aidez-moi à vivre
By Halys


Few knew the existence of Ryou Bakura's café—affectionately called Amane's by its owner—but those who did were always gifted with great coffee and even better service. The café, which Ryou was proud to call his own, had a warm atmosphere, accompanied by soft lighting and comfortable furniture. The snowy-haired young man had made an effort to give the world a small corner of comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable world.

Ryou was a quiet man by nature, but was ready to listen to whatever distresses the customers might have. Those who sought the warming outstretched arms of the little coffee shop were encouraged to be themselves. Here there were no inhibitions and no pain that one could experience in the outside world.

There were a few unspoken rules at Amane's. Asking Ryou about his past or about the café's name was strictly forbidden. Not because Ryou forbade it, but because every time the topic was broached, the man's sparkling jade eyes would dull to a heart-wrenching hazel.

The saddening features aside, the lack of information regarding Ryou tended to be another aspect that drew people to the warm surroundings. Ryou was almost an enigma in his quiet kindness, a wall that could not be broken, and a mirror that would reflect a person's true nature.

Amane's was truly a hole-in-the-wall sort of place. The very few newcomers that strayed inside were either wayward travelers or staggering drunks. Ryou didn't mind. He always had a warm cup of coffee ready, a kind smile gracing his features.

So when strangers stumbled through his doors, he was not too surprised. If Ryou could, he would save them all, even if only by offering a warm chair and a warm cup. But not all strangers are willing to be saved.

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Ryou wiped his hands on his apron and glanced around the small café. It was nearing midnight and there were scarcely any customers remaining except a panicked college student, trying to get in a few more hours of studying and a lonely street person, seeking shelter from the cold.

A chance look out the window would've given Ryou a view of a vacant street, clouded with mist and fog. A few street lamps gave off a dim ring of glow, here and there, but not enough to make anything visible.

Above, a lonely star winked through the cloud cover, offering an eerie shine beside a mist covered moon.

Most people had taken shelter for the night, preferring not to wander the dark street where anything might roam. Ryou didn't mind. He liked evenings like this. Since he was a young child, he had had a strange fascination with all manner of things dark. His near obsession with anything occult was startling to the few people who were aware; Ryou was a quiet man who was considered a source of light and purity. If he was a man to scoff, he would at the odd assumptions made about him. But as with anything, he would shrug it off.

Ryou didn't like to admit it, but he was lonely. His family long since gone, he had no one to share life with, but he lived on, attempting to give love and kindness to others.

An exasperated sigh broke his thoughts. "Man… I better just give up now if I want any sleep. Thanks, Bakura, for the coffee."

Ryou turned to the sandy haired college student, walking towards the table to help the teen clean up his books. "It was no problem, Jounouchi-kun. I hope that you do well on your test," he replied in his soft British accent.

"Eh… I'll probably bomb it again. Hopefully Mai won't kill me though… Our anniversary's coming up and I was hoping to… well, you gotta promise not to tell anyone! K?"

The jade-eyed young man smiled. For sometime he had been able to see the romantic, if sometimes humorous, courtship of Katsuya Jounouchi and Kujaku Mai. Despite their frequent squabbles, it was obvious that they were made for each other. Ryou had a feeling he knew what Jounouchi was planning, but prompted him anyway. "Of course, Jounouchi-kun. You know I wouldn't tell a soul."

Jounouchi leaned in conspiratorially, and whispered, "I'm gonna propose to her. I got the nicest ring, too! It's not huge or anything, but I bet she'll love it!"

Ryou grinned in response. "That's wonderful, Jounouchi-kun! I'm sure she'll say yes!" He could almost giggle at the look on Jounouchi's face. The teen's eyes were clouded over in the most ridiculous love struck way.

Jounouchi shook himself and grabbed his things. "Thanks again, Bakura! I really appreciate it!" Ryou merely waved his hand dismissively.

"Anytime, Jounouchi-kun. Now be safe out there! Mai-san will kill you if you get hurt!"

Laughing, Jounouchi sauntered out the door, leaving Ryou to glance around the shop again. The street person staggered to his feet and gave a slurred 'thank you' to him before heading out as well. Now, the only occupants of the shop were Ryou and his thoughts.

There was no sound but the occasional gurgle of the pipes and the ticking of the clock. Ryou stood, preparing to close up. He grabbed his cleaning cloth and set to work at the tables, removing coffee stains and stray grains of sugar. Soft chiming announced the midnight hour, and a jingling of the door notified Ryou of a customer.

Pondering to himself about who was arriving at this time of night, undaunted by the eeriness outside, when so many others would be safe at home. Ryou walked around the counter where he worked and saw a man collapsed on his floor. He hurried to him, and picked him up.

"Sir? Sir? Are you ok? Sir?" Ryou's jade eyes filled with a slight panic as, at first, he received no response. Ryou really began to worry as he saw cuts, bruises, and tears covering the man's body. He gasped, pulling the man into a chair and hurried to fetch some bandages and a cup of coffee.

Returning, he found the man studying him. Ryou could have gasped again, seeing the startling resemblance that they shared. Both had pale strands of mithril hair, both were about the same height, and both had hidden pain in their eyes that no one could see.

There were differences, of course. The man's eyes were a stunning cinnamon tinged with anger and madness. Ryou's had always been a calming sea of green that would sparkle occasionally as the sun touched its surface. Ryou had to stop his hand from gliding to the man's cheek. Before, Ryou had never thought of being attracted to anyone with so many other thoughts on his mind, but this man—this stranger—was beautiful.

Blinking away such thoughts, he tended to the man, cleaning and bandaging his wounds. Ryou didn't ask what had happened. It was none of his business and if the man felt like sharing, he would. Oddly, the man merely sat there, studying him, not even wincing as the café owner dabbed alcohol in his deep wounds.

When he was finished, Ryou sat back and stared at the man. Dark eyes calmingly took Ryou's face in, still no words exchanged between them. Ryou finally broke the silence. "Would… would you like a cup of coffee? Or… something else?"

The man's eyes took on a different gleam, one that Ryou could not recognize, but he shook his head no. Nodding, Ryou made to stand, but a hand stopped him. Turning to the stranger, Ryou looked in his deeply colored eyes, again seeing an emotion he could not place. He nodded and sat beside him, quietly waiting for what ever it was that the stranger wanted to share.

Still, no words were spoken, and dawn began to approach. The stranger glanced out the window, sighed, and stood. Ryou scrambled to his feet, trying to stop him, shouting, "You shouldn't leave! You're still very hurt! If you want, I can take you to the hospital or you can stay here, but you shouldn't go out again!"

The man turned to Ryou and brought a bandaged hand to his cheek. "I cannot stay," he whispered, and Ryou shivered at the alluringly deep voice the man had. "There's something that I have yet to do. Thank you for your kindness. Good night."

Before Ryou could speak or stop the stranger, his odd look-alike leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

"Maybe," he whispered, pulling away. "Maybe we'll meet again."

With that, the stranger left the shop as the first rays of the sun began to peek over the horizon. Ryou watched the man go, but blinked and he was gone, dissapeared into the shadows. Flabbergasted, Ryou brought a hand to his cheek, his fingers lightly caressing the skin that the stranger had graced his lips upon.

"And maybe," he whispered. "Maybe you'll tell me your name…"


Notes:
On my characterizeation of Ryou Bakura: I chose to have his eyes green because I believe the color suits Ryou more. His eyes are show as green in the First Series of Yuugiou that was never shown outside Japan, except for as fansubs.

I also chose to keep Ryou's Dub accent because I feel that suits him as well.

Also, I will be using Japanese suffixes because, otherwise, it is difficult to demonstrate how completely polite Ryou is. He is the most polite character in the show and I felt the best way to keep with that politeness was to use the suffixes. Otherwise, there will be no more use of the Japanese language in this story.

And finally, the title of the story translates litterally to Help me to live which can be read as Save my life. The title is proper French. Je parle français depuis cinq ans et mon meilleur ami est français.