Could've, Should've, Would've.


Disclaimer: Unfortunately for me (fortunately for the characters) I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh in any way, shape or form. After all, if I did, there would be so much shonen-ai moments that it would not be at all funny.

Warning: Yaoi/Shonen-Ai! If you don't like, please don't read! Rated for mentions of torture. Casteshipping- (Pharaoh AtemuXTouzokuou Bakura)

Flames shall be extinguished with great force because it is bush-fire season and I hate bush-fires. Many Australians do.

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Hey! This is currently a one-shot, but I may decide to do a follow-up later. If you like this, try my other Darkshipping (YamiXBakura) story- Nature's Law)

This is what I believe could have happened, should have happened, would have happened- But sadly, didn't. Hence the title.

Anyways, hope you enjoy this! Reviews are much appreciated!

Smile:D

Ireina


He peered into the unrelieved darkness of the dungeons. He had seen a young boy, not much older than he, be carried down a while ago, and he had since heard screaming. They were torturing him, he knew. He may have been a mere 'child', but he knew the skills of certain members of the household were both feared and renowned throughout Egypt- and Nubia and Greece as well. 'What could that boy possibly have done to warrant such cruelty?' he thought angrily.

Well, he certainly wasn't going to just let them do it.

The door to the dark, damp dungeons opened and a priest swept out, waves of rank air billowing out behind him. Silently the small boy slipped into the foul dungeon.

Keeping to the shadows, he tried hard to ignore the screams from other prisoners- as well as their sibilant whispers.

A blue-robed priest exited a room, and the boy leapt back into the shadows of a nearby pillar. The priest paused, and then spoke.

"If anyone happens to be looking for a certain child, they would do well not to search this room." he said loudly, before continuing past the pillar. "Be careful cousin. Don't get caught." he whispered into what appeared to be thin air as he passed.

The boy grinned silently.

Checking that all was clear, he crept towards the room the blue-robed priest had just left. Peeking in, he saw no-one but the unfortunate boy chained to the stone table.
Jiggling the handle, he found it to be locked. "Set take it!" he cursed. Reaching into the wellspring of Shadow within the Item around his neck, he extricated a thin tendril of power and sent it into the lock.

With a quiet hiss, it clicked open, smoking slightly. He smirked to himself. Much too easy. He gave it a slight push and it smoothly slid open.

The boy gasped. The other lying on the table in front of him was a mess! He'd been expecting signs of torture, but nothing could have prepared him for this. Blood covered his skin, both old and fresh, and soaked into his hair.

What looked like burn-marks adorned his arms, and the boy was fairly sure a finger or two were broken. He was also sure that cut under his eye would also be likely to scar.

"Ra, Set and Isis!" he exclaimed softly. He stepped forward and softly brushed his fingertips over the bruised skin of the boy's cheek.

His eyes snapped open, fear and defiance in his bloody-hued eyes. "Sending… children… to do… it now are… they?" he whispered venomously, voice cracked and harsh from screaming.

"What did you do for this to be done to you?" the boy said in a stunned voice.

The chained boy's face twisted into a bitter parody of a smile. "I was… the only… survivor of… a massacre…" he said. "But I don't know… what they… think… I can tell… them."

Fury flared in the smaller boy's eyes. "This is too much, even for a hardened criminal!"

With that, he touched the locks on the other's wrists, preparing himself.

"What… are you… doing?" demanded the other. "If you… free me… you'll be the… next one chained… here! Besides… it's no… use. One of them… took the… keys."

The boy whipped his head around to the chained one. "I'd like to see them try." He sent streams of power into the locks. "And who needs keys?"

Suddenly freed from the shackles holding him upright, the other slumped forward with a cry and the boy caught him. "By the way, what is your name?" he asked, grunting slightly at the weight. The other boy was slightly taller, but for his height, he was surprisingly light. Not having time to wonder why this was, he merely thanked whatever benevolent deity watching that he would be able to support the other boy's weight.

"Akefia… Bakura. And… you?"

The boy paused. "You may call me Atemu." No one ever called him by his name, (save his father and mother) only 'My Prince', or 'Your Highness' or something equally formal, so it would be just not possible that this commoner knew it.

Besides which, he hated being known by his title- Gods he hated it! To be called by his name like he was a normal child would be a nice change.

"Atemu… hm? How are you… going to… escape with me… slowing you… down?"

That gave him pause. "If I can get you to the East Wing unnoticed, we should be safe. Shadows should be capable of that." he said thoughtfully.

"Not bad… for a… ten year old."

"I'm thirteen thank you very much!" Atemu said indignantly. Just because he was a touch shorter did not mean he was ten years old, thank you very much!

Bakura seemed taken aback slightly. "My age… then." he said thoughtfully, voice weakening at the end.

"Just be quiet, rest your throat or you'll lose your voice. Let's go. Besides which, if you make a noise you'll be discovered."

The two made their way quietly through the dungeons and into the East Wing.

"Here." Atemu whispered quietly, lightly pushing open a door which opened to reveal a fine suite of rooms.

"Large… rooms." commented Bakura weakly. "Who do… they… belong to?"

"Actually, they're the smallest in the palace, save the servant's quarters." Atemu responded, neatly sidestepping the question of whose rooms they were. Steering Bakura onto the bed, he told him; "Don't worry, here you should be safe. Just lie down. I'll get some water and things for those injuries of yours."

Quickly the small boy laid a light glamour over the room so that anyone who looked in would just see himself asleep.

First on his list was to get a hold of warm water. As he went into the adjoining room that led to the rest of the palace, atop the small table laid a bowl of slightly steaming water and several bottles of differently coloured substances. Beside those were several scraps of clean linen and bandages.

Atemu's eye widened. He stepped forward to take a closer look, and noticed a small piece of papyrus atop the linen.

He picked it up and smiled as he read the note explaining what the bottles held and how best to use them.

His smile stretched as he saw the name at the bottom- the name of a certain blue-robed high priest.

He continued to smile as he carried the warm bowl and everything into the room with the gravely injured boy.

He dropped a linen cloth into the water and left it there to soak whilst he removed the glamour on the room so as to be able to see Bakura.

Gently as he could, the young prince peeled Bakura's tunic off, the ripped and bloody garment sticking slightly as the injured boy winced, hissing in pain.

Atemu couldn't stop a horrified gasp escaping his mouth as the full extent of the poor boy's injuries were revealed.

They had starved him, and that had been the reason he'd been so easy for the smaller boy to carry. His skin, which had begun to pale dramatically in that chamber in the bowels of the palace was pale, dry and like paper to the touch.

There was hardly an inch of skin without severe bruising, and there were many cuts, all of which appeared deep. Several burns graced his skin across his chest, complementing the ones on his arm.

"Oh Bakura…" the royal said, brushing tendrils of blood-stained white hair from the uninjured skin of his forehead.

Said boy looked up at him defiantly, as though daring him to say something.

Knowing that the boy was proud enough not to want his pity, Atemu shook his head and said nothing as he instead squeezed out the linen and began to gently bathe the blood and filth from Bakura's pitifully thin frame.

Bakura stared silently up at Atemu, only wincing in pain every so often. He was very surprised, but the other boy's touch was gentle over the grievous injuries. Besides which, the boy was obviously a noble from the way he knew the palace and that habit he had of speaking as though expecting to be obeyed. What was really bugging him though was the smaller child's reason for rescuing him from the torture chambers.

Was he being saved only to be handed over for death? He had no clue, and Bakura did not like not knowing what was going on.

"Why?" he asked. Atemu had finished cleaning his many injuries and was now delicately dabbing a pungent green salve onto his cuts.

The boy paused in his ministrations. "Why what?" he said, pretending not to know what the other was talking about before returning to his task.

"Why did you risk your neck for me?"

Atemu sighed and rocked back onto his heels. (He'd been sitting on the bed beside his 'patient') "Because to treat anyone that badly is a crime in itself." he said quietly. "to do it to an innocent is even worse."

Bakura thought. It seemed a legitimate enough answer. Gods knew he agreed with it. But he hadn't expected to hear that sort or response from a noble- usually as long as it wasn't them or one of their own, anything went. "Do you truly believe that Atemu? And you'd better not be lying to me." He wanted to believe this boy. He really did.

The other boy made a face. "You sound like one of those priests, 'Truly'?" he mocked. "Yes, I do believe that. If I were Pharaoh, then torture would be the first thing to go." he said, shooting a sidelong glance at Bakura, who didn't really notice.

"Yes, but there's no chance of that is there? The Pharaoh's already got himself an heir- probably a little brat just as bad as all those other nobles."

Atemu shook his head silently and continued to spread the salve over the remaining cuts, bandaging them as he went. He re-checked the note, and saw that for the burns he would need to apply the contents of the yellow jar (which turned out to be several different dried herbs) with the blue salve as a poultice. He 'tsked'

"What? What's… wrong?" asked Bakura weakly.

"I just hate making poultices. Thank Ra I'm not going to be a healer or priest of Bastet." he replied wryly. 'Actually, is it even possible for a male to be a priest of Bastet?' he questioned himself. Nevermind.

Bakura gave a small chuckle. "I suppose you're right."

"Hold still. This'll probably sting. Typical Seto, didn't have painkilling herbs in all of that…" the last part being addressed to himself, applying the poultices to the several burns scattered across the other boy's body.

"Seto? You can't mean… the High Priest?" Bakura asked sharply.

Atemu knew he'd made a misstep. "Well…"

"Yes… or no, Atemu."

"Yes…"

"Why would the High-Priest help you assist me?"

"Because…" Atemu trailed off, applying the last poultice. If he told the other who he was, the boy would be very likely to run off, he obviously held no affection for the royal family. But lying to him didn't sit well with Atemu. "… My family is acquainted with him, one might say." A very tidy half-truth if he did say so himself.

Bakura narrowed his eyes, before apparently accepting the statement as fact. "Makes… sense I suppose."

Atemu breathed a sigh of relief. "Now, I'll have some food sent up and you can have something to eat. You're practically a skeleton!"

Bakura gave another bitter smile. "That was their plan."

The food arrived, and Bakura ate like there was no tomorrow. Atemu found this so amusing he ended up pushing his own plate toward the boy with a half-smile.

As they finished, Atemu put their plates back onto the trays at the side of the bed and said; "You need rest. Go to sleep- remember that you're safe here." before making as though to leave.

"Stay, please stay close by." came the slightly worried request.

The future monarch gave a gentle smile, an odd feeling of protectiveness coming over him. "I wasn't going to leave you in the suite by yourself, don't fuss."

The other boy gave a tentative smile in return.

Atemu was semi-dozing in the small room adjoining the bedroom after having warded the suite of rooms against noise and sight as well as locking it, when he heard a loud and tearful scream.

He jumped up, heart racing in fear and he raced into the bedroom, sat beside Bakura and awkwardly tried to wake him from his nightmare.

"Bakura, wake up! Please Akefia, it's all right, wake up!" he said, shaking his shoulders.

The boy's blood-red eyes snapped open full of fear and anguish. "Atemu! Oh Ra, it was horrible… horrible!" he sobbed, clutching onto Atemu's tunic, fingers clenching into the material.

Awkwardly the prince put his arms around the distraught child, rubbing his back as he sobbed into the fabric of his tunic.

"Hush, it's all right now. I'm here." he said. Slowly the shuddering sobs ceased, and though Bakura had released Atemu's clothing, somehow he'd managed to slip his arms around his waist instead, and his head lay on Atemu's chest, head tucked under his chin.

"Atemu?"

"Mmmhmmm?"

"Stay with me." Bakura whispered.

Atemu paused. "All-right." he answered softly.

Atemu initially stayed on top of the blankets so as not to cause an awkward situation, but as the night fell and deepened, the baking heat of the day gave way to the freezing cold of the desert at night, forcing the young man under the blankets beside his new-found friend.

Not one nightmare touched the white-haired boy while he lay within the circle of Atemu's arms.

When the morning came, Bakura was the first to awaken, eyes fluttering open. He felt something heavy across his chest and looked down to see the slightly smaller figure of Atemu, deep in sleep.

Remembering the events of the night before, he smiled slightly. The other boy had obviously tired himself out rescuing him and tending his wounds.

The smaller thirteen-year-old had a kind soul, that had been obvious when he'd run in to wake Bakura from his nightmare and then stayed to comfort him.

Deciding the added weight on his chest was oddly comfortable (and ignoring the stab of pain as the other shifted in his sleep), he idly scanned his surroundings, careful not to move and awaken the boy currently using him for a pillow.

The room they were in was richly decorated, he noted. 'Almost fit for the prince.' he thought idly. Atemu shifted again, arms tightening around his chest. Bakura suppressed a hiss of pain at the pressure on the many wounds scattered across his body, then gave a small smile and softly stroked the oddly coloured hair of the other boy.

Then he noticed something. He'd already seen the thin gold armband Atemu wore, so he knew the other had some form of money, but atop the dresser, lying as though carelessly tossed off lay a golden diadem.

That wasn't even the kicker. What really gave him a shock was the Eye of Ra engraved deeply into the valuable metal.

The symbol of the royal family.

His mind froze for a brief minute, before putting two-and-two together. The smaller, thirteen year old who had fearlessly snuck into the dungeons, released him from torture and possibly death, had tended the wounds he'd gained whilst there; who had fed him and comforted his nightmares; who now lay beside him under the blankets…was the son of the man who had destroyed his village and murdered his family- and heir to the royal throne of Egypt.

He looked down at the prince, who was snuggled into his chest. 'It would be so easy' he thought. 'to slit his throat right now and avenge my family.'

Atemu nuzzled up into Bakura's neck, smiling slightly in his sleep.

"Akefia… safe…" he murmured.

Said boy closed his bloody-hued eyes, a tight feeling in his chest. 'I can't. I don't want to kill him.' He opened his eyes and studied the smaller boy. That odd feeling he'd had before as Atemu had tended his wounds, the one he'd felt at every touch of the other boy's skin against his own intensified. 'In fact, odd as it sounds, I think I want… to… well… kiss him.'

Bakura shook his head, trying to clear his mind of the foreign impulse. By the gods, Atemu was a male! Not to mention the prince- they were in entirely different social circles.

There were so many reasons he shouldn't feel this way; (not that he was sure he knew exactly what 'this way' was.) but frankly, as he looked down at the sleeping boy's face, he found himself barely able to recall a single one.

Bakura was completely unaware that he'd leaned into the other boy's face until he found himself looking into a pair of sleepy ruby eyes, inches from his own.

"Bakura?" came a half-asleep voice, and said boy shivered at the sensation of the other's warm breath on his face. "What are you doing?" the prince asked, not moving his face away from Bakura's and looking curiously up at the taller boy.

"N-nothing." he said, not trusting himself to move.

"But… why is your face right in front of mine?" came the innocent question. 'Ah. He would have to ask that.'

"Um, well…" Oh yes, that would get him out of this mess.

"Ow! Something's poking my stomach!"

Bakura's eyes widened. Oh no. Surely he hadn't… And there wasn't anything he could do about it either. 'This could be embarrassing.'

Atemu reached under the blanket and Bakura closed his eyes. This couldn't be happening.

"Aha!" From under the blankets the boy in his arms pulled a gold pendant shaped like an upside down pyramid that he'd apparently forgotten to take off his neck before going to sleep.

Bakura breathed a sigh of relief. Thank Ra for that. Now he had to leave- if a peasant were to be discovered in the royal wing, especially in bed with the Crown Prince…

But before he left there was no reason not to satisfy that strange urge to kiss him. After all, the did live in different worlds- they'd never meet again. So he wouldn't have to worry about the prince's reaction.

While Bakura was convincing himself to actually go through with it, he felt a warmth brush his lips softly. He snapped back to himself with a start and saw the prince looking at him with an expression of surprised mortification on his face.

"I'm so sorry Bakura, I don't know what came over me- I don't know why I did that…" he started babbling frantically.

In order to shut him up, Bakura did the only logical thing- he leaned in and returned the kiss.

"Shut up." he commanded, and the two young men shared several more kisses. "Go back to sleep."

The slightly stunned prince complied (strangely enough) and soon was back in a deep, trance-like sleep.

Carefully, Bakura slipped out of Atemu's embrace and slid off the bed. He looked back and laid a light kiss on Atemu's forehead.

"Thank-you."

He paused at the window for a last time and said; "Sweet dreams… my prince." he said with a bittersweet smile on his young face before slipping out the window and disappearing into the rising sun.

Owari.


Hope you all like! Please leave me a review:D

Ireina