A/N: The last chap. was a big success! Here's a note to all you reviewers:

Immortal of Goodness: Whoo, I didn't know that one! From now on he'll have the Millennium Ring on nn I was only going by other fics, which are also therefore unenlightened. Thanks for the tip!

Goddesskali: LOL. It was two and a third pages on Word. nn If you're looking for longer chapters, try my Harry Potter fic, Harry Potter and the Silver Phoenix. The chapters are usually 3,700 words, or 8 pages long! (The last was 5,100 words long) nn

Avataria13: Isn't she though? I don't like bashers, but if I was one I would so bash Serenity. She's not big on thinking for herself/holding her own, is she?

Ms. Chant: -big smile, starry background- Thank you so much for reviewing!!

Yami no Cassandra: -pretends to vomit- Gods, can we move it along girl? -licks lips- I'm very interested in seeing what dear Yami Bakura and Yami are up to...

Ms. Chant: -glares- Perv.

Yami no Cassandra: YOU have Kaiba dreams. Don't talk to me about pervy.

Ms. Chant: -blushes- Um, okay then, on with the fic!


Bakura stalked out of the dark cement hold, hiding in the hidden dark recesses of the stairwell that spiraled to the surface. A smug wave of gloating washed over him as he reveled in his plan.

He would win this time. He was sure of it. He had his hostage – Tea – and a safe place where he could keep her until the time came. If the Pharaoh discovered her early, his plans would be ruined.

He emerged into the pale dawn, the light stinging on the touch of his white features, colorless when not amongst the shadows. He glared at the rising sun. Damn light. Wistfully, he wished it would set and night would come soon. The shadows always abhorred the light. It was their destiny to hate each other.

The damn woman is making me poetic, he hissed to himself. Well, I'll be rid of her soon enough.

He knew the Pharaoh would be crazy with worry, hunting for his little lost toy. He could almost see the scene now, as the king rushed to the game shop to gather his adventurers and seek her out. They would think themselves so clever, but he had to control the game. Let them think he was giving them a lead – when he meant to give to them all along.

Controlling a game played by Shadows was never a simple process.

Bakura saw the first glints of morning, spiking off the glass and metal roofs of Domino City. Check the roads for those who might interfere with his plan. But the early morning commutes were slim; most employees actually lived at their workplace. He wouldn't have to battle traffics for another hour or so. So it was time to lay the first clues in place, and get some supplies. The last thing he wanted was to be holed up for three days in that basement without food or drink. He didn't need it, but Ryou did, and so would Tea. It wouldn't do to have his host and hostage die on him.

He dodged through alleyways, a wraith avoiding the darkness, glaring venomous daggers at the few early risers who might have spotted him. Finally, he ducked into a small corner store, cursing the merry bell that jingled as he shut the door.

Lurking in the back of the store, past the breads aisle, he furtively glanced around the stack of soda cans at the shopkeeper. He was a fat, blowsy sort of man, who looked like he was still asleep, even though a cheap gas station coffee was parked next to his elbow. Bakura smirked. Perfect. He wasn't King of Thieves for nothing. Ryou never had any money, and even if he did Bakura would never use it. He considered paying for things dishonorable. Simply taking his dues to society. He deserved it.

Slinking around the corner of the Cheetos display, his eyes slid up and down the aisle. Three days. He would need the basics – bread, milk, hot dogs. A couple of cans of soup.

His gaze fell on the freezer – namely, the freezer crammed with six-packs of beer, wine coolers, vodka and brandy, marked with a large sign: SHOW ID AT PURCHASE. He scowled. He was too young to buy liquor – although, he hissed to himself with silent grudging anger – he was older than anyone on the planet. 5,000 years and he couldn't even pick up a case of beer!

He froze as he the sleepy silence of the grocery was broken by three voices – one, loud and raucous, another cool and innocent, and another tired and friendly. Slipping noiselessly around the edge of the freezer, he watched the newcomers.

"We've gotta get some snacks if we're gonna be goin' to the beach! Right, Serenity?"

"Yeah, big brother, but we should hurry. If we don't get there in time it'll be full."

"What'll you kids thinking you'll be needing? Some soda? Chips? Grinders?"

He growled under his breath. Just his luck. It was the Pharaoh's second-in-command – blonde, tough-talking, half-rate duelist Joey Wheeler and his sister, a damsel-in-distress wimp named Serenity Wheeler, talking to the shopkeeper. He barely knew them – Ryou knew them better, but not by much. But he did know them well enough to know that they would spoil his plans if they could. They'd do anything for the Pharaoh – kiss his boots if he asked.

It makes me sick.

Shit.

Now he had to make it out of the store past Joey, Serenity, and the shopkeeper – with about twenty bucks worth of food in his jacket. The shopkeeper would be properly awake too. But he'd gotten out of tighter scrapes. He slid back behind the freezer and listened closely to their conversation.

"So you kids are going to Natsuki Sound? That's a great place to spend the day."

"We always went there when we were kids, so we thought it was high time we went back."

"Nice to see how family sticks together. You hear about these divorces and families splitting up every day – well, just loosen your resolve. Y'know?"

"Yeah, dem divorces are tough on kids," said Joey gruffly. "Hey, danks for helping us out. We gotta get goin.'"

"Sure. Anytime, kids."

There was a sudden sharp ringing.

"Ain't dat your cellphone, Serenity? Da one Tea bought ya last Christmas? I recognize da ring she programmed in."

"Yeah," said Serenity, the surprise evident in her voice. "I'd forgotten I even had it turned on." There was another beep as she punched buttons on the phone.

"Hello? Oh, hi, Yugi."

Pause. Bakura held his breath.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

"What do you mean she's missing? She ran off yesterday and you can't find her?"

Another pause.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

"So let me get this strai – But I – okay, okay, we'll be there." There was another sharp snap as she closed the phone up.

"Yugi says Tea ran off yesterday and he still can't find her. He wants us all to get together and form a search party to look all over Domino City."

"What?! Tea's missin'?!"

"We're supposed to meet him and Tristan at the dock. So let's go!"

The door jangled again, a harsh brass tongue calling out inside the bell.

Bakura had long ago controlled his body to stop a reaction of relief. It was that small sigh or slump that always got you caught, he knew from experience. Still, he was sure that his heart rate dropped from its hard pace.

So the Pharaoh was already galvanizing his forces. And they'd all be at the dock. Good. Then he could both avoid them and make sure his next piece of the puzzle would be in place.

He glared at the shelf across from the freezer, thinking hard. This wasn't going to be easy...

He smirked as his eyes rested on a small blue glass bottle marked with a peeling label: Finest German Blueberry Schnapps. He reached a long pale arm for it and nestled it in one of the hidden pockets of his blue jacket. The cool glass made a comforting bulge in the fabric, and the liquid sloshed inside.

He fixed his eyes on the shopkeeper, whose back was momentarily turned as he good-naturedly straightened rows of over-the-counter birth control and cold medicine. The door was unguarded. He could get away now, if he kept quiet and avoided the mirrors used to spot shoplifters.

As he slipped out the door, silencing the bell with a pale finger, as smoothly as a snake's coil, his hand subconsciously touched the glass bottle. He was glad he had managed to sneak the schnapps out. Bitterly, he thought to himself:

I'm going to need it.