Shadow: There appears to be a moth making its journey across my screen, and won't shift however much I flap at it. And I refuse to squish it, because I hate squishing bugs and I'd get squished moth all over my monitor so…eww…

….Damn, it's demeaning to be ignored by a bug. D: (Compy-kun stop laughing at me. –pouts-)

Disclaimer: I don't own YGO, and I don't own the nursery rhymes and fairytales mentioned in this story.

Notes: Round three of Compy-kun's contest: tendershipping, or Bakura x Ryou. This means shonen-ai (boy x boy). You no like, you no read, 'kay?


Jack

There was nothing soft about Bakura. His chin was sharp; his eyes even sharper, his hair firmly fixed in spikes that framed his pointed face. His tongue was often said to be barbed, lashing out to deal scathing criticism on foolish heads, his fists perhaps the only things swifter than his words when necessity called for it. Bakura's heart…was brittle.

Ryou had noticed just how fragile his other's heart was before, accidentally wounded Bakura with some casual remark taken the wrong way. Then…then Bakura's look had been devastated, but thick ice had slammed over the window he'd glimpsed into the other's soul and a grim haughtiness had descended in dark eyes almost immediately, devastation hidden.

They made quite a pair, the two of them. More a true mirror than any other hikari-yami set, the cracks in the reflection much better hidden than the reflections of the Puzzle and Rod.

Yugi and Yami were the Puzzle that completed each other, differing pieces that fit together to make a whole; Ryou and Bakura were the Ring, the circle that had no beginning or end, but ran seamlessly together, intractably linked.

Both Ryou and Bakura were fragile in their own way, but whereas Ryou was the one possessing the soft heart, learning from its mistakes, Bakura took the hard, brittle heart, easily shattered but caring not at all for accidents it may have committed, damning the world with every fierce, defiant beat it took to spite it.

The world was a blanket of white. It had snowed a few days earlier in Domino City, the frost setting in overnight alongside it and turning everything into a glittering Wonderland.

Ryou loved the snow, randomly twirling in it and flinging up glittering flakes that spun and twirled beside him in the air. His glee was childish; his cheeks flushed pink from both his activities and the cold, clashing rather horribly with his neon green scarf.

"Yadounishi, what are you doing?"

Ryou paused in his actions, glancing over one shoulder to where Bakura waited, the lower half of his yami's face hidden in his own scarf, a rich red in colour. "What does it look like?"

"Like you're making a prat of yourself." Bakura's nose accidentally nudged out from under warm cloth, and so a pale hand hastily rose to recover it from the cold.

His younger companion rolled his eyes, but obligingly stopped his twirling in the snow, moving over to take hold of Bakura's hand. The other youth's skin was cold to touch… Why had neither of them brought gloves, when it was so chilly out?

They could've been mistaken for brothers – twins. Standing side by side in the park at winter they were nearly identical, both of them white-haired, dark-eyed and clad in thick black coats. Their coloured scarves were their main difference, Ryou's – as mentioned before – a luminous neon green (Bakura hated it, and had commented on how it looked 'bloody awful', but Ryou had bought it regardless), while Bakura's was red. Hand in hand they were heading for Yugi's – Bakura rather reluctantly – after having been invited to spend the day there with the rest of the usual gang.

Walking along Ryou was constantly reminded of a story he'd been told as a child – he must've been – what? Five? Six? His maternal grandmother had spoilt him rotten in those days; he had been her only grandson, and she loved him dearly. Ryou could almost sense her there, in the Park, that vague scent of peppermints the wonderful lady had always been so fond of tickling his nostrils mixed with that strange, crushed lavender smell she'd claimed had helped her aching bones sleep at night.

A thoughtful glance at Bakura, the unknowing instigator of the memories, and their entwined hands. What do you think of my lover, grandma? I know he can be rather rough, but he cares for me, in his own way. Ryou snorted, suddenly recalling the slightly more fiery edge to the woman's personality. You'd probably give him a bat upside the head when he cheeked you, and then playfully poke him in the ribs until he stopped his grumbling… Another glance at Bakura, and the way the red of the thief's scarf contrasted beautifully with the deep brown of the youth's eyes. You probably would have liked each other…

Memories of his grandmother were liked irrevocably with memories of fairytales told by that lady's roaring fire – as a child, Ryou had never seen his grandparents as much as he would've wished; visits were very much restricted to family occasions, and then, as the years passed and (more often than not) the distance between 'home' and 'grandma's house' increased, cut down to the period over Christmas and New Year.

But…the year when he had been five…six…about then. Amane had been little more than a babe, picked up and passed from amused adult to amused adult because she had been so entranced with the fire. ("no, Amane! Burny-burny, hot. Don't touch.") Ryou himself, staring fascinated out of the window, endlessly curious about the sparkling patterns snowflakes and frost had caused there.

"What makes all the patterns in the snow, grandma?"

A gleam had entered the woman's eyes and she had patted the cushion on the chair beside her, welcoming. Ryou, realising he was going to be gifted with one of his grandma's stories, had all but ran across the room to the old lady's side.

A thoughtful pause, a wise nod, and the woman had leant down and imparted in a conspiratorial whisper: "Jack Frost's about and up to his ol' tricks again, Ryou. It's he that patterns all the snowflakes they way they are."

"Jack Frost?" Wide eyes then, slowly getting wider.

"Jack Frost," his grandmother confirmed, "naughty boy that he is. He's a prickly individual and a thief, and very vain too. Waltzes around calling himself 'the King of winter'."

Jack Frost – an elfin creature he crept about at night, and left crystal patterns on windows on cold mornings. Who snatched your breath as soon as it left you mouth in winter, turning it into wispy dragons that tumbled and fell about in the air, eventually dissipating to nothing.

Ryou thought Bakura reminded him very much of Jack Frost. Walking at the other's side he could easily see the connection, sneaking glances at his lover under half-lowered lashes, black as coal against his cheeks. Bakura was pretty; Bakura was vain; Bakura stole precious things and spirited them away. Bakura was –

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick; Jack jump over the candlestick.

But every fairytale had a Jack, be he named or no, and not a few nightmares as well! Bakura was a special Jack.

Jack, Jack, Jack.

Disdainful of most mortals, and quite cold on the outside. Quite cold within, as well, save for that small, warm spot of Bakura's heart Ryou could creep into –

"Omote, just what is bothering you?" Bakura had finally noticed the coy glances Ryou was shooting at him, and paused, staring at his supposedly lighter half expectantly. His red scarf slipped down over his chin again, exposing the lower half of his face to the winter cold.

"I was thinking." Ryou smiled brightly, leaning forwards to pull the red cloth up again. "Just random thoughts; it's nothing to worry about."

Bakura looked at him, exasperated, but tugged on his hand again, dismissing the question. The two continued on.

Jack, Jack, Jack.

Little Jack Horner

Sat in his Corner

Eating his Christmas pie

He stuck in his thumb

And pulled out a plum

And said "What a good boy I am!"

Bakura was wonderful the way he was. Admittedly, the thief was not without his flaws – he was still too rude, by far, to Yugi-tachi, and his manners could be abysmal. Then there was Bakura's odd perchance for stealing shiny, expensive objects every so often – those had to be returned. And…he had a possessive, jealous streak, but then…he had…those eyes.

Strange, lost looking things, almost a child's. Angry, fierce, defending their actions and defiant but…also…afraid? Afraid of –

And ice walls slammed down over the soul's windows, and any insight Ryou felt he may have gained into his Jack was lost. Bakura. Jack. Ryou's King of Winter no sun would ever melt, laying cold kisses along with his affections.

"Yadounishi, you are me."

An old argument, one of Bakura's favourites…but…never quite true. There were always differences. Slight. Small. Noticeable. If Bakura was the King of Frost…

Then I'm the Prince of Snow.

The King of Frost courting the Prince of Snow… Suddenly, in Ryou's head there emerged a picture of Bakura and himself decked in Elizabethan finery. Ryou laughed at the image, his eyes sparkling when Bakura stared at him. "It's still nothing," he assured the other.

Bakura sighed, loudly, but dragged at their hands again, pulling them both on just that little bit faster.

Jack and Jill went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water;

Jack fell down and broke his crown,

And Jill came tumbling after.

Jack…every Jack had a purpose, be it to climb hills, kill giants or pull plums out of Christmas pie. What was the purpose of Jack Frost? Why, Frost seemed to have taken it upon himself to change the world…leastways, Bakura changed Ryou's world.

Bakura altered everything completely, stealing away his other half's steady surroundings and replacing them with a glittering landscape of stark extremities. Both chillingly beautiful and just as deadly, the new world was an iceberg just over the horizon, which Ryou could only just make out the very tip of.

Yugi's house.

Ryou felt himself blinking as Bakura stopped suddenly, barely a few feet away from the Kame Game Shop's entrance. There was a window…

The living room of the home behind the shop, packed full of Yugi-tachi. The fire roaring…the smiling friends. Joey and Tristan, brawling over what looked like a packet of biscuits; Téa curled up beside the couch, chattering with Yugi, who lay sprawled upon it. Yami…walking through the swinging doors from the kitchen with a mug of some steaming drink. The way the once-pharaoh slid down beside his other, handing the drink to Téa and wrapping his arms around Yugi was par for the course. Yugi smiled, tilting his head up for a kiss…

Yami and Yugi made a cute couple. They were the pair at the heart of Yugi-tachi (hence the name), the bearers of the Puzzle of Unity, the lights around which all other planets circled… Everyone saw it, admired it, felt touched somewhere about it…

Everything about the scene was so warm.

Ryou looked to Bakura, about to urge his yami on so they could go inside…but then caught the hesitation in his lover's dark eyes, feeling the faintest of frissons running throughout Bakura's body through the cool touch of their entwined hands.

Ryou glanced at the affectionate scene through the window once more, at the golden pairing that radiated light and heat even outwards through the frost-laced pane. It was entrancing, watching the Courts of Sun and Summer caught perfectly together in smiling bliss, completely unaware of the Winter sovereign who ruled outside.

…It wasn't delusion, exactly, nor was it ignorance. Summer looked upon Winter and no longer minded him, tolerating the chill by clutching onto the sunshine glowing in his arms, pressing kisses to smooth skin and hearing the glowing light's laughter and love lingering in every precious word they shared.

It…would be wrong to take Bakura into that.

Biting his lip, Ryou tugged lightly on Bakura's hand, not surprised when the thief turned to look at him immediately. "C'mon." He was pulling more at Bakura's arm now, dragging Bakura away from the Game Shop, and back to the park.

"Ryou…" Bakura's uncertainty, expressed through the use of a name. 'Yadounishi' no more? Not 'omote'?

"Bakura." Ryou kept his tone firm, his eyes steady – Bakura did not like pity, and would take Ryou's actions as the hated emotion at a whim.

Bakura consented to be pulled back to the park.

They sat on a bench there, Ryou leaning into his yami as Bakura awkwardly draped a hand around him. Frost didn't take easily to tender affection…

Jack, Jack…Jack stole breath. Jack stole breath and turned it into wispy dragons that danced and twirled in the air.

Jack, Jack…steal my breath. You've stolen it before…

Sighing softly, Ryou leaned in to press a light to kiss to the thief's lips, feeling them part slightly in response, warm breath touching Ryou in return. The light didn't force anything, instead withdrawing after a few seconds, smoothing unruly spikes back off his lover's face. "They should have called you Jack…"

"What?" Wariness, Bakura not understanding the seemingly random statement. Poor Jack must've bumped his head quite hard when he tumbled down the hill…

"Jack." His companion repeated the word, snuggling once more into the crook of Bakura's arm. "It would've been a good name for you. I like 'Bakura' better though."

"If…you say so, yadounishi." It wasn't hard to tell Bakura was perplexed by Ryou's words but, like all of his lighter lover's other odd eccentricities, just settled for resigned acceptance.

There was no understanding Ryou sometimes. Best to try and conserve sanity with the age-old method of smiling and nodding. Ryou laughed, noticing the diversionary tactic, but said no more.

They made a strange couple, sitting on the park bench in the middle of winter, but a lovely one. Odd, for their clothes were matching, their appearances nearly identical…were they brothers? The neon green of Ryou's scarf tucked neatly under the deep red of Bakura's, both of them with a snowfall of hair cascading down their backs and shadowing their pale faces. Ryou with his slightly softer features but…there was nothing soft about Bakura. Jack Frost was a frosty individual indeed, and never showed love or affection to anyone…

Bakura shifted, his arm sliding lower on Ryou's shoulder to a more comfortable position, pulling the other youth to him more closely. At the same time he dropped his head, placing the lightest of kisses on the boy's forehead. His lips barely brushed Ryou's temples, and yet the light's smile in reply was stunning.

…Except maybe Ryou.


Shadow: Ryou's grandma is based on a mixture of my own grandma and nana – the two are (and sadly were, in the latter case) very…distinguishable ladies, and, somehow or other, their personalities stole into this fic.

….Dammit, I want it to snow now.