Tainted

                Ryou opened the door quietly, hoping a certain someone wasn't around. He uttered a sigh of relief as he entered the house. He went to his soul room without hesitation; Ryou desperately needed the comfort of his perfect white sanctuary. A sickening feeling shot through Ryou as he saw the wall before him, marred with a splash of black. He knew what it meant, as well as why it was there. His head lowered in defeat, this was the last place he wanted to be.

                "Hey Yugi, what happened?" Jounouchi asked as he, Yugi, Anzu, Honda, and Ryou walked to school the next day. Yugi knew he was referring to the large bruise covering his face. Ryou looked away as Yugi glanced at him.

                "Don't worry Jounouchi…I fell of a step stool while helping Grandpa at the shop." Yugi smiled.

                "Yugi…" Ryou began to protest.

                "I guess I should be more careful, wouldn't you agree Ryou?" Ryou sighed quietly then put on a fake smile.

                "Right."

                "You two should really be more careful, take me for example, I never fall!" As Jounouchi said this, his foot caught in a crack and his face plummeted into the sidewalk.

                "Smooth move Jounouchi," Honda said, stepping over him.

                "Yeah," Anzu agreed.

                "Jounouchi are you all right?" Yugi shouted, rushing to his aid.

                "I'm fine Yug," he flashed his friend a smile, "Guess you're rubbin' off on me."

                "I'm sure that's it," Anzu said sarcastically. The group continued on their way and soon made it to school.

                "Yugi I am sorry," Ryou said when the final bell rang that day.

                "It's all right Ryou, I understand."

                "But Yugi…you didn't deserve that…you shouldn't have lied for me."

                "And you shouldn't lie for Bakura," He knew Yugi was referring to the bumps and bruises he said were from 'falling'. "At least you only hit me once." Ryou sighed; deep down Yugi was just like him, never one to complain.

                Bakura opened the door to his hikari's soul room with a loud crash.

                "Where the hell is…" he stared at the large black spot which now covered half of one wall. Ryou sat below, curled into a fetal position, crying. Before he knew what was happening the hikari was in his bedroom, Bakura tossing him against the wall. "What did you do?" Bakura shouted furiously.

                "I…I..."

                "How did it get there?!"

                "I…hit Yugi…" Ryou managed to get out.

                "You stupid, worthless boy, tainting innocence![1]"

                "I…I'm sorry Bakura…I…"

                "Clean it up!"

                "H…how?"

                "Just do it!" Bakura stormed from the room and Ryou heard the front door slam.

                "It isn't his fault you know," a familiar voice said to Bakura as he stomped through the park.

                "What the hell do you know Pharaoh?"

                "Your hikari called to ask how to 'clean the darkness'."

                "There's black all over his soul room! You know what that means! Although I'm sure you already knew what he'd done!"

                "Yugi doesn't keep secrets from me."

                "Of course not, you're 'the perfect yami', I've heard it enough from Ryou!"

                "Are you jealous of me Bakura?"

                "Jealous? Do I look like Marik?" There was a long silence. "And what did you tell him when he called?"

                "You can't remove the darkness from your soul completely, you can only nurture the light and hope in time the evil becomes a small part of you."

                "I would expect that sort of fluffy crap from you." Yami gave him a smile then.

                "Fluffy as it may be, it's true." Bakura uttered a sort of growl and began to leave.

                "He had better do a hell of a lot of nurturing Pharaoh, for his sake as well as Yugi's."

                "Bakura," he didn't stop walking. "Do you know why he hit Yugi?" Now the raging boy's steps faltered.

                "No, why?" he ground out.

                "Because Yugi called you worthless." Bakura turned to throw a punch at Yami, but he had already gone.

                Ryou's tears flowed freely. When Bakura had returned three days later he had been furious and here his gentle hikari sat in the aftermath of his abuse. The ebony splash seemed to grow every day; Ryou knew if it didn't stop soon Bakura would… The tears came double and Ryou stood. He stumbled his way to the bathroom and fell against the door. He pulled the crimson towel from its hiding place, as well as the small, sharp blade…

                "What the hell are you doing in there?" Bakura yelled when Ryou still hadn't exited the bathroom. When he received no reply he was angry enough to break down the door, but then he would have to deal with the weakling's flustered attempts to fix it. He turned the knob and was annoyed further by something heavy blocking the door. He gave it a hard shove and it opened. Bakura's eyes widened in surprise as he saw the figure slumped on the floor. He stepped out of the bathroom and slammed the door. He raced down the stairs and, after a lot of phone book flipping, dialed the number to the Turtle Game Shop.

                "Turtle Game Shop, how may I help you?" Yami's cool voice said in the receiver.

                "I think he's dead," Bakura half whispered.

                "What? Who is this?!"

                "Ryou…I think he's…"

                "Bakura? Hold on, I'll be right there!"

                Yami watched Bakura as the blaring sirens and flashing lights got further and further away. The sadistic youth seemed weak and broken now and Yami found it difficult to believe it was the same boy he'd fought many times before.

                "I'm sure he'll be alright Bakura."

                "I thought…"

                "But he's not dead, and the doctors won't let him die either."

                "It keeps getting bigger Yami, every day…it's covering half of his soul room.[2]" For a moment Yami wasn't sure what he was talking about.

                "You're still worried about his soul room? Ryou's life was in danger tonight, you should forget about…" Bakura stood abruptly, old fury rising.

                "I tainted him! I put him in danger by making him like me!" Yami stared in shock.

                "Bakura…" Before another word could be uttered the snow haired youth had left.

                Ryou's eyes fluttered open. He looked quietly to the figure beside him. Bakura lay there with his head upon the bed, eyes closed in an exhausted sleep. Ryou was content to watch him in this unguarded state, his dark half had never allowed him to see it before.

                "Stupid boy[1]," Bakura muttered in his sleep. Ryou's eyes looked downcast. 'He hates me in his sleep,' he thought to himself. He heard a nurse telling someone down the hall that visiting hours were over. He paused for a moment then gently shook Bakura's shoulder. Bakura's head snapped up violently.

                "What?" The sleepy haze cleared from his eyes and he focused on Ryou.

                "Bakura…visiting hours are over…" Bakura looked at him quizzically.

                "So?"

                "So…that means you have to go." He saw the nurse poke her head in the door. She gave Bakura a frightened look before moving on. Bakura had noticed her as well and released a short derisive chuckle.

                "I don't know what she's so afraid of, I only threatened to kill her." Ryou smiled slightly and Bakura frowned. "Don't smile at that, fool." The smile left the innocent youth's face.

                "I'm sorry…I just thought….well…you wanted to stay…you don't care." Bakura's eyes widened in surprise.

                "No…no, I do…care…about you. I just don't want you to do bad things," a sadistic grin spread across his face. "That's my job." Ryou stared at him a moment, then threw his arm's around Bakura's neck.

                "Oh Bakura!" Ryou sobbed into the other boy's shirt.

                "Don't be stupid, and none of that mushy crap. Just…don't stop being my Ryou."

[1] Bakura is talking to himself here, not Ryou

[2] In case you couldn't figure it out – Ryou hit Yugi which initiated the dark spot on his wall, afterwards his own guilt as well as Bakura's fury led him to cut himself, causing the darkness to grow.

I hope everyone who read this liked it, I don't really like writing these because I'm not very well acquainted with Ryou and Bakura and won't be getting very acquainted with them anytime soon as I have stopped watching the series (I do read the manga, however). I wish I could bestow some credit on another author(hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge), I was reading a Ryou/Bakura fic once where they described Ryou's soul room as pure white and Bakura's soul room as pure black; almost instantly the idea popped into my head – 'what if Ryou's soul room started turning black?' After writing my other Ryou/Bakura fic I was Yu-Gi-Oh fic happy and started this one as well as a Jounouchi/Kaiba one that will never be completed. Tainted spent weeks on the floor (possibly quite literally, my room's a disaster area) and then one random day I decided to finish it…I worked on it during odd moments of school and then it spent another few weeks in my math binder (shudders) before being typed up and completed. Now that you've heard the sissy crap that you never cared to know…

I would like to thank Ooshatielf (that's her FFN id, go check out her stuff) for beta-reading this when it was half done, I wasn't sure if it flowed all right and her input was…an ego boost…affirming…whatever, it made me feel better about what I'd had at that point.

Please review, it makes me happy and gives me great confidence that I am not a crappy writer…though I suppose I should note – even flames are welcome. Seems odd, doesn't it? I've never received a flame to date, I imagine they feel like crap but maybe they're amusing so I'd be interested to know what they feel like. Besides, it means someone read the fic. Okay, now that I've written half a page of notes for a 2 page fic, I'm gonna shut up.