Wonder


In Which Bakura Expresses Her More Private Emotions On Paper


Japanese

Aishiteru (mo) – I love you (too). A very formal declaration of romantic love; akin to a marriage proposal. It's not as basic as 'I love you'; it's more along the lines of 'I am in love with you'. Pretty much the same as a vow of undying love: I will love you forever and always, until the end of time, etc.
Bishounen – Beautiful Boy. Refers to all those lovely men in Japanese anime/manga who have that effeminate, delicate, scrumptiously sexy look.
Ecchi – (Playfully) Pervert/Perverted
Koi – Lover
Sennen – Thousand Year (Millennium)


Egyptian

Eöte – Father
Máau – Mother
Söne – Sister


Lyrics are from 'I Think You're Beautiful' by Amy Dalley


They all wonder, you know. Wonder why I changed so much after my second stint in the Shadow Realm. Most of them don't even realize that I didn't change very much; I act pretty much the same way as I did before, only I don't go around wanting to kill or maim people, and I've stopped my quest for the Sennen Items.

Then why would they wonder why I changed, if they don't even realize I did? Because they see me with Ryou, and they all wonder why in Ra's name I'm so nice to him.

I don't get that, really. I mean, sure, I wasn't always nice to the kid, but it was mostly mind games (literally, I yelled at him in his soul room) to keep him cowed and away from my business…including the fact of my true gender. I thought I'd hidden my secret extremely well, but once I got back from the Shadow Realm, he told me he'd known pretty much from the start.

He always was observant. He never said much, but he saw everything. Especially if it involved me…

Why he found me so fascinating, I'll never know. I'm just glad he did, and still does.

I used to rail at him for being weak – Ra, who am I kidding? I was yelling at him in place of myself, the true weakling – but he had a power all his own. The power of observation.

Which is a very important form of knowledge. And knowledge is power, so it's no wonder he never believed me when I told him he was weak. Physically, maybe, but then I'm the first to admit that doesn't really mean much, especially in today's world.

It's always been about power, you understand. Back in Egypt, no woman had power; even the Queen, who might have had status, would have nowhere to turn if her husband decided to throw her out on the street. I knew from the moment that I watched Kuru Eruna burn that I could never be weak if I wanted to stay alive long enough to avenge my family.

It wasn't that hard; I was seven, old enough to realize what I had to do, but young enough yet that no one could tell I was a girl if I didn't dress like one. And I had never liked wearing skirts of any kind; hell, I didn't even like wearing kohl, so it was no hardship to dress like a man. I had always preferred perfecting my thieving skills to weaving cloth or making bread with the women and by the time the massacre happened, I was a better thief than men twice my age. I built my reputation up slowly, and before long, everyone knew of Bakure, the King of Thieves.

Ah, yes, my name is Bakura in this time, right? Well, back then it was, too; Bakura is the feminine form. Bakure, however, is the masculine one, and since I wanted everyone to think I was a guy…

It's why I was so shocked to wake up here in the twenty-first century and find that my name, my real name, was my host's last name. No one had last names back in Egypt (or anywhere for that matter) five thousand years ago, and it was…odd…to think that my name was now a family one.

But Ryou is my family, so…

Anyway, they all wonder why I care so much for Ryou. Why? I mean, the Pharaoh is in love with his light, why can't I be with mine?

Not that I would use the word love…at least, not in a romantic context…not yet, anyway.

Oh, who am I kidding? Certainly not myself…

But they wonder. They don't ask, no, they're too afraid. I wouldn't kill them for asking, but neither would I answer. It's none of their business – my feelings, that is.

The reason, however, is because he accepts me. Even back in the beginning, when I was cruel to him, he accepted me. He didn't understand me. But he accepted me. And that was…flooring. No one had ever accepted me…except my family. Máau, Eöte, my söne…

And they are all long dead, their bodies not even allowed the dignity of decaying and becoming part of the sand in the great deserts.

Ryou is alive…partly because of me and what I went through back in ancient Egypt. I suppose it is true what they say: every cloud has a silver lining.

I wonder if he could sense the connection we had even when we first met… It would explain so many things.

Ryou didn't accept the fact that I apparently wanted to kill his friends, but he did accept the fact that I had a reason for doing so.

That was one of our major points of contention back then – he knew I had a reason for doing what I was doing, but he didn't know what it was. And every time he asked…I wanted to answer, I truly did, if only because in order to give him the answer, I had to know it myself in the first place.

The Pharaoh didn't remember anything of his past, and while I did remember most of mine, even I didn't know why I was so angry the world, or at him, specifically. I never wanted Yami's blood for the deaths in Thief's Town; I wanted him to acknowledge that the father he loved so much was a murderer, that even the great Pharaoh Akunamukanon was not perfect, like a chosen Son of Ra was purported to be. That the Sennen Puzzle which he wore around his own neck had been forged in the fires of hell on earth, blood and screams going into its making.

But I died – was killed, by Yami, as a matter of fact – before I could tell him what his father had done.

All right, so maybe I had a little residual resentment about my murder, and that's why I wanted to hurt him. It seemed rather ironic; his father had killed my family, and he killed me. Maybe not with their own hands, but it was by their orders. My soul was stuffed, kicking and screaming and angry as all the nine levels of hell, into that Ring, so why should anyone be surprised that I was bitter? My rage had built up over the five thousand years I was trapped in that Ring, and had grown way out of proportion. Sometimes I even scared myself…

But I don't think I ever really scared Ryou. Oh, he might have been afraid for his friends' lives, but never for his own. He knew he could stop me from going too far – when even I wasn't sure he could, wasn't sure anyone could stop me, not even myself – and that I would never purposely hurt him.

I've tried my best to make up for everything I've put him through, and I think I'm succeeding. But I'm not sure, even with our mind-link, that he knows how I truly feel about him.

Which is why I'm doing this. I just hope he realizes how much this means; to me as well as him.


Coming into his room that evening after his and 'Kura's regularly scheduled evening 'date' (which was really nothing more than an hour or two after dinner that they spent together, normally watching television or reading, which wasn't very romantic, but since they were almost always curled up against each other, they thought it counted as dates), Ryou was startled to find a roll of parchment lying on his pillow. The only one who could have put it there was Bakura, but why wouldn't she just give it to him herself? Or tell him what it said?

Why do you think? Ryou asked himself sarcastically. She obviously wasn't comfortable being here to see my reaction to whatever it is she wrote – which probably means this is something along the lines of the ancient Egyptian tomb-robber's version of a love letter.

The thought actually made him slightly giddy. No one had ever written him a love letter before – not that anyone besides Bakura had ever been in the position to do so, but he'd always thought that even when he ended up with a girlfriend, if anyone wrote love letters, it would be him. Never mind the fact that he had not a poetic bone in his body, and despite his love of books, he had no way with words.

But then again, neither does Bakura, a little voice in his head pointed out. Maybe she found it easier to write it down than say it.

Shaking himself out of his self-imposed daze, he realized he'd just been standing there for almost ten minutes, contemplating the roll of parchment, when he could be reading it.

With that thought, he plopped down on his bed and snatched up the missive, carefully untying the blood-red ribbon and unrolling it.

The first thing he noticed were the hieroglyphs that edged the parchment: the ones for 'Life', 'Love', and 'Eternity' repeating over and over in an endless march around the borders.

Eternal love? he thought, heart fluttering at the possibilities. His eyes scanned down, and he began to read.

Ryou,

I've never been good with words. Surely you've noticed this.

Definitely, he thought, amused.

But since I've been trying to tell you how I feel about you for over six months and I keep failing at it, I thought I'd try writing down what I wanted to say to you.

Let's hope I manage to actually use more than one word this time, shall we?

Ryou's face flushed slightly at the memory and he chuckled. He could quite clearly remember the event Bakura was referring to. It was the first time he'd realized how ticklish his other was. And other things…

It was just over three weeks ago, just three months after she'd gotten her own body. It had been raining for days – so much so that it actually got cold, cold enough that Ryou had lit a fire in the fireplace. Or, rather, Bakura had shown Ryou how to light a fire without using matches.

They'd started kissing in front of the fire – well, actually, they'd left kissing behind after the first five seconds and almost immediately proceeded on to making out – hands roaming over each other's bodies, both over and under their clothing. Which, if he'd bothered to stop his activities long enough to let his brain come back online so he could think, would probably have had him blushing and apologizing for touching her like that, even though he could tell – in several ways, their mind-link being the least of them – that she didn't mind; she reveled in it, in fact.

Bakura had apparently gotten tired of having her shirt bunched up around her midriff, so she'd removed it, leaving her in only a very flimsy white tanktop. Once her lips were back on his, however, any shyness he might have felt at her lack of clothing was quickly lost in the maelstrom of sensation that being so close to her caused inside of him. His hands ran up her back, wrapping around her waist, his thumbs rubbing rhythmically against her stomach.

And she broke away from their kiss and burst out into giggles.

At first Ryou wasn't sure what had happened, but after a moment he realized that she must be ticklish on her stomach, and his continued actions were the cause of her prolonged laughter. Slowly letting his fingers' movements come to a stop, he just lay there on the carpet, Bakura perched on his lap, a soft smile playing about his lips as he watched her laugh; genuinely, freely, and in complete and utter happiness, unfettered by doubts or reservation, the ghosts of her past forgotten for this one brief moment in time.

He'd never seen her look so unguarded before.

Or so beautiful.

When she finally calmed down and looked at him, her face arrested at the sight of his smile. Her gaze flicked away from his, and she smoothed her shirt down over her stomach in discomfiture.

Her actions only served to draw his gaze to her chest, however. The tanktop she was wearing was not only thin, but also practically see-through. He could see the small brown nubs of her nipples clearly through the soft cotton, the slight swells of her breasts unmistakably evident underneath the cloth.

The sight caused his face to heat up and his pants to tighten, the second a fact which she could not help but notice thanks to her position in his lap. Head shooting up, she looked at him almost as if she'd never seen him before; an expression of both fright and bewilderment crossing her face. "Wh-why are you looking at me like that?" she demanded softly, verbally sidestepping his physical state for the moment in favor of trying to put him on the offensive. She appeared completely flustered, her arms crossed over her chest in a protective gesture, only emphasizing how unexpectedly body-shy she apparently was.

Later he would wonder if it was just that he couldn't think straight when confronted by the sight of his half-naked girlfriend, or if Fate had stepped in and given him the right words. Either way, his words were far more reckless than he normally would have allowed himself to be, for fear of scaring her even more than she obviously was. "You're the sexiest thing I've ever seen," he breathed, meaning every word of it.

Bakura's breath hitched and her arms fell, lax, into her lap. Nervous anxiety and a visceral hunger fought for dominance as her foremost facial expression. Her eyes glistened with withheld emotion and unshed tears as she tried to formulate a response to that. "I…you…I…" She let out a growl of frustration and said, "Ditto," before crushing their lips back together again.

Her kisses after that had been fervently desperate, almost as if she was trying to distract him from asking her to elucidate further on her one-word response. Ever since they'd admitted their feelings for each other, she'd never shut their mind-link down, no matter what. Despite how much she obviously didn't want to talk or even think about this, now was no exception. He could tell that he had completely unnerved her by his simple statement, and she, never one for deep thinking – at least when it involved her own emotions – wanted to bypass talking about this and go back to the action.

He didn't have a problem with that at all.

His cheeks warmed as he remembered what had transpired after that. That tanktop he'd been so transfixed by had soon gone by the wayside, along with Bakura's jeans and his own shirt and pants. He'd been so caught up in the moment – in her thoughts, and feelings that bombarded him through the mind-link so fast he almost couldn't catch anything but a feeling of complete and utter devotion wrapped around an almost animal attraction – in the feel of her against him – soft silken skin over solid muscles moving against his own body – that he hadn't had time to be anxious about the fact they'd never gone that far before, and he had no clue what he was doing.

Later, he'd be grateful for his unconscious restraint in the heat of the moment. He definitely didn't regret making love with Bakura, and he wouldn't have regretted going all the way then; he was certain she wouldn't have, either… But it was good that they'd not gotten past third base – if only because it was something they needed to talk about before they did it.

Lying there in the aftermath, the warm glow of the fire at his back and the even hotter feel of her slumbering form nestled snug against him like a cozy kitten, with the sound of the rain pattering on the newly-repaired roof casting a dreamlike haze over everything, he'd never felt more content.

Bakura had pretty much avoided even thinking about what had propelled them forward in their intimate relationship. Every time he'd felt her thoughts settle on that night, she'd veer purposely away from them. She was willing to talk about the sex – and they had, one afternoon, at his insistence, since they really needed to figure out how far and how fast they wanted to go before they did something neither of them was ready for – but the words they'd exchanged…

Well, that was a whole 'nother tomb full of treasure.

Shaking off his rather ecchi thoughts – despite common conception of him as a shy, soft-spoken guy, his hormones were just as rampant as any other teenage male's – Ryou turned back to the parchment.

I know you wonder what I see in you.

Ryou's breath caught in his throat. He'd been sure he'd managed to hide that fear from his koi…

After all, in any relationship, there really only needs to be one person who was undergoing a psychological doubt-filled crisis at a time. And despite his highly abnormal life, Ryou was way more well-adjusted than Bakura…though not by much.

Well, little treasure, wonder no longer.

This definitely piqued his interest.

I think you're beautiful. Not just outside, though you are the walking definition of bishounen–

Ryou blushed at that.

but inside as well. I've never been one for words, you know that, but I heard this song on the radio the other day that I think mirrors my feelings perfectly:

I…I think you're beautiful.
My world would be an empty place,
without your touch, without your face.

And I see the man you are…
And everything you want to be,
and how you love the things,
that mean the most to me.
I think you're beautiful.

Sometimes you don't understand me, but you try, and…
And I'm not sure why I deserve this life.
But I'm so thankful that it's mine,
and you are too.

He read Bakura's words, drinking them in as if he was dying of thirst, and they were sweet, pure water.

And I am, Ryou…my most precious treasure. You are, without a doubt, the best thing that's ever happened to me.

I'm not sure how to tell you so that you never doubt my words, but I'll give it a try.

I'm not sure my heart didn't shrivel up long ago – oh, wait, it did, along with the rest of my original corporeal body…

Ryou grimaced slightly at the morbid imagery, thrown slightly out of the romantic mood set by the song lyrics, before his lips turned up in an involuntary smile despite himself. It was vintage Bakura; she tried for romantic, but her true self couldn't help shining through. Which made this letter mean all the more, since he was of the opinion that romance was mostly roles played out by society's standards; all he wanted was the true Bakura.

And since you are literally the other half of my soul…well, saying that I love you with all my heart and soul doesn't really mean all that much. If I don't have a heart, then the first half is meaningless, and since technically you are part of my soul, that means I'm professing to love myself. Which I'm not sure I do, but anyway…

A forlorn expression crossed Ryou's face at that. He'd never known how deep Bakura's self-esteem had been wounded by her hard life.

I'm not even sure if I deserve this second chance at life I've been given, but I can tell you this: I may not be able to love you with my heart or soul…but I will love you with my life.

Always,
Bakura

"And I will love you with mine, my love," Ryou murmured, his thoughts mirroring his words through their mind-link. The door gliding open drew his attention away from the parchment. Bakura was standing hesitantly in the doorway, dressed in only a knee-length T-shirt, bare feet tapping nervously against the floor. Her skin had been deeply tanned by the summer sun, and it shone with a bronze glow against the soft blue of her lone garment.

"I meant every word of it," she said in a hushed, almost inaudible voice.

"I know," Ryou said, voice just as soft. "So do I, Bakura."

Accepting his implicit invitation to come closer, she padded cautiously across the floor, settling gingerly onto the bed beside him, legs tucked up underneath her, the discarded parchment lying between them. She stared at her hands, clasped tightly in her lap.

Ryou, respecting her need for a moment of distance, reached over and picked up the parchment, rolling it back up and tying it with the discarded ribbon before laying it carefully on his bedside table.

She gave a soft sigh and then cuddled up to his side, murmuring in contentment when he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his lap.

They sat there for a moment, eyes half-closed, sharing the same breath, thoughts blending together in their mind-link in a riotous combination of soul-deep devotion and love-laced arousal.

"Can I stay the night?" she ventured, thoughts threaded with hesitation and fear of rejection.

To say Ryou was surprised by Bakura's request was an understatement. Always before, no matter how far they'd gone – afternoon delights in front of the fireplace included – at the end of the day they'd always retreated to their separate beds. It was something Ryou missed, actually; in the days after they'd gotten together, but before Bakura had her own body, when Ryou had gone to sleep, they'd both slept in the same soul room, holding each other. They were some of his most precious memories; he'd never felt so safe – and loved – as when they were in each other's arms. He hadn't felt anything like that since…until that night three weeks prior.

He knew why Bakura hadn't continued their arrangement. Sleeping in the same soul room was easy when you were sharing the same body – as long as he'd worn the Millennium Ring, anyway – but otherwise it took a bit of magic to connect the now-two Sennen Items, and it was an awkward subject to broach.

And it had been one thing to share the same soul room – the fact that their bodies weren't physical, combined with how new their relationship was, kept things from going farther than an occasional chaste goodnight kiss before they cuddled together to sleep. But sleeping in the same real bed had that neither of them had been ready for until a few weeks ago. Not even then, maybe…

No matter how innocent they might intend the arrangement to be, it meant more somehow to be physically sharing each other's sleeping space. Bakura surely knew he wouldn't expect anything from her…but it was something she had to work out for herself. Her comfort zone had to come to encompassing this in her own time, without any intervention on his part.

More than anything, he wanted her to stay with him…always. He just hoped she was offering this because she wanted it, not just because she knew he did.

Gently cupping her cheek, he turned her to face him, wild red eyes staring fearfully into his own brown ones. "Always, love," he whispered against her lips. "You can stay with me forever."

The kiss that followed his words contained none of the hesitancy of their first kiss, most of the desire of those exchanged that rainy afternoon…and all of the love of the ones before and since.

Ryou was on the verge of tears when he pulled back, overcome by the emotions zinging back and forth along their mind-link. A feedback loop had sprung up between them; their emotions feeding on each other, amplifying with each circuit. His breath caught in his throat at the look on Bakura's face: part wanton desire, part hesitant, heart-wrenching yearning…and all perfect, undying love.

"Aishiteru, Ryou," she whispered against his lips, voice quavering.

Ryou's breath hitched in his throat as he returned the heart-felt sentiment. "Aishiteru mo, Bakura," he murmured.

If possible, their emotions swelled and grew, expanding out of their bodies, or even their minds, to encompass the whole of the world.

Bakura felt the last of her emotional barriers – one she didn't even know she'd had – crumble into dust at the barrage of feelings. She had never imagined such love could exist – let alone be focused on her. She was surrounded by Ryou's feelings for her, and they felt so wondrously amazing… It was almost too much to be true. But as she looked into Ryou's eyes, so full of love for her…she knew it was real, and true…and would last forever.


To Be Continued In Desert Beauty