Adventures in Thief-Sitting
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! It was partially inspired by the 31 Days prompt To leave behind all the suffering you've brought to me is so sweet. This is the next installment in the series that begins with The Pendulum Swings, so if you haven't read that, you'll probably be confused. Basically it's a series I created so Yami Bakura can survive after Zorc's destruction. I always wrote Yami Bakura as being the Thief King, so after learning about the Zorc mess, I decided that the Thief King part could survive because I wanted him to. His mortal age I determined due to how old he looks both during his rampage on Egypt and during the flashback to the Millennium Items' creation. Thanks to Ladyamberjo, Kaze, Lisa, and Crystal Rose for plot help!
"What else does this thing do?"
The old graverobber turned the golden ring around in his hands, studying its workmanship and the infinity symbol in its center. So far he had not managed to decipher any of its hidden powers. Of course, he had only been trying for a couple of hours, but it had been so much easier with its predecessor the Millennium Ring.
He frowned, letting go of the artifact in disgust. It coldly clunked against his bare chest, but he barely noticed. Maybe everything it could do, save for granting him physical form, was prohibited to him until it decided he was "worthy." He really had no idea how it would determine such a thing. And he doubted it would ever find him "worthy" if that meant he had to be "good."
The floor creaked, jerking him out of his thoughts. "Do you have to pace the floor?" he grumbled, looking to the white-haired boy who was his modern-day descendant.
Ryou Bakura froze. "I'm sorry, Yami," he apologized. "I'm just worried." He sighed. "My father's supposed to be home any day now. And . . . well, frankly, I'm wondering what we're going to do with you." He crossed his arms. "It's not like when you could hide in the Millennium Ring or pretend to be me. I don't know how I'll ever explain to my father who you are and what you're doing here!"
The Egyptian's lips curled in a darkly amused smirk. "You could always tell him the truth," he said. "That I came into your room last night, badly torn, and you tried to help me, and the guardian of the Millennium Items gave me this thing to sustain physical form." He indicated the Infinity Ring.
Bakura sighed, shaking his head. "He'd think we were both quite mad," he said.
"You could tell another truth," said the thief, "and say that I'm a relation from Egypt." He was still smirking.
Bakura slapped his forehead. "Yami, this isn't funny," he said.
"Very well. You want me to be serious?" The tomb raider leaned forward on the bed, pointing at Bakura. "Your father is barely around long enough to learn your friend's names. You could tell him just about anything and he would believe it."
Bakura sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Well, you look too old for me to pass you off as a friend from school," he said. Then he peered curiously at the other. "How old are you, anyway, Yami?"
Another smirk. "I'm afraid I can't round it off to the exact day," said the thief, "but I at least know I'm over three thousand."
"That wasn't what I meant!" Bakura scolded, though a smile tugged on his lips.
Yami Bakura leaned back against the pillow and the headboard. "Twenty . . . twenty-one . . . around there, somewhere," he said.
"That sounds about right," Bakura said. "And oh dear, whatever kind of excuse I give my father, he'll wonder about the scar on your face too. People in average, everyday occupations don't end up with injuries like that. . . ." He had to admit, he had been morbidly curious about the criss-cross scar's origin ever since he had first seen it, but he did not dare ask.
He still feared the former spirit of the Millennium Ring, as he had admitted to the character himself. And although he would try to have faith that there was good in him, especially since Shadi had entrusted him with the Infinity Ring, he could not help being wary. The spirit had done so many terrible things on his quest to possess the Millennium Items, of course always involving an unwilling Bakura in his plans. And Bakura's friends had invariably gotten mixed up in the plots too.
"There's other problems too," said Yami Bakura. "Such as, What are you going to call me? It would be too confusing to call me by my actual name. I suppose you could continue addressing me as 'Yami', but it would only further confuse your father."
"I suppose," Bakura agreed with a sigh. "Maybe we'll have to see if there's an Egyptian name that sounds similar to ours but is different."
He stared at the graverobber. "There's another problem as well," he said. "What will you wear?!" Rubbing the back of his neck he added, "I'm afraid my clothes would be a little small for you now. . . ."
Yami Bakura looked down at himself. That was likely true. In the form from his mortal life, he was physically older, taller, and had more muscle than Bakura. And wearing a red robe and a kilt probably would not make a good impression on Bakura's father.
"What about your father's clothes?" he asked.
Bakura blinked. "Well, they might fit," he said. "But he might notice something missing. And I'm sure he'd recognize his clothes if he saw them on you. . . ."
"Hmm. Then I suppose stealing something is in order," Yami Bakura mused.
"Yami!" Bakura exclaimed. "We can't do that!"
"Old habits die hard," was the smirking reply.
Bakura shook his head. "Whatever have I got myself into?" he said, sinking into a chair.
"I could always leave," Yami Bakura grunted.
Bakura started and looked to him. "I didn't mean it like that!" he said. The thought of the thief wandering Domino, probably stealing and who knew what else, was horrifying. He would much rather know what the other was up to. And anyway, he had said Yami Bakura could stay here. He did not want the character to leave.
The British boy sighed, running a hand into his hair. "I'm sorry, Yami. . . . I'm just worried about how my father will handle this. I don't want him to decide you have to go."
"It's your house as much as it is his," Yami Bakura said. "And you're here when he isn't. You have a right to have people over if you want."
"I know . . . but if he's thinks you're too . . . well, strange. . . ." Bakura colored.
Yami Bakura just smirked. "Everyone always thought that, even back in Egypt," he said.
"I can't imagine why," Bakura said under his breath.
Yami Bakura laughed.
The sound of the door opening downstairs brought them both to attention. "You didn't by any chance leave the door unlocked, did you?" Yami Bakura said.
Bakura shook his head, his eyes wide and alarmed. "It would have to be . . ."
"Ryou?" His father's voice called up the stairs. "Are you home?"
Bakura swallowed hard. "Yes, Father!" he called back, praying his voice did not betray his nervousness and worry. "I . . . I'll be right down."
"He's already coming up," Yami Bakura said dryly.
"What are we going to do?!" Bakura hissed.
"Above all, act natural," Yami Bakura growled. "And I hope you know how. I can't take control of you to ensure it."
Bakura flinched a bit at the memories that statement brought to him. He did have to wonder what on Earth he was doing. Of course he had felt pity for the thief, seeing him in such a horrific state the past night. And the darkest part of him had felt lonely without the other; the only thing he feared more than Yami Bakura was complete solitude. But his more rational side had to wonder if he had gone mad, agreeing to let the tomb raider stay here. Having faith in him, even after Shadi had given him the Infinity Ring, was difficult.
Yami Bakura had said that Zorc had been taking over his spirit. That was horrible; something Bakura could scarcely comprehend. But Yami Bakura had frankly admitted that he had done terrible things before ever getting the Millennium Ring, so Bakura had to wonder just how much of what had happened in the modern day had been Zorc in control and how much had been the Thief King.
In spite of his kind nature, he wondered if he had, or if he could, forgive. Yet at the same time, he felt guilty for thinking it. Wasn't Yami Bakura as much of a victim as he himself had been? Or moreso, considering the thousands of years his spirit had been poisoned by Zorc?
Even if that was true, it did not help for him to bring up the past as flatly and as matter-of-fact as he had just done.
The boy was forcefully dragged back to the present as his father arrived at the top of the stairs and peered into the open doorway. "Ryou . . . ?"
Bakura started and looked up. "Hello, Father!" he said, genuinely smiling as he stood. He was happy to see the man again; he was just worried as to how things would play out. . . .
Mr. Bakura stared past his son, barely noticing as the boy got up from the chair. His mouth was hanging open in shock. Bakura shifted nervously, his stomach twisting.
"Is something wrong, Father?" he asked, hoping he sounded casual.
He was not heard. "Who are you?!" Mr. Bakura was gawking at the Thief King, sprawled casually on the bed.
Yami Bakura sat up, moving slowly and unconcerned. "Bakura," he grunted.
Bakura slapped his forehead. "Um . . . he's a relation," he stammered. "Remember, I just got back from a trip to Egypt with Yugi and the others? Well, I kind of . . . found him there and . . ."
Mr. Bakura stared at his son now. "I didn't know we had any relatives in Egypt," he said.
"I'm a very distant relation," Yami Bakura smirked.
Mr. Bakura shook his head. "I knew I should have been more diligent looking up our family history," he muttered to himself. Louder, he said, "Well, it was kind of my son to invite you for a visit. I'm James Bakura." He held out a hand.
Yami Bakura got off the bed and walked over, shaking Mr. Bakura's hand. "Ryou has told me so much about you I feel that I know you," he said, keeping his voice smooth.
"Well . . ." Mr. Bakura stared into the other's lavender eyes. "I hope I can come to know you just as well. Ryou doesn't make friends easily, so I admit I'm surprised."
"I suppose it's just the fact of us being related that makes a difference," Yami Bakura smirked.
Bakura gave a nervous nod. "Yes, that's right," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Related. . . ."
Mr. Bakura looked from him to the strange man in the robe and kilt. "Well . . ." he said, feeling oddly uneasy, "it's been a long day. Why don't we send for take-out?"
Yami Bakura's eyes lit up. "There should be plenty of meat," he said.
"Is Chinese good?" Bakura asked, heading for the door.
"Chinese would be great," Mr. Bakura said. "I'll just . . . go wash up before it comes. . . ." He made his way to the bathroom across the hall, leaving his son and the thief standing in the doorway of Bakura's room.
"Make sure you order something with meat," Yami Bakura said to Bakura as they went downstairs to the telephone in the living room.
"Yes, yes, I know," Bakura said impatiently as he got out the Yellow Pages.
Yami Bakura stared at the ad for the restaurant as Bakura placed the call. "'Peanut chicken'?" he said with increduluity. "They put peanuts in the chicken?!"
Bakura waved a hand to shush him. "Um, hello?" he said into the phone when someone answered. "Yes, I would like to order take-out for three. . . ."
"Get chicken chow mein," Yami Bakura interrupted. "And . . . 'butter chicken'?" He blinked at the ad. "What on earth is that?"
Bakura clapped his hand over the mouthpiece. "You'd like it, I think," he said. "But just a minute, Yami, I can't hear . . . yes?" He pulled his hand away from the mouthpiece again. "That's right, our address is . . ."
Yami Bakura barely paid attention. "'Mongolian beef', 'garlic pork', 'fried rice with meat' . . . order all of it!" he demanded.
Again Bakura gestured at him to be quiet. "We'll have chicken chow mein," he said, "and egg rolls. And . . ." He paused as Yami Bakura continued to recite items from the ad's menu. "Snow peas and water chestnuts," he said firmly.
"What?!" Yami Bakura exclaimed.
Bakura allowed an amused smile at his expression. "You need other food besides meat in your diet," he said. Then he went red. "Oh! I'm sorry, I was talking to my . . . my cousin," he stammered into the phone.
Now Yami Bakura smirked.
The food was soon delivered and everyone sat around the kitchen table to dine. But it was only as Yami Bakura greedily opened the container of chicken chow mein and put some on his plate that Bakura realized he had made a horrible error. He had forgotten to tell the character to try to eat like a human and not like a monster.
Mr. Bakura's mouth dropped open as Yami Bakura tore into the food, canine teeth bared and eyes wild with thirst for meat. Suddenly Bakura wanted to sink into the floor.
"Um . . . we're working on learning the proper table manners," he said meekly. "He's fended for himself since he was a boy and . . ." He shot a frustrated glare at his Yami, who only licked his lips and moved to scarf down more food.
Mr. Bakura shook his head. "He acts like he hasn't eaten in days," he said.
And that was actually not far from the truth, Bakura realized. The last time Yami Bakura had eaten anything was when he had been in control of Bakura. And Bakura could not even remember how long ago that last meal had been. Yami Bakura must be starved.
"I imagine he is terribly hungry," Bakura said aloud. "He hasn't eaten for . . . for a while. . . ."
"I'm right here," Yami Bakura said, barely swallowing before speaking. A bit of seasoning slid down his jaw. He chased it with his tongue.
"I'm sorry," Mr. Bakura apologized. "But your table manners really do leave something to be desired."
Yami Bakura smirked and promptly dived into the food again.
Mr. Bakura sighed in exasperation. "How did Ryou find you?" he asked.
Yami Bakura and Bakura exchanged a look. Then Yami Bakura shrugged. "Oh . . . we . . . bonded over that Ring you gave him," he said. "It was a fascinating antique."
Mr. Bakura frowned. "Speaking of that Ring . . . it looks a lot like the one you're wearing," he said. He had been staring at the Infinity Ring both before and during dinner. What with the Egyptian wearing only an open robe, the jewelry was clearly visible against his chest.
"I suppose," Yami Bakura said. Even if he knew this Ring's origin, he likely would not offer to enlighten Mr. Bakura about it.
"Where did you get it?" Mr. Bakura asked, unable to help being curious.
"It was given to me," Yami Bakura said, his voice vague.
"How long ago?" Mr. Bakura persisted.
"Recently," was the reply through a mouthful of food.
With a resigned sigh Mr. Bakura returned to his meal. He was not likely to learn much, if anything.
The rest of the meal proceeded in a relatively peaceful manner, save for Yami Bakura's continuing atrocious manners. And by bedtime, a new problem had presented itself. Last night, Bakura had just let the thief sleep in his bed since he had been recovering from the horror of Zorc's infused spirit tearing free from him. Tonight, Bakura was exhausted and drained and needed more sleep than he had gotten when he had stayed in the chair in his room. Plus, his father was in his room and there were no extra beds. Amane's room was never touched.
"We could share the bed," Bakura said hesitantly to Yami Bakura as he changed in his closet.
Yami Bakura grunted from the middle of the room. "I'll sleep on the couch," he said. "But when your father isn't here, I'll sleep in his bed." He headed for the door to the hall. "And there's not much point in you hiding behind a door to get undressed. I've seen you getting ready for bed plenty of times."
Bakura peered around the edge of the closet door. "Yami!" he exclaimed.
But Yami Bakura was already heading into the hall.
Bakura slumped back, running a hand through his hair. ". . . The couch sinks down quite a bit," he called.
He received a grunt as his answer.
With a sigh he finished buttoning his pajama top and stepped out, shuffling to the bed. It was a relief to sink into the soft mattress. He pulled the quilt around his shoulders as he dozed.
Downstairs, Yami Bakura slipped the robe off his shoulders, intending to use it as his quilt. He laid down on the couch, throwing the robe over his well-built form. But then he growled in frustration. Bakura was right---he was sinking and sinking. He was lost in a sea of couch cushions. And not only that, it was lumpy. Every place where a cushion ended and a new one began was uncomfortably obvious to his side and legs.
But he was not going to share a bed. He closed his eyes, pulling the couch pillow closer as he tried to relax and will sleep to come.
It was no use. The sinking and the lumps were keeping him awake. At last he sat up, brushing the hair away from his face. According to the clock across from him, he had been fruitlessly trying to sleep for almost an hour. Gathering his robe and muttering angrily to himself, he stalked back upstairs.
He paused at the closed door leading to Bakura's sister's room. There was not much point considering her bed, even if he was willing to violate the unspoken rule that no one stay in there. The bed was child-sized. He would never fit. And trying to sleep on a bed where his feet, or maybe nearly all of his legs, dangled over the edge would certainly keep him awake.
He slipped into Bakura's room and sat in the chair Bakura had occupied last night. Maybe if he was tired enough, he could sleep that way. Of course, his neck and back would complain in the morning. But he closed his eyes and tried to doze anyway.
This was also no use. His position was far too uncomfortable and he was far too awake. He received the same result when he tried the floor a moment later. But not only that, it was hard and cold. He could feel the draft from the window.
By now he was completely exasperated and angry. And an angry Thief King is a very bad thing indeed. He got up, tossing his robe into the chair. Then he looked to the bed, where Bakura was laying too close to the middle. "Move over," he commanded.
Bakura made an unintelligible sound in his sleep and did not move.
Yami Bakura threw back the comforter. "Move. Now."
But Bakura was too deeply asleep.
Growling to himself, Yami Bakura climbed into the bed and threw the quilt over himself. But it did not take long before he was gritting his teeth in sheer aggravation. There was not enough room!
"Bakura," he hissed, "move to the other side of the bed. It will be better for both of us." His knee was currently against Bakura's back, which would undoubtedly be uncomfortable if Bakura was awake to feel it. Yami Bakura straightened his legs, feeling stiff as a board.
Miraculously, Bakura moved over---but he took the quilt with him. Yami Bakura grabbed hold of it, pulling half of it back to him. Then he laid against the second pillow, closing his eyes.
He was jerked back to awareness as the quilt vanished. His eyes burning, he took hold of the comforter and gave a harsh tug.
Bakura was holding on much too tight. As Yami Bakura pulled, both the quilt and Bakura came flying over to him. The thief cried out in shock and disbelief. This was followed by a steady stream of cursing in Egyptian.
"Roll over!" he snapped, pushing on Bakura's shoulder.
To his horror, Bakura just snuggled against him in his sleep. "But I feel so safe here," he mumbled.
Yami Bakura's face twisted in frustration. "When I tell you of this later, you will be so mortified I doubt you will speak to me for a week." With that he pushed Bakura to the other side of the bed and then burrowed into the pillow.
As he began to doze, he felt a weight roll against him again. He muttered in disgust and resignation, at last falling asleep in spite of it.
He stiffened, looking about wildly in the black void for the source of the dreaded voice. "Zorc . . ." he gasped. "You should be gone. . . ."
"I will never be gone." The darkness came alive, swirling around him. "You will never be free!"
He screamed as the shadows devoured his body.
His eyes flew open as he trembled, pushing himself up from the cold floor where he had landed. Around his neck, the Infinity Ring was brightly glowing, lighting up the room as at mid-day. He looked down at it, stunned.
"What on Earth . . ."
Bakura, startled awake, leaned over the side of the bed. "Yami, are you alright?!" he gasped.
Before he could reply, the door flew open. "What's going on in here?!" Mr. Bakura cried. Then he stared at the thief. "Who are you?!"
Bakura's mouth fell open. "Father?!" he said in disbelief.
At the same moment, Yami Bakura burst out, "What are you talking about, you foolish mortal?!" He pulled himself to his feet, his hair swinging down his back.
Wait. . . .
He reached behind himself, grabbing at the white locks. They were as long as Bakura's. . . .
A hand flew to his face. There was no evidence of the stretched skin from his scar. And the flesh of his arm and hand . . . it was white.
He cursed in disbelief.
"Ryou, how many people do you have in this house?!" Mr. Bakura exclaimed.
Bakura shook his head, overwhelmed. "Only one, Father. . . ."
Yami Bakura ran over, shoving Mr. Bakura into the hall. "Give us a minute," he growled, slamming the door on the shocked man. Then he whirled, facing Bakura.
"Look at me!" he said. "What do you see?"
Bakura stared. "Yami, you . . . you look like you did when I had the Millennium Ring," he said.
"Exactly!" Yami Bakura declared. "How?!"
He ran to the mirror, clutching the Infinity Ring. It was glowing. . . . Could it have done this? And could it have anything to do with the nightmare he had been having?
He ignored Mr. Bakura pounding on the door as he concentrated, pooling his energy into the Ring and staring at his reflection. Bakura gawked in amazement and confusion. And then, just as Mr. Bakura threw open the door, the Ring responded to Yami Bakura's will.
His hair shortened to his shoulders, his brown eyes turning lavender. His skin darkened, the scar appearing on the right side of his face.
Poor Mr. Bakura gasped, his hand shaking violently on the knob. Bakura leaped up, running over to him. He laid a hand on the stunned man's shoulder.
"We'll have to explain the truth now, Yami," he said, his voice firm. He also wanted an explanation for this bizarre transformation, but gathering from the tomb robber's bewilderment, he would like that answer as well.
"I need to sit down," Mr. Bakura groaned.
"Bah!" Yami Bakura growled. "You only have knowledge of the tip of the iceberg."
Mr. Bakura swayed anyway. "Tell me what's going on, Ryou!" he implored.
Bakura put an arm around his father's shoulders, guiding him to the bed. "Well . . . we really did meet because of the Ring you gave me, Father," he said. "Um . . . he was in it. . . ."
Mr. Bakura's eyes widened. "In . . ."
Yami Bakura walked over to the bed. "My name truly is Bakura," he said. "And I am a very distant relation of yours. I lived my mortal life three thousand years ago."
Now Mr. Bakura looked faint. "This isn't possible," he said. "You're . . . you're solid. You were eating!"
"Because of this." Yami Bakura held out the Infinity Ring. "It grants me physical form." He frowned at it. "Apparently it also allows me to change my appearance."
Mr. Bakura gawked. "Where did that come from?!"
Yami Bakura waved it at him. "Just a little something given to me by the guardian of the Millennium Items," he said. "My services will be needed in a future battle between good and evil. That is why I was given a second chance."
Mr. Bakura gave a slow nod. ". . . Alright," he said, trying to get himself under control. "So you and Ryou are friends?"
That stunned the two. They stared at each other.
"Friends?!" they said in unison.
At last Bakura managed a weak smile. "I never thought of it that way," he said.
Yami Bakura grunted. He had not, either. And he doubted either of them ever would.
Mr. Bakura eased himself off the bed, struggling to adapt himself to these strange concepts. "So an ancient spirit came out of the Millennium Ring, he has another Ring, he can take physical form, and he's living in our house. Okay. . . . No problem. . . ." He dazedly turned back when he reached the door. ". . . What did you do in your . . . uh . . . mortal life?"
Yami Bakura smirked. "I was the King of Thieves."
Bakura slapped his forehead. "Oh no. . . ."
Two hours later Bakura sighed, running a hand into his hair. He was laying on his back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. He was drained.
"I'm afraid we frightened my father terribly," he said. "I don't think he's too keen on the King of Thieves living here."
Yami Bakura, sitting on the edge of the bed, grunted. "He'll have to deal with it."
"Why did you have to tell him you were a thief?" Bakura demanded.
"Would you have wanted me to lie?" Yami Bakura smirked.
". . . Why do you think you can change your appearance?" he wondered.
"How should I know?!" Yami Bakura glared down at the Infinity Ring. "A most preposterous power, if you ask me. And most inconvenient, if it happens whenever it chooses."
"Maybe it wasn't random," Bakura said. "What caused you to fall out of the bed, Yami?"
Yami Bakura did not answer for a time. "Nothing," he grumbled then, even as the memories of the nightmare swirled through his mind. It was his darkest fear---that Zorc would return and claim his soul again. He was still not sure who he was, and perhaps that was manifested very literally by this ability to change between his mortal form and the form he had used when Bakura had possessed the Millennium Ring.
One thing he did know---there was nothing whispering in his mind, nothing manipulating his spirit. It was almost alien to him after three thousand years of captivity. Part of him wondered if it was a delusion and Zorc was really here, whispering to him as he had done throughout the ages. He was terrified that he would discover his release was a lie.
Which would be worse, he wondered---to really be free and then be chained again, or to have never been free despite thinking it was so?
Bakura sat up. "You screamed," he said in concern.
"I said it was nothing!" Yami Bakura snapped.
Bakura swallowed hard and laid back down.
Yami Bakura sighed, digging his fingers into his wild hair. ". . . When I laid down, you wouldn't share the quilt," he said.
Bakura turned red. "I'm so sorry!" he gasped.
"When I tried to take half, you were holding on so tight that you rolled over with it." Yami Bakura glanced over his shoulder. "You also refused to move, saying you felt safe."
Now Bakura was absolutely scarlet. "I don't remember any of that!" he said. "Oh my . . . oh dear. . . ."
Yami Bakura laid down, pulling half of the comforter over himself. Swallowing nervously, Bakura burrowed under the other half.
". . . I won't hurt you, you know," Yami Bakura said after an indeterminable amount of time.
There was a lot Bakura wanted to say to that---that he had been hurt in the past, that he did not know whether to trust this character, that he really did not know if he wanted to share the bed. . . . But the confusion still raged in his soul. How much had it been Zorc hurting him and his friends and how much had it been the Thief King? And if the Thief King was a victim too, what was he really like beyond the horrible things he had done in ancient Egypt? He surely did have to possess some good, as Bakura had speculated earlier that day.
He looked over his shoulder. Yami Bakura was not facing him, but Bakura could imagine his gruff countenance. Still . . . for some reason, after all that had taken place on this topsy-turvy day, now Bakura did not feel afraid.
A smile made its way over his features. "You know, it's strange," he said. "I believe you, Yami. I have to admit, I've been worrying and wondering about it. I don't want to be yours, or Zorc's, or anyone's, pawn ever again. But . . . for the first time, I really have the confidence that those days are over. Oddly, I do think I feel safe. But . . ." He gave a nervous chuckle. "I'll stay on this side of the bed."
"Good," Yami Bakura growled.
He pulled the pillow down, soon drifting into a welcome, dreamless slumber.