By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: Anything connected with the show or manga is not mine. Vivalene and the story are mine. I took one look at the prompt The Temptress for Yugioh Contest on Livejournal and this idea began to take shape. Time to bring back my temptress character! For once, it takes place during the events of the series. I tried to make it longer, but it doesn't seem to want to cooperate.

"Did you enjoy our little meal, Ryou?"

Sitting at the well-crafted table, sixteen-year-old Ryou Bakura flamed red, but tried to smile. "Yes," he said sincerely. "It was very good. You . . . you're a good cook, Ms. Vivalene."

Vivalene, a red-haired woman with piercing green eyes, leaned back, a smile of her own gracing her painted lips. "Oh, I'm so glad you think so," she said. "Your father enjoyed this dish too, when I invited him over."

Bakura nodded, toying with the fancy napkin he was still holding. "Y-yes, I'm sure he did," he said. "The Bakura family loves to eat. . . ." He shifted, unable to help feeling uncomfortable.

He was currently in the expensive apartment of his father's most recent assistant, a woman who had taken a great interest in the man's work---and in his son. Mr. Bakura did not seem to find anything strange about her behavior, but Bakura was highly uneasy. He was not sure why he had been invited to a private dinner with the femme fatale, but he could not see anything good coming of it. He had only agreed to come because he had hoped to solve the mystery along the way.

"So," Vivalene said as she dabbed at her lips with her own napkin, "tell me, Ryou---do you like keys?"

Bakura stared at her. "Keys?" he repeated. Had he heard correctly? What a bizarre question! "Well, yes, I suppose so. . . . We'd all be in quite a lot of trouble if there weren't any keys, after all. . . ."

"Good. I'm glad you agree." Vivalene smiled. "You know, if you think about it, your father's work is all about keys." She got up from the table. "He's unlocking so many doors with his research. Isn't it exciting?"

Bakura stood as well, his hand drifting to the back of his chair. "Yes . . . it is," he said slowly. What was she getting at?

The tall woman crossed the room to a shelf and took down a small, brown box. "Come here, Ryou," she implored. "I want to show you something."

With the unease only growing stronger, Bakura stepped away from the chair and made his way to Vivalene's side. She lifted the lid on the box, revealing the glistening contents.

"Why, they're keys," he said in amazement.

She smiled. "Keys from all over the world," she said. "And I only collect the best. Look at the intricate designs that were crafted through the centuries!" Reaching into the box, she held up a golden key with hoops and a red heart on the handle.

"Is that a ruby?" Bakura asked.

"Yes," Vivalene purred. "This key is one of the prizes of my collection." She placed it back in the box and sat down on the couch. "Join me, won't you, darling?"

Bakura colored deeply but sat on the couch, trying to keep a polite distance. If Vivalene noticed, she was not about to let it stop her. She draped an arm across the back of the couch, leaning back as she looked at him.

"If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it," she mused.

Bakura blinked. "Excuse me?"

"You have quite the key yourself, don't you?" Vivalene searched his eyes for recognition and understanding. "An ancient key that unlocks many mystical powers."

Bakura gasped. "I . . . I don't know what you're talking about, Ms. Vivalene," he said. Subconsciously a hand went to his chest.

"Oh, but you do, don't you," Vivalene purred, leaning in closer. "It's alright, I already know about the Millennium Ring. You see, that's why I became your father's assistant---I wanted to get closer to the boy who possesses such great responsibility."

Bakura stared at her, his mouth working as he fought desperately for words. "I . . . I . . ."

Vivalene placed a finger to his lips. "I'm here to offer you a proposal, Ryou," she said. "Come away with me and we'll use the Millennium Ring's abilities together."

"Oh no!" Bakura exclaimed, finding his voice at last. "I couldn't possibly . . ."

"It will be alright," Vivalene said, running her finger down his cheek. "I know it's far too heavy a weight for one so young to bear. That's why I'm offering to share it with you."

"It's very kind of you, I'm sure," Bakura squeaked. "But no, I'm truly sorry . . ." He tried to brush her hand away, but suddenly found her other arm curling around his shoulders. He went crimson. "It just wouldn't be possible!" He squirmed, trying to get out of her grasp. "I . . . why, I'm surely almost half your age!"

Vivalene feigned hurt. "Oh, now you're not going to let something like that stand in the way, are you?" she said. "I could easily forge documents to say you're of legal age."

"Of course not!" Bakura gasped. "Even if I had feelings for you, I wouldn't allow it!"

"I think you will," Vivalene said, drawing closer still.

Suddenly deep red lips pressed against his. Bakura froze, all thoughts fleeing his mind. He wanted to scream, but the cry was lodged in his throat. Then something was pricking the back of his neck. . . .

Without warning Vivalene was thrust back as something glowed under Bakura's shirt. The hypodermic needle she had tried to stick into the boy went spinning across the room. As he looked at her now, his eyes were suddenly cold, a dark sneer stretching across his features.

She exhaled in surprise. "Well! I didn't realize you had it in you, Ryou," she said, a cruel smirk displaying her true nature. "And I'm sorry, but as enjoyable as this has been, I'll be taking that Ring by force if you won't cooperate. Not to mention leaving you where you'll never be able to tell anyone. It is a shame; we could have had such fun together."

Bakura chuckled. "Robbing the cradle, aren't you?" he said. His voice was different now too---rough and gravelly.

She tossed her hair. "Age makes little difference to me," she said. "Not as long as I get what I want in the end."

"Ah, then you won't care if you deal with someone far older than you." Bakura stood, still sneering. "Ryou Bakura is no longer here. My name is also Bakura, but you will find I am not an innocent child."

Vivalene's eyes widened. "Is this the power of the Millennium Ring?" she exclaimed, getting up as well. Wild greed flashed in her emerald orbs.

"In a manner of speaking." Bakura reached into his shirt, pulling out the glowing golden Ring. "You see, I can't let you harm this boy or take the Ring. I still have use of them both." His expression twisted in sick delight. "Penalty game!"

"Penalty game?!" Vivalene repeated. "What are you . . ."

A light flashed. When it faded, the woman was sprawled on her back, empty eyes staring at nothing.

Yami Bakura stepped over her soulless body, turning something over in his hands as he stepped into the corridor. "So, you like keys, hmm?" he smirked, shooting a last glance over his shoulder. "A pity." His unruly hair bounced with the motion. "It appears the key to your fate lies within my hand." He looked down at the golden key with the embedded ruby. "And I have no intention of unlocking the door."

He pulled the apartment's door shut. It clicked, automatically locking.