Author's Notes: Here it is, the final chapter. And to be honest? I'm not sure if this story has a happy or depressing ending. I guess it's kind of both. o_O Whether Ryou 'won' against his antagonist depends on whether you think of either Yami Bakura as the villian... or Ryou's loneliness.

I know this might seem to have an abrupt ending, but it was really only meant to be a prologue. The rest of the story is, well, what unfolds in the anime and manga, since as far as I know, we only meet Bakura after he has his ring and is somewhat familiar with his yami by then.

JudyNFran: Thanks for the info. n_n; This chapter will probably be one of the more off-cannon ones, since I made everything up, more or less. I'm probably not making Yami Bakura sadistic enough. o_o; And once again, thanks to everyone for all the reviews. Without them, I probably would've quit after the first chapter, since I had NO idea what direction this story was going to go in.

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The rest of the school day had been hell for Ryou. The spirit kept appearing out of the corner of his eye, or in place of a student in the desk beside him, in the back of the room, or even sitting on the teacher's desk. He never said anything, and never stayed for long - he just watched Ryou and smiled one of his sadistic smiles.

Ryou knew he was being taunted, toyed with, that the spirit was trying to break his soul and drive him insane, to wear him down until he just rolled over and gave up. And frankly, it was starting to work. He had been mulling - or maybe the spirit had been making him mull, planting suggestions, how could he tell? - over things the ring had said earlier. It all seemed to make too much sense, in some twisted way.

Was that the definition of insanity? When things that never should make sense, start to seem like obvious logic? It was difficult to make the transition from being painfully alone to being constantly plagued by a haunted ring, a voice, a spirit, a split personality, whatever it might be. His mind might not survive, no matter how he struggled. But who's to say it wasn't gone already...?

As school was let out and Ryou walked home, he kept his eyes to the ground so he couldn't see the spirit walking with him, stalking him, trailing him, or wherever it chose to be. And some small part of him wondered...

...did he really mind the attention all that much...?

Disgusted with himself, he shook his head violently as if to dislodge the quiet thought, and picked up his pace. Every time he felt a chill wind blow by, he was certain the spirit was right there, beside him. He started to hug himself for warmth, but that only pressed the cold ring up against his chest, and he abandoned the idea.

Ryou certainly didn't want to give into the ring, but what could he do? He had the sneaking suspicion that the spirit wouldn't let him take the ring off, and if he did, it would just end up back around his neck somehow. He doubted he could even toss it off a bridge or into the gutter, because the spirit would probably just do some sort of illusion to only make him think he got rid of it - and then later on, happily inform him otherwise.

You're starting to get it.

Ryou was starting to feel painfully crushed as he wearily pushed open the door to his house. He sank down on the futon and hung his head. He felt, quite literally, defeated.

He sensed a presence beside him, and a quick glance told him that the spirit was sitting on the other end of the futon. He wasn't surprised, but new fear gave him a spark of life when he realized Angora was over there, and the spirit was reaching for her -

"Leave her alone!" Ryou sat up and snapped, ready to attack the spirit and stop him, even if he knew he could do nothing against something that wasn't really there. His darker half just stared at him with a quirked, unimpressed eyebrow, and Ryou blinked dumbly as he realized the spirit was petting the cat.

Angora purred happily, which only made Ryou more confused. "I thought only I... The ring scared her before..."

"Mau are far more in tune with the world around them than these idiot humans. And I imagine the ring would. It is, afterall, filled with evil magic. But me?" The spirit smirked, "To her, I'm just you."

Ryou didn't know what to make of the scene - a spirit he had pegged as a homicidal psychopath, calmly stroking a purring kitten. "That's right, you're Egyptian," Ryou reasoned, "you probably worship cats or something."

The spirit growled and glared at Ryou, "Religion was for the upper class. I desecrated their temples, their tombs, even their mummified bodies to take their gold and jewels. I spit in the face of all their curses and their very gods. Egyptian superstition means nothing to me."

"You're a ghost, trapped in a ring, and you don't believe in superstition?" Ryou wondered incredulously.

The spirit lowered his head, his red-brown eyes boring into Ryou. "The power of the Shadow Realm and the Millennium Items are far bigger than Egypt alone, boy."

Angora hopped down off the arm of the futon and curled up in - well, through, actually - the spirit's lap, and he continued on his previous note. "There was always food offerings set out for the corpses in their tombs, and while they can build a tomb impregnable by a human, there's nothing a mouse can't get into. And where there's mice... there are cats." The spirit smiled one of his smug smirks, "I found that cats could show me hidden entrances and holes into tombs in places no human would think to look."

Ryou didn't seem entirely convinced, and the fact that his cat, his only friend, was within the spirit's clutches worried him.

The ethereal tomb-robber snorted. "You think me a common, bloody-minded murderer, who would abuse anything with my reach? Please."

"You wanted to kill Yugi!"

The spirit snickered. "Perhaps I got a little over-enthusiastic. It's been a long time since I saw another Millennium Item." He shook his head. Ryou remained uncertain, and only got more confused, assuming the ring and Yugi's puzzle were some of these 'Millennium items'. Or maybe he knew that because the spirit did - it was impossible to say.

"I kill if it will help me accomplish my goal, but I don't care enough about you mortals' worthless lives to make a point of snuffing them out. I didn't when I was alive, and I don't intend to make a habit of it now." The spirit turned and looked at the blank television, narrowing his eyes. Despite the display, Ryou got the idea that the spirit of the ring enjoyed talking about himself and his exploits.

"You could have fooled me," Ryou muttered.

"That doesn't seem terribly difficult," the spirit deftly replied with a falsely sweet smile. "Oh, I never said I disliked blood and violence. But people are missed more than their valuables are. Rarely will they seek out revenge against a stolen good - they're far more apt to simply cut their losses and move on, to try and just build a better tomb for the next pharaoh, put a more threatening curse on the entrance. Leaving a bloody trail would only make my stealing more difficult.

"In short, your cat is in no danger." The spirit leaned back against the futon, which Ryou could see through his back. The Egyptian spirit scratched Angora between the ears, "It's yourself you should be worrying about."

Ryou lowered his head, tucking his legs up against his chest. The whole scene felt very... strange. Here was this ancient spirit of a tomb-robber from Egypt, boasting to him, correcting him, insulting him, threatening him, all while petting his cat. Now that the spirit was 'out', as it were, he seemed far more talkative than he was before.

But then, Ryou guessed it had been a long time since he had talked to anyone, just like it had been a long time since Ryou had been talked to. It was an... interesting conversation, at the least. He was almost... almost starting to enjoy this.

"Why me?" He finally asked in a quiet, whispering voice, breaking the odd, nearly amiable silence that had settled between them. "I know... you said you were me, but aside from appearance, I really don't see how. We're nothing alike."

"You might almost say we were light and dark," the spirit smirked at another one of his private jokes, "It's simple. We share more than appearance and name - we share blood. You are my descendant."

The spirit - Bakura, Ryou guessed he was called, though it was odd to think of calling someone by his surname - glanced around the foreign treasures that decorated the living room. "I was the king of thieves in my time - naturally, I passed this down and it ran through the veins of all of my descendants. But part of my punishment -" he glared down at the ring that Ryou wore, "was that I could only be released by the first one of my descendants that lacked my darkness. In other words... the only one that wasn't a thief."

"My father isn't a thief!" Ryou said defensively, scowling, and the spirit just chuckled.

"Oh? Look around you, you fool. He steals from tombs and sacred sites just as eagerly as I did when the treasures within them were new." Bakura folded his arms. "And I'm sure it's no accident that my escape from the ring coincides with the release of another spirit from another item - in this very same city, in fact." The spirit's face seemed to darken, and a slight smile came over his lips. "The shadow games will begin again..."

Ryou didn't really like the sound of that. He didn't like the sound of anything Bakura was saying, but it did make sense, and that's what made him so uncomfortable. Apparently, there was far more to this than simply one haunted ring - it involved ancient Egypt, magic, spirits, some sort of nightmare realm, mysterious items - who knew what else. He felt understandably intimidated, and it did seem to be quite inevitable that he was born just to serve this spirit. He was just a pawn in something bigger than he could imagine.

But as he pondered Bakura's words, he wondered over what he had said about lacking darkness. He had called Ryou incomplete before, afterall. Maybe Bakura was his dark side, to understate things. But then...

"You're incomplete too," Ryou blinked, murmuring his realization. Bakura looked over at him with a scrutinizing glare. "Eh?"

"You said I was useless because I was incomplete," Ryou stumbled over his theory, "A light without a darkness. And you... you're a darkness without a light. It doesn't have anything to do with stealing or games - I bet that's the real reason destiny brought us together."

"You have no idea what you're talking about!" Bakura snarled, turning to face him, his metaphorical hackles bristling. But the very fact that the spirit was so ruffled indicated the Ryou was on the right track. The boy stared up at him with a knowing expression.

"You're right, you do need me, but as more than just a body to live in. You can't really get rid of me, can't you? You can manipulate me... but you still need me." Ryou smiled ever so slightly. Someone needed him...

"Idiot mortal! I can, and I will!" Bakura swore, before throwing himself at - and through - Ryou, swiftly taking utmost, total control of his body, making him stand up and clench his fists painfully tight. "You're nothing but my vessel, and I will make sure you know that as long as you exist! I'll wear you down until your mind dies! You'll never have a moment to yourself again!"

Ryou let himself be pushed into the corner of his mind once again, and he might have withered at the crimson rage of the spirit, at his shouting and oaths, if Bakura hadn't said that one last thing. The repercussions didn't enter Ryou's mind. The shouting, both mental and vocal, was muted out.

He must have been crazy and desperate. Maybe he was starting to get Stockholme syndrome. He just didn't know, and by now, he wasn't sure he particularly cared.

All he heard was someone saying they'd never leave him alone again.

Ryou sat back in his little corner of his now shared mind.

You promise...?

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Final Notes: I'm think I'm going to savor the satisfaction of finishing this for a day or so before I start posting the next one. x_X But I dunno, reviews are pretty addictive... Anyway, some definitions. I'm pretty sure 'mau' is the Egyptian word for cat. Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition where the victim starts to sympathize with/befriend/fall in love with someone who's horribly wronged them - a rape victim falls in love with their attacker, a hostage comes to enjoy the company of their kidnapper, etc. Ryou seems to get it in a lot of fics. c_C;

I'm glad you guys have enjoyed my first attempt at YGO fanfiction, and I hope I was able to keep everyone in character. Yeah, the whole entire reason I put Angora in here was for the scene near the end. Yami Bakura certainly starts to get talkative towards around then, I know - but judging by what I've learned of what he was like when he was alive, he was pretty cocky and full of himself, I think he'd leap at the chance to brag to someone for the first time in thousands of years. I know I would, if I were the world's greatest and prettiest tomb-robber. @_@

I did a little research in a book I had about mummies and tombs just for this fic. Yes... I'm pathetic. ._. I pulled the thing about cats and mice off the top of my head, though, so that might not be entirely accurate. o_o; Oh well. I doubt many Egyptologists are gonna read this.

The next fic will involve Ryou and his yami being divided into seperate bodies - another common concept, one that almost seems a given in fanfiction, but I wanted to try and make this one work within canon. I'm pretty sure it'll be silly and possibly full of fluff - it'd be the first time I wrote shouen-ai fanfiction, so wish me luck. XP