Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-gi-oh.

A while ago, I was playing with the freedict online translator and found there were seven meanings for "Ryou." Eerily appropriate meanings. I decided I would do this, in the same group as Costume Jewelry and Deny thy Father, as soon as CJ was done.

That took months, and then other projects intervened. But the novel's done and I don't want to get out of the habit of writing 2,000 words a day so I've finally got around to it. Enjoy.


Ryou: Finish, Completion, Understanding –

He didn't wonder why none of the others noticed the coated figure going through the door to the afterlife along with the Pharaoh.

It was all over.

For real, this time.

All the times he had thought the dark spirit of the ring was gone: he was gone for good now, not looking back.

He had built the table on which the dark RPG had been played because he had been promised that the vengeance would take place there, that after it was over it would be all over.

No more having the tines of the Ring stabbed into him, no more blanks in his memory, no more losing his thoughts and being lulled into security. No more fighting, no more friends in comas.

He'd heard the lust for this confrontation in the spirit's mental voice. He'd known he was telling the truth when he said this would be the final battle.

That after this he would be free.

And now he was free. It was over, the spirit was gone. Yugi was blinking back tears.

Even the Ring was destroying itself, the Items sinking into the earth.

It was over.

He had been a spectator, allowed to watch this time, like during the game at Duelist Kingdom. He hadn't gotten to be a NPC like in the other time one of his tables had been involved. He hadn't been the hero this time.

He hadn't been able to free Bakura from Zork's control.

The spirit had said he wasn't Bakura, meaning he wasn't Ryou, but Bakura had been his name all along.

Just like Yugi was so like Atem.

Did it mean something? It did.

He knew, now.

Yugi had just lost his spirit as well, but he seemed oddly happy. Ryou knew why. It was over.

He'd known all along that even though his spirit was doing evil things, that he wasn't evil.

He had been so angry that Ryou's 'friends' were just using Ryou, not letting him play. There had always been this righteous anger in the spirit. In the other Bakura. Rage at injustice. An anti-hero.

Bakura remembered how angry he had been at the universe for Amane's death. So he understood perfectly why Bakura would hate so strongly for his entire town's murder.

He'd tried to understand this presence in his mind, but Bakura had been so single minded he had barely spared him a word. So obsessed, so focused.

Regaining the Items, regaining his family. If he had been offered a chance to get Amane back…

And now the Items were gone, so the spirits trapped within them would finally be able to move on. Bakura would be talking to his family right now in the afterlife, Ryou imagined. A reunion after so long separated by bone become metal, bound by blood and pain.

And death. So much death.

Ending in death, moving on.

Leaving the living behind, just like Amane had left him behind.

He'd written letters to her, rehearsing what he would say to her when they were reunited.

He would write letters to Bakura as well. So many things he had never said. They had never talked. He had just been a host, a tool.

More than that. There had been that twisted protectiveness, though he remembered waking up in a strange place with a wound and knowing Bakura had given it to him.

Remembered having his hand stabbed upon a tower the first time he had fought back.

Betrayal.

He had betrayed Bakura then. Betrayed himself. In Bakura's twisted mind, he had been right to be mad. Ryou understood now.

So many things he wanted to say. But it was over.

No, not over. They still had to get back to Domino.

He could have a life now without it being disrupted by Bakura and his mission. No more waking up tired because Bakura had been out punishing someone. It would be safe for him to go live with his father again: he had moved away from his family because of the strange disasters that seemed to accompany him: he had known somehow if his father made him even unhappier he would end up in a coma too.

He could play Monster World with Yugi and his friends again. Make other friends: Yugi and his had been the only ones Bakura permitted.

Before, Ryou had thought the only reason they were allowed to get close to him was because of Yami and Bakura's hate.

Now he knew that Bakura had known Yugi's friends would never use him.

Protectiveness for a younger, softer, more sheltered self. Ryou had known death, he had never known evil.

He'd thought he had known evil in Bakura.

Now he had seen Zork. Bakura was nothing next to that. Bakura was a hero, next to that. He had done his best to fight back.

Bakura was free now, wasn't he? Ryou hadn't been the only host. Not the only one being used, the only piece on the board. He had been a pawn of a pawn.

Bakura's twisted kindness was the real Bakura.

He had been raised by criminals and grown up one. Grown up in a harsh world. Protecting him, the way he hadn't been protected, was the best he could do.

But Ryou didn't need to be protected anymore. He understood what Bakura had tried to tell him all those months ago now.

He felt empty without the presence he had usually felt only a faint whisper of. He would get used to it.

It was over.

It wasn't over.

Death was the end, and he was still alive. While he remembered Bakura, Bakura lived on.

Yugi caught his eyes and smiled. Yugi understood.

This was their story now. It was just beginning.

But they were who they were because of the ghosts that had loved them in their own ways. The strength they had gained because of them. The memories they had gathered.

Precious, dangerous memories that they would hold close to their hearts until they could finally speak about what they knew.


As this is the first chapter, I'd really appreciate reviews, not that I don't always.