To Bakrua fans who want more closure, I present this fic.
And lastly, to the unsatisfied spirits of what once was Kuru'Erna, I present…`
"If I should say that he is a victim of injustice, then I would be asking by implication for sympathy; and if one insists upon looking at this boy in the light of sympathy, he will be swamped by a feeling of guilt so strong as to be indistinguishable from hate."
—Richard Wright, Native Son
"I'm going to die soon."
Ryoh didn't flinch. Bile rose up in his throat and he lowered his head, but he didn't flinch, didn't make a noise.
Sitting on Ryoh's desk, on top of the boy's homework, was the speaker. Yami Bakura watched his landlord, the boy still standing at his room's entrance. He'd taken a break from the schoolwork and, upon returning and seeing the parasite physically manifested, however insubstantially, had stopped at the door.
"Does that make you happy to hear?" Bakura asked, sliding from the desk to stand. Were he solid at all, Ryoh's papers would have fallen to the floor. "Are you overjoyed that I'll be leaving you all alone?"
Ryoh's shoulders slumped as he leaned against the doorjamb. He didn't raise his head. When he spoke, it was in the flat monotone that nobody but the spirit ever got to hear. "What do you want," spoken without inflection, though the words formed a question.
The spirit smiled, lopsided and empty, but for once not malicious, and with half-lidded eyes that made him appear exhausted, though Ryoh didn't see. "Maybe nothing for once?" He stepped toward the boy, silent footfalls that never truly touched the plush carpet.
Ryoh didn't reply. His fingers slowly curled, though not into fists, as the tension in his body looked for an outlet.
"Perhaps I want to find something out about my dearest landlord – perhaps I want to know, before I die, why I was partnered with him." The thief still advanced, but slowly, wavering in a way that suggested drunkenness if such a thing were still possible for him. Ryoh remained oblivious to Bakura's movements, either because he preferred the bliss of ignorance or because he was too concerned with thinking about the spirit to pay any actual attention to his actions. "Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…" Or maybe he didn't need to see the thief to know how he leaned one arm on the wall for support as he walked toward Ryoh. "It could be revenge that I seek. I might not want to die alone."
Ryoh smiled, though from Bakura's angle it was difficult to see.
Closer still, the smile visible, and Bakura leaned forward to whisper in Ryoh's ear. Again the boy remained motionless despite the close proximity. The words were so soft that Ryoh could not discern if they were heard in his ears or only in his mind.
Ryoh could feel warm breath on his ear.
"…Just maybe, there's the possibility that I've always wanted justice."
He slipped away from the thief, taking a step backward almost gracefully to recreate a gap between the two. Yami Bakura watched, his lopsided grin now amused, the boy's smile gone. "Justice and revenge," Ryoh hissed, "what's the difference for you? It's all just payback, blood-debts… An eye for an eye…"
Yami Bakura laughed, and the familiarly sinister noise was what finally brought Ryoh's attention up. By that time, though, the half-lidded eyes had become narrowed, and the grin was long with clenched teeth.
"Why do I need revenge? I'm still here! It's the rest of them who want revenge… for me, it's just Justice. Maybe bitterness at defeat after defeat, maybe that's some revenge… but revenge is dealt in pain, in destroying everything he's ever cared about before drawing out his death. But all I need is to kill him, the Pharaoh, and I don't mind if it's quick and clean and painless. And anybody who gets in the way will become a casualty of justice."
Ryoh shivered, finally allowing his body to betray some sign of uneasiness. It wasn't as though it would make a difference at this point. After all, the spirit was going to die.
Everybody died eventually. Even perfection like Yuugi.
Then they said it was over.
Like a soldier at the end of a war, he was filled with disbelief. It had to be a lie; his old life was still there, just hiding for a moment, just playing a trick on him. Happiness – that was so long ago that it was difficult to grasp in his mind. The concept of being content evaded him; the idea of this thing – this fetter, this unwanted purpose and fate, this bondage that had absolutely controlled his life, decreeing all his actions – the idea that it was over was not acceptable.
So many times before, the spirit had evaded death. Why was this time any different from before? How could he be sure it wasn't a false alarm, that nobody was crying wolf?
How could it be over now?
How could it be over?
Ryoh was not tense, merely anxious. His expression, fairly blank to begin with, remained unreadable and neutral. When he spoke it was only to reply, and the few who might normally have greeted him, Yuugi and the others, were slowly saying less and less to him. Now that their common bond, despite it being an ominous, threatening sort of bond, was gone, there was no real reason to socialize with the quiet boy, save pity and politeness. So they said hi and asked how he was doing, but the answer of, "fine," barely registered.
On the other hand, Ryoh still cared about them, though not as he had. He watched them throughout the day but made no attempt to socialize with them – the slow death of their friendship didn't seem to bother him too much, and he was content to merely observe their happiness. He saw Anzu's and Yuugi's nervous interactions and hesitations when their hands touched and how Jounouchi and Honda were almost more protective over Yuugi than they had been. Ryoh could see how the two taller boys hesitated, too – Yuugi had, in the end, defeated Atemu, but before then it had always been Atemu who defended Yuugi. Whether or not their assistance would still be needed was an issue they hadn't yet worked out, as their knowledge of Yuugi's will fought with protective instincts.
It took a while for Ryoh to recognize the truth that he and the other four knew but didn't realize. Nobody was ready to admit that things were over and normal. The end had come, but the paranoia and adrenaline remained. Ryoh was anxious still, while Jounouchi and Honda were overly-alert with an abundance of energy in reserve.
Yuugi and Anzu were having issues with a love-triangle that had too suddenly been fixed into a conventional two-player relationship.
For those four, however, adjusting proved not to be too difficult. Perhaps this was because the life they faced now was not so different from the life they had faced before. Yuugi and Atemu were, after all, so alike in so many ways. A week after the return to school, things seemed to have settled down. While there were still uncertain touches and doubtful looks passed among the group, even those were beginning to fade. The four were quickly falling back into a solid, happy friendship, perhaps more strongly bonded than before now that they didn't have to split their time over two Yuugis.
On the other hand, Ryoh rushed through things all week, anxious, anticipating. The new freedom he found might have been exhilarating; it might have been terrifying. In any case, he showed few changes on the surface, save a sudden disregard for schoolwork. At home all he worked on was finishing all the video games he'd never beat before, ignoring his homework.
By the following week, things were looking normal for the most part, (Ryoh being the sole exception) as well as being appreciated for their dullness.
On Monday, Ryoh stayed home from school, finished the last video game, and pawned the lot of them.
On Tuesday, the white-haired teen came to school and drifted through the classes. In the afternoon, at the end of classes, he didn't bother to pack away his books. Instead he walked over to Yuugi, who was still putting away his binders and papers, and paused.
"Yu…" A moment to swallow; he hadn't realized how hoarse his voice was. "Yuugi. May I … talk with you?"
The shorter boy stopped, closing a binder and setting it down on his desk. "Sure," he smiled, though it was slightly reserved. Chances were good that he had plans. Judging from the impatient look on Jounouchi's face, plans with his friends.
"Alone?" Ryoh asked softly, sadly.
Comprehension dawned on Yuugi's face in an oft seen widening of eyes and barely voiced, "oh!" He nodded and turned to the other three. Honda shrugged, grabbing the blond by the arm, and Anzu smiled and waved. Yuugi, blushing, waved back. "I'll hurry," he reassured her as she left the room.
Ryoh slid into a chair next to Yuugi's. His glance swept the floor, seemingly nervous about something. Or anxious. "I'll try to hurry," he murmured. "I'm sorry to inconvenience you like this."
"It's no problem!" Yuugi assured, waving a hand in dismissal. His smile was a little less reserved now, but Ryoh was quite sure that it was indeed a problem for the other boy, who obviously had been looking forward either to hamburgers or make-out time with Anzu. Ryoh folded his hands in his lap and looked at those while Yuugi waited for him to talk.
"Do you…" Again, Ryoh took a moment for his voice, swallowing and wetting his lips. "Do you think it's … just?"
Yuugi's head tilted quizzically. "Think what's just?" Not only was he unsure of what Ryoh was referring to, but also the word 'just' wasn't one he heard used often in such a context. It had taken a moment to register what Ryoh meant.
One of Ryoh's thumbs pressed the other. "I guess… everything. That Ah… that the other you is gone… without…"
Yuugi waited for Ryoh to finish, but the boy fell silent. He had an inkling of what could possibly be bothering the white-haired teen, but the idea of anybody missing the Ring Spirit was so incredulous that Yuugi didn't voice it. Rather, he chose to respond to what he'd heard. "I miss him," he admitted, "but this…. He was supposed to die a long time ago, I think."
"That's not what I mean," Ryoh clarified. His voice was no longer hoarse, only sharp and quiet. "He didn't pay," the taller boy whispered. One of his hands gripped the back of his chair tightly. "All those people who died, and nobody paid."
Yuugi stood up, muscles tense. His immediate thoughts were of the destroyed Ring, and then to run. Before he could turn there was a clatter of chairs, desks overturning, and Ryoh tackled him. The back of his head hit the hard floor painfully. He yelped and twisted against the taller boy – Ryoh hadn't ever appeared to have any great amount of strength – and waited for Jounouchi and Honda to rush in and save him.
"Don't take it personally," Ryoh whispered. Bent over above Yuugi, Ryoh's lips were practically on the smaller boy's ear. His long hair fell over his head and brushed against Yuugi's cheek. "Revenge is personal. But this is just Justice."
The three others rushed into the room. Ryoh saw them through half-lidded eyes as he lifted his head. Yuugi started yelling for them. Ryoh's hands gripped the smaller teen's neck, and he could feel vertebrae shifting beneath his fingers, bones grinding against each other.
After the snap, that was all. He knew it was ended, finalized; it was no cry of wolf this time.
Everything was over.
This isn't a Spoils fic because Spoils is about the antagonists. Ryoh's not an antagonist.
Whether or not YamiBakura did anything to Ryoh between those two scenes is up to you.
Characterization was difficult. So was pacing.
Thank you rayemars, even though I didn't use your quotes. But they gave me perspective.
Thank you Skai, because "The Eye" was mad inspiration for parts of this.
Justice: ww w.deviantart.co m/view/6286666/
Satisfaction: ww w.deviantart.co m/view/5746388/