Hey folks. Here's the final chapter. Sorry it took so long.
'With their qualities of cleanliness, discretion, affection, patience, dignity and courage, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?' – Fernand Mery
The second phone call came on an unremarkable and uneventful Thursday, which also happened to be Christmas Eve.
Things had been going well for the past few days: there had been no more arguments or fights, Ryou wasn't stressing as much about his 'cat-ness', and Bakura was finding it surprisingly easy to act in such a way that let his hikari know he cared for him.
There had been no more kisses, though. That one occasion had been fairly odd.
On this uninspiring Thursday morning, the phone happened to ring while Ryou was somewhat preoccupied in the shower. (Much to Bakura's relief, his dislike of water hadn't been enough to make him jeopardise his personal hygiene.) Bakura let it ring away to itself for a while, but then gave an irritated sigh as he acknowledged that, whoever it was, they weren't going to just give up, and he was going to have to answer it.
"What?" he snapped, snatching up the device and holding it apprehensively to his ear.
"Woah. Someone's social skills still suck."
Bakura raised an eyebrow.
"…Malik?" he questioned at length.
"Who else? Hey, I think this is the first time you've ever answered one of my calls…are you finally moving into the technological age or…?"
"State your business, Ishtar, or go away," Bakura growled.
"Whatever," the volume of Malik's voice suddenly dropped to a suspiciously quiet level, "But first, is Ryou around?"
"Of course he's around. He lives here."
"But is he nearby? Can he hear this conversation?" he hissed.
"Wha…? No, he's in the shower."
"Right. Listen up. We have a bit of a problem…"
Bakura held the phone slightly away from his head in mistrust.
"What is it?" he asked warily.
Despite knowing that Ryou was not within earshot, Malik's next utterance was completely inaudible.
"What?" Bakura said in growing irritation, "Speak up, for God's sake."
"Fine! I lost the mouse!" Malik blurted out, "There! I said it!"
"You did what?"
"I have lost Ryou's mouse. It has opened its own cage and escaped."
"Hell as like! You probably just left the cage open yourself, you moron-!"
"I'm not kidding! That mouse is Houdini in rodent form!"
"Shut up," Bakura snarled, grinding the heel of his hand into his eye, "I'm coming over. Just don't step on the rat, whatever you do."
"…Seriously? You're actually going to come over and help?"
"Of course, you idiot. If Ryou finds out you've lost his pet, he's going to freak…"
"Aw, Bakura, that's so sweet…"
"…Fine. Get your butt over here."
Bakura rolled his eyes irritably and, after a considerable period of searching, found and pressed the 'end call' button. He went and grabbed his coat and, just as he was about to leave, heard Ryou switch the shower off.
"…Hey," he called, "I'm going out."
"Out?" he heard Ryou repeat in bewilderment, his voice muffled by the bathroom door, "Where?"
Bakura briefly considered telling him the truth, but quickly decided that such a thing would only cause unnecessary grief. If he and Malik found the unfortunate Rupert drowned in the toilet, then he would tell Ryou what had happened. As things stood, there was still a slight chance that the rodent could be saved. He would cling to that chance.
"Just out," he replied vaguely, hurrying out of the house before Ryou could answer.
When he reached the Ishtar household, he had barely lifted his hand to ring the bell when the door burst open and Malik bodily dragged him inside.
"Took you long enough," the blonde grumbled, even though their phone conversation had occurred a mere ten minutes ago, "Seriously, I need to find this mouse, or I might as well just die…"
"You always did like to over-dramatise matters," Bakura said dryly, "Have you started searching yet?"
"What do you think?" Malik asked in a slightly high-pitched voice, gesturing to their surroundings. Bakura glanced around and saw that the living room looked like it had recently suffered a violent raiding and pillaging, with cushions strewn everywhere, chairs upturned with their linings unzipped, bookshelves haphazardly emptied and the TV dragged out from its customary corner.
"Looks like you've been quite thorough," Bakura remarked, raising his eyebrows and wondering if a certain Isis Ishtar knew about this carnage.
"You should see my room," Malik said with a nervous giggle, "I dismantled my bed. And my VCR."
"What would a mouse be doing in your VCR?"
"I don't know! It could have crawled in the video slot or-!"
"Oh just shut up," Bakura growled, "Is there anywhere you haven't looked yet?"
"Um…just the kitchen."
Bakura stared at him in disbelief.
"…What?" Malik questioned after a moment.
"An animal is loose in your house," Bakura said very, very slowly, "And the only place you don't think to look is the one place you keep your food?"
Malik blinked a few times.
"Oops," he said finally.
"I despair," Bakura muttered, shoving the blonde slightly so that he would lead the way to the kitchen. They began an organised and systematic search, opening the cupboards, removing the contents and setting them neatly on the dressers. This quickly degenerated into a careless and random emptying of said cupboards and a disorganized replacement of all the contents when the search proved fruitless.
"So how are things with Ryou?" Malik asked as they worked.
"Must you make small talk while we do this?" Bakura asked in irritation.
"Well, the scratches on your face made me worry. I hope you're being nice to him," Malik said with uncharacteristic seriousness, "It's the least you can do, since you evidently haven't managed to break that stupid curse yet. He must be pretty down, having to spend Christmas half-cat."
"He's not so down," Bakura muttered, "And he's not half-cat."
"The fractional amount is irrelevant. The point still stands," Malik said with a dismissive wave of a hand, "So what have you got him?"
"What?" Bakura asked, grimacing as he found what appeared to be a very out-of-date banana at the back of his current cupboard.
"Y'know, for Christmas."
Bakura looked at him blankly.
"I haven't 'got him' anything," he said at length.
"…Woah," Malik said, looking rather hypocritically disgusted, "That's…pretty bad."
"I don't know how these stupid festivals work," Bakura snorted, resuming his search.
"Then allow me to explain it in layman's terms," Malik said with a roll of his eyes, "This particular festival, we call Christmas. Whilst it may have originally been about religion or family values or togetherness or whatever, it is now officially a cold, merciless holiday based upon the highly competitive exchanging of flashy and expensive gifts."
Bakura raised an eyebrow.
"And I'm supposed to want to celebrate this thing?" he asked disdainfully.
"I thought it'd be right up your street, what with you being the master thief and all," Malik said with a shrug, "I figured you'd want to prove that you could steal something for Ryou that was more awesome than anything anyone else could buy him."
"Sounds like a challenge…" Bakura mumbled, vaguely interested, "But I only ever stole things for my own use. Never for gifts. I don't know what other people would want."
"Forget 'other people'," Malik ordered, "You must know the kind of stuff Ryou likes. I mean, you live with him. You'd be the worst housemate in all of history if you have absolutely no idea."
"I guess I win that prize, then," Bakura said gruffly. Malik sighed exasperatedly.
"At least try," he snapped, aiming a kick in the yami's direction. For once Bakura managed to avoid the blonde's onslaught.
"Calm down, of course I'm going to try," he grumbled, "Even if I completely fail, the fact that I made an attempt might cheer him up slightly. And that's the general idea…"
Malik looked astonished for a moment, and then his expression softened.
"It shouldn't be so hard," he told him, "You'll wander about for a while, and then you'll see something that just screams 'Ryou would just love me!', y'know?"
Bakura's mouth twitched involuntarily into a slight smile.
"That's a frightening mental image…" he remarked.
"Oh come on, you know what I-"
Bakura frowned and looked up from his searching as Malik suddenly stopped mid-sentence, and saw the blonde staring transfixed into one of the cupboards. Hardly daring to hope, he followed his gaze and spotted a fast-moving, furry shape in the back corner of the baking ingredients area.
"I see it-!" Malik gasped, dropping on all fours to peer into the cupboard.
"Well don't just squat there, grab it!" Bakura ordered, wondering if finding and locating the fiendish mouse would really be this simple. He somehow doubted it.
Looking somewhat apprehensive, Malik reached into the shadowy depths of the cupboard and began searching around for the evasive Rupert. A moment later, Bakura almost jumped a foot in the air as the Egyptian teen gave a yelp of surprise and yanked his hand back as though the mouse had lit a match under it. Unfortunately, this action sent an open bag of flour flying out of the cupboard and into the air. They both reached up simultaneously to grab it but, even more unfortunately, they both got hold of the wrong end of the packet. As a result, it suddenly became a very white Christmas in the Ishtar household.
Once the dust settled to some extent, Bakura dared to open his eyes and looked at a white-from-top-to-toe Malik with a look of pure 'Why?' on his face.
"…Little bastard bit me," the blonde mumbled, going faintly red in the face under the coating of flour.
"One of these days, Ishtar, I swear…" Bakura growled, attempting to brush the white powder off of his face – a vain action, in all honesty, since all of him, including his hands, were covered in it.
Suddenly, the door behind them opened and Isis stepped into the kitchen, laden with grocery bags. She blinked in disbelief at the understandably surprising sight of her younger sibling and the Thief King sitting on the tiled floor amidst a mountain of spilt flour. Bakura felt that there should really have been a sign with the word 'Fail' written on it hovering above their heads.
"…Malik," Isis said very slowly, "What…?"
"Look, I lost Ryou's pet mouse and I searched for it everywhere except the kitchen, and then Bakura came and we started looking here, and then I saw it so I went to grab it, but it bit me and there was this bag of flour and…" Malik trailed off looking thoroughly dejected.
"Yes, I believe I can put the pieces of that story together," Isis said with a world-weary (or perhaps brother-weary) sigh, setting the bags on the reasonably un-floured table, "Let's just get this cleaned up before Rishid gets home and sees what you've done to his tidy kitchen…"
At length the flour was swept up and Bakura and Malik, though still slightly whitish in places, were presentable once more.
"Next time you have a problem like this, just wait until I come home and ask me for help, alright?" Isis scolded mildly, "There's one fail-safe way to catch a mouse in a humane fashion."
"There is?" both boys said in almost perfect unison, expressions of equal bewilderment on their faces.
This fail-safe method proved a lot simpler than any sort of trap they would have come up with: essentially, it involved taking an empty glass bottle, putting some tempting rodent-treats inside, and leaving the bottle on the floor on its side, just waiting for the unsuspecting mouse to wander along and squeeze inside to get its food.
"The sides of the bottle are too slippery," Isis explained, "So it can't get out again without help."
"That is clever," Malik said, looking rather impressed. Bakura said nothing. He still had the distinct feeling that this would go wrong somehow.
"Hey, while we're waiting for the mouse to fall for our genius trap…" Malik said suddenly, "We could go last-minute shopping. You really need to get that gift and…" his voice went quiet, "To be honest, I still have a whole load of shit to buy…"
"I didn't know what this holiday was all about," Bakura said in a deadpan voice, "What's your excuse?"
Within fifteen minutes the Thief King found himself in the Domino department store. Malik had rushed off to find something 'little-brother-adorable and reasonably inexpensive' for Isis, and so he found himself wandering alone, with absolutely no clue as to what he was looking for. Ryou, being Ryou, would probably be giddy with happiness no matter what he got him, but that wasn't good enough. Bakura didn't give a damn what anyone said: it wasn't the thought that counted. It had to be something his hikari would really like…
He halted and briefly wondered when he'd become so very fond of Ryou, and so concerned for his feelings. He then gruffly concluded that he'd been that way all along, but it had only been this damn curse that had made him sit up and take notice of it. At least that much good would come of the whole stupid thing.
Just then, something in a shop window caught his eye. Whilst it didn't exactly scream at him, as in Malik's little anecdote, it did immediately strike him, in a funny way, that it was just the thing to get. But then the thought of buying (or stealing) it seemed ridiculous to him, and he disregarded it totally. But no matter which store he went into after that, that one thing kept nagging at his mind.
He hesitated, trying to think this through logically. There was only one thing he knew for sure: if he got that particular thing for Ryou, the reaction he got would either be really good…or really bad.
He hung back a while longer, undecided, before growling a variety of obscenities under his breath and marching into the shop, mind firmly made up. What was life without risks, anyway?
When he met up with Malik again, the blonde's lavender eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw his choice of gift. He refused to say anything, though, good or bad. That was unusual for Malik, since he usually really liked to make his opinion heard, but Bakura wasn't bothered by it. He didn't need anyone saying anything now to make him lose strength.
They made their way back to the Ishtar household, and went into the kitchen with a mutual feeling of dread. However, Isis was there with a satisfied smile on her face, and when they looked at their 'better mouse-trap' they saw a very disgruntled looking Rupert sitting in his defeat inside the bottle.
"Woah," Bakura said in undisguised surprise, "It actually worked."
"Of course it worked," Isis said, looking mildly offended.
"Ha!" Malik grinned, putting his face close-up to the bottle and pointing mockingly at the captured rodent, "You lose, Rupert! We're just too smart for you! How do you like that?"
Bakura could have sworn that the mouse shot Malik a disdainful look with 'this was only round one' written all over it. He had a nasty feeling that he'd be getting another phone-call really soon. However, for the moment Rupert was securely back in his cage (with the door sticky-taped shut), and Bakura left to go back home.
When he reached the house, he slipped inside quietly and hid the rather large gift box in his room. It made a small noise. He hissed at it to be quiet.
He wandered through the house in search of Ryou. He eventually found him in the living room, setting up a very small tree on their coffee table. He tilted his head to one side and frowned. Malik had failed to mention the concept of Christmas trees to him, and whilst he had seen many of the things in almost every house and shop today, it hadn't really bothered him until this one had popped up in his own home.
"…Ryou," he said, "What is that?"
Ryou jumped slightly at his voice, having apparently been so intent upon his small piece of foliage that he hadn't heard him come in. He looked up at him and gave a small smile, but Bakura noticed with some disquiet that his eyes were red-rimmed.
"It's a Christmas tree," Ryou said, "I mean, it's a really small one, but it's still-"
"Why were you crying?" Bakura asked, cutting off the explanation that he didn't even care about anymore. Ryou blushed.
"Oh, um…" he mumbled, "It's nothing really, I just didn't know where you were and when you'd be back, and people usually decorate their Christmas trees together and…"
"So we'll finish it together," Bakura interrupted, squirming with guilt but knowing he couldn't tell Ryou anything about what he'd done today, "But you'll need to tell me what to do. Why do we have a tree in the house anyway?"
"It's not a real tree," Ryou said with a laugh, "This one's artificial. It's a Christmas tradition for people to have a pine tree in their house and decorate it."
Bakura looked baffled.
"But…why?" he questioned, looking as though he wasn't sure if Ryou was making fun of him or not.
"Um…" Ryou thought for a long moment, "I don't actually know. I guess the evergreen tree is to remind us of spring or something…but why we decorate it is a mystery to me…But it's fun. And it looks pretty."
"If you say so," Bakura said dubiously, picking up a small red ribbon and hanging it on a branch.
It didn't take them long to finish – the tree couldn't have been more than four feet tall – but it was a pleasant enough time, and the finished article was rather impressive. Even Bakura thought so, and he didn't even know what it was supposed to look like.
"I like it," Ryou said with a happy smile, "…Thanks."
Bakura started when he felt a slim hand slip shyly into his own. He stared down at their clasped hands, feeling like they were the very symbol of how much things had changed between them over the past few weeks. Noticing his line of vision, Ryou flushed and went to pull away, but Bakura held onto his hand tightly, not wanting the moment to end. He couldn't help it. Ever since he'd allowed himself to soften his attitude towards his hikari, it was as if the feelings he'd hardly been aware of before had suddenly become so much stronger…
Ryou's face went beetroot-red, but his eyes sparkled and that smile widened ever so slightly.
From what Bakura could remember from his time in the Millennium Ring, Ryou was usually incredibly excited on the night of December 24th. Not this year, though. He supposed it was because his hikari didn't expect there to be any Christmas the next morning. Once again he eyed the gift box in his bedroom warily, wondering for the millionth time if this was a good idea.
For most of the evening he and Ryou had sat together on the sofa, not talking much because they didn't need to. However, Ryou had come out with the strangest thing.
"Bakura…what happens, when the curse is broken?" he asked softly. Bakura blinked.
"Um…well…" he said uncertainly, "Basically…you won't be part-cat anymore."
"…Yes, I know," Ryou said, apparently fighting back a laugh at his expense, "I meant, what happens with…with us?"
The final few words were said in a mortified rush. Bakura blinked again, before realising with deadly certainty what he meant.
"Things won't go back to the way they were before, if that's what you mean," he said quietly, passing a hand briefly over those fluffy cat ears. Ryou's face flushed again – he really was the shyest kid, Bakura thought with amusement – but he looked so happy that it seemed like he might burst.
Crazy, Bakura thought to himself in his room later, shaking his head. He cast one more look at the gift box in the corner before jumping into bed. It was too late to go back on his plan now. He'd just have to hope it worked out.
It wasn't long before the house was completely silent and still. All over Domino, kids were lying in bed, unable to sleep with excitement at the prospect of the imminent Christmas morning. Even Bakura, who still had very little idea of what Christmas was actually all about, felt as though there was indeed some strange magic in the air that night.
However, the idyllic feel of it all wore off rather quickly when he was awoken at around five in the morning by a startled shriek from Ryou's room. Shooting out of bed, he noted that the gift box was now lying on its side. Open.
"…Shit," he said to no one in particular, palming his face.
He'd also left his door ajar the previous evening.
"…Shit," he said again, this time choosing to deal himself a slap to the side of the head. With some amount of dread in the pit of his stomach, he advanced into the hallway, reaching Ryou's room just in time to see him tip-toeing out, ears and tail and all.
"What was the commotion about?" Bakura asked casually. If it wasn't what he thought it was…then that was good.
"Oh, um…" Ryou said, blatantly hiding something behind his back, "It was nothing."
"You scream at some weird things, Ryou," Bakura said, "But you don't scream at nothing."
"Ok, ok," he said, bringing the hidden object out into the open. It wriggled in his hands, "A cat got into my room somehow. I got a fright, because it just suddenly jumped up onto my bed, and I really don't know how it got in here…"
"Uh, yeah," Bakura said, clearing his throat, "Merry Christmas?"
Ryou stared at him blankly. Wordlessly, Bakura led him back to his own bedroom and indicated to the upturned gift box, and the kitten supplies now strewn all over the floor.
"But…wait," Ryou said, still looking utterly confused, "It was in here…?"
"It's for you, moron," Bakura said gruffly, half-turning away, "You always wanted a cat, right?"
Ryou was silent, looking totally incredulous. Bakura winced inwardly. This was where it would all go right, or all go wrong. This could be taken as an insult, or a selfless gesture. And Ryou's reactions to things really had been unpredictable lately…
Suddenly, Bakura found himself almost bowled over as Ryou threw his arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.
…Yeah, that would suggest a positive response.
"Thank you so much!" Ryou gushed, still clinging to him, the cat sandwiched between them, "I mean, is this ok? You don't like cats, and if it's going to be a problem, then…"
"Shut up," Bakura said with a faint smile, giving into the temptation and returning his hikari's impromptu embrace. He wrapped his arms around him securely, causing Ryou to giggle but causing the cat to meow in protest. They were comfortable like that – comfortable, happy and warm. It seemed criminal that they had to eventually break apart.
"Thank you so much," Ryou said again, clutching the small silvery kitten to his chest and smiling up at his yami with shining eyes.
"You already said that," Bakura said, batting him lightly around the head, "Come on, I'm hungry. We need food."
And so it was that their Christmas breakfast was taken in the way it should be – in high spirits. However, Ryou suddenly gave a horrified gasp.
"Ah, Bakura…" he said, gnawing on his thumbnail, "I haven't been able to go any Christmas shopping, so…"
Bakura snorted and cut him off, knowing what he was about to say.
"Trust me, Ryou," he said, "You owe me nothing."
After breakfast they retreated to the sofa, where Ryou fussed over his new pet to no end. Then a thought struck him.
"Bakura…" he said uncertainly, "What about Rupert…?"
Bakura put on his best innocent smile.
"The thing is, Ryou…" he said with fake hesitance, "I was over at Malik's a while yesterday. And I think…he's become really attached to that mouse. I know he's yours and all, but I was thinking if we had a cat…?"
"Aw, that's so cute," Ryou laughed, cuddling the as-yet-unnamed kitten, "Well, if you really think he's grown on Malik that much…"
"Oh yeah," Bakura said seriously, "They were practically inseparable."
"I'd hate to tear something like that apart," Ryou said thoughtfully.
Bakura turned his face away so that Ryou wouldn't see his sadistic smirk. He just couldn't wait to break the news to dear Malik.
Having been roused from their beds at such an ungodly hour that morning, it wasn't long before their heads started nodding. But before they inevitably fell asleep, Bakura knew there was something he had to say.
"Ryou…" he said, nudging the teen slightly.
"Hm?" Ryou mumbled sleepily.
"I'm…really sorry," Bakura muttered, feeling his face burning, "For everything. Especially for not breaking this damn curse yet. I promise I will, I'll never give up, but…"
Ryou smiled at him, and all the words went out of his head.
"It's ok, Bakura," he said softly. And he actually meant it.
And Bakura just couldn't help it. The curse, Bastet's enigmatic words, Malik's relentless teasing, they all vanished completely from his mind in that moment. All that remained was Ryou – his shy smiles and sweet voice, his bottomless green eyes and heart-shaped face. Maybe that was why Bakura kissed him. He wasn't entirely sure.
He heard Ryou gasp softly in surprise as he leaned in and pressed his lips firmly against his. For a moment both of them just froze – Bakura's thoughts screaming 'What the hell did you just do?' and Ryou's probably gibbering 'What is going on?'
The kitten meowed. The spell broke, and they jumped apart.
"Um…what…" Ryou mumbled, his face red and looking totally confused.
"Sorry," Bakura said immediately, feeling the strong urge to whack his head off the nearby wall.
"N-no! Don't be sorry!" Ryou squeaked, reaching out and holding onto his arm. At this Bakura also looked confused, and Ryou blushed even deeper, "Um…that is…I…"
Bakura stared at him in wonder for a long, long moment. Then he reached out, slowly, and laid a hand over one side of Ryou's face. He caressed the pale skin lightly with his thumb, and felt a small thrill when his hikari leaned into the touch with a bashful smile.
"So…" he said uncertainly.
"Yes," Ryou said with a small laugh, not even waiting for him to speak.
Bakura couldn't stop himself from smiling again – his pride was bust anyway. He moved in again, without fear and hesitation this time, and kissed his little light – a proper kiss this time; deep, lingering and loving. Ryou made a small mewing sound of delight, and Bakura felt like his heart might just burst.
It was with great reluctance that they finally broke apart, both of them feeling equally stunned – and happy – as they looked into each other's eyes. Of all the things that either of them had expected to happen today…that hadn't been one of them. But neither of them could deny that it was probably what they had secretly wanted most.
"I…wow," Ryou said finally, giggling nervously, "I had no idea that you…"
"Me neither," Bakura admitted.
"I mean…I always…I just never thought that you…"
"Ryou," Bakura said in amusement, batting him lightly over the head again, "Shut up."
Ryou flushed and nodded, cuddling his kitten close to his chest. Bakura smirked slightly as the thought struck him that he wanted to cuddle his kitten too. He wrapped his arms around Ryou securely, and he happily snuggled into him. It was like some sort of dream – a few weeks ago it had been unthinkable that they would ever been this close.
"Bakura," Ryou said suddenly, "…Thank you."
Bakura wasn't entirely sure what he meant, but found himself too sleepy to worry about it much.
"It's fine," he said, before they both fell sound asleep, contented and cosily snuggled together.
It was around one PM when Bakura woke up.
It took him a few moments to realise that the warm weight against his right side was Ryou, still fast asleep. He blinked a few times and smiled, having thought that the whole thing would have turned out to be a dream.
"I have to say, tomb-robber, you certainly took your sweet time."
Bakura started, almost but not quite upsetting Ryou, and looked up to see Bastet lounging lazily on the nearby armchair.
"What do you want?" he hissed dangerously, hands clenching into fists. She blinked languidly and raised one feline eyebrow, as if scolding him for his conduct.
"Show a little gratitude," she said, "I could have just sent a messenger down to do it, but I graciously decided to do the deed myself…"
"What are you talking about?" Bakura snarled, wanting so much to spring at her and just maul, but at the same time not wanting to wake his hikari.
"The curse, you little idiot," she said with a long-suffering sigh, examining her claw-like fingernails, "You found the cure, right?"
"I did?" he said after a moment. She rolled her eyes.
"My, you are a foolish one," she said, ignoring the glare he sent her, "Even after you break it, you still haven't worked out how you did it…?"
"After I broke it…?" Bakura questioned slowly. Bastet nodded as one would to a small child. Bakura ignored the gesture, instead looking down at the still-dozing Ryou.
The cat ears were gone.
"What the…?" he said incredulously, looking his hikari over. The tail had vanished too, his closed eyes no longer appeared slanted, his fingernails had lost their needle-sharpness.
"Hey…I did it," Bakura said with an unrestrained grin, "I actually did it!"
"Yes, well done, Thief," Bastet said in evident boredom, "Anyone else would have done it in about two days, but never mind. Your own ignorance made the whole thing more of a punishment than it was even intended to be, but I suppose that works to my advantage."
"But…I don't get it," Bakura said, frowning again, "Why did it break?"
"It was something you should do naturally, right?" the goddess smirked, "Without being told? Work it out, Touzoku. It's not brain surgery."
Bakura thought for what seemed a ridiculously long time.
"I had to…be nice to him?" he asked dubiously. Bastet rolled her eyes.
"Almost," she said, "You really just had to…admit and show that you cared. Because, I'm sorry, but from the first moment I dropped in here, it was painfully obvious that you did. You just didn't know it."
"Shut up…" he mumbled half-heartedly, knowing she was right and hating it.
"Hmph. Well, Thief, our business is complete. I sincerely hope our paths never cross again," Bastet said, getting to her feet.
"The feeling's mutual," Bakura growled.
"I'm sure. A beautiful choice of companion, by the way," she said, gesturing to the sofa's sleeping inhabitants.
"…Yeah," Bakura said quietly, brushing a few locks of stray hair out of Ryou's eyes.
"I was referring to the cat, Touzoku," the goddess smirked, "But yes, the boy too."
Bakura just glared at her. She laughed merrily.
"Play nice, now," she said, "Make this second life worth it."
And with that, the mandatory beam of heavenly light came shooting down, and she was gone.
Bakura sighed, wondering why it was that spending even the briefest time in the presence of that goddess drained him of almost all his energy. Ryou stirred against his shoulder – apparently the burst of bright light had roused him from his nap.
"Nngh…" he mumbled, rubbing at his eyes, "What time is it…?"
"Just past one," Bakura told him, waiting to see if Ryou would take as long as he had to notice the fortuitous change.
"Already?" he yawned, "I should make lunch…"
Bakura tried and failed to suppress a snort of laughter. Ryou blinked, perplexed.
"What's funny?" he asked, tilting his head to one side.
"Nothing," Bakura said, looking half-away.
"What are you smiling about?" Ryou persisted, pouting cutely in annoyance. Wordlessly, Bakura reached over and laid a hand on top of his fluffy white head. Ryou looked dubious for a moment, and then reached up with his own hands in the same direction. He gasped when he found nothing untowardly feline there.
"Bakura, it's…!" he cried.
"Yeah," he agreed in amusement, pulling him into another lazy embrace.
"But…but how?" Ryou gaped, twisting his neck to look up at him, now-normal-green eyes wide.
"What can I say?" Bakura smirked, "I guess a first kiss can work wonders."
Ryou stared at him, still looking totally incredulous, but eventually just gave up and laughed.
"I guess so," he said, smiling contently.
"…Merry Christmas, Ryou."
Inwardly, both of them had the strange feeling that it had been the best Christmas ever.
Wows. It is finished :O
I know, I also took my sweet time. I can only apologise. But now it's done, and I can work on my new fics with a clear conscience :3 And believe me…that's a lot of fics.
Review thank you's:
I Love Everything: That picture link didn't work :( And that makes me sad. Sorry the update took so long, and thanks for your review. Hope you liked the conclusion :)
A great big sugar-coated thank you to ONIX-21, Chisaki-chan, ahilty, Echo in the Dark, ylc, Wild Dragon's breath, Moon Comix, mystralwind, casaragi, saternoutlaw, KhaosKitty, XxChange-of-HeartxX, summer-flower-girl and DarkestInk. You are all my sunshines.
Kudos to anyone who can come up with the perfect name for Ryou's cat.
Until next time…