Ryou Bakura woke up in his yami's arms.
He blinked a couple of times, trying to figure out where he was. His hands were lighter, freed from the chains he had been wrapped in. But that was all he could feel at first. He barely remembered what happened in the chamber of Osiris after the duel had ended. The god was talking to them both, about to punish them. But Ryou, as disoriented as he was, couldn't remember what he said.
"Am… am I alive?" he whispered dryly, to no one in particular. He didn't really expect anyone to answer either.
"If you can call it that." The thief answered, looking down at his hikari.
"Yami?" Ryou jumped up, realizing for the first time that he wasn't alone. "Is that you?"
Bakura nodded, leaning back against the nearby wall. Ryou almost fell from his lap, but he caught the smaller boy before he could crash into the nearby stone.
"Oh thank goodness… You're all right. We're both all right…" Ryou smiled, and hugged him, oblivious to his surroundings.
At first, Bakura wanted to push him off, but softened after a brief moment. This was, after all, the boy that gave his life so that he wouldn't die. He deserved a lot more credit than Bakura had ever given him. Perhaps now, that should change.
"Do you remember what happened?" he asked carefully, wondering how the boy would react to learning his fate.
"… I… I lost the duel, but… but why aren't we… dead?"
"Oh, we're dead." His yami answered, holding the boy close. "But only once. Thanks to you. We'll… never die again."
Ryou sat up, and blinked, finally taking in his surroundings. They seemed oddly familiar, and he tried to place them in his damaged memory. It looked like the inside of his yami's soul room, but a lot darker. The walls were made of grey stone, like an old tomb. They were cold, as though it hadn't received light in thousands of years.
"You saved my life." Bakura sighed, leaning against the wall. "I never thought I'd be so glad to see this place again."
"This… place?" Ryou looked around. Suddenly, he understood. "We're… inside the ring, aren't we?"
Ryou studied his yami's face with curiosity. For a moment, he feared he would be struck or beaten. But the thief appeared strangely content about the situation.
"Are you all right, yami?" Ryou asked.
"I think so." He sighed. The thief made no sudden movements, as none were necessary. "We're here for eternity, you know."
Ryou looked down.
"I tried to save you… not get you imprisoned… I'm sorry. I… I just wanted to… to be with you again…"
"It's not that bad, Ryou. Really." Bakura managed a smile. "This time, it won't be nearly as lonely."
He looked down at Ryou, and lifted the boy's chin up. Their eyes met. And it felt like years before either one said anything.
"Thank you… hikari." He smiled. "For everything you did…"
Ryou blushed a little.
"It's nothing, yami… really… I…" he didn't know exactly how to finish. Both of them simply stared at each other for a moment.
"No, it is." He replied quickly. "I didn't deserve it. The duel. The heart scarab. I didn't deserve any of it."
Ryou thought back to the trial, and the courage he had learned from his yami. At the time the duel started, he wondered if the spirit of the ring had learned anything from him.
He felt Bakura's hand gently touching his chin, and knew in his heart that he had. Just like Yugi's yami, the pharaoh of Egypt, the king of thieves had learned compassion.
He just needed more time, and someone to care about.
"Yes, you do. I… I think you deserve it…"
"You know, you're the only one that's ever cared about me… Ever." Bakura sighed. Thoughts of the village slaughter, the soldiers, even the gods, filtered through his mind. He too, didn't know how to finish. "I…"
"You're… just not used to it…" Ryou finished for him.
Bakura eventually nodded. His eyes glanced around the interior of the ring. This was where they were going to remain, until time itself ceased to exist.
"I think you have plenty of time to learn…"Ryou smiled weakly. He watched his yami's eyes drift, but wasn't sure exactly what he was thinking.
"You're right." He smiled in return, and he pulled his rescuer close. Ryou blinked with surprise.
Bakura rubbed the boy's back as gently as he could, finally pulling him into a tender embrace. It was the least he could do, for the companion he always wanted but never knew he had.
"You're right…" he whispered again, letting a smile shine through the surrounding darkness. "I have a whole eternity to learn."