Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! belongs to Kazuki Takahashi. "Fallen" belongs to Sarah McLaughlin.

This story contains references to slash, nonconsensual sex bordering on rape, pretentious sentence structure, and tense changes. If any of these things are not your cup of tea, flee. Flee now. You've been warned.


"We believe that we can change ourselves
The past can be undone
But we carry on our back the burdens time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal
It's the bitter taste of losing everything
I've held so dear

Though I've tried I've fallen
I have sunk so low"


Ryou draped an arm across the pillow, leaning his head against it and staring at the ceiling above his bed.  Bakura had already fallen asleep, one hand tucked beneath the second pillow and his free arm thrown possessively over the teenager's stomach.  It was a little surprising that Ryou was the one still awake--Bakura rarely made himself vulnerable, even by something as simple as sleep, even to someone as unthreatening as his host.  Old habits died hard. 

But it happened, sometimes.  Ryou did what he always did in the moments when he was as cut off from his tenant as possible.

He wondered why it had all happened in the first place.

He knew how  it had happened; being grabbed by the wrists and pinned to the mattress by a suddenly-more-solid-than-ever-before spirit had made it into his long-term memory bank.  But he wasn't sure why.  He had a vague theory, but there was so little that he actually knew about Bakura that it was nothing more than guesses and conjecture, gleaned from the thief's actions and the occasional fragments of memories and dreams that drifted into his mind from the other's every once in a while.

Ryou doubted that it would make any difference if he did understand why, but it didn't change the fact that he was curious, even if he didn't know what he would do with the knowledge when he had it.  But if, by knowing, he could get rid of the second theory he had, the one that he knew was self-disparaging but couldn't do anything about, then he would like to understand.

The second theory, the one that always came up when he was feeling particularly depressed or self-hating, was that the thief had just known that he could have him.  Why bother to go out looking for something better when there was a thing of decent quality right in taking range?  Ryou's second theory was that Bakura knew he wouldn't fight back.

He'd stopped fighting a long time ago.  Sometimes it felt like a very long time ago.

He'd fought back once, tearing apart his hand in the process, and the thief returned.  And he fought back again, risking death in the Card Graveyard, and the thief was back before twenty-four hours could pass.  And then Honda had promised that he'd thrown away the Ring, but it was right there under his shirt as the other teen spoke.

So Ryou gave up, before he could go crazy.  He knew it would happen if he didn't.  There was no way he could stay sane in a world that held no escape.  No escape from the voice in his head; no escape from the expensive gold pendant that he wore as a sign of his curse and his stigma.  It was the only thing that he could do--short of committing suicide.  And though the teenager might have had a right and a responsibility to kill himself before the Ring spirit could use him any more to fulfill its plans, he didn't really want to die.  So Ryou gave up, and gave in, and handed over control of as much or as little of his life as the thief wanted. 

He guessed it wasn't that surprising that Bakura would eventually want even more.  He probably should have known in advance.  You couldn't become the Thief King if you weren't greedy.

But he had still been shocked when Bakura shoved him onto the bed and held him there.  He'd been scared, even--this was a murderer, a psychotic, sadistic, lying and always angry murderer, who was suddenly kissing him and yanking off his shirt and somehow managing to remove the slippers that Ryou'd been wearing with just his feet.  But it hadn't turned to real panic, the kind that sat like a dead weight in his chest and made him want to hyperventilate or throw up, until Bakura began undoing the button of his jeans.

He'd barely begun to wrap his mind around what was happening, and the thought of what was going to made him want to scream.  He hadn't wanted this, not so fast, not so carelessly, so uncaringly.  The heavy weight on top of him belonged to the thing that had been slowly dismantling his life and his mind ever since he had become its host.  He didn't want this at all.

Ryou didn't fight back.  Even though it had hurt.  A lot.

It was only a memory of pain now, something he could recall but never physically feel, but he knew that it had hurt.  That first time Bakura had just wanted him, immediately, and the thief had been too blind with lust to try and make it easier on him, though he made up for it in all the consequent nights.

Ryou hadn't told him to stop, either.  Not even when he'd been naked and shamefully aroused and Bakura had stared down at him with such dark and hungry eyes that he thought he'd almost rather be dead than trapped underneath such a frightening creature.  Ryou didn't want to say the word and have it ignored, and he knew that's what would have happened.  He wanted to be able to tell himself that some part of him must have enjoyed it, been curious about it, just wanted to get it over with.  To, later, once he'd showered and cried and washed the sheets, be able to make a gallows humor joke about how it would be good practice for when the thief's actions wound up landing him jail.  Anything, it didn't matter; Ryou just wanted to be able to console himself that he hadn't been completely helpless.

It had been hard not to say it, though.  Especially that first moment, because even though he'd anticipated it there was nothing that he could have done to expect it; and Ryou remembered his entire body had tensed up and he'd pressed his head hard into the mattress, instinctively trying to get away even though Bakura's weight was too heavy for him to actually go anywhere.  He could vaguely remember the sound of his strangled cry, loud even through his clenched teeth--but mostly he just remembered that it had hurt.

He had only barely begun to get adjusted to the thief's movements, barely been able to start untensing his neck and shoulders just a little bit, when he noticed the actions of his tenant.  Bakura was kissing away the tears that had begun trickling down his temples, murmuring nonsense words of comfort, words of how much the thief wanted him, even as his movements were speeding up and wrenching sounds of pain out of Ryou with each push.  It was when the teenager made out an apology among all the other words that he decided someone must have stolen the Millennium Rod from Yuugi and was playing a vicious trick on him, on them both; or else the world had upended itself sometime between when he finished dinner and when he'd gone to his room to start his homework.

When it was over and Bakura had fallen onto his side, pulling Ryou with him, the teenager managed to even out his breathing and held perfectly still until the thief's panting had subsided and he sank into sleep.  It was only then that Ryou finally let his muscles relax.

He felt filthy.  He felt used.  He started shaking in an effort to hold back his tears, trying to stay still until he could slide out of Bakura's grip and make it to the bathroom, to throw up or cry himself sick or die.  He didn't care which at the moment.

When Bakura's arms tightened around him and a hand began stroking his hair, he realized that the thief had been awake the whole time and waiting for him to break down.

He stopped holding back the tears at that, burying his head in Bakura's chest and crying without caring how weak it was supposed to make him look.  He'd already looked so much weaker a little while ago.  His "Why?!" was muffled, by virtue of Bakura's skin and his own sobs, but it was audible.

He didn't receive an answer then, and he never asked again.  Ryou continued to cry as the thief rocked him slightly and stroked his hair, until he finally fell into an exhausted sleep; and when he woke up the next morning the bed was empty.  He dragged himself out of it and went on with his life.

Nothing changed after that.

At least, not that any one else could see.

It was some kind of strange unspoken arrangement that Ryou couldn't remember agreeing to but that he knew the rules of anyway.  He didn't question it.  It didn't matter that much.

Bakura still wanted the Items, still wanted to bury the world in darkness, still had some insane drive he was serving that Ryou was kept unawares of; and he still took over his host's body and used it without so much as a brief warning whenever it fit his purpose.  In the apartment, he still wanted nothing to do with the teenager, didn't want to be spoken to or interrupted with the boring details of Ryou's daily life, unless possibly they contained some information on Yuugi.  Even in the teenager's bedroom, he was cold and distant--Ryou tilted his head to the left, and on his desk he could make out the scattered tools and models of the village that Bakura had out of the blue told him to start building which were a testament to that fact.

Building the village was a slow process, because Bakura was only giving him outlines a section at a time while taking the completed ones away and putting them in the room that still held the old setup for his Monster World collection.  The thief had forbidden Ryou to ever go in there, untrusting even of the one person who had proven time and again that he had lost the will to rebel against him.  Old habits died hard.

But they could die, at least a little bit.  The bed had become the safe territory, the sort of alternate universe where Bakura seemed to be able to escape from the harshness that defined him and where Ryou could drop his pretences of being happy and innocent.  Neither of them violated that arrangement.

Bakura almost had, once--they'd been having a fight on the one subject that Ryou could still muster some energy for, his friends; and after Ryou had yelled that he wasn't going to help the thief kill Yuugi, he'd found himself pinned on the bed again, the grip on his wrists much tighter this time.

As soon as Bakura began kissing him violently, Ryou told himself to relax.  He had to relax his muscles and his spine, otherwise it would hurt more, he knew that.  He repeated it again and again until he'd managed to do it, Bakura's weight pressing him further into the mattress as his body loosened despite his instincts' protest.  He was pretty used to the feeling by now--it couldn't hurt too much.  He just had to stay relaxed until it was over.

Ryou still wasn't sure whether Bakura had picked up on his thoughts, or if it was just the feeling of the teenager going slack beneath him that had made him stop.

He could feel Bakura push himself up slightly, and the grip on his wrists was still a little painful, but now it was more because the thief was supporting himself on his arms rather than because he was trying to hold him down.  Bakura stayed like that for what felt longer than it probably was, but Ryou didn't see his expression because he still had his eyes shut, repeating his instructions inside his head.

Finally, however, the thief let out his breath in a long, ragged, almost-pained hiss.  Then he sank back down and sprawled awkwardly on top of Ryou, both sets of their legs still dangling off the edge of the bed, with his face buried in the teenager's hair and the crook of his neck.

Ryou could feel the tension running through his tenant's body as the thief pulled himself back together; but it was still a long time before he was able to bring himself to wrap his arms loosely around Bakura's waist.  The teenager pressed his cheek against the thief's temple, feeling the other's heartbeat still pumping wildly and his warm breath puffing against Ryou's neck.

Neither of them spoke until Bakura suddenly, unexpectedly, disappeared and returned to the Ring.  Ryou had lain on the bed for a while longer, staring up at the ceiling much as he was doing now.

That had been the only time, though.  The bed was the safe place, the only safe place in the world, for either of them.  And aside from that one fight and the first time, it was a good place to be.  Bakura never hurt him there, not verbally or emotionally or by driving random pointy objects into his body.

Ryou actually wondered sometimes whether he should call Bakura a masochist or a sadist.  Most of the abuse his body went through occurred when the thief was in control, but it was Ryou who had to deal with the majority of the pain and discomfort as he healed.

He didn't waste much time on thoughts like those, though.  He had his plate full just juggling his life, with school and friends and Bakura and now this new project.

Ryou tilted his head back up to stare at the ceiling and sighed faintly.  Bakura's arm slid a fraction further down his stomach, but otherwise the thief remained quiet and asleep.

Ryou stilled for several long minutes, not daring to even twist his head enough to the right to look at his tenant's face.  If it was rare that Bakura would fall asleep first, it was nigh on a sign of the apocalypse that he would remain until morning.  He always seemed to disappear at some point between when Ryou nodded off as well and when the alarm began to bleep.  Ryou suspected that he was a light sleeper.  Old habits died hard.

Sometimes they only died in fractions.  In fact, the last time Ryou could remember waking up with Bakura still there had been the morning after he'd learned that the thief liked honey, and had consequently left the bottle on the stand by his bed.  Bakura had noticed it, stared, looked over at him, and then begun laughing.  The sound had startled Ryou, because it wasn't sarcastic or bitter or menacing, but pleased--and Bakura had still been standing on the carpet.  Ryou almost couldn't process seeing that part of his personality outside of the safe area.

Not that Bakura stayed on the carpet for long.  He wound up smearing the honey all along Ryou's torso and thighs, tracing patterns with it and then licking them away slowly, so slowly that finally Ryou was writhing and begging him to stop teasing, using words that no one would ever have expected the teenager to say.  No one but the thief, who knew better.  Who knew him better.

Trying to wash the sheets the next day nearly made Ryou kick the machine.

When it appeared that Bakura really was still asleep, Ryou let himself relax, loosening his muscles in slow increments so that the sudden motion wouldn't jolt the thief awake.  When he was finally done, he let out another, gentler breath, and gave the ceiling a slow blink.

His first theory was that Bakura wanted him because the thief had decided that if he couldn't completely escape his host, then he might as well completely have him.  Bakura seemed to be a nothing or all person like that.  Ryou knew very little that was real about his tenant, but he could imagine Bakura following that philosophy, even while he hated the teenager.

Ryou had no doubts that Bakura hated him.  He had seen just enough of the thief's dreams and memories and actions to be certain.  It was hard to doubt the obvious.

Bakura was the opposite of Ryou.  Ryou loved being around people.  He liked watching them, listening to them, talking with them and hearing their stories.  He liked knowing about bits and pieces of other people's lives, because it was a way of vicariously learning things.  And he liked games more than anything else, games with lots of people playing to keep them all the more exciting.

Bakura didn't like people.  They stood in his way, they bored him, they drained on all his energy.  He would have been so much happier if he could be alone, without distractions, without having to distrust and stay on guard at every single moment.  That's why Ryou knew that Bakura hated him--because he could never be alone anymore.  Ryou would always be there.  So long as the thief wanted a body and wanted to exist to fulfill his goal, he had to have Ryou there.  He'd almost managed to completely rip the teenager away from other people, using the Monster World game for the longest time as a prop, and there had been several times that Bakura had locked him in his soul room as a punishment or to keep him from knowing too much, but in the end there was only so long that he could remain in complete control without getting worn out.  It was  Ryou's body, after all.

Ryou couldn't fathom wanting to be alone so much, just as he was sure that Bakura couldn't understand that he enjoyed being surrounded by people; but he supposed that if he had been in his tenant's situation, he would be angry all the time too.

Ryou still didn't fully understand why Bakura wanted to sink the world into darkness.  He could understand the thief hating him, because he was an active irritant to the other just by existing, and hating Japan, since there were people almost anywhere you went; but Bakura had never had anything to do with most of the world.  If his desire to demolish Earth had been connected to where they lived, Ryou would have found a way to move to the Czech Republic where no one had much to do with anyone else.  That would have soothed most of Bakura's anger, though he hated to imagine the theft sprees he would go on if he were in a good mood.  There wasn't much he could do about the two of them existing in the same body, but at least he would have made an effort to make life more bearable for Bakura.  As host, he had a responsibility to do that.

But it wasn't just a matter of where they lived.  He had seen just enough of the thief's dreams and memories to be aware of that, too.  Bakura seemed calculating, and logical, and cunning, and Ryou had no doubt that he was, but the teenager also knew that there was something in the thief's mind that was broken.  Some small but vital part of Bakura's sanity was missing, or removed, or just damaged beyond repair.  Ryou guessed it had something to do with who he had been in Egypt.  There was nothing to be done about it--Ryou had long accepted that the thief was unsalvageable, despite his moments of humanity when there were in the safe territory.

It was just a theory, though.  It didn't actually answer why.  Nothing could answer that, except Bakura.

And some days he wasn't even sure that Bakura knew.  Ryou seriously doubted that his tenant could remember what his reasoning had been back when he was the Thief King--he was just following the path a him that wasn't really him anymore had set a long time ago, because there was nothing else to do.  The same way Ryou laid back and wrapped his arms around Bakura's neck and stopped feeling shame at enjoying the caresses and movements and sweaty skin of someone who wanted nothing more than to kill him and everyone else on the planet.  Because there was nothing else to do.  Old habits died hard.

Sometimes they lingered so long you couldn't imagine that they would die.

Ryou shut his eyes and shifted his head slightly, nuzzling deeper into the pillow.  A moment later the arm across his stomach lifted, and a hand picked up the edge of the blanket that was still spilled low across Ryou's legs.  Bakura pulled the blanket up before draping his arm over his host's chest and resting his hand on the curve of the teenager's shoulder, the covers falling diagonally across their bodies.  Ryou, who had tensed reflexively when the thief moved, turned his head to the left; but Bakura still had his eyes closed.

Ryou shut his eyes as well, and a moment later he shifted to lie on his side, bowing his head slightly and resting it against in the space between Bakura's chin and his other arm.  Bakura let his free arm fall with Ryou's movement, the crook of his elbow curved across the teenager's upper arm and his hand splayed across his left shoulder blade, holding his host closer to him.

Ryou lay there for a little bit, enjoying the feeling of soaking up someone else's warmth, before he tilted his neck just enough that his voice wouldn't be muffled against Bakura's chest.

"Stay?" he asked quietly, using words because it would be less intrusive to his tenant than their mental link.

Bakura began rubbing his thumb in small circles over the teenager's skin, but he didn't answer.  Ryou sighed and shifted a little, making himself comfortable inside the thief's arms.

When he woke up the morning and saw that he was alone and wrapped up in a little burrow made out of the blanket, Ryou sighed, and dragged himself out of bed, and went on with his life.

Old habits died hard.

Sometimes they didn't die at all.