Formal quickly fading away; ephemeral or transitory.
Atemu looked across the room. He had to resist the urge to laugh wildly. How much stranger could his life get? It was the year 2392, he was living in New Japan. Yugi and his friends had long since been dead and the only person Atemu knew from his former life was the Thief King Bakura. And it was his body he was now being asked to identify.
"If you don't mind me asking, sir, when was the last time you saw your Bakura?" An officer said quietly, eyeing the covered body.
"Three days ago." Atemu replied, "But that's nothing strange, he'll disappear for weeks on end."
The officer nodded and wrote something down on his clipboard, "Also, before Bakura left, did he act strangely at all? Was there anything out of place with his behavior?"
Atemu chuckled, drawing a strange look from the man, "His behavior is always strange." He said fondly. The officer hesitated before writing something else down.
"This isn't him." Atemu burst out, gesturing to the lifeless body beneath them, covered by a cold plastic sheet.
"Your photo was in his wallet, your number on his phone, saved under 'Mine'" The police officer said gently, "I'm afraid you'll have to prepare yourself for the worst."
Atemu just shook his head serenely, "I'm sorry, but there's no way Bakura could get killed, especially not in a car accident!" He scoffed.
"Sir, you have to look at the facts." The officer said, a hint of desperation in his voice. "Bakura isn't a common name and he fits your description exactly."
Atemu was silent, he looked down and lifted his hand before gently tracing the contours of the man's chest through the sheet. "What's your name?"
"It's Nkosi, Nkosi Devlin." The man said firmly.
Atemu cocked his head to the side, not taking his eyes off the body in front of him, "Any relation to the infamous Duke Devlin?"
"I wouldn't know, that was a long time ago."
"Yes," Atemu sighed, "Yes it was."
"Sir," Nkosi began, "I realize this is difficult for you, but I think you deserve to know…' His hand lingered on the covering over the dead man's face.
"No!" Atemu shouted, Nkosi was startled and stepped back. "There's no point in looking…"
"You need to know sir." Nkosi tried again.
"Don't call me sir. My name's Atemu." The cold reply came.
"Atemu then, why are you torturing yourself like this, the only way you will know is if you look." Nkosi said pleadingly.
"You seem very emotionally attached." Atemu noted. The police officer barely held back a sigh of exasperation. "Are you new to this?"
Nkosi pursed his lips before saying, "If you must know, I was only promoted last week."
"Ah." Atemu said.
"With all due respect sir, sorry Atemu," Nkosi hastily corrected, "Our time is limited, and if you're so sure that this isn't your Bakura, then the police force needs to put their efforts into finding this poor man's family to come forward and identify him." It was a cheap shot and Nkosi knew it. But he also knew that denial was an ugly road to go down and would only hurt Atemu more.
Atemu looked at the table, torn. "I don't want to." He mumbled. Nkosi was silent. "It's not him." Atemu said again, more to convince himself than Nkosi.
Nkosi grasped the sheet. "It's not him.' Atemu said again. Nkosi started to pull it back. "It's not him." Atemu said, desperation sinking in with a glimpse of snow white hair. Nkosi brought the sheet back, revealing the dead man's face. "It's not him!" Atemu screamed, his hands shielding his eyes, "It's not, it's not, it's not!"
Tears ran down Atemu's face as he brought his hands away from his eyes. "Bakura, you fucking bastard, how dare you. How dare you do this again you stupid tomb robber!" Atemu muttered, his voice muffled by his sobs. "How dare you!" He shouted, bringing a fist down on the metal table that Bakura was laid on. "You manage to steal from my Father's tomb, but when it comes to a simple junction, you can't even manage to cross the road?! What kind of an idiot are you?!"
Atemu dropped to his knees, "Bakura…" He whispered forlornly. Nkosi moved to cover the body up, 'No!" Atemu shouted, "Leave it."
"Atemu, I really think…" Nkosi started to say.
'I don't care what you or anyone else thinks!" Atemu roared, "Leave me alone!"
Nkosi cast his eyes downwards; "I'll give you five minutes alone." The police officer stepped out of the morgue and shut the door, Atemu's broken and jilted sobs ringing in his ears. He looked up to the ceiling and let out a low sigh, he hated this part of his job.
Inside the room Atemu's tears slid freely down his face and landed on the metal table. The pain couldn't have been worse if his heart had been wrenched out of his body, still beating.
"Bakura…" Atemu murmured, his voice rasping and sore. He ran his fingers over his dead partner's face, feeling the familiar lips, nose, ears, eyelids. Everything was there except the life behind it. Atemu laid his forehead against Bakura's, before pressing their lips gently together.
"C'mon, we're getting out of here." Atemu told his partner, sliding his hands underneath the limp body and lifting it up gently.
Atemu turned his gaze towards the steel door and focused, the metal crumpled before evaporating into thin air. Nkosi's startled face appeared in the doorframe, but Atemu flung him against the opposite wall with a twitch of his fingers.
"What the hell are you?!" Nkosi shouted, his eyes full of fear.
Atemu glared at him, his crimson eyes flashing in anger, "I am nothing you could ever know." He murmured, "Nothing will happen to you, you are simply the wrong person in the wrong place." Atemu shifted Bakura's body in his arms, laying his cheek against Bakura's hair.
Nkosi stared in disbelief, "The door…"
Atemu rolled his eyes, "Keep up kid," He pulled his head up to give Nkosi a level-headed stare, "I was never here, that body in there," He gave a tilt of his head and a replica of Bakura appeared on the stainless steel table, "is Nuzaki Krakozi, his passport was in his pocket." Atemu gave another twitch of his fingers and a passport materialised on the floor in front of Nkosi.
Nkosi's eyes literally bugged out of his eye sockets. "Why… why didn't you just wait, the funeral would have only been delayed by a couple of days at the most…"
Atemu narrowed his eyes, "I would rather not have your cops poking around in Bakura's body. There's more than flesh and bone in there." He said darkly.
Nkosi could only nod dumbly. Atemu smiled grimly at him and started to walk down the corridor, before disappearing into a black haze that had filled the hall briefly.
Atemu laid Bakura down on their couch lovingly, "There you go." He whispered. He sat next to him for a moment, tears welling in his eyes, "I wish you wouldn't do this, go thrill-seeking. You know it hurts me every time they uncover your body in those morgues. I know you'll wake up when your body has finished repairing itself… but it scares me so much…" Atemu's chest shook with restrained sobs and he laid his head against Bakura's arm.
"You can be so damn selfish, I have nightmares where you don't wake up, where you really are dead, and I keep you here because I think you'll stir one day but your body just starts to rot and decompose, and I have to watch it…" Atemu sobbed, tears running down his cheeks and then down Bakura's arm. "I don't feel the need to throw myself off cliffs or to walk in front of a lorry, why do you have to do it? You break my heart every time you do this."
Atemu laid a hand at Bakura's heart, feeling nothing. "I do this every time you know, I sit here with my hand on your chest feeling for your first heartbeat, and I talk to you, so you know you're not alone, and I pray to the Gods that this will be the last time…" Atemu shifted himself so that he was more comfortable and began speaking again, "It's been a while since I've talked to anyone apart from you, about two months I think. That man, Nkosi was nice, he had Duke's last name, I asked if he knew if he was related to Duke, but he didn't know."
Atemu opened the cabinet beside the couch, all the while keeping his hand on Bakura's chest, and took out some painkillers. "They're you're favourite brand you know, the ones that taste like kiwi…" Atemu sighed, "Do you remember Yugi? And Ryou? It's been so long since we've seen them… they were so beautiful, so full of light… sometimes I still can't believe they're dead."
Atemu wiped his eyes slowly, then gave a jolt as a small vibration came through Bakura's chest. "Oh thank Ra…" Atemu gave a shaky sigh of relief before carrying on his monologue with renewed vigour, "I've always wondered what Yugi's or Ryou's children would have looked like, but I think the Shadows affected their bodies like ours, making them unable to pass on their genes."
Atemu stood up and walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured a glass of brandy, "It's a shame really, as I would have liked to have seen Yugi's children grow up, but at least we saw Jonouchi's daughter get married, but they never had any kids did they? I always thought that was a little silly seeing as they were both so intelligent and beautiful."
Atemu set the brandy down by the painkillers before taking the blanket that rested on his chair and pulling it over Bakura, "But I think Anzu's ancestors are still going, I haven't checked in about fifty or so years though. Of course we all know the Kaiba line is still around, seeing as they own 50% of the world's companies now. But all the Kaiba's are descended from Mokuba, as Seto never found any one to spend his life with. I always felt sad for him you know, I'm almost certain Gozaburo abused Seto, I can't see any other way to explain his demeanour."
Atemu brought a stool over to Bakura's couch and sat down on it, stroking Bakura's hair as he noticed the tomb-robber's chest start to rise and fall, "I don't think Seto would be proud of his bloodline now, the amount of pollution Kaiba Corporation has created, it's terrible." Atemu gave a watery smile and pushed Bakura's hair out of his eyes.
"You should really think about getting a hair cut, you could try so many things with your hair, and I trained to be a hairdresser once…" Atemu stopped and reminisced, "Yeah, that wasn't the greatest idea." He chuckled, before his face fell, "C'mon Bakura, wake up now."
Atemu took a breath and laughed slightly, "If you don't wake up soon, I'm gonna go put your entire knife collection in the garbage…'
"Do it and suffer a horrible death…" Bakura said weakly, his voice hoarse.
"Bakura!" Atemu threw his arms around his partner's chest and ignored the winces of pain the other gave.
"Could you be a little more gentle?" Bakura complained.
"When you made me worry again?" Atemu replied acidly, "I don't think so." But Atemu still held on, burying his face in Bakura's hair.
"Do you have any…" Bakura began after a moment's pause.
"Painkillers?" Atemu asked, "They're right next to you."
"I was gonna say any powerful alcohol, but I suppose that could help as well." Bakura said dryly as he prised Atemu off gently.
"I got you some brandy too, but only after the painkillers." Atemu shoved two tablets in Bakura's hand.
"No water?" Bakura asked.
"Sorry I forgot." Atemu said, his lips pursed.
There was an uncomfortable silence while Bakura swallowed the tablets dry with a slight grimace. As he drank the brandy he gave Atemu furtive looks out of the corner of his eye. He knew how much Atemu hated the things he did, but it was such a rush, such an exhilaration to feel the life drain from his body, and you know what they say, people always want what they can't have.
He didn't know if Atemu knew this, but he could always hear everything from about an hour after he'd 'died'. It was like he was a floating entity, unable to see, unable to move, but he could hear everything. Atemu always said the same thing, like he was reading from the same old script. He would always cry, telling Bakura that he was an idiot, telling him that he was breaking his heart slowly each time he did it. It wasn't that he enjoyed causing Atemu pain, but there was just something about the life-threatening situations that he constantly put himself in that made him feel like he was just fading away, becoming evanescent. It was like he'd never existed. It was beautiful.
"I'm sorry." Bakura tried, in a quiet voice, before wincing when Atemu turned sharply towards him, anger burning in his eyes.
"Apologies don't make me feel better Bakura!" He shouted, "You know how much I hate it, yet you always do it! How dare you put me through such pain! And you're doing it more regularly too, this is the third time in a year, you used to be content with just once or twice a decade!" Atemu stopped to draw breath and gave Bakura a sorrowful look.
Bakura took Atemu's hand in his own, "But I am sorry, it's like an addiction, all that energy, that rush, it's amazing."
Atemu glared at him and snatched his hand back, "That's not an excuse, you've stopped addictions before, you became a drugs addict, an alcoholic, hell, you've even been a sex addict and you kicked those habits decades ago!"
"Well maybe not the last one." Bakura couldn't help adding, but hastily carried on at Atemu's rolling eyes, "And I know that, but they're earthly wants, this is something that's so much more cosmic…"
"You said that about heroin." Atemu said dryly.
Bakura looked at Atemu and felt a surge of pity for him, throughout all of the stupid and dangerous things Bakura had done, Atemu had always been there to take care of him, he could only guess at the amount of grief and desperation he had caused the former pharaoh. "You're right."
"I am?" Atemu said, surprised, this was the first time Bakura had ungrudgingly admitted a fault. "I mean, I know I am, but you think I am?"
Bakura smiled and sat up slightly so he could embrace his partner, "I really am sorry, I promise you that I will try my best to never do it again."
Atemu smiled slightly and leant into the hug, "I love you Bakura…" He whispered so that even he could barely hear it.
"And I love you." Bakura mouthed back, inhaling the scent of Atemu's hair.
Bakura sat up slowly, letting out a quiet sigh, it was the middle of the night but he couldn't see the moon from the amount of pollution outside. He looked across the bed to gaze at Atemu who was sleeping peacefully, his chin tucked into his chest while his hands were wrapped around himself, as if he was protecting himself from monsters in his dreams.
Bakura snorted, he probably was, knowing Atemu. He liked to play the hero. He looked at Atemu for a moment before raising his eyes to the ceiling, "You're so beautiful, you know?" Bakura swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, "I don't deserve you." He walked over to Atemu's side and leant in closer, "So, naturally, I'm never gonna let you go." He gave a small grin and kissed Atemu's cheek lightly.
As Atemu stirred in his sleep, Bakura sauntered out of the room to get some water. When he returned Atemu was sitting up with an accusatory look in his eyes.
"You woke me up." He said in an annoyed fashion.
"I was out of the room." Bakura said mischievously, holding up his glass, "Getting some water."
Atemu glared at Bakura, "I bet it was you…' He said.
"You're just a ridiculously light sleeper Atemu." Bakura grinned as he flopped back on the bed; he pressed his lips briefly against his partner's.
Atemu smiled, "You know the one good thing about your guilt?"
Bakura raised his eyebrows, "Who said I felt guilty?"
Atemu ignored this and flipped Bakura over, so he was on top of him, "We get to have lots of make-up sex." He smirked and kissed Bakura again, thoroughly and lovingly.
Bakura smirked and reversed their positions, "Sorry 'Temu, but no amount of guilt will ever make me bottom."
Atemu rolled his eyes, "I still maintain that you would enjoy it."
Bakura chuckled, "Maybe for our thousandth anniversary?"
"I'll hold you to that." Atemu smiled and wrapped his arms around his partner's body, feeling content at the life he could feel flowing through it.
Bakura laughed, "Only about seven hundred years to go sweetie!" He said in a falsely high and breathy voice.
"Who the hell are you trying to imitate?" Atemu said with raised eyebrows.
"You mean you couldn't tell it was Anzu?" Bakura said in mock hurt, "C'mon, that was a great impression."
"Sure…" Atemu said, leaning upwards to capture his partner's lips again.
Bakura smiled into the kiss and began to slowly creep one hand up Atemu's bare chest, while another played with the hem of the boxers Atemu had worn to bed.
Atemu gave a soft giggle and stroked his hands along Bakura's back, "I love you Bakura." He said simply, his eyes burning into the others.
Bakura gazed back with an equal ferocity, "I love you too."
Atemu sighed and looked at the clock in impatience. Bakura was missing. Again. It was six months after Bakura's last 'death' and Atemu was starting to get worried. Bakura had been gone for three weeks now, that wouldn't usually worry Atemu, but he hadn't called at all. This usually meant that he was feeling guilty about something and wouldn't talk to Atemu unless necessary. Every time Atemu tried to call he'd just go straight to voicemail.
"C'mon, don't do this to me again." He muttered, fingering the paper he had been drawing on an hour ago, before he'd given it up as a bad job to just sit here and worry. Having lived for such a long time had taught Atemu a lot of patience, he could literally sit in his chair for hours on end without feeling the need to think about anything. But that talent currently eluded him as he fidgeted, getting up to walk around the room once, before sitting down again, crossing and uncrossing his legs.
"Your phone has no signal, it has no battery left… it's in a river… it was run over by a car because you got angry with it again…" Atemu whispered to himself, "Please don't have done it again, please Bakura."
The past six months had been hard for Bakura, Atemu could see that, when his partner was particularly restless he could see the longing in his eyes, the want for something different. He didn't know what it was that made dying so attractive to Bakura. He'd only 'died' once. It had been one of the most terrifying experiences of his life, he'd been shot when they'd both served in the war between New Japan and Old Japan. All he could hear when he was lying there was Bakura crying, actual heart-felt tears, something he had never heard from his partner before.
He had wanted to open his mouth, say something to comfort his love, but he couldn't move. He couldn't even breathe. He'd felt like he was drowning but there was nothing he could do to help himself. He didn't know why that was, he supposed now that after restarting the heart the mind just sort of switched itself back on again, like a lamp that had been turned off at the power switch.
More than anything Atemu wanted to know why Bakura loved doing it, loved killing himself in so many different ways. It was like he just didn't want to exist. A car crash was one of the more sane ways he'd killed himself. Once Bakura had knowingly taken part in one of those sick movies where they say all the horror is simulated, before killing you on screen in some of the most gruesome ways.
Atemu had watched the tape confiscated from the crime scene, he saw the things the police officers would not, they were determined to see this as a murder, not an assisted suicide. He saw the wicked grin that Bakura would give the attacker, he saw his eyes shut in bliss, he saw his back arch in pleasure as they drove the knife in his stomach. He watched Bakura beg for his life in a sarcastic and joyful manner.
He'd never told Bakura he'd seen the tape. Atemu had thought that he'd known the extent of the damage to Bakura's mental health, but right then he'd realised that he could never underestimate Bakura. Even now Atemu didn't know everything about Bakura, only a year ago had he found out that Bakura had once been engaged in Ancient Egypt. He supposed that the things Bakura had witnessed and done had left a permanent mark on his psyche.
Atemu picked up his phone again, trying to decide whether to call or not, would he be able to handle another trip straight to voicemail? Suddenly the phone vibrated in his hand, playing Atemu's ring tone. Surprised, Atemu dropped the phone on the floor. As his fingers fumbled on the floor his heart left into his throat in joy, this could be Bakura, no, who was he kidding, it was Bakura, no one else rang him on this phone.
As he picked up the phone he glanced at the caller id and his heart gave another leap of joy as he saw Bakura's name.
"Bakura," He breathed as soon as he picked up, "You bastard, why didn't you pick up before, I was so worried, I thought you'd…"
"Mr Namonaki?" An unfamiliar voice sounded, "Is this Atemu Namonaki?"
Atemu's heart dropped all the way from his throat to the pit of his stomach. He felt sick. "Yes…" He whispered.
"This is the British police force, we're sorry to inform you that…"
The rest of that sentence was a blur, Atemu dropped the phone and put his head in his hands.
"Bakura…" He whispered again, "Why…?"
Atemu looked across the room. He had to resist the urge to laugh wildly. How much stranger could his life get? It was the year 2393, he was staying temporarily in Britain. Yugi and his friends had long since been dead and the only person Atemu knew from his former life was the Thief King Bakura. And it was his body he was now being asked to identify.
Dedicated to everyone who has ever read any of my stories.