Hi there. What you are about to read began as a simple spark of idea. Your gracious authour began typing this first part on a whim, and liked it very much. This is the first time FFN has been used as a forum for this authour, and she hopes to minimize any errors, and that you enjoy the fic.

Story overview: This is an Alternate Universe based on Takahashi Kazuki's original manga: Yuugiou/Yu-Gi-Oh. This story will follow the original plotline as closely as possible, but in the interests of this Universe: may not use the dialogue in key scenes of the original manga. In this story, the Sprit of the Ring is present, as well as the Ring Sprit's former self. Both reside in the mind of Bakura Ryoh. Mutou Yuugi has only the Puzzle Sprit in his mind. The authour abhors the use of "fangirl Japanese", however - some terms cannot translate. Please keep in mind that the setting is in Japan, and that all of the characters are speaking Japanese. At present, common suffixes will be used -kun, -chan as well as the less common "-dono". There is no reason behind the use of "-dono" other than the author likes the weight the term carries. There is a comprehensive article on suffixes at Wikipedia, and the authour asks that any persons having questions about suffix usage inform themselves thus before contacting her.

One final note - as you may have noticed - the authour chooses to spell Bakura-kun's name as "Ryoh". This spelling was learned from Rayemars, and in her words: 'others spell Yuugiou "Yu-Gi-Oh", and Ryoh is not mis-pronounced as much'.

We believe all the bases have been covered...then on with the story...

---

The boy took his seat next to Jounouchi. He smiled shyly at the other boy as their teacher began pulling out his materials and setting up for class.

"Bakura, is it?" Jounouchi asked. Ryoh nodded enthusiastically. "Well, Bakura, let me introduce you to my friends." He pointed out a boy, "Honda Hiroto..." a girl, "Mazaki Anzu..." and another boy with spiked...sort of punk-rockish, hair "and Mutou Yuugi." Ryoh's eyes widened as they locked onto the upturned pyramid that the last wore.

"Mutou-san? Where did you get that?" Ryoh inquired, holding a hand over his chest, and caressing the hard curve of his own pendant under his school uniform.

"Oh, this? It's a memento of my grandfather! ...but he's not really dead." Yuugi laughed heartily.

"May I?" Ryoh asked, already reaching out. Yuugi nodded as Ryoh's hands closed around the other boy's pendant. Something strange...

A sharp pain tore through his chest, and he recoiled. "I'm sorry..." Ryoh said, voice a little strained. He dropped the Puzzle and backed away a few steps. "Which was is the bathroom?"

Jounouchi stood up, "come with me Bakura-kun, I'll show you."

---

The only sound in the room came from a pen scratching on paper. A consciousness watched over the boy's shoulder - intangible as air, but holding a translucent form that mimicked the child dutifully working on his homework.

You should not have done that.

"Done what?" Ryoh said to the darkness of the room.

Don't talk aloud, dear Host. It makes you seem crazy.

"People already think so many things about me. What's one more opinion going to do? Besides, there's no one here." Ryoh giggled and swung one leg in an excess of energy.

Have it your way then. An invisible hand brushed through his hair. Do not touch Yuugi's pendant again. It will hurt you.

"O-okay. Will you tell my why his pendant hurts me?" Ryoh asked uncertainly, muddy green eyes wide and brows knitted with worry.

The Darkness thought for a moment. Ryoh could feel its hesitation. No. I will not. At least not now. Just refrain from touching Yuugi's pendant at all, and be wary of the boy himself.

"I will. Thank you." The Darkness smiled wolfishly. Ryoh's hair was pulled back, and insubstantial lips brushed his cheek.

---

"I've got the round noodles...are those the one's you wanted Mama?" Yuugi asked, juggling his phone and his grocery shopping. "The flat ones are on sale tho...Bakura-kun!" Yuugi hailed the boy who was standing some two and a half meters away from him - apparently engrossed in with a bag of instant rice. "Call you back Mama!"

"Bakura-kun!" The other boy finally looked up.

"Oh...hi Mutou-san!" Ryoh smiled shyly and dropped the bag into his shopping basket. "Is there something I can do for you?"

Yuugi laughed, "why are you always so polite? It's creepy."

Ryoh blushed, "I...er." He looked around helplessly. Memory stood next to him. He was staring hard at Yuugi, but was silent. Ryoh put a hand over the Ring. A dull ache had started in his chest below his pendent.

"I was wondering, Bakura-kun, if you liked to play games?"

Ryoh smiled widely, "yes, very much! I really love tabletop RPGs!"

Yuugi smiled back. "Good! Maybe I could come over sometime? We could run a campaign. I'm sure Jounouchi, and Honda, and Anzu would love to play as well!"

Ryoh's expression turned negative. When he spoke, it was with an edge of agitation. "I don't think so, Mutou-san. We're still moving in, and the apartment is a real mess...I don't even have my things unpacked yet..." He laughed nervously.

Yuugi moved closer. "Please let i me /i come over at least, Bakura-kun? I don't mind a little...mess." Ryoh swallowed visibly.

Let's go. Memory had moved to stand between Ryoh and Yuugi. His lips were pulled back - his teeth bared, and he was breathing heavily.

"G-give me another few days. I have to go now." Ryoh felt nauseated. The pain in his chest had grown, and it felt like fire beneath his pendant. He backed away and stumbled over his untied shoelace.

"Bakura-kun!" Yuugi reached for him, and Ryoh backed away just out of his reach. Yuugi sighed, "okay, but I'm going to hold you to that! A few days is all you'll get and then I'm coming to your house!"

Ryoh looked up, "I...uh. Live in an apartment. 601. Bye." he turned around and tried his best to make his running look like walking as he fled to the checkout.

---

"What do you think of him?" Memory asked, idly playing with a pen stolen from their Host.

"I don't like him at all." Darkness growled, "his very existence threatens Ryoh." Darkness slammed his hands down on the arms of the wooden chair he was lounging in. The sharp slap echoed around the shadowy room as he sat forward, glaring at Memory, "...or did you i not /i notice how upset Ryoh has been since his father moved him here?"

Memory glared at him. "I noticed. I was out with him today, remember?" Darkness hmph'd and crossed his arms over his chest.

"You should never have let him get close to Ryoh." Darkness accused. Memory rolled his eyes.

"He was only in a little pain..."

Darkness lunged forward in his chair, "that still distresses him greatly!" Darkness snarled. "Ryoh doesn't understand yet, how to deal with the power of the Puzzle. I'm already loath that he was placed in the same school with the Pharaoh's brat, let alone the same damn classroom."

Memory set the pen down, "at least we can be thankful that Ryoh's tutor understands his condition, so we won't have to deal with any...unnecessary intrusions. I'm going to check on him."

Darkness nodded, "although it's not a good idea to let him miss an entire day's worth of class again. I will take over when Ryoh feels ill." Memory gave a noncommital response, and disappeared into the hallway.

Darkness hmph'd again and sat back in his chair. His Self cared far too much for their Host. Now that they had found the Puzzle, no doubt it would start drawing the other Items around it. It explained why the boy's father had suddenly decided to thrust him in the middle of Tokyo. Darkness laughed softly. At least one day soon, he would have the chance to rip the fool man's head from his shoulders. How stupid of the man, to abandon his only son in this obscenely overstuffed city. If He had not been with him, then the boy surely would have been killed the moment he touched the Puzzle. Darkness' hand clenched the arm of the chair. The damned Pharaoh was still around. No doubt he already had his little brat trained - and the boy probably didn't even realize he was being used.

Then again, who was he to think like that? He himself had used up countless lives in his quest for the Items. All of them had proved quite useless except to allow him to seal away his better Self. Nameless, faceless. Darkness only considered the time upon time he'd been thrust into a new body of a mortal foolish enough to tempt the Ring's bloodlust. All up until the Ring had fallen into the hands of their Host. His Ryoh.

The boy had been only a child at the time. Darkness would normally revel in the feeling of fear and panic that overcame all his new hosts until they learned to accept Him. Ryoh had been different. He'd clutched the Ring to his chest and cried. Darkness emerged in a most insubstantial form and simply gazed at the child. The Ring hurt him then as the Puzzle did now. It's gravity awoke the Dark God within him, and the child was left confused and holding back something monstrous that he did not understand. Darkness too, was shocked. After all these years...for the Dark God to fall to this child . It didn't make sense. It made him sick.

It made perfect sense.

In all it's irony, the boy was perfect. The ancient blood of Kuru Eruna ran through his veins. His immediate family had been taken away from him by a careless salaryman. The boy's father had left the boy bereft and confused to pursue projects he deemed more important than his son. So it remained until Ryoh received the Ring. Darkness swept in, separating His Ryoh from the corruption of the Ring, and doing away with those that would harm their little Host. As well as helping seal the Dark God back. Darkness was nothing if not possessive, and Ryoh was His. Darkness would henceforth be the source of any pain the boy endured.

That's what made him snarl at the Pharaoh now. Since Ryoh had gone and touched the Puzzle, the Pharaoh undoubtedly knew the Ring was with him. So much for any hope of stealth and secrecy. He didn't blame his Host though, as the boy was simply curious. No. The fault lay with Himself. He had not been mindful enough of his Host to divert the boy's attention. Ryoh always liked meeting new people, after all.

Yes. He did like new people. Their Host was curious about people he did not know - sometimes heedlessly so. Keeping the Dark God within him must have done some irreparable damage to the boy's mind. It must have been why the child had wandered out of the room of his soul on one of the lengths of time that the Darkness had taken control of the body. Ryoh has successfully unsealed the Memory of Darkness - much to his chagrin. For the first time in however many thousands of years, Darkness had to share his space with his moralistic half.

Darkness sighed and relaxed in his chair. At least His Memory kept the boy entertained.

---

Ryoh was asleep at the desk. Memory tsk'd like a fond mother and pulled the boy into a sitting position. Darkness was right, of course. Ryoh had been greatly distressed by the mere presence of the Puzzle. That alone was worse news than he wanted to deal with right now, so Memory picked up their fragile Host and carried him to his bed. Ryoh sighed when placed among the obscene amount of pillows, snuggling into them on pure instinct.

Memory seated himself at Ryoh's bedside and smoothed the wild hair back from the pale, childish face. They had been with Ryoh for years now, protecting him and helping him function in a world that Memory himself did not fully understand. Ideally, their purpose was to shield the dark Ka that Ryoh held inside his soul. However, Memory had grown unduly attached to the child. Darkness knew somehow, that Ryoh was the end of their linage and everything he had fought for while he was alive would be resolved with this child as their avatar.

The thought made Memory shudder. He hated wearing the boy's face and imitating his mannerisms. It seemed wrong and repulsed him. Darkness just laughed at him and took the body over, always leaving the projection of Ryoh's soul in the room with Memory. He wanted the child to have his own life, but that was not possible. Not with the monster that the child held within him. The Ring had sought this darkness out from halfway across the world, had placed itself in the hands of the child's father. If Darkness had not been entombed within the Ring, than it's evil would have called out the dark Ka and killed the child's soul many, many moons ago.

At least Darkness was able to control the Ring's influence over their Host, so that Ryoh had not become what Memory was while he was alive - the very force that gave rise to Darkness.

Memory was uneasy now that they had met the Puzzle and it's bearer. The Ring has almost released the child's dark Ka, and Darkness had been able to contain it. Now the Puzzle was having the same effect on Ryoh, but the Pharaoh that Memory had battled while he was alive was trapped inside the Puzzle. The Pharaoh wanted more than anything to see the Dark God released and remake the world. Memory had prevented this by stealing the Ring and the Eye. The Pharaoh had killed them both in the process of regaining his stolen Items. Now he was back, and hiding behind the face of a boy not unlike their own Host. No doubt he was seeking the chaos that he had been denied to him thus far. He needed only the Seven Items his father had created.

Darkness still had the Ring, and the Pharaoh had the Puzzle. Memory could only guess where the other five Items were. Ryoh stirred, kicking at the blanket in his sleep. Even now, the dark Ka tore at the boy's soul in it's frantic quest for escape. All Ryoh could do was shake his head and moan against the pillows. Memory frowned and laid his hands on the boy. All he could do was dissipate some of the pain it caused. Ryoh cried out again, and a pale hand flew upward to grip Memory's arm and Memory wondered if the Pharaoh's Host suffered so.

---

Aibou...partner. The words were a hiss just under the music playing from the stereo

"Other me." Yuugi smiled as ghostlike arms wrapped around his shoulders, and misty hands scratched a nipple through his shirt. Yuugi shivered, "is anything the matter?"

I see you've made a new friend recently. This is good. You know how I'm always worried that you're too shy. The Shadows smiled, and Yuugi whimpered as a shiver ran down his spine.

"I don't think Bakura-kun likes me. He's so quiet and polite..." Yuugi turned wide eyes to his side, and saw only Shadows obscuring his bookshelf, as well as a disembodied and glowing Eye of Horus.

Some people are like that, my dear partner. Just try to spend time with him...get to know him.

"Right!" Yuugi nodded emphatically, "he's new here. I'll approach him after school, and offer to take him out. Then we can talk. We'll be good friends, I know it!"

Indeed, my partner. Very good friends. Blackness closed around him, and Yuugi could taste the cold as Shadows kissed him hungrily.

---

Ryoh stepped out of the schoolbuilding into the warm sun. He smiled a little as the heat embraced him like a long-forgotten friend.

"Bakura-kun!" Ryoh turned around, and his eyes widened as Yuugi materialized out of the throng of students still leaving the building. "Bakura-kun, you move so fast! I wanted to ask you if I could take you out!"

Ryoh's eyes widened, "um...no. Mutou-san..." He blushed, "I mean, I'm not...like that, and..."

Yuugi laughed. "Oh, I'm so sorry! Does that mean something different where you came from? You'll have to tell me. I just want to take you around the city to help you get used to finding your way around."

"Oh...thank you Yuugi, but it really isn't a good time..." Ryoh's eyes widened, and he placed a hand unconsciously over the Ring that he wore under his cloths.

"Please Bakura-kun? It's Friday you know. You have all weekend to do your homework!" Yuugi moved closer to Ryoh and wrapped a hand around his upper arm. Yuugi leaned forward and pressed his chest against Ryoh's as if to share a naughty secret, "I know a great raman restaurant too! I can buy you food...if you'd like." Yuugi blushed and laughed lightly.

"No, Yuugi. Please let go of me..." Ryoh pleaded. He pulled back a bit, but Yuugi held fast, "Let GO!" He freed himself from Yuugi's grip with a sharp twist of his own body, and his knees buckled under him. He collapsed to the ground, and wrapped his arms across the back of his head and neck, breathing heavy and whimpering softly.

"Bakura-kun!" Yuugi cried in sudden alarm, "Bakura-kun, are you okay? What's wrong!" Ryoh didn't move. Yuugi dropped to his knees at Ryoh's side and put a hand on the other boy's back. "Ryoh, please tell me what's the matter!" The not-Ryoh blinked, and looked up.

"Yuugi-kun?" Darkness smiled.

"Bakura-kun!" Yuugi cried, "I'm so sorry, are you okay?" Darkness nodded.

"I'm sorry, Yuugi-kun. I have many health problems...but please don't worry about me!" Darkness imitated Ryoh's nervous laugh and warm smile.

"Thank goodness. I was scared!" Yuugi grabbed the not-Ryoh's arm. "Come on, let's go!"

Darkness pulled back a little roughly. Ryoh was hurt, upset...crying, "I need to go home and rest. School was tiring for me." Darkness turned around - outwardly smug, but inwardly alert for any move the Pharaoh might make.

"Oh...I see. I'll see you later then, Bakura-kun." Yuugi watched him for a few seconds, and then turned on his heal and ran off in the opposite direction. Darkness growled and stood up, brushing himself off. He needed to get their body to a safe place before he could do anything to help Ryoh. Damn his father for boarding the boy so far from his school.

It was one of the few times when Darkness was grateful to His Memory.

---

Thank you for reading. In the next part, we shall see what is causing Ryoh so much pain.