Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters presented here and am not making any profit off of this whatsoever.
Title: Seeking Answers
Word Count: 2,115
Rated: PG-13
Romance: Bakura Ryou x Mutou Yuugi
Notes: This takes place some time after the Ceremonial Duel. Comments and criticism gratefully accepted.
LJ Challenge: This was written for the 12_stories challenge.
Summary: With all the adventures over with, there's a tenative question being asked of Yuugi, one he never thought that he would hear.

"Yuugi, I was wondering something." Bakura Ryou spoke in his usual quiet voice as he glanced over towards his friend. Even as he asked, he admired the way the sunlight coming in from the overhead window struck Yuugi's hair. He hoped he would be able to concentrate on what he wanted to know long enough to actually ask the question.

"Hm?" Yuugi's attention was more on his homework than anything else at the moment. Well, to be honest, it was more on the next tournament that he was planning to attend. It would be his first since Atemu had moved on to the afterlife, and he was more than a little nervous about it. Doing the homework provided him with something to think about so he wouldn't freak out.

Bakura swallowed a little. This wasn't how he'd envisioned any of this. Not there was much of this to envision at the moment. He'd at least thought he'd be able to ask this question with a little more style. "Do you…" Could he ask this? He was pretty sure he could survive an answer of 'no' but what if he found out that he couldn't? "Could you…"

Something about the not quite asked question got to Yuugi and he looked up with his friendliest smile. "What is it, Bakura? You can ask me anything, you know that."

I don't know about this. But Bakura was going to do it anyway. "What would you say if I said that I liked you?" He finally blurted it out. It wasn't the most elegant style of question, but he thought it got the point across.

Yuugi, on the other hand, blinked a few times, his forehead furrowed in confusion. "I'd say that I hope you do, since we're friends." It was evident he didn't quite understand what it was the former holder of the Ring was trying to say.

"Not just like a friend." Bakura would have really preferred just to let it drop there, but he found that he couldn't. He wanted to know the real answer, not just to live in the haze of not knowing and dreaming. "I like you."

He sounded and felt like he was five. Or worse. He shook his head a little and considered just telling Yuugi not to mind him for a moment. But he didn't. Even with the chance that Yuugi might not like him like that, he still wanted the secrecy to end.

Yuugi put his pen down and looked at his friend a little more closely. Bakura's cheeks were bright red, clashing with his cloud-like hair, and he couldn't seem to bring his eyes up to actually look at Yuugi. He likes me? The way that Bakura had said it and the way that he was reacting reminded him of something. For a moment he didn't even know what, until it clicked with him.

He was reminded of himself: around Anzu.

Was that what Bakura meant?

The thought simply had never occurred to Yuugi before. He'd known that there were guys who liked guys and girls who liked girls, but it wasn't something he'd really thought about, not where he and his friends were concerned.

"Yuugi?" Bakura's voice held the faintest hint of a shake when he called the other's name. "Are you all right?"

Yuugi realized then that he'd been staring at Bakura for nearly a full minute. "Oh. Yes. I'm all right." He tried to think of someway to answer the original question, but nothing that was remotely coherent wanted to come to mind. At last, the stupidest thing he could have said came out. "You like me?"

Bakura turned even more red and started to close the book he'd been staring into for a quarter of an hour without so much as turning a page. "I didn't mean to make you upset." He still couldn't bring himself to say to forget it all.

"You didn't." Yuugi reached out a hand to try to stop him. "I was just surprised." Which was, all things considered, putting it mildly. He tried to wrap his mind around the concept of Bakura liking him like that. It just didn't relate to what he knew about having a crush on someone. Of course his entire experience with that was that sort of weird thing that had been between himself, Anzu, and Atemu, which was something else entirely.

And, all things considered, while he did like Anzu a great deal, over the last few months, he'd come to see her as just a good friend. A close friend, one he didn't want to ever be without, of course, but it was just different now. He couldn't say if he liked anyone else like that at the moment, either.

Bakura hesitated a little, one hand resting on top of his book. He really wasn't sure how things were supposed to go from here. The concept of Yuugi just being surprised hadn't entered into any of his fantasies about this. In the nice ones, Yuugi had smiled sweetly and said that he liked him too. In the not so nice ones…well, that hadn't been nice, so he didn't dwell on it now.

There was no way that he was going to be silly enough to ask Yuugi out, though. Even if it was a time honored way to get to know someone, this was Yuugi. He didn't think he'd be able to get the words out, for one thing. And somehow, when it came to Yuugi, just going out to a movie and a dinner didn't quite seem to be good enough. Yuugi had helped to save the world. It had to be something more than that.

Yeah. He helped save it, and I had to host the person putting it in danger in the first place. He tried not to let that bother him anymore. When all of the Items had fallen into the earth, Bakura had actually felt free for the first time in years. This was part of that freedom: being able to ask something like this of Yuugi without being afraid of what could happen when they were alone.

"I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable," Bakura said at last, feeling the silence had stretched on a little too long. Neither of them were actually looking at the other anymore. Bakura didn't think he needed to look at Yuugi to know what he looked like, though. That wonderful spiky hair, those gentle violet eyes, that soft, caring face that shrouded a mind and heart and soul that simply defied description were all carved into the deepest parts of his mind. He thought they had been ever since he'd first walked into that class room and seen Yuugi for the very first time.

Yuugi wasn't going to say that he hadn't. Because honestly, he had. But he also didn't want to make Bakura uncomfortable. "It's all right," he demurred quickly. "It's nothing you have to worry about."

Right. Bakura knew exactly what that meant. He didn't stand a chance. He hadn't ever really thought that he would. So he opened his book again, trying aimlessly to find where he'd been, even though he couldn't have said what words he'd been staring at if his life had depended upon it. So he just paged through a little, hoping that something wound up looking familiar somehow or other.

Yuugi didn't like how Bakura looked at that. There had to be something he could do to cheer him up. "Hey, why don't we have a duel? Just for fun. We don't even have to use the disks." He had dueled Jounouchi a few times for the amusement of it, but never Bakura. The thought fired his imagination even as he spoke the words. They'd only dueled once, and that hadn't even really been them. How would the real Bakura play? Was that deck really his or had the Spirit of the Ring had some sort of influence on it? It was hard to tell.

In fact, he realized suddenly, what did he know about Bakura Ryou? The real Bakura Ryou, the one who had to have existed before the Millennium Ring came into his life and changed it so completely. He honestly wasn't all that certain, and just as he came to understand that he didn't know, he also came to understand that he wanted to know.

Bakura blinked a few times; he had his deck with him, of course. It had become a habit over the last few months to keep it around. He hadn't been certain of whose habit it was, but since it wasn't one that had faded since he'd lost the Ring, he presumed it was his. It wasn't such a bad habit. He was just still getting used to actually having ones of his own these days.

"All right." They still had a little homework left to do, but a break wouldn't hurt at all, would it? He pulled out his deck and started to shuffle it while Yuugi got out a dusty game mat and his own deck.

"I was wondering," Yuugi asked as he shuffled his cards, "is that your deck? I mean, did he…you…I'm asking this really badly, aren't I?"

Bakura smiled a slightly sad smile. He had figured that question was going to come sooner or later. "It's my deck. I built it myself. I really do like weird looking monsters. I always have." He couldn't explain it. They just appealed to him, and the way they worked together on the field did even more. They were creatures of death, and death had always held a fascination for him, both before he had died himself, and after.

A hundred more questions surged through Yuugi's mind as the two of them started to play. He could tell there was a difference in Bakura's style and that of the Spirit at once. Bakura loved the fiends in the same way that Yuugi himself loved his spellcasters and that Kaiba loved the Blue Eyes White Dragon. He tried to think of how to ask any of them, but nothing wanted to come out coherently, and he didn't want a repeat of what had just happened. Not when the hunger to get to know Bakura was suddenly so strong within him. What he didn't know had caught fire in his imagination, and he wanted to know more.

Then something occurred to him, and he grinned a little. "Why don't we make a bet?" Yuugi suggested.

"A bet?" Bakura set out a low level monster and waited to see what else Yuugi had in mind before he did anything else. "What kind of a bet?"

"Whoever wins gets to ask a question of the loser, and they have to answer it completely." Yuugi didn't care how original it was. He knew exactly what he wanted to ask of Bakura.

Bakura shrugged; he couldn't imagine what Yuugi would want to ask him. Probably for a quick trip to Calorie Burger or something like that. It wasn't as if he couldn't handle it. And maybe he'd get the chance to ask Yuugi something if he did win. As if that would happen. "Sure. I can do that." He missed the smirk that was nearly the twin of Atemu's crossing Yuugi's face.

The game continued, and while it was a near one indeed, it was Yuugi who wiped out the last of Bakura's life points and sat back with a satisfied look on his face. Bakura shrugged a little before he picked up his cards. He'd sort of known that was going to happen anyway. "What is it you want to ask?" Should he go ahead and start getting ready to get some takeout? Or wait until Yuugi actually asked.

Yuugi said nothing for a moment or two, then spoke his question. "Would you tell me everything about yourself? About Bakura Ryou, not the Spirit of the Ring or the person who held the Millennium Ring. I want to know about you." He hesitated for a moment, then smiled briefly and gently, not knowing what that smile was doing to Bakura's heart. "I want to know about the person who likes me…so I can figure out if I like you like that."

Bakura's mouth worked a little before anything actually came out of it. He couldn't have imagined that being the question Yuugi would have asked, ever. Before he even knew what he was saying, he had spoken. "Ye…yes." Then his brain caught up with the rest of him and he actually heard not just what Yuugi had asked, but what he'd said after that. And a question of his own popped out. "Do you mean that you might like me…like that?"

Yuugi only smiled. "Let's find out."

Bakura nodded slowly, his own smile slowly answering Yuugi's. No matter how it ended, he knew he'd never regret asking that question.

The End