Title: Uncommon Ground

Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!

Author: Nietzsche's Itch

Pairing: Bounceshipping (Ryou/Rebecca)

Genre: Romance, Friendship

Rating: T

Status: Oneshot, Complete

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!

Summary: All either of them wanted was for someone to give them the time of day

They shunned her because she lacked subtlety, and was forward with her feelings and opinions, even at the expense of acceptance. She had always believed she deserved the best, and had striven to attain it.

They avoided him for the opposite, for never revealing his thoughts or secrets, so much so that even when his darkness had been separated from him, they still assumed that Ryou must be as untrustworthy as he.

Once they realized that their situations amounted to the same dilemma, it was only natural that they would gravitate toward each other.

He was endearing to her, for he would listen to her chatter on for hours on end, smiling shyly and nodding timidly at breaks in her vigorous discourse, sometimes even offering a word in riposte, or an opinion, and then ducking instinctively at if waiting to be castigated for his insolence. She had some concept as to the nature of his unsavoury past, and promptly decided that he was as much a victim of stereotype as she was, even if she was a child prodigy and he a former host to a disillusioned madman possessed in his turn by the incarnation of pure darkness, they were parallels to be found in everything.

She was endearing to him, for it was pleasant to have someone want to talk to him at all, when the acquisition of his fearsome reputation was a remnant of his past that refused to be swept under the rug. Polite and politically attempts had been made to dissuade her from spending time in his company, he knew, but she rejected their pious attestations that they were only trying to help her, and became a daily visitor to his home in retaliation. He had an interest in archaeology because of his father and ancient history because of his darkness, she because of her grandfather and it was nice to have someone who knew what they were talking about to discuss them with.

On rainy evenings, when university had finished up for the day, she would find him waiting, infallibly with his plain black umbrella, ready to escort her home, and capable of whipping out a credible impersonation of his other half whenever the filth drawn out by the rain saw a defenceless girl with an equally weak man as their only obstacle, and an opportunity for depravity. Ryou might have been a pacifist, but Bakura had made certain he knew how to fight, whether he wanted to or not. She would take his free hand in her own, and assuage his guilt at the act of violence committed on her behalf.

On sunny afternoons she would accost him on his lunch hour from the coffee shop where he worked, and subject him to the gentle ritual of rubbing the strongest sunscreen she could lay her hands on onto his exposed arms and face, apparently afraid he was so pale that he would go up in smoke without it. He found it a novelty at first, to be touched without fear, and then he began to wonder what it would be like if he dared to touch back, before she asked him to do the same for her, with a smile and an expression free from hesitation.

She brought him to meet her grandfather, and although appearing calm and sedate beside his whirlwind of a granddaughter, it was evident where she had learned her open, accepting approach from. The difference of generations was acknowledged but disregarded as young and old found common ground and interest. The other liked his modesty and mannerly approach, and his courtesy toward Rebecca, no matter how difficult she might be in this endeavour, when she was so determined to prove that being female didn't make her any less competent or able, that she sometimes unwittingly dealt the killing blow to chivalry's repeated attempts to rise from the grave.

She met his father, however unintentionally when he came to town bearing gifts and an apologetic demeanour as he attempted to get to know the son he had wrongfully neglected years before. He left again the following week, though her presence at Ryou's side throughout the trying time had been as much a consolation to his parent as it had been incentive to leave. She would encourage him to write, and he would do so to appease her, not expecting his father to keep in contact. The reverse proved true, and slowly but surely they began to reconnect through letters and email where it was possible, a miracle which wouldn't have happened without her gently prodding him in the right direction.

He helped her realize that friendship was about compromise, and it wasn't a battle of wits. Gradually she stopped using her intellect to try and prove her superiority over her peers, and saw that not having the last word didn't mean that she had lost some tacit challenge. He feared that she would find no further reason to keep company with him once she had normal friends, a fear that was quashed once she invited him to a party of one of her classmates and people besides her actually spoke to him. Rebecca staying by his side the entire night didn't hurt either.

She helped him overcome his fear of socialization, out of a paranoia that they would hurt him, or some hidden remnant of darkness would flare up within him and hurt them. His interactions with people had been controlled by someone else from an early age, and they had reacted accordingly to the aura of hostility he exuded. He couldn't change how he was remembered in the past, but he could make sure that when he met new people that they saw him, as he was. And Ryou knew that if his shyness began to get in the way, he would always have Rebecca there to give him courage.

They were opposite in many ways.

He read mystery novels, and she read encyclopaedias.

She laughed freely and often, he laughed rarely and restrainedly.

He was inclined to give up at the first hurdle, she would see something to the end out of spite for those who claimed she couldn't do it.

She tended to miss what a persons body language was saying in her enthusiasm, he paid more attention to it than their words.

He was patient, she would grouse at not being able to achieve instantaneous results.

She liked to ride horses, he preferred the reliability of his own feet.

He was better at analyzing his feelings and the reasons he felt the way he did, she was less complicated and simply felt without trying to figure out why.

And when she came around to his way of seeing things, they were alike enough to fall in love.

Both agreed that a gold ring inlaid with a quinary of five thousand year old amber pieces was more significant than any clich├ęd diamond.