I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh nor Forever by Plus One.

"Why?" Ryou asked, flinched when he realized he'd said it out loud.

"Why?!" Bakura laughed, "Do you mean why do I beat you? Why am I so mean to you? Why did you get stuck with the homicidal yami? All of the above?" Bakura laughed again, a crazy glint in his eye. He kicked Ryou in the stomach and Ryou vomited. Bakura growled and kicked Ryou in the side with a vomit-covered shoe. Ryou groaned and curled into a ball, waiting for the end of the torture.

Bakura grew bored with Ryou after about an hour and wandered out the door, most likely heading for some kind of bar or something. Ryou uncurled and stood, shaking. That was one of his worse beatings, and he was sure one of his ribs was broken … again. He warily cleaned up the mess on the carpet, which was both blood and vomit, before going into his room and falling on his bed, both physically and spiritually exhausted. He wished that everything would just end. Something would happen and for some reason Bakura wouldn't be able to beat him anymore. Oh, just think of the possibilities…

Then Ryou brought himself back to the real world. There was no way that could ever happen. No way, no how, not in all of eternity. The thought brought tears to his eyes, but they didn't fall. They never fell. No matter what Bakura put him through, he had never cried. He didn't know why he had never cried, he just didn't. But it made him feel … inhuman. As if he were some kind of machine … or merely a vessel, just like Bakura kept calling him. He wanted desperately to be able to cry. It would prove his humanity.

Somehow Ryou managed to fall asleep and the next thing he knew, the door of the apartment slammed and Bakura came in, singing a rather rude, vulgar song, obviously drunk.

"Host! Where's my supper?!" Bakura roared from the kitchen. Ryou gasped, he'd forgotten. That would make Bakura truly pissed. "HOST!!!" Bakura roared again when Ryou didn't answer. Ryou stumbled out of bed and locked his door. Hopefully the ex-tomb robber would be too drunken to be able to pick the lock. He heard heavy footsteps that stopped in front of his door. The knob rattled and Bakura shouted an expletive, telling Ryou to open the door or else. Ryou huddled under the covers and there was a bang and the door flew off its hinges, propelled by shadow magic. Ryou closed his eyes and waited for pain, but it didn't come.

After nearly an hour he peeked out of the covers to see that Bakura had passed out from being so drunk and using so much shadow magic.

The next morning, Bakura still hadn't woken up and Ryou made sure he was out of the house and on his way to school as fast as possible. He had a very nice day, even the aftereffects of the beatings from the day before were gone. By the time he got home Bakura's hangover should be gone and he wouldn't be too mad. Nothing could spoil Ryou's day.

Or so he thought.

When he got home, Bakura was just waking up and his hangover was peak. He hadn't had any chance to vent his anger on anything else, so as soon as the door was closed behind Ryou, Bakura ripped off Ryou's backpack and had hit Ryou in the back at just the right place to make him fall to the ground. He kicked the poor boy viscously for nearly twenty minutes and his anger was still not subdued. He growled and pulled Ryou up.

Ryou stood uncertainly before receiving a blow to the head. He staggered backwards and got punched and kicked repeatedly in the chest and stomach until Bakura decided he'd really freak Ryou out. Ryou did not like blood. Not one bit, especially his own. So obviously, Bakura pulled out an already bloodstained knife. He grabbed Ryou and dug his knife deep into the boy's arm, blood seeping out around the blade. Ryou whimpered and Bakura started carving hieroglyphics into his skin. Something along the lines of "property of the Thief King", making extra sure to put his title into a cartouche. That done he tossed the knife to the side and left Ryou there, bleeding and shaking.

The next day Ryou awoke to find himself still there. He stood and wavered, weak and dizzy from blood loss. It was ten o' clock, he noted, so he'd have to stay home. He walked into his room and froze at what he saw. Bakura was there, sitting on Ryou's bed, a smirk on his face. A smirk that meant he was about to have some fun beating the living daylights out of Ryou.

Ryou turned and ran, not knowing where he was trying to escape to, but Bakura caught him and started one of his beatings again.

Vicious kicks and furious punches flew, Bakura not even giving Ryou time to fall before delivering the next blow. After one particularly hard kick to the stomach, Ryou collapsed, Bakura catching him quite by accident. Face twisted into a disgusted grimace, Bakura tossed Ryou away from him. Ryou's head hit the corner of the coffee table with a loud crack. Bakura cocked his head and watched Ryou try to stand. Finally he kicked Ryou as hard as he could in the stomach, sending Ryou flying. When he landed, Ryou gasped in pain, his eyes wide. Tears welled up in his eyes and flowed freely down his cheeks.

Bakura scowled, then saw what the matter was. The knife was embedded into Ryou's back to the hilt. His eyes grew wide as well. This was not something he had meant to do. Not at all. It was an accident. Just an accident.

"I'm going to die, aren't I?" Ryou asked softly, speaking mostly to himself.

"Yes." Bakura said, not knowing why he answered his hikari.

"Look, I can cry. I really am human." Ryou said, his face breaking out into a grin. "It's all going to stop now. The beatings, the torment. It's all going to stop." Bakura's breath caught. Had he really been that bad? So bad that death was a welcome thing?

"I never meant for it to go this far. Never. I just didn't want you to turn out like me." Bakura muttered.

"Don't worry. It doesn't hurt anymore." Ryou said, sounding truly relieved. His eyes fluttered closed and he breathed one more time. It was a contented little sigh, and it broke Bakura's black, twisted heart.

He sat there, stunned, in a pool of Ryou's blood, for nearly an hour before his heart convulsed in pain like none he'd ever felt before. After two more similar jolts of pain he realized that it wasn't his heart, it was his soul. His soul was being torn in half.

Ryou was found the next day by Yami and Yugi. They had come over to check up on Ryou and possibly restrain Bakura, but they were shocked at what they found. There was a note scribbled in blood on the carpet in hieroglyphs.

Yami knew what it said, but refused to tell Yugi, using his shadow magic to destroy the blood in that one area so that no one else would ever see the message, hoping it wouldn't come to pass.

Many years later an old, old man lay in a hospital bed, a younger man asleep with his head resting on the elder's hand, their breath synchronized. Or at least that's how it would have looked to a bystander. In reality the young-seeming one was far the other's elder.

Yami stirred, lifting his head and looking at Yugi. Yami had lost track of just how many years it had been, but one of Yugi's great-grandchildren was turning fifteen that year. Yami frowned sorrowfully, remembering better times.

Yugi's eyes fluttered open and he looked at Yami. "Do I know you?" he asked.

"Yes, you do." Yami replied softly, tears coming to his eyes. Yugi nodded, but there was no recognition in his eyes. "Would you like me to tell you of some of the things we've done together?" Yami asked softly.

"That would be nice." Yugi said, his voice airy, almost uncaring and very caring at the same time.

"I was your best man at your wedding. Remember? Tea looked so beautiful, so much more than an angel. You were beaming with happiness and bursting with excitement. When the reception came, you accidentally shoved cake up Tea's nose, remember?" Yami smiled sadly, but continued. "Then when you had your first child. You were so happy that it was a girl, and I was named her godfather. But it was a difficult birth. She nearly didn't make it, remember? But when she did you and Tea and even I were all crying. Afterwards you were such a bundle of nerves that you couldn't drive home, I had to take you."

There was a glimmer of recognition in Yugi's tired eyes, but it died down under the cloud of age before he could say anything and Yami went on with his monologue.

"Then the second was a twin miscarriage. You went out and got so drunk you collapsed in the bar. You were unconscious for nearly two days, but when you woke up you went out and saw Tea, always more worried about her than anything."

"Where is Tea?" Yugi asked suddenly.

"After your youngest was born, she found out she had cancer. Inoperable, and none of the radiation therapy helped. You were at her side everyday at the hospital, only leaving when she was asleep, and coming back hours before she awoke again. Every day for ten years you did that, watching her deteriorate. I remember you'd come over to my apartment and cry and cry after you visited her in that last year. You nearly took your own life on several occasions. Then, the day Tea died, your eldest had a baby. It was the only thing that kept you going. And you don't remember any of it…" Yami shook his head and turned away, trying not to cry. After a while, he turned back to Yugi.

"How about your last duel? Do you remember that? It was against Kaiba and it was about a year after Tea died. You were winning by far when an assassin turned up in the crowd and headed for you and Kaiba. I tried to reach you, but Mokuba was faster. He stepped in the line of fire for his brother. Kaiba attacked the assassin barehanded and killed the man, but he had a fatal wound himself. No one could believe it. Both Kaibas, dead on the same day, and both clutching his locket in his final moment. You said that you were going to retire from dueling after that. It took you years to convince everyone that it meant all dueling, not just public duels. But you never lost that eye for it. You even made me teach your only granddaughter how to play. She's good." Yami looked down at Yugi to see that he had fallen asleep. Yami went over to the window and stared out at the surrounding city for several hours before Yugi woke up again.

"Who are you?" Yugi asked when Yami reached his side.

"Yami. Your yami. Remember the millennium puzzle?" Yami asked, pulling Yugi's hand up to touch the Puzzle. Yugi nodded absently and listened as Yami told him about when he'd first put the Puzzle together, up to when Yugi had first realized that there was an ancient spirit residing in the Puzzle.

"Thank you." Yugi muttered when Yami finished.

"For what?"

"For telling me these wonderful stories in my last fee minutes." Yugi sighed contentedly and closed his eyes.

"No, you can't die!" Yami said, sounding for all the world like a small child. But Yugi didn't hear him because his body had simply ceased working. "You can't." yami muttered and sat down in the chair next to Yugi and started sobbing.

How could he possibly be expected to go on with his hikari gone? He couldn't, he needed Yugi more than anyone knew. Darkness needs light, thrives on it. Without light, darkness cannot exist.

Then Yami remembered the message in blood that he and Yugi had found next to Ryou so many years ago. "Your turn will come, Pharaoh. When your hikari dies you will be left without half your soul. It will come and there is no escaping it."

Suddenly Yami felt a stab of pain in his chest. It happened again and he realized that it wasn't his chest or heart, but his soul being torn in half.

Through the pain he was barely aware of doctors and nurses around him rushing into try and revive Yugi. But Yami knew that no matter what they did, Yugi would not survive. Yami wandered out of the building, not noticing when he was nearly run over, trying to cope with the pain. Not just the physical pain of half his soul being ripped away from him, but the unbearable emotional pain that came with it.

Without realizing it, he had wandered back to the Game Shop, now owned by Yugi's granddaughter. There was no way he could face Yugi's family. He would live forever and have to face generation after generation of Mutos, all with the same spiky hair and violet eyes as Yugi had. Then he heard the music, already in the middle of the song.

Forever is a long time

To be without you in my life

I wanna keep you by my side

'Cuz forever is a long time

It was familiar music, music that he, Yugi, Ryou, and Bakura had all liked, though Bakura would never admit it, because it fit them so well. Yami turned to see Bakura in a car behind him, the door open and waiting. Turning away from Yugi's family, he stepped in the car and closed the door behind him, hearing the last two lines of the song, ones that the yamis thought described the hikaris and the hikaris thought described the yamis.

You are patient, you are true

Your love is what gets me through

Now one half plus one half is one whole, but two halves of a soul do not equal one soul. Most people would say that you wouldn't be able to survive with half a soul while others may argue against souls entirely. But two forever-teens wandering the earth together beg to differ. Forever more they are doomed to the pain of a half-soul, and it is the worst pain one can suffer.