You Can't Choose Who You Fall In Love With

It had always been his choice. That, Bakura had made very clear from the beginning.

And it wasn't one of those choices that wasn't really a choice, either – a double-edged sword, where he'd have no recourse but to try and choose the lesser of two evils.

It had truly been his choice. And he'd made it willingly, if recklessly. He'd been alone for so long… And even if his only stable – hah! Bakura was about as stable as nitroglycerin, and twice as explosive – option for companionship was the dark half of his soul who used to be a tomb robber in ancient Egypt…

Well, he'd never been particularly picky. He'd take what he could get. Which explained his current situation…

Normally, he wouldn't have put it past Bakura to have manipulated him into this, except…

The look in the spirit's eyes when he'd offered this deal… There had been no secrecy there, no hidden agenda. For the first time since he'd first met his darker half at the tender age of eight, Bakura's face had been open, disarming…completely truthful. And his eyes…

They had been so full of sincere yearning, Ryou couldn't bear to think it had all been fake.

Ryou had always wanted someone to love him. His mother and Amane had, but they were dead and gone. His father did, but things had never been the same since his mother and sister's deaths. It hurt his father too much for him to spend time with his son – his son who was a mirror image of his late wife.

And in a small, secret part of his heart, he'd always wanted someone to love him. Not because they had to – because they were related, out of familial duty, even if they couldn't bear to spend much time with him – but because they wanted to.

Just his ironic, weird-ass luck he'd thought Bakura could be that someone.

It wasn't like it was a bad deal. Bakura was a wonderful lover.

True, one could think Ryou only held that belief because Bakura had been his only lover…but Ryou wasn't that naïve. He may have been a virgin, but he wasn't innocent. No, even if Bakura were absolutely awful in bed – which he wasn't – Ryou would still consider him a wonderful lover.

Contrary to what most people would have thought, Bakura had been very patient with him. That patience was what Ryou appreciated most when they first started out on their…carnal endeavors.

'How patient had Bakura been?' one might wonder. Well…it had taken Bakura almost four months of starting and stopping kisses and almost chaste touches before Ryou had let the spirit take his shirt off.

And Bakura hadn't seemed at all frustrated by the snail-like pace. One would have expected he might have been, having withstood five millennia of enforced celibacy, but…

And while Bakura had been in moderate control during their first bodily explorations – since Ryou had no experience in such matters beyond books – it was only to show, to teach. And like any good teacher, he wasn't about to let Ryou attempt anything that he himself wouldn't. The first time they had gone all the way…

Well, bed was the one place they were equal, but that first time Ryou had been seme.

When Bakura had suggested it, Ryou's eyes went so wide he thought they might pop out of his head. He'd been shocked speechless. Bakura was such a dominant person, Ryou had never thought he'd even consider being the uke, let alone actually suggest it.

His astonishment must have been a comical sight, for it prompted not only one of the few genuine smiles, but also one of the few non-evil laughs with which Bakura had ever gifted him.

It had been amazing, that first time. Even just thinking about it now brought an almost goofy grin to his face. And each successive coupling only increased the pleasure they could bring each other. Two sweat-sheened bodies moving against each other, hands tracing patterns across silk-soft skin, stroking a haze of colors in front of dazed eyes…

The pleasure was almost too much for two people to stand, let alone just one. Too much to stand, more than enough to be felt…

Just enough to be loved.

In those passion-drenched moments, Ryou couldn't even find it in himself to doubt his choice, let alone regret it. He'd never felt more loved in his life…not since his mother and sister had been alive.

But eventually, as all good things do, the ecstasy wore off, and uncertainty crept in like a thief in the night.

But unlike his thief – who seemingly never hesitated about anything – Ryou's worries didn't fade away in the light of day. They still haunted him in the light of day, and he could not seek refuge in his yami's arms. Bakura could only keep up his separate body for so long, and thus he remained in the Millennium Ring while the sun was high in the sky.

Ryou couldn't help but feel just a tad lonely when he was at school, even with Bakura resting next to his heart. Though he had noticed that whenever the loneliness began to take a tighter hold on his emotions, Bakura would do something to make his presence felt, whether it was terrorizing the guidance counselor, making the local bullies fear for their continued existence by turning them into soulless dolls, or just causing someone's – normally one of Yugi-tachi's – personal property to go missing.

It was those little actions that let Ryou know Bakura cared. Or, at least, let him think that he did. He could fool himself into thinking that Bakura cared for him, held some attachment to him beyond that of just being his host.

But the longer their relationship – for lack of a better word – went on, the harder it became to think of it was just a business deal. He needed Bakura in his life. For more than just sex. For more than just someone from whom to draw magic. For a friendly face at the end of the day, someone he could count on if he was ever in trouble, someone to talk to when he was feeling lonely…

Someone to hold him when he was feeling scared, to kiss him when he needed to feel loved.

Sometimes, he dared to wonder if Bakura felt the same way. He might have just been imagining things, but it wasn't too farfetched that Bakura might care about him a little. When they were together, Bakura was very affectionate. It wasn't overt, and he almost never said anything, but Bakura always touched him with such gentleness it almost made him cry.

He had, in fact, a few times. And unlike what he'd come to expect – derision from his other for any sign of weakness on his part – Bakura never mocked him, or glared at him in contempt for being so sentimental.

He'd said it was no life being controlled by an evil spirit. He'd lied. Bakura wasn't evil, he didn't control him…and Ryou didn't really want him gone.

Bakura had never really hurt him. Oh, sure, the spirit had threatened him, but when he'd backed down, Bakura had thought it was because Ryou was scared of him.

In truth, once the shock of having a yami had worn off, Ryou hadn't been scared of Bakura at all. He'd only pretended to be because he could tell how scared Bakura was that his hikari would call his bluff. Bakura didn't really want to hurt him – and he didn't want to have to go through with his threats – and however hard his yami tried to hide it, Ryou could tell.

Ryou could always tell how Bakura really felt.

But no matter how much he cared for his yami, he couldn't let Bakura kill his friends.

Even if it broke his heart to think Bakura was gone for good.

He was extremely glad that it turned out not to be so. Though the…proposition Bakura had made him when he returned was…surprising, to say the least. Ryou had thought Bakura would want to kill him. Maim him at the very least, or get some sort of revenge on him for his betrayal. Instead…

It was when Bakura came back from the Shadow Realm, right before Battle City, that he'd made the offer.

"Yadonoushi, I'm offering you one arena where you will always be my equal."

Ryou hadn't believed him…at first. He was sure it was some sort of trick, but he couldn't figure out what Bakura could gain from it – except the obvious.

But Ryou knew Bakura wouldn't just invite him into a sexual relationship because he was horny. Bakura had too much control to give into his baser impulses without first thinking through every angle. His other was too cunning for that, to give his hikari a hold over him without wanting something more.

What that something more was, Ryou wasn't entirely certain of.

Maybe Bakura also wanted someone to care about him?

Ryou would have scoffed at the very thought, except…

He knew about Bakura's past. It was almost a mirror to his own, when one took into account the fact that both of them had lost their families when they were young. Granted, Ryou's father was still alive, but considering the little – very little – amount of time they spent together, Bakura Kenshin might as well have been dead.

It said something about him that he was so desperate for affection he'd take it from a homicidal spirit who was intent on taking over the world. What, he wasn't entirely sure – aside from the fact that he was not entirely in his right mind – but Ryou had long ago resigned himself to the fact that he would never be normal.

His hypothesis had only been confirmed when he'd put on the Millennium Ring and Bakura had popped out of it. His very own not-so-imaginary friend.

For some reason that Ryou chose to classify as insane, even though – up until Battle City – Bakura had caused him nothing but trouble…

It had been nice having the ancient spirit in his life. Even if Bakura did cause him problems, turning his emotions into a roil of confusion inside him. He wondered sometimes if he was betraying himself by taking pleasure in how Bakura touched him…

When he wasn't even sure that he could trust the thief.

In the world outside their intimacies, life rolled on. Bakura still tried to steal the other Millennium Items, Yami and Yugi's Puzzle chief among them, to further his own ends, whatever they might have been.

But in their two hearts, those moments of time that the both of them stole away from the world…there was a sort of lasting peace, a safety neither could find elsewhere. It wasn't even really about lust, though the mere memories of some of their bedroom – or any other room; once Ryou had become comfortable with their erotic escapades, Bakura had started trying to make up for his five thousand years of celibacy – activities could cause Ryou to blush. It was about warmth and tenderness, belonging and an understanding one could only find the other half of their soul.

Even if it was embodied in the form of a megalomaniacal tomb thief from ancient Egypt.

Ryou couldn't help but wonder if it had been worth it to sacrifice his morals to have Bakura in his bed…in his life.

It worried him, sometimes, that the answer was always, 'Yes.'

Maybe Bakura's suggestion of a sexual relationship was just his way of assuaging his innate need for simple human contact, something everyone seemed to require. It was something Ryou needed, too, so he could have understood if that was why Bakura had suggested it. But it went beyond mere sex, seeming to strike some deep-seated need inside both him and Bakura. A need for a safe haven; someone to share tender touches, and affectionate caresses with. A cautious intimacy shared with the one person they knew inside out and outside in, better than themselves.

Someone they could trust, even if it was just with this one thing.

And though at times he thought it might have been against his better judgment, knowing what little he did of Bakura's personality…

Ryou had chosen to say yes.


He hadn't chosen to fall in love with him.

But he also hadn't not chosen to fall in love with him.

That did make him wonder, though…

What did Bakura choose?

Having been roused from his sleep when Ryou started thinking – for once, the young hikari had forgotten to block off their mind-link – Bakura kissed Ryou softly on his forehead, smirking slightly at the look of nervous surprise that gesture received.

"I chose you, koi," Bakura murmured huskily. "Although…even I didn't expect to fall," he mused gruffly. Seeing that his lover's eyes were brimming with tears – and being too tired to deal with an emotional conversation at that point – he pulled Ryou into his arms and snuggled them underneath the covers. "Now, go to sleep. We can talk about this–" he yawned widely, "–tomorrow."

No need, Ryou sent across their mind-link. I've already made my choice.

To love you forever.