Jaazi: Present for LunaBakura-Chan!! I hope you like it, Luni! And, of course, I hope the rest of you like it also. Anyway, after this I'll be concentrating on the update for A&D, so you all have that to look forward to.

Disclaimer: If I owned it, you really think Thief King Bakura would've lost to Yami? Puh-lease.

Summary: Sweet youthfulness can keep the young blind to what's in front of them for only so long.


Teachers loved Ryou. Adults in general loved Ryou. He was kind, soft-spoken, and rule-abiding. Bakura had always known this. Even the big kids always cooed and squealed over Ryou. It was no big deal, really. Bakura tolerated it. Who cares about old people anyway? But that was when they were little, like, really little. They were twelve now. Oh sure, the older people still thought that Ryou was "so adorable I could eat you up" or "aw, so cuuuute!" The problem was the other kids were starting to think along the same lines, and they didn't just giggle and leave when he glared death at them.

Bakura never liked it when others doted on Ryou and stole the frailer boy's attention away. Granted, he never let it bother him too much because it always passed quickly and then Ryou would go back to playing with him. Kids their age, however, couldn't seem to take a hint. Ryou liked having friends, and the friends liked having Ryou. Needless to say, Ryou was a very popular boy.

And Bakura didn't like it. He didn't like it one bit. He scowled, jabbing his notebook with his pencil quite viciously. His red eyes were narrowed, staring at the boy who sat next to Ryou (who sat across the room from Bakura, something he didn't like either). They were chatting amiably. The boy giggled at something Ryou said. Ryou talked about him a lot. His name was Malik. He was one of Ryou's friends.

A shorter boy sat on the other side of Ryou. His name was Yugi, but Bakura always called him Starfish-boy because the boy's hair was so weird. He was talking and smiling with Ryou. He was one of Ryou's friends, too.

"Psst! Bakura! Snap out of it," the boy beside Bakura hissed. Bakura's sharp eyes flickered towards him impatiently.

"What do you want, Mariku?" Bakura was not in a good mood.

"I told you to stop calling me that! It's Marik, okay? Marik!" Marik said indignantly. "I just wanted to know if you want to play soccer with me after school, but since you're being so mean about it, then forget I said anything."

"You know I have to walk Ryou home," Bakura said quietly, as to not catch Mrs. Farrow's attention. She was really strict with kids like him and Marik. The first day of class, she pegged them as "rebellious delinquents," even though Bakura was hardly ever bad. Ryou didn't like it when Bakura broke the rules. But that was before Ryou made so many friends. I guess Mrs. Farrow was right. I am a bad kid. Bakura thought bitterly. He shot a glare in Ryou's direction. Not at Ryou. No, never at Ryou. It was Ryou's friends that received the glare.

"Feh, Ryou's not a little kid. I'm sure he can take care of himself, y'know. He doesn't need you," Marik said offhandedly. Bakura's pencil came to a standstill. The blood in his veins ran cold, and his breathing stopped momentarily.

He doesn't need you…

Why would he say that? Stupid Mariku! H-He doesn't know anything! Stupid, stupid Mariku!

He was petrified. Those four little words were the only things that could ever scare Bakura. He doesn't need you. Was it true? Ryou made lots of friends. Why would he keep Bakura around when there was so many to replace him?

"Shut up! What do you know?" Bakura said. Unfortunately, he said it a bit louder than he should've. Mrs. Farrow didn't look pleased.

"Bakura. Since your conversation seems to be more important than what I'm teaching, why don't you share with the class?" Mrs. Farrow said coldly. Bakura sunk low in his seat.

"No, Mrs. Farrow," Bakura growled.

"I thought not. One more outburst from you, and you're staying after school. The same goes to you, Marik, since you seem to enjoy Bakura's company so much," she said tartly. The teacher turned her attention back to the chalkboard where she continued to write notes for the class to copy down.

Marik scowled. Leaning over, he punched Bakura in the arm. His punch was not a friendly one either; it was meant to hurt. That was it. Bakura snarled and launched himself at Marik. Before long, there was an all out brawl between the two boys. Mrs. Farrow was true to her word. She had the two bruised and slightly bloodied boys up on their feet to receive a scolding.

Out of the corner of his eye, Bakura saw that Ryou hadn't spared him a glance; he was too busy staring at his desk to notice Bakura. Somehow that hurt more than any of the injuries Marik gave him.

They were sent to the principal's office shortly after Mrs. Farrow's lecture on proper behavior in classrooms. Mr. Kubo, the principal, knew them well and wasn't at all surprised to see Marik and Bakura at his office. In fact, he had expected them to arrive sooner. The school day was almost over. The two boys were known for their notorious behavior. Bakura and Marik constantly disrupted class with their loud comments and complaints. They tortured the teachers with complicated pranks that made it almost impossible to pin the blame on them even though everyone knew they were the culprits. Bakura had even once sent a student teacher home in tears because of his obnoxiousness. As it turned out, Bakura was the one who decided whom to pick on and what pranks they should do to that person. Marik always followed along just for the thrill.

Mr. Kubo sighed. He didn't know what happened. Bakura was…well, he hadn't been a good kid because he'd always had a mischievous streak but he never lashed out as violently and repeatedly as he did now. At the beginning of the school year, he was actually very endearing. His jokes were harmless and were meant to give everyone a good laugh. He had been a very popular boy. As the year wore on, his jokes became harsher. His playfulness slowly seeped away from him leaving him with mean words to spare. He had also begun to withdraw himself from his friends. He was always tense and ready to snap at anyone who spoke to him.

Mr. Kubo's secretary called Mariku into his office first. Mr. Kubo watched as the spiky blond haired boy huffily plopped himself down on the chair in front of his desk. His red-violet eyes were tapered into angry slits. Mr. Kubo gave him a patient smile.

"Would you like to tell me what happened?" he asked. The boy glared at him. Mr. Kubo hadn't expected an answer. "I was informed you and Bakura started a fight in class today," he said mildly. Marik's eyes flashed.

"It wasn't my fault! It's all Bakura! I hate him!" Marik shouted spitefully. Mr. Kubo raised an eyebrow. That was new. Usually, Marik and Bakura defended each other from blame and accusatory teachers. They were very close friends.

"And why's that?" Mr. Kubo asked. Marik sulked in the chair.

"He's no fun anymore. All he ever wants to do is hang out with annoying, girly Ryou. Ryou's no fun at all. Ryou doesn't even want to hang out with him anymore. He's always with Malik and Yugi. Stupid Ryou," Marik growled.

"You don't like Ryou? I heard he's very nice," Mr. Kubo said. It was an understatement. Ryou was one of the best students of the school.

"No! He took my best friends away. Malik was my friend first and Bakura always would hang out with me to play soccer. Then Ryou had to go and start looking pretty. Malik gets all weird around him now and Bakura always gets angry about that."

"I see. Marik, I understand why you reacted violently towards Bakura but it's still against the school rules. You'll have detention with Ms. Redquist, the guidance counselor, for the rest of the week. Could you send in Bakura as you leave?" Mr. Kubo asked. Mariku scowled, nodding sharply, and left. Bakura came in shortly after. He angrily sat down on the chair and glared knives at Mr. Kubo. If the situation were different, Mr. Kubo would've laughed at how similar the two boys were.

"What happened in class today, Bakura?" Mr. Kubo asked. Bakura directed his glare onto the desk. He said nothing. "Marik said that the fight was your fault. Is this true?" Bakura didn't reply. Mr. Kubo waited a few minutes until it became clear that Bakura was not going to say anything. Mr. Kubo sighed. "If you aren't going to answer me, then we're done here. You're to report to Mr. Redquist's office to serve detention for the next week." Bakura angry gaze shot towards his face again. Standing, the boy stormed out of the office. Mr. Kubo really wanted the Bakura from the beginning of the school year back. His job was much less tiring back then.

"Ryou! Ryou, c'mon let's go!" Bakura shouted with a grin. He was at the school gates waiting for Ryou. Ryou was talking to Malik and Yugi. Ryou looked up. Bakura couldn't figure out how Ryou was feeling. He used to be so good at knowing exactly how Ryou felt. Ryou ran up to him. Bakura's grin grew. "Let's go. I don't want to hang around this dump any more than I have to."

Ryou frowned. "Bakura, don't you have detention?"

"Well, yeah, but I'll skip it. Let's walk home together!" Bakura said, trying to ignore the knot forming in his stomach. Ryou scowled cutely.

"Bakura, you have to go to detention. You're in a lot of trouble already, don't go making it worse," Ryou said. He looked upset. Bakura fidgeted. His eyes were glued on the floor. He nodded slowly.

"Okay, fine. Go walk home by yourself," he said a bit more nastily than he had intended. Bakura walked away, not willing to look at Ryou. Ryou was left alone at the school gates but not for long. Malik and Yugi rushed to his side. Ryou smiled at them. He liked his friends but he just wanted to go home and hear Amane's stories about the Sphinx and the rookie thief. He didn't want to think about Bakura.

Ms. Redquist smiled gently. The two boys in front of her scowled. This had been going on for almost an hour. Speaking of which…Bakura relieved the counselor of his glare in order to look at the clock. Ten minutes until the detention was over. Marik looked at him and gave him an apologetic smirk. Only Marik could pull that off, Bakura thought. In response, Bakura nodded stiffly. Ms. Redquist, who wasn't a counselor for nothing, positively beamed at the interaction between her two charges. The minutes ticked by slowly.

"Okay, time's up. You're free to go," Ms. Redquist said. Before she even finished talking, the boys shot out of the room.

"See ya tomorrow, Bakura!" Marik shouted over his shoulder. He had to get home. His sister, Isis, was going to kill him. Bakura watched as Marik ran off. Bakura shuffled slowly to the exit. Someone tapped his shoulder. Startled, Bakura turned to see who dared touch him. A girl with shoulder length brown hair and blue eyes smiled at him.

"Um, hi, Bakura! I'm Tea. We're in the same class," she said shyly. Bakura eyed her warily.

"Hey. What do you want?" Bakura asked. He didn't like girls much. They were always so giggly. It was annoying. Bakura was already (unintentionally) rude to everyone. The fact that girls were annoying didn't make him any friendlier. Tea didn't seem to mind.

"Oh, n-nothing much. I was just wondering wh-when your next soccer match is. I'd really like to come watch. Maybe we can hang out afterwards?" Tea said anxiously, a soft blush gracing her features. Wine-red eyes flicked nervously to the side. He took a couple of tense steps back, noticing how close the overly perfumed girl was standing to him. His nose wrinkled. Why did girls have to smell so weird? It made his head hurt.

"This Saturday but--" Bakura started.

"Bakura!" Bakura's eyes widened as he whirled around to see Ryou. A hesitant grin began to form on his lips.

"Ryou! You waited for me?" Bakura asked, hope slipping into his voice. Ryou rushed towards him, curling his fingers on the crook of Bakura's elbow. A pair of emerald eyes narrowed coolly when they noticed the flushing girl beside Bakura.

"Not really. I had to stay after school for a project. I just remembered after you ran off for detention. Who's this?" Ryou replied. Bakura, tinted pink from Ryou's sudden physical attention, was taken aback. Ryou was never that rude to anyone. He'd always introduce himself with a sweet smile and then waited for the person to do the same. He never regarded anyone that coldly. The girl didn't look very pleased either, now that Bakura noticed. It took him awhile to notice because he had momentarily forgotten the girl was there in the first place.

"I'm Tea, Bakura's friend," the girl answered just as sharply. Bakura felt a bubble of anger in his chest. Who was she to speak to Ryou like that? And what was this about being his friend? He didn't even know the girl until ten seconds ago.

"I see," Ryou said, eyes still narrowed slightly. Bakura didn't like how this girl was making Ryou act. He didn't really like how she spoke to Ryou either. He decided he didn't like the girl much and would rather be walking home with Ryou.

"Are we walking home together, then?" Bakura asked, ignoring what's-her-face, tugging Ryou away from her. Ryou beamed at him.

"Yes. Amane says that she just finished coming up with the last part of her story," Ryou chirped. Bakura nodded.

"Awesome, go on ahead. I gotta tell Tea something first," Bakura said. Ryou shot Tea a not-so-nice glance and walked ahead, muttering softly under his breath. Tea was smiling charmingly at Bakura.

"So, um--" She stuttered to a halt. Bakura's lips were pulled back in an insulted snarl.

"Don't ever speak to Ryou like that again. I don't want to see you with Ryou and I don't want you near me either. You smell weird and you're annoying. Got it?" Bakura hissed. Tea gasped, lips quivering. Bakura shrugged and left. He felt sort of bad but he wasn't going to take what he said back. Nobody treated Ryou badly without getting hurt in return somehow.

Bakura caught up with Ryou, who was walking rather quickly. They walked in silence for a few moments.

"Why'd you have to talk to Tea?" Ryou asked stiffly. Bakura looked at him, curiously.

"Because. She's annoying so I had to tell her to leave me alone."

Ryou stumbled a bit. "Oh," he said sheepishly. "Well, good. I don't like her."

An awkward silence hung in the air. Their fast paced walk slowed to a complete stop a block away from their destination. Things were so weird between them. When did that happen? They didn't want things to change. They didn't want to lose each other but…they didn't know how to approach the whatever-it-was that made things so icky between them. It was scary. It made Ryou want to cry. It made Bakura want to punch something.

They glanced nervously at each other.

"…you wanna come over and listen to Amane's story?" Ryou asked quietly. Bakura nodded. The walk to Ryou's home was quick and they found Amane waiting for them in her room.

Their uneasiness clouded and smothered the room and its occupants almost instantaneously. Amane felt a sigh escape her. She remembered the in-between stage she had to suffer through. It wasn't easy, all the changes. She lost a few friends, and left some interests behind, but she also found new friends and picked up some new hobbies. Bakura and Ryou had a special bond, that much she knew. Because of that, she knew that the sudden shifts at their age would hurt all the more, but she had no doubt that the bond would also pull them through.

And so she began her last Sphinx story. She loved her little brother, and Bakura had somehow wormed his way into her heart, too. She would do whatever she could to help them.

After all, when she was an in-between, she wouldn't have minded having a meddling sibling to look out after her.

Jaazi: So, how was that? Luna-chan, was it to your satisfaction?