A/N Warnings: Separate bodies. Sort of maybe implied sex if you squint and interpret in a certain way. Tendershipping (I'm calling it tendershipping because even if Bakura has Thief King Bakura's body, he still identifies himself more with the ring). Boy on boy kisses. Language.

So everyone knows it's a fandom cliche to have Bakura rape and beat Ryou and then they fall in love. Not to mention, almost always, it's entirely out of character for both of them. I think this is me trying to write the above situation in a way that makes sense to both of them. I may or may not have succeeded. But hopefully it's somewhat believable.

ASL is still going to be updated (roughly) on time (Sunday-Tuesdayish, depending on how fast I get the chapter to my beta), so no worries if you follow that story. This is something entirely separate and un-beta'ed.


He has the hangover from hell.

His first instinct is to blame the Pharaoh, because the Pharaoh is the source of all his problems (his village, his nightmares, his god awful second chance), but then he quickly readjusts it the blame to Malik for insinuating that he could out drink the king of thieves.

Other than a few of Malik's bratty comments, last night is a blur. He can't remember anything and when he tries to, his headache hammers so hard into his skull that he can barely stand.

By sheer willpower alone, Bakura (it's getting easier to think of himself by that name, he thinks with a sort of sadistic glee, just one more thing I've stolen from him…) drags himself out of his room and into the kitchen.

He inhales deeply, expecting the sweet aroma of fresh food to fill him. What greets him is the smell of iron and vomit.

He's furious. Beyond furious. Homicidal. Breakfast was their code, something that was done. And no matter how bad last night was (it was bad, not even his headache can make him forget the blood), Ryou has no right to just break tradition like this. They have a schedule, they have rules, and they through clock bound obligations have some sense of normalcy. How dare that ungrateful little traitor throw all of it away because of one night.

Bakura – just to make sure punishment is not underserved – looks at the clock hanging over the oven. (His landlord still has clocks everywhere; a nervous habit of his is to always know the time. Some part of him realizes he might of something to do with that.)

1:35, it says.

He lets out a loud snarl of curses. With a kick, the unlocked door to Ryou's room flies open.

"Get up!" Bakura yells, but it sounds more like the cry of a vicious animal.

There is no visible Ryou in the room. There is a bundle of sheets and blankets curled up into a ball in the center of a small stained bed, but no Ryou.

Suddenly, but softly, he remembers last night. Not from his memories though, from Ryou's. He feels fear and anger and betrayal…and sees himself smeared with blood and laughing…and feels a kiss on his neck…

Bakura shakes his head, calling his headache back to him. His stomach growls and Bakura focuses on that, ignoring the other sensation in the pit of his stomach.

"Get up," he repeats, quieter. His anger is not soothed, but controlled more. Focused, instead of the unbridled rage he felt before. He is still angry (has he ever not been angry? Once in all of his lives, can he even remember not being blinded by this rage?) but loud, violent anger won't get Ryou to cook any faster.

The bundle moves slightly. Ryou's awake. But then the bundle stops and by some miracle, seems to get even smaller.

For a second, Bakura thinks he won't get up. For a second, Bakura actually thinks – Wow, I could really kill him. For a second, Bakura thinks he is already dead.

The second passes. And out from the soiled bundle of sheets emerges a small, fragile looking boy who used to have pale skin, but instead now has a yellowish skin tone with purple spots. A red stripe here and there, too.

Ryou pulls a dirty grey t-shirt from the pile of clothes around his bed. His room is a mess. Clothes spread out everywhere, board games spread out on the floor, drapes closed tightly shut and a horrid musky odor fills the room. Bakura finds this quite amusing, because the rest of the house is so spotless.

Ryou turns to face him. One black eye, a long cut down the side of his cheek, lips bloody and broken, and his other cheek without the cut is swelling. Not that bad, in all honesty. Bakura had seen him worse.

"We're out of eggs," the younger boy says, dead serious, nothing in his eyes.

"I don't care," Bakura snaps, crossing his arms, "just make me something to eat."

-0-

"Eat something," Bakura orders, shoving a fork with a slice of ham on the edge towards Ryou's face.

Ryou looks down on it, and (thankfully?) disgust flashes through his eyes.

"No."

"I wasn't asking," Bakura growls.

"No," Ryou repeats, both bored and angry, "It's a waste of food. I'll just throw it back up."

-0-

"Hi, Yuugi-kun!" Ryou exclaims brightly into the phone. Bakura has to give him credit for that one; he could even be fooled by that tone.

Ryou coughs. It doesn't sound fake either.

Bakura hears squeaking coming from the other end, he assumes it's the Pharaoh's container talking.

"Actually…now that you mention it, I haven't been feeling well all morning…"

A pause.

"You wouldn't mind, would you? It seems like I'm always canceling on you, Yuugi-kun!"

A light laugh, followed by a fit of coughing.

"No, no, no. It's for the best I think. I wouldn't want to get you sick."

More squeaking.

"Of course! I should be better by Monday, so I'll see you at school. Bye, Yuugi-kun, tell Atemu I said 'Hi'."

Ryou slams the phone receiver down with unexpected strength.

Bakura scoffs at him, "There is no way your face will be better by Monday."

"I know," Ryou snaps, "But if I was really sick I wouldn't know that, would I?"

Bakura glares at him, upper lip twisting in disgust. How does this boy manage it? After every broken bone he still has the fire inside him that Bakura can't put out. (Why isn't he afraid of me?)

"I'm going to kill you one day," Bakura promises, "And you'll little friends will feel so stupid for not being able to seeing it earlier."

Ryou's righteous anger fades from him. His body posture melts as he leans against the wall for support.

"You won't kill me," Ryou says, more to himself than his other, "You can't kill me…it would kill you too."

The weak, helpless, hopeless Ryou perks Bakura's interest and he saunters over towards the boy. Ryou slumps to the floor. Bakura leers over him.

"Maybe I'm not afraid of death, Landlord."

(Ryou cringes instinctively at that name.)

But then he looks up, frowning, and his brown eyes have that steely determination that Bakura hates.

"You sealed yourself in a ring for three thousand years to keep yourself from dying. Then, you agreed to obey the Phar – Atemu, you agreed to obey Atemu just have your body again. I think you like living."

Bakura sneers, "What if I hate you more than I'm afraid of death?"

Ryou bows his head, taking this into consideration.

"Then…" he trails off, but then a small smile blooms across his face, "Then you'll kill me and we'll both be dead. Sounds like a happy ending to me."

Bakura chuckles, "Romantic isn't?"

-0-

Ryou's still on the floor an hour later. Bakura is still hovering over him.

"Why don't you just tell your friends? Maybe they would help you. Save you," Bakura taunts.

"I can't be saved," Ryou replies, in the same tone of voice one might use when their favorite team loses.

Bakura bends down and pushes the smaller one against the wall, running a finger through his soft white hair. Ryou squirms.

"You know what I think?" Bakura says and leans in closer, "I think you just like to pretend to be a martyr."

Ryou arches a brow and leans up towards him.

"Pretend?"

-0-

There is a knock at the door. Ryou and Bakura, huddled together on the floor against the wall, ignore it.

"Ryou-kun!" says a squeaky voice, "It's me! I brought something for you."

Dark, big, mocha colored eyes widened at the sound of that voice.

"Why do you only look afraid for him?" Bakura hisses into Ryou's ear.

"I care about him." There is fear in Ryou's voice. Beautiful, like the sound of a harp quivering on a single note.

"You're not going to hurt him," Ryou says (and Bakura can't quite tell if it's a question or a command).

Another knock, louder than the one before. Swearing, Bakura pulls himself off the floor. Unlocking the chain, he opens the door. Just a crack, though.

"What do you want?" Bakura snarls, "Ryou's sick. Go away."

Yuugi isn't fazed. He pushes out a small box of pastries.

"I know Ryou-kun isn't feeling well, so I brought him some creampuffs. I thought they might make him feel better."

Bakura glares at that box with all his might. He hates charity.

(He grew up alone in a world where everyone hated him. He learned that if you couldn't take something it didn't deserve to be yours in the first place.)

"I'm sure he'll be ridiculously happy by this," Bakura says, snatching the box from the midget's hands, "You can go now."

Yuugi looks up at him, smiling slyly, like he knows a huge secret. It's pissing him off.

"What?" he barks.

Yuugi blinks and then laughs awkwardly.

"Um, sorry! I was just thinking…Yami didn't believe me but I just knew…!"

"What are you blathering about?"

And damn that stupid Pharaoh's host, he actually smiles. At him. And means it.

What the hell.

"I just knew you'd be taking care of him!" Yuugi grins.

Bakura (to further his own rage and repulsion) blushes. The midget begins turns around and walks away.

"See you later, Bakura-kun," Yuugi calls over his shoulder, winking, "Tell Ryou I'll call him tomorrow."

Bakura stares after him for a long while – dumbfounded and disgusted.

-0-

"I'm sure you heard," Bakura says, throwing the box at Ryou, who is still on the floor.

The brown eyed boy makes a small cry when it hits his chest. (Bakura thinks that a couple of Ryou's ribs are probably broken.)

Ryou doesn't make a sound after that. At least, not one Bakura can hear. No, the pale boy just stares at the box of creampuffs – dumbfounded and disgusted.

-0-

The phone rings.

Bakura glares at it from his position on the couch. Ryou looks at it wearily from his position on the floor.

It rings again.

"Well answer it," Bakura says.

Ryou, sighing, stands up and answers the phone.

"Hello?" Ryou's entire face faults, "Oh, hey Malik. One second, okay?"

He offers to the phone to Bakura, "Do you want it?"

Bakura eyes it askance. His headache hasn't gone away entirely, but…

He grabs the phone. "What do you want, Malik?"

"I haven't had a hangover this bad since I got kicked out of that one pub in London for fighting with this dude who was making eyes at Ishizu. Kicked his ass too, you should have seen his face!"

"If you don't make your point in five seconds I'm hanging up."

"All I'm saying is that I want to get drunk. And I still think you cheated last night and I deserve a rematch."

Bakura scoffs, "Like I need to cheat to beat you."

"Well why don't you put your liquor where your mouth is and meet me in five?" Malik pauses, "And Ryou can come too, if he wants."

"Fine."

He hangs up the phone.

"I'm going out," Bakura says.

Ryou doesn't say anything, but Bakura can feel him thinking 'Thank God'. This makes Bakura glare. Maybe he wouldn't leave just yet.

"Malik invited you, too."

Ryou cringes, "I don't drink."

There might be some truth to that, but it's not the real reason. It's Malik.

"I can't believe you have the nerve to hate him," Bakura sneers, "You've always been so desperate for friends. And when one shows up on a silver platter you're suddenly too good for him. Pathetic."

Ryou's cringing has become a full body twitch by now; he's clenching his fists so hard his hands are turning red.

Bakura stares at him intensely. For a moment (less than a minute more than a second) his scowl disappears. He's curious.

"Why?"

Ryou's hands uncurl. He turns his face towards Bakura, but still isn't looking directly at him.

"You hate Yuugi, don't you?"

-0-

He comes back drunk, but at least in a pleasant mood. Surprisingly, Ryou's moved from his spot on the floor. The broken mess of a boy is sitting on the couch, drinking some tea.

Bakura looks to the clock. It's 1:35.

"You waited," Bakura smirks, speech slightly slurred, "How cute."

Ryou glares at him from the corners of his eyes.

"It wasn't like I would be able to sleep tonight anyway," Ryou mutters to his tea, "I didn't sleep last night either."

Suddenly, Bakura remembers waking up to their routine disrupted. He stumbles towards Ryou and pins him to the arm of the couch. The tea spills out of Ryou's hands.

"So you purposefully defied me," Bakura leers.

Ryou turns his head (faintly, Bakura can hear him think 'His breath smells awful').

"I purposefully defied you," Ryou says, so unimaginable angry, "It felt good, actually. I do that a lot if you haven't noticed."

Bakura laughs and squeezes Ryou's broken ribs. Ryou lets out a startled cry, but quickly gets a hold of himself and muffles it.

"You just won't ever learn will you?" Bakura exclaims gleefully, "Even after last night – you just won't break! Always clinging onto the last bit of rage, just so you can still feel something. Not that I blame you. That's how I'm still alive!"

He laughs louder this time as he pulls Ryou's face close to his.

"I guess it's a blessing in disguise," he coos, "If you were broken I'd probably pity you and stop. And that wouldn't be any fun would it, Landlord?"

Ryou keeps his mouth shut, flinching.

"Are you afraid?" Bakura asks, serious, almost sober.

Ryou stops wincing and looks at him.

"Of you?" he says disdainfully, "Never."

Bakura pushes harder against him.

"I could do it again," he whispers into Ryou's ear.

Ryou freezes for a long time, a blank look on his face. Finally, he tilts his head up at Bakura.

"You could."

Bakura kisses him hungrily after that. Shoving their mouths together, entangling their limbs. Everything's a blur of hazy, grey colored emotions. Ryou may or may not be kissing him back.

They break apart, panting.

Bakura notices the TV has been dusted.

"You cleaned again," Bakura scowls at him.

"The house was dirty," Ryou replies.

-0-

"You could hit me back," Bakura offers, wiping the blood off Ryou's bare chest.

"I don't like hitting you," Ryou sneers, "I actually still have a little humanity left in me."

"Not for long," Bakura snorts and pulls the boy close to him, embracing him in an odd sort of hug.

A moment later Bakura says, "You don't think I have some humanity left in me?"

(He closes his eyes and sees…)

"You can't hide behind your village forever," Ryou says, kindly. The way he talks to everyone else but him.

"Hypocrite," Bakura snarls, "You do the same thing with your sister and your letters."

"It's different," Ryou says, glaring at the couch underneath them.

"How?"

"I try," Ryou whispers desperately into the Bakura's neck, "I try to be a good person and when I mess up I'm sorry. And I…I hoped you'd change…that's why I agreed to this when the Pharaoh offered to give you your own body. I forgave you and I prayed for you. Sometimes I still do! But you can't grasp that. Any of that. I mean, do you even know what half of those words I just said mean?"

Bakura scowls, and digs his nails into Ryou's skin.

"Your precious virtues haven't gotten you anywhere."

"Neither has your lack of a conscious," Ryou spits back.

They're silent for a second, holding each other.

"I think I love you," Bakura says after a moment.

"No you don't," Ryou scoffs instantly.

Bakura ignores him.

"I do. I do love you."

"You don't even know how to love," Ryou remarks, tracing Bakura's scar. The touch is gentle.

Bakura cups his hand around Ryou's swollen cheek and kisses him.

"I love you," he repeats, "And you love me too."

Ryou frowns, "No, I hate you. So there."

"No you don't. And even if you did, I don't care," snaps Bakura, "I wasn't asking for your forgiveness or your permission."

"I know," Ryou says, rolling his eyes, "That's why I hate you."

Bakura doesn't say anything. He kisses Ryou again. The boy pulls away but rests his head back on Bakura's chest.

The thief strokes Ryou's hair.

"Just let me have this one moment of pretend, Landlord," he says, almost lovingly, "This one moment and then…"

(...maybe everything will be okay...)

Ryou nuzzles his head in the crook of Bakura's shoulder.

"And then what?" Ryou asks, bitter and tired.

Bakura's vision is overcome with rage. Not his rage, the vivid blood splatter and rising flames rage, but Ryou's rage. Cold and dark and smooth; growing and crawling like the way shadows form as a light dies.

"Right," Ryou continues, "Nothing. You won't change and I can't change. Tomorrow will be the same as yesterday. Maybe worse. Maybe better. But never okay."

Bakura doesn't disagree, but pulls him closer, anyways.


A/N Yuugi calling Atemu 'Yami' was intentionally. Reviews would be really, really, nice!