'?"
"I read it in a book!"
"You definitely broke not only your boyfriend but Otogi as well."
"Yes, well, it was necessary," Mai said mutinously.
"Is there a tournament in Hiroshima this week?" Anzu finished.
"Yes. Yes, there is," Mai said defiantly.
Everyone looked at her expectantly.
"It's a snooker pool tournament," Mai added.
The occupants of the shop promptly all burst out laughing.
Across town, Seto Kaiba was finishing writing down the details of a small brainwave. He smiled, checked his work over, and then asked to be connected to the telephone directory service.
"Hello? This is Kaiba Seto, of KaibaCorp. Yes. Yes, I see. You're looking for one Bakura Ryou?" Pause. "Yes, I know where he is. He's of great interest to me, you see. Do you remember giving him a gold artifact at one point? Circular, with a pyramid and an eye in the center? Ah. Yes. Yes. This artifact has a lot of interesting things about it. I'd heard from a few of my contacts that you were looking to return your son to Egypt with you. I'd also heard that you were conducting a dig on something that was also of some extreme interest to me. A town called Ku – yes, yes, I see. Anyway, I had wanted to offer you a small grant, and had also wanted to ask you if I could borrow your son for a little while. He is still going to university here, isn't he?" Long explanation from the other end. "Oh. Oh, I understand. I did so want to look at that artifact..." Wild protesting. "Oh? I wasn't talking about a small small grant." Seto named a sum, then smiled at the calculating silence on the other end. "Please think it over. I'll enclose the check to your lodgings in Egypt, if you'll give me the address. No, no strings attached. I'm simply curious about that area."
After the proper farewells had been said, Seto hung up with a slight smile. "I've been targeting the wrong person all along," he mused out loud. "Game, set, and match."
Inuko Metallium: Demon...bananas? Oh help.
Kitten: Thanks. ::smile::
MotherCHOWGoddess: I'm the poster child for a drug-free life! Tra la la!
QueenOfGames: Eheheh. Please don't try this at home. Or at least don't sue me if you do.
Elle-Fate2x1-2: Heh. As are we all.
Liviania: Yuugi amuses me. I've barely touched his character since THSB. It's depressing.
Sennet: Awu. I'm sorry.
Kerei Kitsune: Sorry for the wait!
YamiKatie: I have this urge to poke your brain.
Sailor Comet: This thing is getting weirder and weirder every chapter. It's scaring the crap out of me.
SweetMisery: Tra la la.
viva rose: Maaybe.
allison lightning: Thank you!
silver-dagger-113: Oh good.
please continue reviewing.