Disclaimer: I own nothing

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Warning: Yaoi

Author's Note: I'm sorry the last chapter took so long guys. Things have been pretty crazy the last month or so and I had to put school ahead of this. I've just now had time to start writing again. So, here's the last chapter. I kind of struggled with it, but all in all, I'm pretty satisfied and I hope you enjoy it. I've had a great time writing this story and all my reviewers have been wonderful and I'm so glad you like this story.

Chapter 17

Bakura sat alone in his holding cell, a wry smile playing across his face. He had approximately thirty minutes until the sun rose, and he would be executed. He had sat through his trial with a passive expression on his face, neither confirming nor denying anything, much to the frustration of the priests questioning him.

Atem had sat on his throne, mirroring his expression. He sat in all his regal glory, not once looking in Bakura's direction or acknowledging him at all. The Pharaoh had suggested that the priests take control of this case, considering it was one of their own that has perished. Akhenden's crimes, however, had gained Bakura public sympathy, regardless of the priests' attempts to cover up that particular bit of evidence. Despite the overwhelming public input, Bakura had still murdered a high priest, for which the punishment was always death.

Atem had gracefully removed himself from the case, acting cold and distant, just as Bakura had asked. He didn't want Atem to be blamed for any of this. He needed him to be gone. Otherwise he didn't know if he could do this.

The doomed thief heard footsteps descending the stairs to his cell. Seth. He knew it was him before the tall figure ducked into his humble sanctuary. He had expected him to make one last appearance before the end.

Seth nodded to him in greeting, a somber look on his features. "Bakura, I--"

Bakura cut him off. "You don't need to say anything Seth."

The priest nodded uncomfortably, studying Bakura. "Atem wanted to...say goodbye, but he didn't think it would be wise to..."

Bakura nodded, no longer really paying attention to what Seth was saying, but agreeing anyway. "He shouldn't come."

Seth cocked his head at the thief, feeling a little unsettled at Bakura's detachment. He opened his mouth to ask him what was wrong, but Bakura turned towards him at that point, a strange sparkle in his eye, and then everything went black.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Atem alternated between pacing angrily back and forth in his chamber and collapsing on the bed in tears. This was unfair. It was ridiculous. He was pharaoh; he should be able to do what ever he wanted.

He wiped the tears from his face with the back of his hand and glanced out the window, noting with dread that the horizon was beginning to take on a faint glow. He didn't know what to do. The last time he had spoken to Bakura had been a week ago, before the trial, when he had told him that everything would be okay and Atem shouldn't worry about this.

But everything wasn't okay. Bakura was going to die at sunrise. He'd done what Bakura had asked. He's removed himself from the trial, handed Bakura's fate over to the priests. And even though Seth had tried to interject, Bakura still found himself facing the hangman.

It had hurt Atem so much to sit through that trial and hear the priests slander Bakura and show no emotion. Every word he wanted to stand and defend him. But he couldn't. He'd promised not to interfere. Atem had thought Bakura had some sort of plan. He had dared glance at him, just once, in the beginning and he seemed so calm that Atem's mind was eased.

But now...it was nearly sunrise and Bakura was still locked in the dungeon. Perhaps his plan had been to die after all? Maybe he was making it easier for both of them by pretending he had a way to make this better.

Atem dug his fingers in his hair and screamed silently into the plush pillows scattering his bed. He couldn't do this. He couldn't just let Bakura die. Even if it meant his throne and his life and everything else he was destined for, he couldn't do it.

What if Bakura was expecting him to rescue him all this time and he failed? What if his calm demeanor had only been a pretense and he was really waiting for him? He made up his mind quickly, not thinking of the consequences. He left his room and headed to the dungeon at a brisk walk, fearing that maybe he was too late.

He broke into a run, tearing down the corridors, panic sinking into his heart. If he was too late and Bakura was already...he could never forgive himself. Atem flew past the startled guards and nearly fell down the stairs to the lowest level of the dungeon. He grabbed hold of the railing just in time and steadied himself, breathing heavily.

As Atem burst around the corner, he was startled to find the door to Bakura's cell open and Seth sprawled on the floor just regaining consciousness.

"Seth?" Atem asked worriedly as he knelt down next to the priest.

"What happened?" Seth groaned, sitting up and looking confused.

Atem smiled softly. "I was hoping you could tell me."

Seth looked around, as if trying to remember why he was here. His hand flew to his belt and he sighed. "My Rod, it's gone."

"Gone?" Atem asked, voice hopeful.

"Yeah," Seth sighed. "I came down here to...I don't know, say goodbye or help him out or something, and then I passed out."

Atem couldn't contain the relieved smile that spread over his face. "He escaped."

Seth returned the smile and leaned on Atem as he helped him stand. "I guess he did."

XxXxXxXxXxX

Relieved as Atem was, he couldn't stop thinking about Bakura. Was he alright? Where had he gone? And most importantly, would he ever see him again? Two days after the escape, Seth had found his Millennium Rod lying atop his pillow with a note attached to it saying "Thanks," but that was all Atem had heard of him.

He was glad that Bakura was safe and this nightmare was all over, but Atem couldn't help but feel a little abandon. He had gone back to the way his life was before he knew Bakura, but he couldn't help but miss him desperately. For days after he left, Atem would find tears running down his face as he drifted to sleep with no one next to him, wondering if Bakura was somewhere in the desert looking up at the moon shining over the Nile and feeling as lonely as he was.

He knew Seth worried about him, but Atem refused to appear any less than majestic whenever in the presence of others. The scandal Bakura had caused had long since blown over and the search had been abandon. The priests had returned to their former duties, but Atem just couldn't fall back to that life so easily.

The Pharaoh entered his chambers, the ones he had lived in before Bakura's coming to the castle, and looked out the window with a dejected sigh. The moon was full tonight, glinting off the waters of the river just over the wall. It was at times like these, when the night was so beautiful that Atem missed him the most. It had been nearly three months since that night they spent at the inn in the city, but it felt like it was yesterday. Like only hours ago he had held Bakura when he cried and made love to him in the old creaky bed as he cried out his name.

Atem sighed and sat on the edge of the window, leaning against the frame. He didn't cry himself to sleep every night now, but the emptiness was still there, especially at night when he was alone and had nothing to distract him from the pain. He was truly glad Bakura had escaped, but he really wished he could have seen him just one more time. Just to know that he was alive and okay and happy.

And that he still loved him.

Atem hated himself for it, but he was beginning to doubt it. Bakura had probably moved on; found someone else to spend passionate nights with. It wasn't like he could ever come back, so Atem supposed he should be happy for whatever good fortune Bakura had gained, but he couldn't help at feeling bitter about.

And then there was the anger at himself for doing nothing until it was too late. Until Bakura was forced to leave. If only he had done something sooner...maybe he would still be here.

Atem felt moisture on his face as his thoughts continued down the familiar path.

He should have done more. He should have shown Bakura how much he loved him. He missed him so much it left an empty void in his heart that would not go away, after three months. He still felt the pain as harshly as his first night alone. Atem smeared the tears across his face with swipe of his hand. He hated that he felt this way and there was nothing he could do to fix it. Nothing he could do to bring him back.

"I hope those aren't on my account," said a husky voice from behind him. Atem whirled around, mouth hanging open in shock as he stared at the figure standing in the middle of his chambers.

Still clad in his expensive red cloak that floated around his tanned body in the breeze from the window, Bakura stood half hidden in the shadows, a smile on his lips. The light of the moon that managed to reach him glowed around his white hair, making him look otherworldly beautiful.

Atem tried to form some sort of coherent sound. To ask him how or why or any of the other things that had been running through his mind only a moment before, and then he realized he didn't care. It didn't matter. All that mattered was that he was here. With him once again.

Atem closed the distance between them in an instant, wrapping his arms tightly around the thief's waist and burying his head in his shoulder.

"Oh Ra Bakura, I've missed you," Atem cried as Bakura returned the gesture, wrapping his arms just as tightly around the Pharaoh.

"I've missed you too," Bakura murmured into his hair, squeezing him firmly.

"I didn't think you were going to come back," Atem said into Bakura's shoulder, more to himself than the thief and feeling suddenly overwhelmed by intense emotion.

Bakura pulled away and held Atem at arms length, studying his tear stained face. "Why wouldn't I come back?" Bakura asked softly.

Atem suddenly felt extremely insecure and confused.He glanced towards the floor, avoiding Bakura's questioning gaze. "You just left and it's been months and I didn't know if you were okay or where you were or if I was ever going to see you again and it was all my fault. I just left you there to die and I'm sorry. I did come, but you had already left and I thought maybe you thought I didn't love you anymore..." Atem trailed off and glanced up at Bakura whose expression was unreadable. "And I thought maybe you didn't love me anymore."

Before Atem could say anymore, Bakura's lips were on his, pressing gently at first, but he soon deepened the kiss, invading Atem's mouth with his tongue and kissing him thoroughly.

"Don't ever think that I don't love you," Bakura said harshly as they parted, both gasping for breath. Atem hugged him tightly again, burying his face in the crook of his lover's neck, purring when Bakura began stroking his hair.

"I didn't mean for you to worry," Bakura said softly. "I just wanted to make sure no one blamed you for my escape. And I had to wait until they stopped looking for me before I could even try returning to the capital."

"I would have left for you," Atem said. "I know I said I wouldn't, but I would have given up being pharaoh for you."

"I know," Bakura said, kissing him. "I know you would, but I couldn't let you do that."

"I'm sorry," Atem murmured as Bakura pressed kisses along his jaw.

"Don't be," Bakura whispered in his ear, nipping at the lobe before continuing to kiss down his neck.

"MMmmm...Bakura..." Atem moaned as his cloak was pushed from his shoulders and rough hands roamed across his body. "I love you."

"I love you too," Bakura replied, pushing Atem to lie on the bed before quickly climbing on top of him to continue reacquainting himself with his lover's body.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Atem stretched on the bare abused mattress, the sheet slipping lower down his stomach to slide off one of his hips. Bakura eyed him lustily from his spot leaning against the window frame of the tiny inn room. Atem grinned at him and wiggled so that the sheet slipped off a bit more, exposing more tanned skin.

"Tease," Bakura accused as he left his spot at the window and climbed back into the narrow bed, straddling Atem's half covered waist and leaning down to kiss him softly.

"You like it," Atem purred as Bakura's teeth scraped along his neck.

"What would the people of Egypt think if they knew what a wanton slut their Pharaoh was?" Bakura asked as he rubbed his hips playfully against Atem's half-hard erection.

Atem laughed softly and let Bakura kiss up his neck and return to his mouth, plundering it thoroughly.

When he finally gave Atem room to breath, the Pharaoh was content with just watching the glow of the rising sun behind his lover, illuminating his pale hair. He ran his hands up Bakura's thighs, earning a raised eyebrow from the thief.

"It's nearly morning, don't tell me you want it again," Bakura teased.

Atem smiled. "I'm just glad you came back."

Bakura leaned down and kissed him softly. "I'll always come back."

The thief lay down beside him, slipping his hand into Atem's and squeezing it affectionately. Atem rolled over so that he was pressed against him, leaning into the warm body.

"I have to leave soon," Bakura murmured as he stroked his thumb over the back of Atem's hand, "and you must return to the palace."

The smile faded from Atem's face. "It's always going to be like this, isn't it?" he asked, wrapping an arm around Bakura's waist. "We'll have to sneak off into the city for a night and then go our separate ways in the morning."

Bakura nodded. "I don't think we have any other choice," he responded, sadness creeping into his voice. "I'm sorry."

Atem rolled onto Bakura, straddling him this time and staring down at him, all playfulness gone. "I'm not."

"You're not sorry we have to sneak around like horny teenage boys?" Bakura asked with a grin.

"No," Atem breathed, "I'm not sorry about anything I've done with you. I love you. I don't regret any of it. If this is how it has to be, at least we have something to be."

Bakura pulled Atem down into another languorous kiss, taking his time in tasting him and letting his hands run across the once again familiar body. "I love you. I always will."

They lay entwined together until the sun was high in the sky and neither of them could avoid the inevitable any longer. After a long and desperate kiss, Bakura departed for the window. He flashed a last grin at a forlorn-looking Atem as he slipped out.

"Keep watch, you'll never know where I'll turn up," he said with a wink.

Atem crossed his arms and smiled softly. "Is that a promise?"

"Always," Bakura said as he returned the grin as he leapt out of the window and out of sight.

The End