A/N: This is AU, obviously. It's a meandering sort of one-shot that popped into my head. Somewhat fluffy. Don't like, don't read.
Edit: Fixed the balcony inconsistency, and the language thing!
I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.
The rain was pouring down around him, hammering down with a surprising amount of force, as if it fell faster, it could change the outcome awaiting it. His white hair was plastered to his head, the uncombed tangles and snarls now hopelessly soaked. The tatters that were all he had left for clothing – the only things he would wear, to be honest – were drenched as well, hanging sodden about him.
It was dark, except for the funny candles on posts that somehow the rain couldn't dampen out. The rain had chased everyone else inside, even the roaring wheeled things that the people used to move around in. He preferred it this way – with only a few lights to pierce the gloom, he could pretend that he was back home in the sands of Egypt, where he belonged. Not trapped here, in a place that he didn't properly understand, forced to remain inside because of that ignorance. No, for now he was standing on top of a cliff, toes hanging over an endless drop, laughing to himself, moving to a tune only he could hear.
He was in Egypt, standing, free, away from the stench of this new place, and even if he couldn't see the stars for the clouds, he knew that they were there; familiar and looking down at him, watching over his late night treks across the cold desert sand. Bakura spread his arms out, as if he could reach for the sky, careful not to disturb his tenacious balance on the slippery wood, and he threw back his head, letting the water run down his skin.
Inside, a light flicked on, washing the porch in warm yellow. There was a low swooshing sound, barely audible over the pounding rain and occasional rolls of thunder, and a sharp intake of breath.
"Bakura!" A higher voice than his own, but one that was intimately familiar. "What are you doing? Get down from there, you'll fall!"
He didn't understand more than four words, including his own name, but the general gist of what the other was trying to say got through easily. He lowered his arms, tattered cloak fluttering half heartedly around his ankles, and turned his head slightly.
"Go away," he said back, irritated. How dare the puny worm try and order him around? All he received from his somewhat-look alike was a stern glare and crossed arms. The other still hadn't moved from under the protection of the roof, clearly reluctant to step into the storm.
"Look, I know you're having fun, but seriously, get down." No room for argument in that tone. "If you slip and die, I don't want to have to explain to the authorities what you were doing standing on the balcony railing in the middle of a thunderstorm." The long string of unfamiliar words was accompanied by a forceful jabbing of one thumb towards the invitingly warm interior of the living space they shared.
"I don't want to go back inside. I'm always inside. You never let me leave. Even the Pharaoh can come and go from where he is on his own. He even comes here, and just to rub it in my face. This is the only freedom I have." All he received for his impassioned speech was a blank stare. Bakura sighed sharply, looking back down at the street so far below. What had possessed these modern people to build so many homes on top of one another, he would never understand. It was terribly unstable, he thought – one good puff of wind, and the whole thing was going to fall apart.
An aggravated sigh from behind drew his attention, and Bakura instinctively took two steps to the right, sliding his bare feet across the slippery wood. A pale hand grabbed at where his arm had been a moment earlier. He directed a look that was both amused and angry at the paler version of himself, who was now standing out in the rain in his sleeping attire, getting just as wet as Bakura himself.
"Too slow, you stupid little fool. You'll never be fast enough to catch me." Bakura laughed, and it was a gleeful sound, not the maniacal cackle that was so usually on his lips. He watched the brown eyes of his counterpart light up a bit in response. "I don't have to do what you say," he said quite plainly, though the other couldn't understand his words. "You can't make anyone do what you want, weakling." He kept his tone light and almost teasing, just to see what would happen. Of course, the other thought he was joking, and managed a laugh. The thief could hear the forced note in it, and shook his head slightly.
Naturally. All he had to do was change his tone, and the other wouldn't ever know what he really meant – of course, that worked both ways, he supposed. Sighing – now that he wasn't imagining anything, the cold was starting to affect him. He couldn't feel his feet anymore, and the shivers were waiting just around the corner. With a last look out over the dark city that had been, for once, dampened into silence, Bakura dropped off of the railing.
Despite the cold in his feet, he didn't stumble as he landed. Without another look back, he trudged into the warmth of their shared home, ignoring the sigh of relief the other exhaled behind him.
"Dry off before you sit on the couch, would you?"
Bakura paused, glancing over his shoulder. That hadn't been an order – besides, if the two of them didn't' make some attempt to understand and care what the other was saying, they would have been driven mad long before this.
"You – oh, never mind." The other, now just as wet as Bakura himself was, bent down and picked up a towel that had obviously been placed there for just such a reason. He held it out to the thief, who considered it for a moment.
"You're kidding me. It's just water, for Ra's sake." But he reached out and took it anyway, their hands brushing for a moment. In that brief window of time, Bakura had a chance to marvel at the differences. His own hand was deeply tanned, with thin white scars crisscrossing the skin. His fingers were long, delicate, but not nearly as fragile looking as the pale digits of his look-alike.
"Thank –" The sentiment was cut off abruptly as Bakura, still sopping wet, shook like a dog, spraying water everywhere. He glanced at the towel, and hung it around his shoulders and proceeded to sit on the couch, tattered red cloak instantly leaving wet patches on the dark fabric. The thief smiled impishly, scar stretching gruesomely, and leaned back.
"It's at times like these I wish I'd let the Pharaoh have you." The words were spoken as Ryo dropped onto the other side of the couch, no bothering to dry off either, resting his head in one hand and shutting his eyes. It was a singularly trying task dealing with Bakura. The Pharaoh was at a loss to explain how they had gained their own bodies after the Items had disappeared, and the thief was even shorter on answers. Ryo considered the other out of the corner of one mostly-closed eye.
It was strange. The Pharaoh had been the first to appear, and when he had, the only difference between his physical and spiritual self had been looks. Atem had been able to speak fluently in both his own language and Japanese, and remembered everything in perfect detail. He had been a bit disoriented, but had adapted remarkably well, and now looked more like an older, exotic version of Yugi than the Pharaoh he had been. (Though the rapid substitution of leather for his Egyptian garb had been a large factor in that.)
Then, a few days of nervous apprehension and dread – at least for Ryo – later, the tomb robber had appeared. Ryo had been with Atem and Yugi at the time, and it had been a good thing too, as Bakura had been almost insensible with terror. The presence of the Pharaoh hadn't helped all that much at first, until everyone realized that he was the only one who could understand what the thief was babbling. It was a strange role reversal, and if Ryo hadn't felt so terrible about it all, he probably would have found it funny.
Bakura had no memories of the present. He didn't even know who Ryo really was – no matter that the Pharaoh had explained it. To the thief, his lighter self, and the other half of his soul, was simply someone who looked freakishly like himself. Perhaps the hardest thing about all of this was that Bakura didn't understand either Japanese or English. When they had been sharing a body, it hadn't been a problem – the spirit had known what Ryo had known.
But now the only language he could understand and speak was the one from his and the Pharaoh's past. And apparently it was a very unrefined version of that, as even Atem had difficulty understanding him when the thief got going. The Pharaoh had, finally, struck upon an explanation – this was the real Bakura. The… thing that had been in the Ring, that had possessed Ryo, hadn't really been him. That had been Zork, or Zork possessing Bakura. (Ryo still got headaches considering it – he had been, apparently, possessed by someone who was being possessed.) It had been, supposedly, total repression, meaning that the thief hadn't been aware of anything at all, and thus hadn't kept any memories of the present.
Yugi had said that maybe he would remember – as Ryo himself was starting to recall things that had gone on when Zork had been in control of him. But until that day – and Ryo wasn't sure he wanted it to arrive or not – they were all stuck with Bakura the way he was now. Unpredictable, frightening, rude, but not anywhere near as nasty as the Spirit of the Millennium Ring – whatever, or whoever, that really was – had been.
"Ryo." The harsh voice – not to mention the poke in the arm – jerked him out of his musings. Ryo blinked, turning to face Bakura. The thief never called him by his name, at least as far as he knew.
"…Problem…?" The word was spoken slowly, with an extreme amount of concentration on the thief's part, but when he was done speaking, he looked rather pleased with himself.
"Just thinking." Ryo got a pleasantly blank look in response, and a nod. There was no understanding in those eyes, but he supposed the general gist of the thought had been communicated. He opened his mouth to say something, but paused before he could get any words out. Bakura had addressed him in his native language, and Ryo figured it was only appropriate to try the same. They had, after all, been gradually absorbing bits and pieces of each other's speech, though it was harder for Bakura, what with Ryo knowing and using two languages. "Pharaoh… tomorrow…" The ancient tongue was awkward in his mouth.
Apparently Bakura thought so too, as the thief chuckled softly. "Your accent and pronunciation are terrible." From the indignant look he got, he assumed Ryo knew what he had just said was an insult. "And I know. I'll sit here and he'll try and explain things, and it will be awkward, and you will go play with the mini-Pharaoh, and I will wish to throw myself to the mercy of Ammut rather than sit through it, and the Pharaoh will natter at me and tell me to pay attention, and I won't listen. And then he'll get that funny look on his face that means he wants to strangle me, but he can't, and then he'll throw something at me and walk out, just like he always does."
Ryo was laughing by the end of it, simply from watching the expressions that flickered across the thief's face. The other looked startled for a moment, before a smile twitched on his lips, and he too started laughing. Soon they couldn't stop, and Ryo could feel tears running down the sides of his face, and the tomb robber was shaking, holding his sides. Outside the rain pounded down, but they were safe from the cold. And even though they couldn't understand one another, were from worlds that were literally hundreds of years apart, for one moment, none of that seemed to matter.