Author's Note: -stares at review count- Holy wow, people. Holy wow. Damn, I don't deserve you, you wonderful lot... I apologize for the uberlate update! I got home real late on Sunday... -sigh- Fun trip, but tiring. And the only writing I did was a little thing for my friends- original fiction. Creepy. xD Anyway, um, story's over. This is kind of a breakthrough for me, because I'm absolutely dreadful about finishing things... oh, and all of you darlings who want to know what happened in the one hour? So do I! So that will be written too, probably within a week from now! You might want to Author Alert me, if you're interested, so you'll know when I post it. Un... and I love you all. Should probably stop blabbing and let you read it, ne? Past Bakura is reffered to as the Egyptian, Thief-King, etc.; the titles he had back in Egypt. Present Bakura is simply Bakura, the spirit, the Yami, etc. And this one takes place right after the previous one. No more confusion! -cheer-

Predictably, the thief-king woke up when he heard Bakura begin to scream.

The Egyptian raised his head slowly from the floor, careful not to bump it on the low ceiling; he was lying in the little golden room of his inside Bakura's soul, which had been getting considerably larger until a few hours ago, when it had stopped growing. For a time, it had simply stayed the same size; and then it had started to shrink. Thief-King gritted his teeth; Bakura was thinking about the Host again. Why couldn't the boy stay out of his thoughts? How could the modern thief even remember Ryou now? Hadn't the Thief-King showed him everything that he had to offer, the kind of passion and power no mortal could give?

Hadn't Bakura... accepted him?

Another shriek echoed from the main room. The Egyptian gave a hiss of annoyance, and then a sharp gasp as he realized the walls were closing in, faster than before. So fast! He did strike his head, then, scrambling haphazardly out of the space; it was suddenly like a tomb, too small and too tight and unmoving. He crawled rapidly out of the imploding den, rising to his feet and turning around to stare. His room, already little, had become about an inch high and a foot or two wide. Bakura wasn't just focused on Ryou; he was forcing the Thief-King from his mind entirely.

"How dare you!" Thief-King snarled. His features twisted in anger, he tore into Bakura's chambers. "How dare you try to forget me, future-self? How dare you? I am you! You're mine!"

Then he paused, and listened to the silence ring around him. There came a soft thud, and a whimper, and then the quiet was complete again. The past-Bakura blinked, cautiously moving forward into the gloom. His eyes had begun to adjust, enough that he could see a lump at the bottom of his future-self's blanket pile; slightly closer examination revealed said lump to have white hair and modern clothes, all bloodstained. The ghost rolled onto his side, away from the Thief-King, giving a choked sob. "What's wrong?" the Egyptian asked, coldly, touching Bakura's shoulder lightly.

Bakura flinched against his touch, curling into a tighter ball. "Fell off," he growled hoarsely. "Get the hell away."

"Obviously," Thief-King snapped, grabbing his arm roughly and jerking Bakura onto his back. "Why were you screaming?"

"Nightmare," the spirit said coldly, glaring. "I said, get away from me!"

"I thought I'd already taught you well enough." The past-self leaned down, planting a kiss on Bakura's lips; his hands trailed lightly, but not gently, over the curves of Bakura's face, locating the bruises and cuts there, numerous injuries that he'd caused earlier. Admittedly, he felt for the Yami; but he wasn't sorry. It was Bakura's fault that he had to be shown why the Thief-King was truly the other half of his soul; it was Bakura's fault that the lesson had been a brutal one.

This would have been considered a great sin back in Egypt, he knew; the red-robed man grinned, watching and feeling Bakura cringe at the second kiss. It would have been unthinkable, cruelty of the most vile kind. And how he loved to affront the gods.

The spirit made a soft, angry noise in the back of his throat, cursing the hands that kept him from tearing away, cursing the lips that paralyzed him. Again and again, Bakura found himself helpless- unable to resist Ryou's seduction, powerless in the eyes of his rivals, lost in the thief-king's touch, beaten down by anyone he fought; when was the last time he'd won anything important?

Never?

Never...

Defeated by the Pharaoh. Corrupted by Zorc. Orphaned by the Priests and their soldiers. Now my own past...

Bakura closed his eyes.

I'm so sick of this...

His brow tightened with lines of hate.

The thief-king was unfortunate enough to choose that moment to kiss Bakura a third time. He jerked back with a screech of pain as the spirit's unusually sharp teeth bit down on his upper lip, and Bakura twisted out of his grasp. They both had knives in hand immediately, Bakura's hand shaking on the grip of his, and the slender ghost forced himself to stand. The Egyptian wiped a trickle of blood off of his chin. "Is it impossible to teach you anything?"

"You really like messing with my head, don't you?" Bakura's eyes narrowed to slits, bright and almost red with anger. "Come near me and I'll kill you."

"That doesn't work," the past-self said, somewhere between smug and angry. "You can't do anything. You've failed to hurt me, failed to serve Zorc, failed to provide a proper challenge for the Pharaoh-"

"Because I don't care about you, Zorc, and the bastard Game King!" Bakura retorted, hand clenched so tightly around his dagger that it was going numb. "I don't care what happens to you, so long as you keep out of my sight."

"That's not true-"

"Yes it is. I don't hate you." Bakura sidestepped around the pile of blankets, so he'd have a way to run. "I don't hate you. You've put more towards your goals than I ever could. I admire you. You've..." He lifted a palm to his mouth, and rubbed it across his lips, as though he could destroy any trace of the kisses that had fallen there. "... Defiled me. I don't want you."

"Denial," Thief-King said brusquely.

"Truth."

"Denial!" He took a threatening step forward. "You're just resisting inevitability."

Bakura moved back, on legs that trembled; however thin and small he was, his weight was almost too much for his shaking limbs to support at the moment. "Truth," he whispered, and watched the flame bloom in his past-self's eyes. It was like seeing the flowering of a bomb's mushroom cloud; first just the imminent rumble of dust and smoke and bared fangs, and then the explosion and the glinting, amethyst fury.

"You're mine," Thief-King said, equally quietly. Bakura flung his knife, but the Egyptian merely ducked low to the floor, without once breaking stride as he closed the distance between them. A blow to the chest from the hilt of Thief-King's dagger sent Bakura sprawling to the floor; the ring-spirit bit his lip so hard that he drew blood, but quelled the screams that rose in his throat.

Coldly, "Never."

"You are!" The thief's grasp was viselike, bruising Bakura's arm.

"No." Help...

The Egyptian's fingertips pressed against Bakura's shirt, seeking out and needling the wounds there; his nails were like the five spearheads dangling from the Millennium Ring, sharp and cruel. "You'll gain nothing through denial."

BANG.

The door burst open, and was thrown against the wall with such force that it rebounded harshly. The past-self looked up, and Bakura heard him cry out as a flood of light blinded him; Bakura had already shut his eyes, aware of what was coming because of the frantically whispering voice from his mental link. There was a thud, and the pressure of Thief-King's hand on his chest was gone.

The lights dimmed, as the source of their power focused on something else for a long, silent moment. And then the lights were overhead.

"Bakura?" asked a soft voice. A cautious touch on his skin, and then arms around him, cradling him gently. "Bakura, please wake up..."

He opened his eyes to the Host's face; Ryou's round, kind features. Blood splattered the boy's right cheek, but it wasn't his; Bakura's gaze trailed over the red stain questioningly. "Had to take care of the Egypt-you somehow," Ryou murmured, almost apologetically, as though Bakura would be angry at him for harming the thing that had nearly killed him.

"Is he alive?" Bakura said, his voice rasping in his throat.

"Yes, I... think so." A slight blush spread across Ryou's features, but that was all. "Can you kill a soul?"

"No," he murmured.

"Good." The boy held him tightly, close to his heart, resting his head on Bakura's shoulder; it should have hurt, having anyone touch him with his injuries, but Ryou was so impossibly compassionate, so perfectly understanding, that his touch was nothing but warm and soothing. "I thought, he might have killed you..."

"You can't kill what's not alive..."

"That's why I worry about you." Ryou pulled his head back; their noses touched lightly. "You are alive. Here and outside, you have a heartbeat... more importantly, I feel how... awake you are. Radiant." The Host leaned forward, just a tad, and brushed his lips tenderly against Bakura's.

Everything fit, neatly, like a puzzle solved by skilled hands.

It was some time later that Bakura remembered to thank Ryou. They were sitting on the balcony overlooking the waves, just outside the ice cream parlor; the Pharaoh was discreetly edging closer and closer to Yugi, and occasionally offering the small boy a bite of his ice cream. Bakura watched this exchange with amusement, while Ryou smiled affectionately at the spiky-haired pair.

"Ryou?" Bakura said, quietly, and drew Ryou's attention to him with a kiss on the cheek. The boy turned to him, smiling. "Did I ever... thank you for..."

He paused. Ryou waited. "Did I remember to thank you?" he asked, finally.

"Um..."

"Well, then." Bakura placed his hands on the Host's shoulders and, pulling him near, snogged him. Thoroughly. Yami and Yugi turned around to stare.

"Bakura?" Ryou said, when he finally broke away.

"Yes?"

"Thank you."

A shout out to all meh lovelies! I adore you, all of you that reviewed and stuck me on your favs lists... I'd like to send you all personal thankyous, but alas I'm pressed for time... tell ya what, review and I'll send one by way of reply. xD Yes, I am bribing.