A/N: I started this fic in 2007 and the last update was 2009. Now, in 2013, I'm writing this again. I don't know if I'll ever get beyond this chapter but I will try. I'm not actively in the YGO fandom anymore so even if I do keep writing, I might accidentally Frostiron.

Not sure where younger me was going with this, though. The scene between Mariku and Ryou was written sometime years ago, everything else is recent.


The meal out with his father had cleared the air. Things weren't perfect but the Bakura household no longer felt combustible. Ryou smiled at his father easier that morning at breakfast than he remembered doing since the man had come back from his work related journey.

To make his mood even better, Ryou had been woken up by a text from Yuugi, asking to hang out. Ryou supposed the rest of the gang would also be present and a trip to the arcade was just what he needed. Not that he was avoiding thinking about or contacting Mariku or anything. Sure he had gotten the cold shoulder the last time but-

No. Ryou shook his head on the way out to clear it. He would go out and have some fun.

The walk to the busier part of town didn't take long. It looked like people had just poured out of their dwellings and into the streets, enjoying the sun and the weekend. For a brief moment, Ryou mourned that he would be spending the next couple of hours indoors. Maybe he could talk his friends into doing something more outdoorsy once they had their fill of glowing screens.

"Ryou!" someone called out his name over the crowd. He looked up to find Jounouchi waving at him, standing near a sign that declared "Games for all ages!" in bright neon. Ryou smiled at the boy while dodging a group of what looked like tourists.

"Everyone else's already in, come on," Jounouchi declared, waving both of them inside.

Later, when they were done with the games Ryou found Yuugi sitting on a couch near the back waiting for Jounouchi and Honda to finish their last match with Anzu watching. He took a seat next to the shorter boy.

Yuugi smiled up at him, "Hey, all done?"

Ryou nodded, eyes on the rest of the group.

"Um, I've been meaning to ask you..." Yuugi started, gaining Ryou's full attention. "How are things? With everything. It's been a while since, well, since the party and all, so..."

From the hesitation, Ryou could guess what the other meant. The subject brought his mood down a couple notches.

"My dad's fine, and things with Mariku are," he paused, looking away for a second. Yuugi was his friend and the only one he felt like he could talk to about this. "Not bad, but... I think we may have had an argument?"

Yuugi gave him a confused look. "You mean you don't know?"

"Well, I- No, it wasn't a fight or anything but he just kind of... left." Ryou winced at how that had sounded. "Not left, left but, um." He gave up, shoulders slumping. "I don't know."

"I don't know the context so it's a bit difficult for me to..."

So Ryou told him. About the movie theater with the group Mariku had taken issue with, about the dinner with his father, about running into Mariku on the street and offering him food. And about how after, Mariku had just left, leaving him confused and lonely.

Yuugi listened, the wrinkle between his eyebrows getting deeper with each sentence. Despite his friend's severe expression, Ryou felt better getting everything off his chest.

"I'm not sure how to put this," Yuugi spoke after a lengthy silence, "but it seems to me that you should just go tell him how you feel."

Ryou stared. How does one respond to brilliant advise like that? By rolling their eyes?

"He just brushed you off and it sounds like he does that, some," the other boy continued, having noticed Ryou's expression. "Look, I'm really bad at this."

"No!" Ryou got his newly formed sarcastic side in check and felt bad about almost sassing his friend who was only trying to help. "You're not, really, I just..." He didn't know. Yuugi was right, of course; he couldn't ignore the problem. Mariku didn't want to talk it out, or wasn't ready to, so Ryou would have to learn to take the initiative. It wasn't something he felt comfortable with but he hadn't felt at easy about talking to Yuugi, either. Yet, the conversation had done more good than harm.

Ryou smiled and it reached all the way to his eyes. "You're right, thank you for listening." At that moment, they were interrupted by the remaining three and Ryou got his chance to lure them out into the sunny afternoon.

xxx

There had been no yelling, no spiteful comments or even nasty looks exchanged. Though sometimes, this time, saying nothing had been worse than mean words.

And that was why he was there, facing Mariku's door and gathering up the courage to knock. He wouldn't be ignored again.

Something had come undone inside him while out with Yuugi and company. It wasn't ok to turn cold towards the one you claimed to care about whenever it suited you. He could understand that it was all new and difficult for Mariku. They had both been alone for so long, neither of them was a relationship expert. But that didn't mean one of them had to sit back and take everything thrown at him. Mariku didn't take kindly to backtalk or any kind of "rebellion". Telling him what he did wrong was neither of those, was it? If Ryou handled this calmly maybe his controlling companion would listen to him, instead of blowing up.

His hand, raised to knock, was starting to feel numb so he brought his knuckles down two times. The sound was weak and hesitant. A few soft footfalls later Mariku was peering at him from behind the chain. Surprise flashed in his eye before he face went back to its normal, expressionless state.

"Ryou?"

Ryou stopped the fake smile just in time. "Hi." He glanced at his feet to get a break from the intense stare. "Can I come in?"

"Sure."

The door shut and Ryou could hear the rattling of the chain. He should have planned his speech in advance. Now that he was there, facing Mariku, it felt like a better idea to just give in and let the other take control. Ryou knew where that would lead. He would be stuck in the same position for who knows how long, until he just got used to it.

Mariku opened the door, letting him in. Ryou sat on the worn-down couch but the other remained standing, observing him. The look made Ryou nervous; it was hard not to fidget. After what felt like a small eternity, Mariku turned his eyes away.

"I'm sorry about yesterday."

The apology was spoken so softly that Ryou almost missed it. "What?" Mariku gave him a quick glare. "I mean, I forgive you?" Ryou didn't know how to react. This wasn't what he had been expecting. "I mean…" His eyes trailed the floor and walls, looking for a way out of the confusion.

"Don't look so surprised."

Ryou's attention snapped back to Mariku who looked amused, a smirk playing on his lips. "I know you came here for that."

"Well, yes, I did." He hadn't come for an apology but if Mariku knew he had done something wrong, he would avoid doing it again. No use lecturing about it. Right? "What… what was that about, anyway? I mean, yesterday."

"Don't worry about it."

Ryou could tell Mariku tried to keep his tone light as he sat next to Ryou on the couch. He wasn't sure he wanted to pursue a subject Mariku wanted to avoid. "Oh."

"I wasn't mad at you."

That was good to know. "Ok." An uneasy silence hung in the air. Ryou knew that since he was the one who had come, wanting to talk, he should break it. They had reached a stand-still and he was no good at dealing with situations like that. Unless he would bring up what he was here for, he had nothing to say.

"You look distressed." Mariku had been looking at him without him noticing for a while. Ryou found it difficult to look him in the eye but couldn't look away.

"I don't know what to do now," he admitted quietly. "I wanted to talk to you about something but since you apologized, I don't know if I need to, so…"

Mariku frowned. "I hurt you more than I thought."

"I was upset that you just brushed me off." Ryou heard irritation in his voice. The other could be so thick sometimes. He paused to take a breath, not wanting to get angry. "I know you're trying and I appreciate it, really, I do. But it's so easy for you to hurt me, and you don't even notice." He wished he could read Mariku's expression; a blank mask covered the other's face as he sunk into thought. Ryou didn't know what was going through Mariku's mind. At least he didn't look angry, to himself or to Ryou. Mariku never hid his anger.

"I suppose you're right." He sounded calm, and Ryou breathed a small sigh of relief. The thing he had wanted to bring up was up. It hadn't been as painful as he had it feared. Not expecting it, he jumped a little when Mariku touched his cheek. He had gotten a bit lost in thought himself.

"I should keep trying." Mariku's thumb traced Ryou's lips, causing a pleasant shiver to travel through him. It wasn't a disagreeable idea to let the gentle touch become more. The thought made his face warm and he wondered if he would ever stop having that reaction when it came to thoughts about their physical relationship.

Mariku noticed, of course he did, and asked, "What are you thinking?"

Ryou suspected that the other already knew. "I'm thinking what's taking you so long to kiss me." His eyes became half lidded when Mariku's hand moved behind his neck to pull him closer.

"You're not upset with me anymore, then."

Ryou smiled, "No", and helped close the gap between them. In the back of his mind, Ryou wondered if he had given in too easily. It wouldn't be the first time, or the last.

xxx

Later that night, when Ryou returned home, he was pleasantly sore and peppered with bruises. He hoped he wouldn't run into his father too soon. Despite the cleared air, he didn't feel too keen on having a discussion about his sex life. For the first time in a long time, everything was fine and he didn't want to risk ruining that.

Of course, as luck would have it, his father was up waiting for him. They stared at each other when Ryou passed the kitchen on the way to his room. The older man wore a worried frown that deepened the longer they said nothing to each other. Ryou considered ignoring it and going straight to his room but not communicating had gotten him into the mess that had been his life in the first place.

"Hi, dad," Ryou said, stopping to lean on the door frame. The leaning was more Mariku's move than his and he soon grew uncomfortable, shifting on his feet. "I know I should have called."

His father nodded, both in greeting and acknowledgment. "Were you with Yuugi this late?"

"No, I went to see Mariku after."

"Alright."

Neither said anything after that. Soon, Ryou left for his room.

xxx

Mariku's paycheck had arrived. He hadn't been paying much attention to his work and the nights in the club just blurred together in his mind. But it was more money than he had made working at the seedy little bar.

There was an apartment, a couple blocks over, that he had been eying. It was in a better neighborhood, and with that came a higher rent, but if he kept the amount of income he had now, he could afford it. A new apartment was what he needed, no doubt, as the pipes in the bathroom had started leaking. Ryou couldn't use a leaky bathroom.

The thought of the boy made Mariku grin wider at his paycheck. A new place could be what their relationship needed right now, too.