Hiei: *scowls and pokes the box the Hiei figure is in, since SJ has determined never to remove them* This looks nothing like me.
WSJ: Eh, you're right, but who cares! ^_^ It's kawaii!
WSJ: Oooh, someone special shows up in this chapter, so read carefully!
Bakura: *stares at the chapter* ....Why me?
Ryou: WSJ does not own YGO or YYH, but she does own two figurines that I think she's planning on building a shrine around. *sweatdrop*
Notes: For this fic, an okami is a wolf demon who can shift forms any time he or she chooses, but must transform into a wolf for at least eight hours on the night of the full moon. A werewolf is a human bitten, scratched, or possessed by an okami, who can only change into a wolf during the full moon. A kitsune is a fox demon who can shift forms any time he chooses, but must change for at least six hours a night on the nights of the full and sickle moons. Which means, basically, that werewolves and okamis have to change one night a month, but kitsune have to change three times a month. Bakura is an okami, Ryou is a werewolf, and Kurama is a kitsune. Got it?
Oh, and as for someone else's question: no, Kurama is not awake yet. He's still "Suuichi". But Ryou's entire family knows about his ambition to be a ghost hunter, so the letter Ryou sent last chapter really wasn't so strange.
WSJ: Onward to the ficcie!
Like a Thief in the Night
Part Two: Growing Up Human
Chapter 4 -- Youko Ryou
"A full moon?" Ryou asked. "Why would that be any problem?"
"I'm a wolf demon," Bakura stressed, beginning to pace back and forth across the small room. "I have to change into a wolf the night of the full moon. I doubt I could do it in the soulrooms without doing serious damage to our minds, so I'll have to separate. But if you have my Terra Mage powers, you may have to transform tonight, too." Bakura saw that Ryou's eyes were huge, and tried not to be annoyed. "Oh come on Ryou, you're into the occult. Surely it can't be that shocking that you're possessed."
"I-I just wasn't expecting it." Ryou admitted. His voice was half-frightened, half-excited. "You mean I'm a werewolf? Like, fur, fangs, and a tail?"
Bakura raised an eyebrow. "You sound like you want fur, fangs, and a tail."
Ryou nodded enthusiastically. "Bakura, I'm in training to be a paranormalist! This is about as paranormal as it can get! This is awesome!"
"Ryou..." Bakura's voice was quiet. "I wasn't going to tell you for a few more years, but I think you're ready to hear it now. I'm not your sensei just because I want to be. There's a very bad demon who's out to kill me and my brother, and I'm not always going to be around to protect you. He's been trying to kill me for the past five thousand years, and he's not likely to stop. It would be best if you knew how to defend yourself from him. That's the real reason I'm teaching you." The demon smirked. "Well, that and the fact that I want to see the look on Koenma's face when I show up with a Spirit Detective way stronger than any of the ones he's ever trained before."
Ryou gaped at him. "Oh wow, five thousand years? Just how old are you? Who's Koenma?"
Bakura sweatdropped. He'd just announced that a demon could come knocking on their door at any time, and leave it to Ryou to pick up on the question of age. "Koenma's the prince of the spirit world, Reikai. He's the other Spirit Detective trainer I was telling you about. He doesn't like me at all. As for how old I am, I stopped counting awhile ago. I think I'm somewhere around 5,782, give or take a few decades."
A moment later there was a knock on the door and Bakura vanished, even though no one except Ryou or a psychic was supposed to be able to see him. Ryou went to the door and opened it to find Shen on the other side. Ryou sweatdropped a little, hoping his father hadn't heard him and Bakura talking. "Um, hi dad."
Shen smiled at him. "Come on, we're going to go out to eat. I know I haven't had much time for you or Amane lately, since I'm settling into my new job, but tonight it'll just be the three of us, okay?"
Ryou grinned, promptly forgetting about Bakura and wolf demons. His dad hadn't been home much lately, and Ryou was really beginning to miss him. "Sure dad! Can we mail my letter for Suuichi while we're out?" Shen nodded, and Ryou bounced back to his desk to grab the letter and then followed his father downstairs.
In his soulroom, Bakura was rhythmatically banging his head against the wall. "----!" he cursed in Makaic, the language of the demons. "Why tonight?!" He glared up at the portrait of the Egyptian god Horus that was painted above the door to his soulroom. Its expression changed randomly, and tonight it seemed to be laughing at him.
Bakura had first stumbled across the god Horus during his tomb raiding days in Egypt. The falcon-headed god was the patron of wind, the sun, and mortal men, pharaohs in particular. He was also called the Guardian of Guardians, patron god of protectors, champions, and underdogs. Yami had been pharaoh at the time, and Horus was Not Pleased that Yami'd killed off the true pharaoh. Horus had actually come to Bakura in a dream and asked him to overthrow the demon-pharaoh. Bakura was still working on that, but Horus didn't seem to mind that it was taking him a few millennia longer than he'd originally planned. Bakura paid homage to Horus on a regular basis, just as Kurama would make kills in honor of his patron kitsune goddess, Inari. Horus and the high god Allah were the only gods Bakura ever bothered with, since they were (in his opinion) the only ones that mattered.
The painting didn't answer, and Bakura went back to banging his head on the wall and cursing his rotten luck. When he began to run out of expletives and actually began to repeat himself, he decided that was enough. Plopping down in the middle of the sandy floor, Bakura put his chin in his hands, steadily staring at a point on the far wall as he tried to think. He could hold off the transformation for a little while, but he had no idea how long. And if Ryou got out into direct moon light, they were both sunk.
He was startled out of his thoughts as something twinged at his demon senses. Frowning, he partially melded his mind with Ryou's, just enough to look through the boy's eyes. He could feel Ryou's silent query, but at the moment he was too busy focusing his senses to answer. They were outside now, headed for Shen's car. It was still well before sundown, which meant they had three or four hours until moonrise. That should be plenty of time to eat and come back.
Bakura frowned a little, straining his senses to the fullest. There was something out there.... It was far away though, and if it was demonic, it could only be a D class at the highest. It wasn't anything to worry about.
Bakura sighed a little in relief, retreating fully back into his soulroom. That was just what he didn't need, a rogue demon on a night like this. Maybe he'd go hunt it down later though, for old times sake. Or just to show Ryou what a real demon looked like.
The ride to the restaurant was relatively uneventful, with Amane chattering on about something or other. When they reached their destination, however, Bakura couldn't help but groan. It was a posh restaurant, one of those that took several hours to get through and only the very insane took children. Apparently Shen Bakura fell under the category of "very insane".
Bakura promptly went back to banging his head against the nearest hard surface.
Dinner was wonderful. Ryou and Amane were well behaved children, at least compared to some others of their age. Both of them had missed their daddy over the past few weeks, and were happy that his attention was focused in solely on them.
Bakura, however, was not nearly so content. He could almost feel the moon inching closer to the horizon. He was sitting cross-legged in his soulroom, his eyes squeezed tightly shut as he shunted every ounce of his will toward holding off his and Ryou's transformations. Bakura rather enjoyed his wolf form, and had never had occasion to try and forestall the transformation before, and so was doing a poor job of it now.
Most of his attention was focused on trying to keep the transformation from Ryou, and it was beginning to show. In his soulroom, Bakura's hair was looking rather shaggy, and his teeth and fingernails were beginning to lengthen ever so slightly.
Ryou could feel Bakura's strain, and had fallen silent some time ago, slightly anxious over what his other was going through. Ryou thought about speaking to him mentally, but was afraid of breaking Bakura's concentration. As dinner wore on, Ryou began to grow anxious as well. He could feel that Bakura was having a harder and harder time controlling the magic, and Ryou was starting to itch as fine white fur began to sprout in various places all over his body. At one point the boy went to scratch one of his arms and almost yelped when he realized how sharp his fingernails were getting. Ryou could only pray his father and sister didn't notice.
Eventually, though, Shen noticed that his eldest was being unnaturally quiet. Ryou had always been the shier of the two, but normally he was talkative with Amane, at least. "Ryou, are you feeling okay? You've barely touched your dinner."
Ryou jumped slightly, his head snapping up to look at his father. Shen blinked. It was probably just the lighting, but Ryou's eyes looked almost golden... "A-ah... I'm okay daddy, just not very hungry..."
"You look pale," Shen said, concern written on his face.
Ryou gulped slightly, looking down again and trying not to squirm. Blue jeans are incredibly uncomfortable when one is beginning to grow a tail. "I'm just... not hungry..."
"Do you want to go home?" Shen asked. "Amane-chan and I are just about finished."
Ryou nodded, letting a little bit of his relief show on his face. They could go home, and then Ryou and Bakura could transform, and everything would be all right. "Okay daddy..."
Shen nodded and called for the waiter so he could pay the bill. Ryou looked down at his hands, trying to ignore the way Amane was staring at him. A few minutes later the trio left the restaurant, Ryou shuffling along with his hands stuffed into his pockets. Luckily, Shen just seemed to think he was coming down with something.
Once they made it back to the house, Ryou almost ran for his room, closing and locking the door behind him. As soon as he gave Bakura the mental okay, the wolf demon separated from his host, tumbling to the floor at Ryou's feet as he gave up his control over the transformation. Moonlight was just beginning to slant in the window, and as Ryou hadn't had the chance to flip on the light yet, the change was instantaneous.
Bakura rolled over and stretched, arching his back in an almost cat-like gesture as he blinked large brown eyes at Ryou, who was still standing by the door, half-human with wide eyes. A canine grin split Bakura's face, and he twitched his tail in invitation. Still looking nervous, Ryou stepped into the pool of moonlight.
Immediately he dropped to his knees, his clothes shredding as his tail burst out behind him and his hands and feet morphed into oversized puppy paws. His face lengthened, his eyes turning a tawny golden colour that reminded Bakura vaguely of Kurama's. His hair melted into the fur on his back, and a moment later he was laying beside Bakura and panting, shreds of denim and cotton still clinging to him in various places.
Bakura frowned slightly, reaching over to brush such scraps away with his nose. //Huh. I guess your clothes aren't melded into part of the transformation like mine.// he noted, idly realizing that the link still worked no matter what shape they were in.
Ryou cocked his head, lashing his tail in what passed for a wolf's laugh. /Must remember that in the future./ In this form, Bakura was almost twice as big as Ryou. In fact, although Ryou had large paws and ears in an almost puppy-ish physique, he was the normal size of a full grown wolf. Bakura was absolutely huge when compared to natural wolves.
There was a gentle knock on the door. "Ryou? Are you feeling all right?"
The two wolves looked at each other in mild panic. Ryou had locked the door, but if Shen had a key...
After a moment of furious thinking, Bakura screwed up his face and emitted a half-growling, half-hissing sound that sounded remarkably like a human snore. Ryou just stared at him, and there was a long moment of silence on the other side of the door before they could hear Shen's footsteps retreating down the hallway.
Ryou gave a quiet sigh of relief, and Bakura grinned as only wolves can. //Let's get out of here before he decides to come in and feed you chicken soup or something.// Standing up, Bakura padded over to the window and reared up on his back paws, letting his front ones rest against the window sill. A moment of quick working with a single claw, and the latch popped open. Still grinning, the thief slid his claw under the window and pushed it upward, letting the cool summer night air inside. Then he hopped down and stepped away from the window. //You go first, Ryou.//
Ryou's eyes widened. /Are you nuts?! This is the second floor!/
//We're wolves. A tiny jump like that isn't going to hurt us any, so get going!//
Ryou gulped a little, then put his paws on the window sill and stuck his nose out. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he was looking through wolf eyes, but it really didn't look that far down. Clumsily Ryou managed to hop up onto the window sill, somehow balancing all four paws on the narrow ledge. He shut his eyes, then opened them again, and after one more deep breath he jumped.
He landed easily on the grass and immediately sat down, canine eyes wide. A moment later Bakura landed next to him and sat, waiting for Ryou to collect his wits.
Ryou's bedroom window looked out over the side yard, and the two wolves were sitting hidden in the shadows of a large magnolia tree that grew there. Only the guest room and the kitchen windows faced the same way, so neither Shen or Amane could have seen them.
After a minute or two Ryou shook himself and cocked his head at Bakura. /What now?/
Bakura gave a low, wolfish chuckle. //Whatever you like. We should move away from the house, though. Possibly out of the city. The last thing we need is someone reporting a couple white wolves to animal control.//
Ryou squeaked a little as he imagined himself and Bakura turning back into humans in the middle of an animal shelter. /No kidding.../
Bakura gave the wolf equivalent of a grin. //Then let's go.//
And so the two started off. Slinking around to the front of the house, the two wolves loped across the front yard. Liquid moonlight splashed across quicksilver fur, reflecting in the eyes of a little lavendar-haired girl just barely tall enough to look out her bedroom window. Neither Ryou nor Bakura noticed the small face in the window, and a moment later the wolves had disappeared down the road, leaving one little girl wondering if she was dreaming.
Creeping between shadowed alleys and eventually taking to the rooftops, Ryou and Bakura made good time. It was an hour or two later that they finally came to a stop in a deserted park on the edge of Kyoto. Ryou flopped down on the grass under a large tree, panting. Bakura sat down nearby, his tail curling around his legs in an almost feline gesture. //You okay Ryou?//
/Yeah,/ Even Ryou's mental voice sounded winded. /I'm just not used to running so long./
Bakura frowned slightly, turning his head to look at his young charge. //I'm sorry, I forgot you're not Kurama. He and I used to keep running for hours, sometimes. We'll take it easy on the way home.//
/Kurama?/ Ryou asked, his ears pricked slightly in interest.
//My brother.// Bakura answered shortly.
/Oh. Where is he?/
Bakura laid his ears back flat against his skull, half in annoyance and half in sadness. //...I don't know. We got separated when we came to this world from Makai, the demon world, some eight years ago.//
/Oh./ Wisely, Ryou let the subject drop and rolled over onto his back in the grass, looking up through the leaves at the sky. His eyes widened in surprise when he noticed a pair of faintly glowing eyes peering back at him, and they weren't owl eyes. /Bak-/
The eyes moved, and the figure they belonged to dropped from the tree and was at Ryou's side with amazing speed. In an instant he had drawn a katana, and Ryou found himself helpless, the point of the sword at his throat. "Move and you die, wolf," the figure hissed. Ryou whimpered quietly, and Bakura whirled around, taking in the scene in an instant.
The figure standing over Ryou was undoubtedly male, and undoubtedly a demon. He had spiked black hair, and was dressed in all black as well. He was very short, and when he turned slightly to look over his shoulder at Bakura, the okami could see he had red eyes and was wearing a white headband across his forehead. With a start Bakura realized this was the same demon he'd been sensing earlier, and he nearly laughed.
"Leave the boy alone," Bakura said aloud, his speech slightly slurred since he hadn't need to speak out loud in wolf form for a long time. "What do you want that you'd risk my ire to get it?"
/Bakura, what're you-/
//Not now, Ryou.//
//Not now, Ryou.//
The short demon scowled at him. "Your ire? You seem very sure of yourself for an okami."
Bakura resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He was being threatened by a mere D-class fire demon who apparently didn't have a brain. There had been a time not so long ago when the sight of a white wolf, any white wolf, would send demons of all classes diving for cover. Bakura knew he'd supposedly been dead for nearly a decade, but still...
Closing his eyes in concentration, Bakura surpressed the pull of the moonlight and began to shift forms. After a moment he was kneeling on the ground in humanoid form, nearly eye-to-eye with the surprised demon. "Boo."
The demon nearly dropped his sword in shock, but Bakura reached out and grabbed his wrist, twisting the sword away from Ryou's neck. As soon as he was in the clear, Ryou rolled to his feet and scurried to crouch behind Bakura, his ears back and tail between his legs.
The fire demon's eyes widened slightly, then narrowed, as if he suspected a trick. "You're supposed to be dead."
"Surprise," Bakura said dryly, twisting the other demon's arm and making him hiss in pain. "Now what do you want, you pitiful excuse for a demon?"
The demon hissed again, but his expression was more of anger and rebellion than fear. "I was just watching you, seeing where you were going."
Bakura smirked. "You had a sword to my host's neck. That's more than just watching."
The demon blinked at him, clearly off-balance by that last comment. "Host? You, the great Yami Bakura, has a host?"
"Quiet!" Bakura snarled, twisting his arm harder, until the demon yelped in pain and there was the unmistakable 'pop' of a joint jerked out of place.
To Bakura's surprise, Ryou jumped out from behind him and nosed at his arm, whimpering slightly. /Bakura, don't hurt him! I just surprised him. He didn't mean to, I'm sure./
Bakura blinked, surprised by his light's charity toward a demon. Scowling a little, the okami let go of the short one, who dropped to the ground, holding his dislocated shoulder. Ears pinned back in a submissive gesture, Ryou poked his nose at the stunned demon. /Are you all right?/
Bakura scowled and crossed his arms, sitting back on his heels. "He wants to know if you're all right."
The fire demon blinked at him, then at Ryou. "Uh, yeah, I'm fine. It's nothing. Why did you stop him? He's at least three times stronger than I am. If we'd met back in Makai he would have snapped me in half without a second thought."
Bakura raised an eyebrow in Ryou's direction. //He has a good point.//
/I just don't like seeing people get hurt./ Ryou admitted, looking down as if it were something to be ashamed of. /I'm sure he didn't mean to scare me./
Again, Bakura had to resist the urge to roll his eyes as he relayed this. His host really knew nothing about demons.
Apparently, their guest thought so too. "Is he stupid?" he asked Bakura in Makaic, the demon language. Up until this point they'd all been speaking Japanese, which was just barely different enough from Makaic that Ryou probably couldn't understand the demonic language.
"He's only eight." Bakura answered with a sigh. "I'm working on it." In Japanese he added, "What's your name?"
The demon blinked again, then scowled slightly. "Hiei."
"Well, Hiei, what are you doing in Ningenkai?" Bakura asked, crossing his arms. "You are aware that if you're one of Koenma's agents I'll have to kill you?"
Hiei snorted. "Like I'd ever serve that toddler. I'm here strictly for personal gain. Ningenkai art is fetching a high price in Reikai right now."
Bakura smirked. "Ahhh, a thief like myself. I think I may like you."
"Hn. Like I need your approval."
"Good point. Get you gone, demon. My host has to be home by sunrise."
"Hn." Hiei picked up his sword with his good arm and slid it into its sheath. He turned to go, then paused. "Is Youko Kurama..."
"I don't know."
"...Oh. Should I tell-"
"No," Bakura answered firmly. "Let everyone think I'm dead. If I ever do decide to make a come back, I'll announce it myself." Both of them had noted the word 'if', and cast significant looks toward Ryou, who remained clueless.
"...Right." Hiei nodded to Bakura, bowed slightly to Ryou, and then lept away into the treetops.
Once Bakura was sure he was gone, he let himself shift back into wolf form, letting out a sigh and flopping down on the grass next to Ryou. That could have gone very, very badly, but miraculously it hadn't. Now Ryou would probably be spouting awkward questions, but he could deal with that.
For now, he was just content to curl up next to his host and sleep, content he would be safe.
WSJ: *grin* Yay! So how many of you guessed that Hiei would show up this chapter? Be honest!
Hiei: *eye twitch* ...You made me nice.
WSJ: Only slightly!! Yeesh! ^^; You'll be your regular grumpy self soon enough.
Ryou: *giggle* I think it's cute!
God bless minna-san!