Chill Wind

by WSJ

WSJ: Wheeee!!! *bounces into the room wearing a Santa hat, green leggings, curly-toed slippers, and a red sweater* Merry Christmas everyone!!! Welcome to my token holiday fic! ^o^ *starts prancing around, stringing a silver garland over the door frames and hanging mistletoe at random intervals*

Otogi: v_v; *backs away from the mistletoe* Oh Ra, who gave her egg nog...? *shudders slightly* Well, since SJ-san's on a holiday high, I guess it's up to me to summerize this fic, eh? All alone on Christmas Eve, someone hits a gloomy streak and wanders around town, doing what only he can do. Introspective, semi-angsty. *hears a crash and spins around* SJ!

WSJ: *sitting among a pile of ornaments and wreaths and giggling hyperly* A crossover with my favorite Christmas legend! It's not so hard to figure out which it is, but I won't spoil it so early. *winks, and then before Otogi can do anything she jumps up and holds something over his head* Look Oto-kun! Mistle-toad!

Otogi: -_-;; Zut. That's mistletoe, SJ- *looks up at just what, exactly, she's holding over him* -Well I'll be. It really is a Mistle-toad. Oo;

WSJ: *giggles again at the little toad-shaped ornament she's holding and pulls the cord hanging from it, making the toad croak and wave the bit of mistletoe it was holding* This is my favorite ornament in the whole world! Now come on Otogi, it's tradition!

Otogi: *sighs* I suppose I can humor her on Christmas... *leans over and gives SJ a kiss*

SJ: .....WAI!!!!!!!!!! *goes starry-eyed and then faints dead away, leaving Otogi to catch her*

Otogi: -__-; SJ doesn't own YGO, but apparently she does own too much cake. *grunts* Wake up authoress! You're heavy! *sighs and rolls his eyes* Roll fic.

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Quote of the Fic:

"Dream as if you'll live forever; live as if you'll die tomorrow."
~(James Dean)

It was a cold Christmas Eve with snow swirling through the air and the promise of more on the way. All of Domino City was at home, enjoying Christmas with family and friends. Fires were lit in every home, and everyone was with the people they loved, celebrating the simple joys in life.

All except for one.

He was walking along Main Street, his head down and his hands shoved into his pockets. His hair was long and white, although he seemed to be a young man, and the wind whipped it into fierce tangles around his head. He was dressed only in a green turtle neck and black jeans, which ended in black boots two sizes too big, but the cold didn't seem to bother him in the least.

He turned west onto Broadway at the stop light, and finally lifted his head to reveal liquid brown eyes. Before him was a street of houses, several of which belonged to people he knew. A peculiar, curious light entered his eyes, and he wandered up to the first house on the street, peeking into the window with seemingly no qualms.

Inside was a family, a mother and father and three children, gathered around a tall, brightly decorated tree. The two younger children were excitedly rifling through their presents as the mother set up a nativity scene and the father set up a camcorder in the corner. The oldest child, a teenage girl, was sitting on the couch with a Bible open on her lap. [1]

Ryou Bakura, for indeed, that's who it was outside, smiled to himself at the happy scene, his breath beginning to fog up the window glass. His pulled his hands out of his pockets and placed them palms down against the window, his smile turning a little sad as he remembered his own childhood Christmases. After a moment he shook his head sharply and moved on to the next house.

This time when he peeked into the window he was greeted with a familiar sight, one which brought a smile to his lips. A scantily clad Christmas tree sat in the corner of the room, only a few small presents underneath. Jou was sitting on the threadbare couch, his sister Shizuka next to him. She blushed and pulled something out from behind her back as Ryou read her lips.

"Here Jou, I made this for you."

Jou grinned as he took the dark blue scarf from his sister, immediately winding it around his neck. He hugged her, thanking her for the gift. He seemed to think of something, and ran over to retrieve one of the gifts from under the tree. He handed it to Shizuka, and she eagarly tore off the wrapping, grinning at the framed picture inside. She was sitting in such a way that Ryou could see the picture through the window. He must not have been around when that one had been taken. Yugi and Anzu were standing in the middle with their arms around each other, likewise with Jou and Mai just behind them. Off to one side Mokuba grinned from Seto's arms. Opposite the boy millionaires, Otogi and Honda stood on either side of a slightly embarrassed Shizuka, both of them grinning possesively.

Smiling whistfully, Ryou stepped away from the window and moved on.

The next house was broken up into several apartments. Many had their shades drawn, save for two on the ground floor. Ryou headed for the first window and peered inside.

A young woman of about twenty-five was sitting in front of a warm fire, a thick book opened across her knees. She seemed thouroughly engrossed in the novel, and with her left hand she absently petted the small gray cat that was curled up around her ankles. The small tree in the corner had no presents under it, but it was decorated with homemade ornaments and the woman seemed very happy, even being alone on Christmas Eve. [2]

Ryou ran his fingers over the glass, and for a moment debated going in to see her, even though she was a complete stranger. Then he looked deep into her eyes and saw that she really wasn't alone, that to her all the characters in that book and a thousand more were gathered close around her to wish her well.

Ryou silently wished her well and headed for the next appartment's window. He peeked inside and had to put a hand over his mouth to keep from bursting out laughing.

Otogi Ryuuji and Hiroto Honda were sitting on either side of a small table in what was apparently Honda's appartment. Both of them had mugs of beer in front of them, and a chess board was set up between them. From what Ryou could see, Honda was getting his butt kicked rather badly.

"Shizuka did say she'd come get us when she and Jou were done exchanging gifts, right?" Honda asked, peering at the board in front of him, trying to see a way out of the trap Otogi had lured him into.

Otogi shrugged and tried to hide a smile as Honda moved one of his knights. "That's what she told me."

Honda sighed as Otogi took the knight he'd just moved. "You know what, I think she was just leading us on."

"Probably." Otogi agreed gloomily. "But I don't blame her. We do kinda crawl all over her sometimes. Checkmate."

"Bah," Honda muttered, making a face. "I don't think she likes either one of us."

Otogi sighed and picked up his beer, raising it in silent agreement. "Kempo."

Honda picked up his own mug, clinking it against Otogi's before they both took long drinks. "Kempo." [3]

Chuckling quietly, Ryou backed away from the window and moved on.

The next house was one very familiar to Ryou. He wondered absently if he could visit Yugi for the holidays as he peeked into the window of the Kame Game Shop, then sighed in slight disappointment. He should have known. Looked like he'd be all alone on Christmas Eve again, his father too busy to come home to him.

Yugi, Sugoroku, and Yami in spectral form were all sitting on the couch in the livingroom of the house behind the Game Shop, stringing popcorn and cranberries to decorate the tree with. Even through the howling wind of the rising snow storm Ryou could hear the CD player in the corner going, their voices raised in song, Sugoroku's deep bass, Yami's lighter baritone, and Yugi's piping tenor joining in laughter.

"Nestor was a donkey with ears that dragged the ground..." [4]

Allowing himself to smile briefly, Ryou stepped back out onto the sidewalk and continued on his wandering journey. He ignored the next several houses and side-streets he passed before he turned deliberately down toward the southern portion of the city. It was getting dark, but Ryou still had one more stop to make before he could even bare thinking about going home to his empty house.

Malik had told him a month ago that he'd never celebrated Christmas when he was with the Ghouls, and certainly not when he lived underground in Egypt. For all purposes, then, this would be Malik's first Christmas. Not only that, but yesterday had been his birthday [5], and Ryou wanted to be sure Malik liked his gift, which Ryou had given him earlier that day without the blond boy knowing.

After about twenty minutes of slogging through the snow and slush Ryou reached the apartment complex where the Ishtar siblings lived. Taking the outside stairs he climbed up to the second floor and made his way to the third apartment, where the curtains on the windows had been thrown back and light streamed out onto the porch where Ryou stood.

Malik had his face pressed up against the glass, lavendar eyes wide and alight as if he were just a little kid. Behind him Isis and Rashid were wrestling to put up a fake plastic tree, Rashid muttering a few choice words in Arabic. None of them seemed to react, or even to see Ryou outside their door, but the white haired boy knew and had been expecting this. No one ever saw him when he went out on Christmas Eve like this. No one.

"Isis!" Malik's voice was pitched high in excitement. "I got my wish! Look Rashid, snow! Real snow! It's snowing!" He giggled like a little kid, resting his elbows on the window sill. "It's so pretty."

Feeling particularly mischievious, Ryou took a step forward and leaned down to breathe on the glass right in front of Malik's face. The tanned Egyptian yelped and leaped backward, falling over onto his back on the carpet, his hand protectively over his nose as he stared warily at the snow outside. "Isis, it bit me!"

Isis laughed, trying her best to untangle the mess of lights she'd just pulled from the box by her feet. "Maybe it was Jack Frost."

"What in the hell is a Jack Frost?" Malik asked, climbing back to his knees and leaning against the window to look out at the falling snow again.

"It's some silly American legend that Seto-kun told me about." Isis said, blushing a little at the mention of Kaiba's name. "Something about a winter spirit who goes around painting the frost on everyone's windows. Supposedly he can whistle up snow storms too."

Malik frowned, chasing an errant memory. Ryou'd been whistling earlier today, just after Malik had told him he wanted snow for Christmas... He shook his head and grinned. "Ryou as Jack Frost?" he whispered to himself, smirking out into the Christmas Eve night. "I'd have to be going crazy again to believe that."

Outside Ryou chuckled softly. "Just his son, Malik, just his son..." He sighed and turned away, leaning against the railing that ran around the edge of the balcony and staring out into the swirling snow. On this one night, just on Christmas Eve, he had all the powers he'd inherritated from his father, right down to being able to stand the cold and making himself invisible to mortal eyes.

Whistfully Ryou wondered what it would be like to be able to go to the Christmas parties Yugi sometimes threw, to not have to pretend to be sick Christmas Eve to avoid touching anyone with your freezing cold (literally) hands, to have a normal Christmas.

Turning his head to look over his shoulder Ryou watched the Ishtars through their window. Malik was tangled up in a long garland of silver tinsel, and Isis was laughing at him. Even Rashid was smiling a little. Malik glared at his two siblings and evidentually said something, because both the older Ishtars moved forward to get him untangled. Malik flung the garland at Rashid, who caught it and stuck his tongue out playfully at his little brother.

Ryou smiled as he watched them in their private moment where they thought no one else could see. Family was a wonderful thing to have around at Christmas....

"Are you coming or are you going to make me come get you, yardonushi?[6]"

The voice came from below him in the swirling snow, and Ryou's grin widened. "In a moment!" he called down. Turning back he bowed jauntily toward the Ishtars' appartment. "Merry Christmas Malik, and happy birthday! And merry Christmas to all!" he said louder, his voice echoing through the snow although no one heard it. "And to all a good night!"

"Quit being so cheesey and get down here." the voice grumbled again, and now that he looked Ryou could see a faint gold light shining through the snow. "Pharaoh's not showing up at the Spirits and Spooks Annual Christmas Convention this year, so we get to wreak havoc unlectured!" The voice sounded absolutely gleeful, and Ryou shook his head.

"I'll never understand you, mou hitori no boku..."

"Yeah yeah, cut the Christmas crap! Your dad already went on ahead to pick up Amane from Purgatory. Now get down here before I lock you in your soulroom for a month! There's a rumor running around that Zork's gonna show up this year, and I've got a score to settle with him!"

Ryou carefully hid a smile as he climbed up onto the balcony railing. "Yes mou hitori no boku." he said. Then he let go of the rail, drifting gently down to the ground until he was lost among the swirling snow.

~*~

[1] This is my family's Christmas. My parents, my brother and sister, and of course me. ^^ I was the one with the Bible. It's a tradition that someone in our family always reads the story of Jesus's birth from Luke 2 before we start opening presents, and this year it's my turn.

[2] Kempo, as near as I can tell, is a Japanese toast. It would probably similar to Americans saying "Cheers" before they drink.

[3] This one was me too, although more symbolic than realistic. Actually, that's my idea of a perfect Christmas. Not the aloneness, of course, but the idea of a quiet evening with a good book, a roaring fire, and my cat. ^^ The gray cat, by the way, is actually my Russian Blue, Lancelot. :p

[4] Anyone seen the "Nestor: The Long-Eared Donkey" Rankin-Bass Christmas special? =p It's my favorite! I love it so much! *huggles Nestor*

[5] Malik's birthday is officially December 23.

[6] Yardonushi = king's property (some fanfics, including some of mine, use this as Yami Bakura's name for Ryou)

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Otogi: v_v; Well that was intresting...

WSJ: *blinks herself awake, still in Otogi's arms* ^o^ Whoot! *promply gets dropped by Otogi* Zut! Anyway, I hope you all liked it! Jack Frost has always been one of my favorite Christmas legends. The original one, not that weird modern remake they put out a few years ago. *rolls eyes*

Otogi: *blinks as he looks over her stories* You have this weird fettish for making immortals/gods/goddesses fall in love with mortals and produce Ryou, don't you?

WSJ: ^^; Yes, yes I do. Review everyone, and Happy Holidays!!

Amoura: *pops up out of nowhere* Joyuex Noel!

Teodora: ^o^ *follows Amoura in* Feliz Navidad!

WSJ: *sees Teodora* DIE RYOU-STALKING SCUM!!!!!!!! *starts chasing her around the set, waving a battle ax she'd gotten from who-knows-where*

Amoura: Oo; Not again...

Otogi: ~_~; So we've learned to avoid mistletoe, avoid Jack Frost, and avoid SJ when she's high on egg nog. I think that makes for pretty good morals. Merry Christmas everyone! *he and Amoura wave as SJ chases Teodora across in the background again, this time with a chain saw* ^-^;

God bless minna-san! Happy holidays all!