The gang was exploring the woods behind Bakura's house. Joey was climbing a tall tree; Bakura warned him not to, because some of that tree's branches were dead-- it would be easy to fall and get hurt-- but Joey wouldn't listen, the daredevil. Tea and Yugi were searching around an old ditch, digging to see if they could find anything interesting. Tristan was ankle-deep in mud in the creek behind the house, trying to catch frogs or tadpoles, both if he could, and not having much luck at it. Serenity was at the sand along the creek, making sand structures and having a rather fun time. Bakura himself was trying to fish leaves out of a small pond to make it neat, but his Yami kept splashing him with the murky water, making it near impossible for the oh-so sanitary Bakura to keep hold of the net.
Suddenly, there came a shout from Tea. "Whoa, guys! You gotta see this!"
Everyone but Joey came rushing around the ditch that Yugi and Tea were in. The branch Joey was sitting on broke (well, Bakura told him about that, didn't he?), and he went tumbling, and landed on a pile of leaves, safe but trying to be a drama king. "Ahh!" he cried, even though he wasn't hurt. Bakura ran over to check on him anyway, just in case. "Well, Joey, this time you can't say I didn't warn you because I did!"
They both came back, Bakura trying to get dirt out of his white hair, and everybody climbed down into the ditch to see what Yugi and Tea had found. "Look," Tea said. She was pointing to a pile of human bones on top of the dirt. "We dug really far down. And, lo and behold, there were bones buried behind Bakura's house!"
Bakura heard this, and almost fainted at the thought that somebody had died behind his house and the remains were still there; his Yami, however, took delight in the idea.
"I wonder how long they've been here for..." Tea mused. She reached down and her fingers just barely brushed the bones. She let out a cry of pain, and put a hand on her head.
"Tea!" Yugi exclaimed. "Tea! Are you alright?!"
Tea's blue eyes closed. When she opened them, she looked frightened, staring at everyone in fear. "Who all of you?" While it was Tea's voice, it was not her tone. This tone sounded timid, and introverted, and most of all scared. "Where am I?"
"My backyard, of course," Bakura said.
"Oh, no!" Tea hid her face in her hands. "Master Gifford found out what Toby and I done, and now he comin' to whip me!" She shrunk back. "Don't let 'im use the leather whip, make 'im use the rope one!"
"Tea?" Yugi asked.
She burst into tears, sobbing, water running down her cheeks.
Ishizu turned to Odion. "Odion, do you know what this looks like to me? I believe that Tea has been possessed! It seems that the spirit who possessed her is that of a... a young slave girl, south African descent, brought to Japan from America. Six, seven, eight years old. Perhaps ten at the absolute most.
"What do we do?"
"Well, obviously, this girl thinks she is still a slave. The first thing we must do is calm her." Ishizu walked over and gently petted Tea's hair. "Hello," she said. "We do not wish to hurt you, but I believe you are frightening our friend. Tell me, what is your name, young one?"
She sniffed and looked up. She seemed to like Ishizu's touch. "Marella."
"That is a very pretty name. Will you please let Tea out of your control, Marella? Can you not feel her fear inside you?"
"I can," Marella answered. "But she touched the bones. I couldn't help but take over her, Ma'am." She sobbed. "When someone touches my bones I have to go inside their body."
"These are your bones?"
Odion stepped forward. "Miss Marella," he said to her. "You are not a slave anymore. Please, just let our friend out of your control and explain to us what it is you want. We will not hurt you, but you need to give Tea's body back to her."
Marella blinked. "Okay." She straightened out Tea's body, and Tea opened her eyes. "Whoa, what happened? I feel like I just went on a roller coaster, it stopped, then went full speed ahead!"
"I possess you, Tea," came a sweet voice, a mixture of American Southern and African. They looked over to where they heard the voice. Sitting on a rock was a hazy, ghost-like young girl.
"Marella?" Ishizu asked softly.
She nodded. "Yes, it's Marella." She smiled shakily as they walked over to her. "Where am I? What year is?"
"It is 2007," Ishizu replied. "We are quite curious about you. When are you from, Marella?"
"1836," Marella told her. "Momma and Poppa and me and my brothers and sisters was slaves on a plantation in Georgia. Where I now?"
"Domino City, Japan."
"Very far away from Georgia," Ishizu said. "I am sorry. You must have been brought here from Georgia-- do you remember anything such as that?"
"Yah," Marella nodded. "Momma and me got on boat and sail far away. Don't know how long. My little brother Sammy... he die on the way over. He very little."
"How did he die?"
"He got something white folk called tubercu-somethin'-- he kept coughin' and throwin' up and finally he couldn't no more 'cause his body didn't take no more abuse and so he die."
"Do you know how old he was?"
Marella held up two fingers. "This old. He was two."
Marik gasped in horror and looked at his sister. "That's awful, Marella!" he said. "My goodness, it's a miracle you survived the trip over if a two-month-old contracted tuberculosis!"
Marella lifted a black finger and ran it under her eye. When Bakura got closer to her, he could see she was crying. Bakura knelt down. "It's okay, Marella. You're not going to get hurt anymore, sweetie. You'll be fine, I promise-- by the way, my name's Ryou, but everyone calls me my last name, Bakura; though sometimes my Yami calls me Kura when he's trying to get something out of me-- but you'll be alright, I promise, Marella."
Marella reached out her hand. When it connected with his cheek, it made sparkles and went right through Bakura. "I can't touch you," Marella whispered, and drew her hand back.
Bakura gently touched Marella's jet black hair, which was braided. Solid. "But I can touch you," he said. He picked her up. "Why don't you stay with me for now, Marella, love? I'll take care of you-- you're solid enough that I can pick you up and hold you, so you need to be taken care of."
Marella sobbed. "But I'm dead! I'm dead, you shouldn't be able to touch me!"
"Well, I can, and I can also do this." Bakura tickled her and she laughed. "Now, come on. We'll work out something later. As for right now, Marella, the only thing you need to worry about is my Yami snoring at night and keeping you awake."
"That slave brat's sharing a room with me?!" Yami Bakura yelled.
"Would you rather we put her in a storage room?"
Yami Bakura looked at the ground. He kicked at a rock with his shoe. "No. She wouldn't be safe, with all the stuff you keep in those rooms. She might poke her eye out. Then again, she's already dead, so it wouldn't really do any harm, so..."
"YAMI!!!" Bakura shouted, startling Marella.
"Okay, okay! The brat can sleep in my room! Don't yell at me, I hate it when you do that!"
"Well, I wouldn't yell if you didn't give me a reason to yell, Yami, so stop shooting off that mouth of yours."
"Hmph, I'm not that sarcastic-- the former aspiring world dictator is more sarcastic than I am."
Marik shot a glare at the tomb-robber. "Oh? Would you be talking about me, thief?"
"See any other former aspiring world dictators?"
Yami Bakura's grin faded. He turned on his heel and ran straight inside the house. He slammed the door.
"Will he be alright?" Marik asked. "I didn't mean to hurt his feelings. I was just getting him back for calling me a former aspiring world dictator."
Bakura chuckled. "Don't worry, Marik. He's like cookies-- he heats up fast, but cools down pretty quickly once you take him out of the oven."
"I'm getting hungry," Joey commented.
Serenity smacked him upside the head. "Joey, may I remind you of something?" She put her hands on her hips.
"You're always hungry!"
Bakura shook his head. "Well, why don't you all go home now? I believe our adventure's over, since we've found Marella." He looked down at the spirit, who was limp in his arms, obviously tired and trying to get some sleep. "Speaking of which, I should get her something to eat and then get her in bed-- goodnight, all."
Bakura walked into the house. "Marella? Still awake?"
"Mmm-hmm," she mumbled, yawning.
"Well, let's get you some dinner, okay?"
Once Marella had eaten, Bakura let her borrow one of Amane's old nightgowns, which for some odd reason he kept in the house. Then he tucked her in bed, across from Yami Bakura. He kissed her forehead. "Goodnight, Marella," he said. "Sweet dreams."
She nodded, and hugged him. "Night, Kura. See in the morning."
Bakura smiled. "Yes, Marella. I'll see you in the morning." He turned out the lamp. "Goodnight, Marella-- sleep well."
He was about to walk out when he heard a whimper. "Yami? Was that you?"
"You were so busy with that brat you didn't tell me goodnight."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Yami. I was just so worried about Marella-- you saw how scared and upset she was. I'm honestly sorry, Yami, and goodnight."
Bakura walked out and checked on them every four hours, to make sure Marella was sleeping alright-- and ti make sure Yami Bakura wasn't doing anything to her, like hurting her because she was getting more attention than he was. He whispered one final goodnight to her, just as the sun was peeking up in the window. "Ahhhh... goodnight, Marella; I love you."
He thought he heard a reply. "Love you too, Kura." But the voice was far too icy and harsh to be little Marella's.