A/N: The final chapter. I was going to add some explanation here but… I decided against it in the end. If you're confused, ask me. I'll see if I know what's going on. Don't let the chapter title scare you away. It's more symbolic than anything. And as always, I'd like to know your thoughts on anything and everything. Thank you for sticking with this thing I call a story!
Bakura had lost one of the delicate points hanging from the band of his ring. It could have just fallen off. The craftsmanship was excellent but nothing lasted forever. There was no reason to panic and yet, he backtracked his steps and Ryou's steps and Kaiba's steps. He never missed a shiny object, no matter how tiny.
He frowned as he searched from under the mattress. How long had it been since the tiny bastard fell off? He had no idea. Ryou didn't even need to be in the room to make him stray off course.
The bathroom door couldn't open fast enough for Bakura to barge in. His eyes found the sink without help from the overhead lamp. Had it got washed down the drain?
"I took the ring off," he muttered, turning on his heel and slamming the door shut. He had been calmer after showering.
If he hadn't lost the damned thing after Ryou stopped by... Bakura checked that he had his keys and stalked out of the apartment.
Even as he gazed at his red finger tips, all he could think about was the taste of Ryou's mouth.
The streets weren't as empty as before. He passed by people, hardly noticing them. They weren't important. Bakura came to a halt near the alley. Someone had found the poor victim, as expected. Had he been thinking straight, he would have hid the leftovers better. He snorted. No thinking straight for him, not with Ryou.
Nothing glittered gold in the alleyway. The dirty yellow police tape just didn't cut it. A sense of irony washed over him and made him chuckle under his breath. The police station was next on his places to visit, then. Bakura hoped his hunch wasn't right. It always was.
He didn't know what he would do when Ryou found out. But he would wait. He would wait for Ryou to discover the truth and see what happened. If Ryou turned his back on him…
The blade was always at hand.
Seto put his phone away, a scowl on his face. When Mikazuki had told him to call later, Seto had thought that the other would pick up to say something more than, "Can't talk right now, bye."
"Maybe you should be grateful he even picked up," Mokuba remarked from his spot, flicking through something not work-related. "You think it has something to do with Ryou again?" The leather chair in the office corner creaked as the younger shifted to get a better look at his brother.
The scowl disappeared and Seto raised a brow. "It's 'Ryou' now?"
"I can't call him 'Bakura'. That'd be weird."
Seto's computer announced that he had mail. He marked it as important, deciding to read it during his next break. It was the second time within the last couple of days Malik had contacted him. Seto found that he didn't mind.
"I hope he sticks around." Mokuba put his light reading away and gathered his things, getting ready to go back to work.
"That is not up to us."
Ryou thought he saw Bakura but the figure vanished before he could get a decent look in. Bakura was everywhere he looked, Ryou mused with a small smile. He was losing it. How could he mistake someone else for the man? Bakura was one of a kind.
He needed to focus. He had come to get some work done, and to prove he was alive. Daydreaming wasn't on the agenda.
From all the random pieces of info thrown at him, Ryou had gathered that a new victim had been found. Nothing too gruesome, a sliced throat and blood spread around. Ryou didn't bother scolding himself for thinking that it wasn't as bad. Was he growing numb?
His thoughts drifted back to yesterday and to the spit-exchange with Bakura. A blush took place. He was definitely not growing numb in any shape or form.
Feeling his concentration slipping again, he got up from the desk chair. If no one brought him information, he would have to go find some. Details were what he worked with and without them, there was no use for him.
Ryou poked his head through the doorway. The hallway leading to the lobby was empty at first glance but he could hear footsteps from around a corner. The light on the ceiling above him flickered. Ryou glanced up to frown at it before making eye contact with the one coming down the hall. He couldn't recall the name of the coworker but seeing the file the other was carrying, Ryou flashed him a smile.
"Is that for me?"
"Yup, sorry it took so long but we were debating on if we should show you this," he held a small plastic bag between his pointer and thumb, "or just a photo of it. But in the end-"
Before the other could finish the sentence, Ryou snatched the small bag. He didn't pay attention on the surprised expression his actions got. Something had glimmered gold inside the plastic cover, causing a chill to run down his spine. He couldn't tear his eyes off the tiny golden point.
"Hey, are you alright?"
The question didn't get Ryou's attention. "I'm quite fine, thank you," he replied out of habit before turning on his heel and shutting the door behind him. He heard a muffled cry of protest as he sank on the floor, his back against the door. The point belonged to Bakura.
Ryou spread the contents of the file on the floor. He had to know where they had found it.
A slit throat. A pool of blood. A piece of Bakura's ring covered in red.
It couldn't be. There had to be some mistake, some other explanation for everything. It was just a coincidence. Maybe Bakura had found the victim and the tiny thing had just fell off in the process.
But the one who had called the police hadn't been Bakura and this wasn't the first piece of evidence pointing towards the ring. There had been an earlier incident where the victim had fought and gotten a bruise and a strange mark on his cheek.
Ryou found himself arranging the photos and documents into neat lines on the floor. The paintings were red, he realized. Who did he have on his wall? A part of him insisted that there was no way Bakura was involved, that the relationship couldn't be a bigger mess than the ones before it. The part was overridden.
Guilt, for not trusting Bakura even though he had decided to, made him want to know for sure without mixing the police in. Ryou snuck out of his workplace, careful not to look like he was doing something he shouldn't. What he should do, he didn't want to think about. Not yet.
Honda noticed him from across the lobby before he could make it out the door. He considered storming out but knew that Honda would follow. In stead, he slowed his pace and made eye contact. Honda's suspicious frown was replaced with a half grin when Ryou smiled at him. They were ok, despite the awkward air during their last meeting.
Good. He couldn't tell Honda. Honda would search Bakura out and start a fight, back-up or no back-up. Based on what Ryou knew about the murderer and his methods…
Ryou paled. Bakura fit the profile.
So, based on what he knew about Bakura, Ryou did not want Honda to attempt fighting him. Honda could handle himself but Bakura had precision the other only dreamed of. Ryou knew he was leaving his friend out of the loop again but Hiroto's life was more important than his feelings.
It scared him, the confusion. Not that he had even been sure about anything when it came to Bakura. Ryou had never thought he could be levelheaded. When had he ever acted professionally? Bakura was collected to the point of being cold; something Ryou could only hope to be more like.
Could he die? Ryou refused to think about it. The thought that Bakura might want his life was difficult to digest. He wanted to hate Bakura but the emotion was slow in coming. When could he hate? Everything would be easier to deal with if he felt betrayed. The rest of his emotions wouldn't get in the way.
He had been wronged, hadn't he? Bakura had toyed with him and lied to him and the terrible things Bakura had done to all the victims. Ryou frowned at his train of thought; he didn't know for sure yet.
"It's better if you stay away from Me."
Bakura had tried to put an end to the relationship but Ryou hadn't let him.
"I keep things from you and I sleep around."
Bakura had told that he was a liar but Ryou had let it slide.
In a strange way, the honesty was there. Bakura had never raised his hand against Ryou. He had made Ryou feel like he was worth something.
Ryou walked faster to shake the thoughts away. "I don't care anymore," he swore to the street ahead of him. The words were weightless and blown away by the breeze.
He did care, for all the wrong things.
Ryou had called. He had said it was urgent, that they needed to talk. The call was what Bakura had been expecting and hoping for.
The walk to Ryou's building was shorter than he remembered. He was sure that the running had something to do with it. The locked door and the intercom didn't slow him down much. Hesitating wasn't an option. Bakura knew he wouldn't back down if he stopped and thought it through. But Ryou might. If he took too long, Ryou could decide that he didn't want to confront him. He couldn't have that. He needed to know how much the past few weeks had been worth.
Ryou opened the door for him. There was no proper greeting, just a nod and a gesture to come in. Bakura followed, closing the door behind him and making sure it was locked. Having someone walk in on them would be unfortunate.
In the living room, the papers had been cleared out. Bakura frowned. The sparking surfaces and the lack of trash were almost intimidating. Ryou stopped near the bookshelf placed against the far wall. The corner of the gift painting was peeking from behind the shelf. At least Ryou had kept it. The knowledge made Bakura feel something aching to relief.
He stopped studying the room and met eyes with Ryou. What shocked him even more than the state of the apartment, was that he couldn't read the expression on Ryou's face.
"You know why you're here, don't you?"
It wasn't a question. Beneath all the cold, Bakura heard a waver in Ryou's voice and latched onto it. Fear he could work with.
"I can make an educated guess," he replied. Confidence came back into his posture. Bakura decided that he would mimic his old self until everything was over with. If he mixed emotions in, his resolve would fade and Ryou would get away with anything he wished.
Ryou glared at him as he moved between him and the doorway. It was obvious that the other hadn't thought this through; otherwise he would have packed Bakura against the wall. Placing himself in a situation where he couldn't escape from, Ryou was getting sloppy.
"I considered burning that," Ryou jerked his head towards the shelf and the painting, "but then I figured it's evidence."
The statement stabbed Bakura deeper than he was willing to admit. His fist closed as Ryou dug a small plastic bag from his pocket. It held the missing piece of the ring.
"They found this from the crime scene." Ryou held the bag out. In the light coming from the doorway, the point glinted like Bakura had known it would. The glint distracted him for a moment but when he refocused on Ryou's eyes, he saw desperation. Ryou's face was hard but his eyes pleaded for Bakura to deny everything, to tell him that he was being stupid. Bakura was tempted to.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" Ryou asked, the cold melting away little by little. "I can turn you in, based on the evidence-"
He didn't get to finish his sentence before Bakura flicked the blade open and the words caught into his throat. Ryou stared at the knife as Bakura approached him. A grin came uninvited and Ryou's eyes kept getting wider.
"And how are you going to explain how you attained this evidence?" Bakura drawled. "You wouldn't have any of it if we weren't… romantically involved." One sudden movement and he had Ryou against the bookshelf. The fright in Ryou's eyes lessened the grin to a smirk. "In a relationship with the murderer. A bit questionable, isn't it?" He guided Ryou's face up with the tip of his blade. The new angle made Ryou look almost too tempting. "Who would want to hire you when you keep such company?" Bakura traced the outline of the neck in front of him with the blunt side. He had to focus.
Ryou shivered. "I-I have to turn you in."
"Hmm. But that would mean a great deal of trouble for both of us." Bakura tore his stare away from Ryou's neck to look him in the eye. Ryou was the one thing he was sincere about. "So I have a proposition to make."
Brown eyes narrowed. "I don't make deals with-"
"Murderers?" Bakura interjected. "I am asking you as Mikazuki Bakura, the person I thought you cared about. Hear Me out, Ryou." The urge to press the knife against Ryou's throat and force him to listen was great. Perhaps if they were strangers, he could have imagined it working. But as things were, he knew there was no way to force-feed his views to the other.
As though careful not to be fooled too easily, Ryou let the glare slip away. His eyes were soft and familiar. "Please," he reached out, careful not to provoke, "Bakura, put the knife away."
Bakura let Ryou's hand land on his. "Wait until you find more evidence. Give Me a chance to disappear." Outside he was asking, keeping his wits. Inside he was pleading for Ryou to understand he wasn't asking for his own sake.
"You know I can't."
He gripped the blade tighter. "Don't you want Me, Ryou?"
The defiance in Ryou disappeared. Now, his face mirrored the desperation Bakura felt. "No."
"Are you sure?" Bakura wanted to scream. It wasn't him who was threatening a life anymore. Ryou held the knife on his throat and all he wanted to do was to beg Ryou to spare him, to not kill the human he had found inside.
Ryou broke. Tears leaked from his eyes and the hold on Bakura's hand got tighter. "-kura," he said between sobs. "I should hate you…"
"I can't!" he screamed, taking hold of Bakura's collar. "I'm so selfish."
The outburst left Bakura so shaken he forgot to react. Gathering his wits took a moment but soon the knife disappeared back into his pocket as fast as it had appeared. He placed a hand on either side of Ryou's face, mindful not to move too fast. "Then, let Me save you from My mistakes."
Bakura had no words for what he felt. 'I love you' meant nothing. So he yanked Ryou's head back and pressed his tongue against the pulse point, desperate for the intimate knowledge that Ryou was alive, that he hadn't killed him. Ryou gasped, whether from surprise or fear, Bakura couldn't tell.
"What are you doing?" Ryou's hands gripped Bakura's shoulders to either push away or pull closer. He tried both but did neither, as though torn between the two options. The grip on his head was painful but Bakura's mouth was gentle.
He wanted to hurt Ryou for considering turning him in, but he had expected no less from the other. He wanted to hold Ryou close and be gentle, for the other had once again surpassed all his expectations. Torn between the two options, Bakura let Ryou decide. He loosened his grip enough for the other to escape if he pleased but the effect the action had was the exact opposite. Ryou's head fell back to rest on Bakura's hands and he pressed close, bringing his arms around the shoulders he had been holding on to.
"Hold me for a while," Ryou whispered. "Until we have to part."
Bakura nodded against Ryou's throat. He buried his fingers in the other's hair and wrapped his other arm around Ryou's middle and held on for dear life. For Ryou's life, mostly, for being this close, hearing his pulse, was driving Bakura mad.
"Bakura?" Ryou's voice was soft. At the questioning tone, Bakura pulled his face away from the other's throat. It felt important to look at Ryou, whatever it was that he wanted to ask. And Bakura needed a distraction.
"Would you turn yourself in if I asked you to?"
There was nothing on Ryou's face suggesting that he expected a yes for an answer. Bakura smirked. Their noses brushed as he tilted his head to a side.
"I'm a killer first and a lover second."
Ryou searched Bakura's eyes for something, for a hint of dishonesty perhaps, before letting his head fall in a nod. His eyes stayed low, studying Bakura's collar. "I'll make sure you'll be locked away, sooner or later." He looked at Bakura in the eye again. "I hope you realize that."
Fear had disappeared from Ryou and Bakura wondered if it was ever there in the first place. He ran his fingers down the other's cheek with gentleness he didn't know he had. "It's not like anyone else stands a chance."
All he would need to do was to lean in the tiniest bit, tighten his hold a little, and he could have Ryou pressed against him, to taste and to touch. Ryou's breathing wasn't regular either. But Bakura didn't. It had to be the respect-thing he had heard people mention.
"Ryou?" he started with the certainty of one who had never asked permission for anything. Ryou urged him to continue. Instead of uttering the words, he loosened his hold, almost letting go, and brushed his lips on Ryou's.
Ryou recoiled. He didn't struggle or remove his hold on Bakura, just backed away from the touch. "We shouldn't."
The gentle rejection was harder to deal with than a violent one would have been. Bakura groaned, resisting the urge to grab the other by the hair. "Please."
A moment of silence passed where Ryou stared at the other with a feeling deeper than shock. Then, he took hold of Bakura's hair and kissed him, deep and desperate. Bakura knew he had gotten the permission he needed, but only for tonight.
Bakura had left. He had made his escape during the small hours and Ryou had done nothing to stop him. It hadn't gone the way Ryou had thought it would, the conversation. His anger hadn't lasted through it. His sense of duty had failed him. Ryou kept his eyes closed, hoping to feel more disappointed. He had sold his soul for a moment with someone he should hate.
No one had died, though Ryou was fairly sure that if he searched the floor around him, he would find his brain somewhere. He could hide under the blanket and lean his head on a fallen couch cushion for a moment longer before he had to get up and face himself. His hand hit the leg of the coffee table and followed it up. Ryou wanted to see if he could find out what Bakura had scribbled for him without getting up.
His fingers brushed against a piece of paper. The note disappeared under the blanket as Ryou pulled it to him, rubbing his eyes and letting them adjust to the relative darkness. Bakura's extravagant handwriting made the words difficult to read.
Ryou squinted and a smile lifted the corner of his mouth.
Catch Me if You can
I can't believe the fic just ended. What can I say to get you to throw some reviews my way?